One of the great accessibility features of macOS and Mac OS X is Dictation. Dictation on the Mac allows users to convert spoken words into text or interact with a computer by literally speaking to it. And for macOS users, just ask Siri to “turn on Dictation” for you. Remember that Siri isn’t the same as Dictation, but Siri does compose short messages, such as email and text messages for you.
Lately, though, several readers report problems with Dictation and Enhanced Dictation. Sometimes users can’t enable dictation and discover that all of the sudden it’s grayed out. Many of these problems occur shortly after an OS update, often leaving this valuable feature working improperly or not even working at all.
- Use macOS and OS X Advanced Dictation Feature With Privacy
- All About Accessibility Features of iPad and iPhone
- How to Use Dictation on the iPad
- Try turning dictation off then turning it back on. This action often solves the problem. And it’s an easy fix.
- If that doesn’t work, try turning off dictation and restarting your system. Then go back and turn on dictation. Setting dictation off and on without restarting sometimes doesn’t fix the problem, but rebooting between off and on often solves the issue.
- Go Finder >Menu > Edit > Select Start Dictation, then press your dictation shortcut (default is Function Key (Fn) Twice.)
- Check if an individual app is causing problems. Close all your open applications. Then try Dictation. If it works, test out each app one by one to see if there’s a particular app creating issues. This is time-consuming for sure but might provide valuable insight into what’s causing the problem
- If you identify a particular app that’s creating problems with Dictation, check if there is an update for that app or contact the app developer for further investigation
Tips for Dictation Not Working
- Go to System Preferences > Keyboard OR Dictation & Speech >Dictation. On the left side, under the microphone icon, select Internal Microphone instead of Automatic. For many users, this was the fix that worked, either with or without Enhanced Dictation.
- Locate and delete the file: ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.assistant.plist
- From the Finder Menu Select the “Go” menu and navigate down to “Go to Folder”
- Alternatively, press Command+Shift+G from your desktop or a Finder window
- Type in ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.assistant.plist into the search bar and press “Go”
- Then restart your Mac, turn off Dictation (Apple > System Preferences > Keyboard OR Dictation & Speech > Dictation) and reboot your Mac a second time and try again.
- Deleting your speech recognition user library cache folder at ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.SpeechRecognitionCore . Follow steps from the bullet point about using “Go to Folder” function in the Go finder menu.
- Download another language. Readers say that when they downloaded another language pack, it installed and reset their native language pack too.
- Try disabling your antivirus software if you have one installed. Regular dictation (not enhanced) is often blocked by your antivirus software when the data comes back into the program from Apple Servers over the internet.
- Open the Sound control panel. Make sure the Internal Microphone is selected. Set the input volume to a level higher than the middle. Try turning on the ambient noise reduction setting. If your Mac isn’t using the built-in microphone, check with the microphone manufacturer’s support site on how to troubleshooting your particular microphone.
- Turn ON enhanced Dictation
If you can’t find your Library folder
Open your home folder (/Users/yourusername) in the Finder. Depending on your Finder settings, open a new Finder window. Or choose Home from the Finder’s Go menu (Go > Home); or press Shift-Command-H.
- Choose View > Show View Options (or press Command-J)
- Find Show Library Folder
- Enable this option. And your Library folder should be visible
About Enhanced Dictation
Enhanced Dictation is available in macOS and OS X Mavericks v10.9 or later.
With Enhanced Dictation:
- You dictate continuously
- You dictate without being connected to the Internet
- Your words might convert to text more quickly
- You can use dictation commands to tell your Mac what to do
Without Enhanced Dictation, your spoken words and certain other data are sent to Apple Servers and then converted into text. Hence, when using regular (not enhanced) dictation, your Mac must be connected to the Internet, your words might not convert to text as quickly, and limit your speaking to no more than 40 seconds at a time (30 seconds in OS X Yosemite or earlier).
When you use Dictation, you choose to have either your Mac or Apple’s servers perform the speech recognition for you. If you use Enhanced Dictation, your Mac converts what you say into text without sending your dictated speech to Apple.
Notes: If Dictation does not recognize what you are saying, it may be that you are speaking too loudly or quietly. Also be sure to and avoid any background noise. Also, keep in mind that Regular Dictation only works when you have an active internet connection.
Enhanced Dictation Not Working?
Check Your Mic
- Open System Preferences >Keyboard OR Dictation & Speech
- Click on the Drop Down menu for Mic Input and choose internal microphone
- Check if the mic works
Reinstalling Often Helps!
- Go to System Preferences >Keyboard OR Dictation & Speech: uncheck Enhanced DictationRestart your Mac
- Return to System Preferences >Keyboard OR Dictation & Speech and tick (check) the box for Enhanced Dictation
Try Adding A Language
- Switch Enhanced Dictation OFF and add another language
- Turn Enhanced back ON, and it should force Dictation to download a new language recognizer
- This process may take some time to download and set up
If that doesn’t work, turn Enhanced Dictation OFF again by unchecking it
- Then go to your System Folder > Library Folder > Speech Folder > Recognizers Folder > SpeechRecognitionCoreLanguages Folder > and delete the folder named en_US.SpeechRecognition (or whatever language you use routinely)
- Once deleted, restart your Mac and return to System Preferences > Keyboard OR Dictation & Speech
- Tick (check) the box for Enhanced Dictation. See if that downloads your language again.
If Nothing Worked to Fix Dictation Not Working, Try This
- Create a new temporary admin account
- Reboot, login as new temp admin account
- Change your normal admin account to non-admin account
- Disable parental controls on your now non-admin account
- Change your normal account back to an admin account
- Reboot, login into your normal admin account
- Delete temporary admin account
- Enable Dictation
This fix worked for the folks when the other troubleshooting tips did not. Hopefully, this last one works for you too!