Write with Your Voice: Use Microsoft Dictation on your PC

Before we dive in, I want to first get a few things out of the way.

  1. While dictation is very exciting, it doesn’t take the place of learning to use a keyboard if you are able to do so.
  2. If you use a screen reader, dictation will not replace the need for you to learn how to use your screen reader.
  3. Sometimes too much dictation is a bad thing.
  4. Remember that if you use a screen reader while dictating, and you don’t have a headset connected, your dictation experience will not be a good one due to the microphone picking up your screen reader’s voice.
  5. Use a headset for best performance with dictation.
  6. In this article, I am specifically talking about dictation and not total computer control via voice.
  7. This information was directly taken from Microsoft, and you should check that for the most up to date information on this topic. I have edited parts of this article to make it a bit clearer for someone who may be using a screen reader.

Now… Here’s Microsoft.


Use dictation to convert spoken words into text anywhere on your PC with Windows 10

Dictation uses speech recognition, which is built into Windows 10, so there’s nothing you need to download and install to use it.

To start dictating, be sure that you are in an edit box of some kind. This could be an email message, a notepad document, or a word document. Next, press the Windows logo key + H to open the dictation toolbar. Then say whatever’s on your mind.  To stop dictating at any time, say “Stop dictation.”

If you’re using a tablet or a touchscreen, tap the microphone button on the touch keyboard to start dictating. Tap it again to stop dictation, or say “Stop dictation.”

To find out more about speech recognition, read Use voice recognition in Windows 10. To learn how to set up your microphone, read How to set up and test microphones in Windows 10.

Note: To use dictation, your PC needs to be connected to the internet. Also, remember that if you are using a screen reader, you will hear various tips while dictation is running, such as “Say stop dictating when done”. Because of this, you may want to mute your screen reader’s speech while dictating.


Dictation commands

Use dictation commands to tell your PC what to do, like “delete that” or “select the previous word.”

The following table tells you what you can say. In some cases, the command is just an example. Replace it with similar words to get the result you want.

To do thisSay
Clear a selectionClear selection; unselect that
Delete the most recent dictation result or currently selected textDelete that; strike that
Delete a unit of text, such as the current wordDelete word
Move the cursor to the first character after a specified word or phraseGo after that; move after word; go to the end of paragraph; move to the end of that
Move the cursor to the end of a unit of textGo after word; move after word; go to the end of that; move to the end of paragraph
Move the cursor backward by a unit of textMove back to the previous word; go up to the previous paragraph
Move the cursor to the first character before a specified word or phraseGo to the start of the word
Move the cursor to the start of a text unitGo before that; move to the start of that
Move the cursor forward to the next unit of textMove forward to the next word; go down to the next paragraph
Moves the cursor to the end of a text unitMove to the end of the word; go to the end of the paragraph
Enter one of the following keys: Tab, Enter, End, Home, Page up, Page down, Backspace, DeleteTap Enter; press Backspace
Select a specific word or phraseSelect word
Select the most recent dictation resultSelect that
Select a unit of textSelect the next three words; select the previous two paragraphs
Turn spelling mode on and offStart spelling; stop spelling

Dictating letters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols

You can dictate most numbers and punctuation by saying the number or punctuation character. To dictate letters and symbols, say “start spelling”, Then say the symbol or letter, or use the ICAO phonetic alphabet.

To dictate an uppercase letter, say “uppercase” before the letter. For example, “uppercase A” or “uppercase alpha.” When you’re done, say “stop spelling.”

Here are the punctuation characters and symbols you can dictate.

To insert thisSay
!Exclamation mark; exclamation point
@At symbol; at sign
#Pound symbol; pound sign; number symbol; number sign; hash symbol; hash sign; hashtag symbol; hashtag sign; sharp symbol; sharp sign
$Dollar symbol; dollar sign; dollars symbol; dollars sign
%Percent symbol; percent sign
&And symbol; and sign; ampersand symbol; ampersand sign
*Asterisk; times; star
(Open paren; left paren; open parenthesis; left paren
)Close paren; right paren; close parenthesis; right parenthesis
Hyphen; dash; minus sign
\Backslash; whack
/Forward slash; divided by
.Period; dot; decimal; point
Apostrophe; open single quote; begin single quote; close single quote; close single quote; end single quote
=Equal symbol; equal sign; equals symbol; equal sign
?Question mark; question symbol
[Open bracket; open square bracket; left bracket; left square bracket
]Close bracket; close square bracket; right bracket; right square bracket
{Open curly brace; open curly bracket; left curly brace; left curly bracket
}Close curly brace; close curly bracket; right curly brace; right curly bracket
+Plus, symbol; plus, sign
<Open angle bracket; open less than; left angle bracket; left less than
>Close angle bracket; close greater than; right angle bracket; right greater than
Open quotes; begin quotes; close quotes; end quotes; open double quotes; begin double quotes; close double quotes; end double quotes


Supported languages


Dictation commands are available in US English only.

You can dictate basic text, symbols, letters, and numbers in these languages:

  • Simplified Chinese
  • English (Australia, Canada, India, United Kingdom)
  • French (France, Canada)
  • German (Germany)
  • Italian (Italy)
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Spanish (Mexico, Spain)

To dictate in other languages, Use speech recognition.


I do use dictation on occasion, but I find that for the most part, typing is more reliable for me. Still, dictation continues to improve each year. Once you get familiar with how your screen reader interacts with this, you will likely feel more comfortable using it for some things. I find that it works best dictating a sentence or two at a time. This way you can quickly check the text that was inserted. I really hope you find this useful and helpful!


1 thought on “Write with Your Voice: Use Microsoft Dictation on your PC”

  1. This was very informative. Have you heard how MS Dictation compares in accuracy and ease of use with Dragon Naturally Speaking? Have you heard how it works on a Mac using Parallels? Thanks very much.

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