Don’t type that text – dictate!

Do you know you can dictate your messages on your iPhone or iPad? Yes, you can speak into the device, and it will convert your words to written text.

Wait – if you don’t bother with text messages, hear me out here: this tool is useful in many ways beyond text messages.

For example, I might dictate my text into an email on my iPhone or iPad instead of typing it. Or dictate a text note to myself.  Or dictate some text which I will then cut and paste into another program or app that doesn’t offer the ability to dictate. Think laterally here.

Many current Smartphones and tablets allow this, so check out yours and give it a go. If you’re an Android or Windows phone user, please let us know in the Comments how you set this up on your device.

You might need a bit of practise but you’ll get there pretty fast. There are some tips after the following steps, so read on.

On your iPhone or iPad, open a new text message or email.

1. Tap into the message area.

2. Tap the small microphone button beside the space bar at the bottom of your keypad display.

3. Speak your message into the iPhone or iPad as if you were talking to the base of the phone (not as if you are talking to a person). Hold it like a piece of toast you are about to bite!

4. When you are finished, tap the Done button at the base of the display. The text you dictated will appear in the message area.

5. Correct any errors manually by tapping into the text and making corrections using your fingers.

6. Once you’re satisfied with the message, tap Send.

Some helpful tips

If it doesn’t seem to work:
If your Smartphone – either iPhone or most of the Android alternatives – shows a microphone button but doesn’t seem to convert speech to text in the way I’ve just described, your dictation may need to be switched on.
To do this, go to  Settings > General > Siri, and then switch Siri on. Even if you don’t want to use Siri’s personal assistant features, you will need to switch Siri on for speech recognition to work.
Sadly, iPhone 4 models and older don’t have this feature.

Which functions does it work with?
Anything that gives you a keypad to type with – email, text, notes, and websites (although successfully dictating website addresses  might be a challenge).

Getting the best results:

         1. Speak your punctuation.
For example:

‘Hi bill comma new line looking forward to catching up tonight at 7 full stop new paragraph cheers comma martin’ will look as follows:

Hi Bill,
Looking forward to catching up tonight at 7.

Cheers, Martin

2. Noisy environments usually still work if you position the base of the phone, where the microphone is placed, close to your mouth.

3. Always proof-read the results – it’s pretty good but a few words usually need correction.

4. Do small bites of speech – no longer than 30 seconds. Press ‘Done’ each time you pause. Speak any longer and it gets indigestion.

5. It usually won’t work unless you’ve got internet connection – the words are going to a server for translation. Also, if your connection is very slow it might not work.

Credit goes to this Robyn Pearce for reminding me that this tip is definitely worth sharing! Robyn has lots of time management tips, so check out her writing too.
Was this tip helpful to you? Anything else you want to know? Please leave a  comment below!
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