Use voice commands to write and format text with Google Docs

Google Docs added voice typing last year, but you can now use it to edit and format your document.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
2 min read

Google Docs added voice typing last year, and I hope you've never heard someone writing in this manner at Starbucks or a nearby cubicle at work. Should you have a workspace to indulge in voice typing, however, then you should know that Google has expanded the capabilities of voice typing. In addition to using your voice to type, you can now also use your voice to edit and format your document.

You may see a prompt the next time you open a Doc file on Google Drive that asks if you want to try using your voice to type, navigate or format. If you missed that offer, you can enable voice typing by going to the Tools menu at the top of your document and selecting Voice typing. When enabled, you'll see small window with a large microphone icon pop up along the right edge of your browser.

Voice typing is available only in the Chrome browser. And while voice typing is available in dozens of languages, voice commands to edit and format are available only in English.

To start voice typing in a Google Doc, click the microphone icon and -- if you have never used the feature before -- allow it to access your computer's microphone when prompted. You can use your voice to type, but there are also a wide variety of commands you can use to edit and format.

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Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

For example, you can say "select next word" or "select line" or "select paragraph" or other parts of your document to highlight a portion to edit or format. You can then edit by using cut, copy or paste voice commands, among others. You can apply text formatting options such as bold or italics, change the alignment on the page or change the text color. (For the curious, the text colors Google recognizes are red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, purple and magenta.)

You can also use voice commands to move the cursor around on the page, which means you can really go all-in with voice typing by not constantly reaching for your mouse or touchpad. Use the "move to" or "go to" command to go to, for instance, the end of a line, the start of a paragraph or to the next or previous character or word.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly because like any voice app, Google's voice typing doesn't always hear you right, you can say "undo" to take back a previous command.

To see all of the voice commands available for Google Docs, check out this informative Google support page. And watch this YouTube clip from Google Docs to see voice commands in action.