Tag Archives: Computer Use

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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Learning and Development

Resize a window to extend across both your monitors

Last week we looked at resizing a window to fit half your computer monitor. This week we’ll go big.
Many of us have two computer monitors on our desk these days. So, what if you’d like to view one programme window across both monitors? For example, you might be viewing a really wide Excel spreadsheet and appreciate making it two screens wide. 
So today we’ll resize a programme window to stretch across both your computer monitors. This is worth mentioning because not everyone realises you can do this, and at the right time it’s a life saver!

1. Drag the programme window onto the left monitor, and carefully position it so that the top left corner of the programme window sits in the top left corner of your left monitor.

2. Position your mouse over the edge of the bottom right corner of the programme window. (Your mouse will become a double ended arrow when it is in the correct position.)

3. Click and drag the edge of the bottom right corner of the programme window to the right, stretching all the way across both monitors, into the bottom right corner of the right monitor.

4. Release the mouse in the bottom right corner of the right monitor.

The programme window now extends across both your monitors!

Reverse the process to return the programme window to its previous size.

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Learning and Development

Resize a program window to fit half your screen

This is a fantastic Windows 7 feature that quickly resizes a window to fit half your computer screen.
Display two windows side by side in this way to compare their contents or to drag text, objects and files from one window to the other.

1. Click the top bar of a window and attempt to drag it off one side of your screen. Keep dragging until your mouse pointer hits the edge of the screen (drag it as if you’re trying to drag it off the screen).
Then release your mouse.
– The window “snaps” to the side of the screen.

2. Click the top bar of another window and attempt to drag it off the other side of the screen. Again, keep dragging until your mouse pointer hits the edge of the screen.
– The window “snaps” to the side of the screen.

A few helpful tips here:
– Drag a window away from the screen edge to return it to its previous size.
– You can have 4 windows side by side if you have two screens (but you have to use the keyboard shortcut for this setup – see below).
– The keyboard shortcut for this is Windows/Start key + left or right arrow key.

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Learning and Development

Log out of your computer this weekend (10th-11th October)

Before you head off this weekend, ITS would like to request that staff log out of their computers. A number of computer updates are scheduled for this Sunday 11th October, and by logging out you can help ensure these run smoothly and your computer is ready to go on Monday morning.

IT Service Desk – your first point of contact for IT Services
Hours: 8am-5pm Mon-Fri
Self Service Portal
Phone: 03 364 2060 or Extn 6060
All requests logged after hours will be attended to during business hours.

Use a different Out of Office Reply for senders outside UC

Most of us know how to switch on Out of Office Replies, and even how to do so days or weeks early so that it kicks in automatically.  But do you know that you can specify one reply for messages from within UC, and a different reply for messages from outside UC, or even none at all?

We will usually give more detail in our internal replies than to those outside the University.

In Outlook, when you set up your Automatic Replies (>File>Automatic Replies):

  1. Switch on Send automatic replies, and specify a date range if desired.
  2. Click the Outside My Organization tab.
  3. Click the check box for Auto-reply to people outside my organization.
  4. Enter your Out of Office message for people outside the University.
    NOTE: If you wish to use the same message you’ve used for Inside My Organization, for recipients outside your organisation, simply copy your message from Inside My Organization and paste it into the Outside My Organization message area using Ctrl+C (copy) and Ctrl+V (paste).
  5. Click the OK button.

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Learning and Development