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How To Voice Command Your Mac

written by: Nicholas•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 1/8/2009

Have you ever seen a movie where an actor is talking to a computer and asking it to carry out commands? This can be done to some extent with your Mac. Using voice commands is a great way to carry out functions on your Mac.

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    Talking To Your Mac

    Speech recognition can be a very useful tool when looking to carry out commands quickly and effortlessly on your Mac. With Apple's built in speech recognition software, you can carry out commands such as: launching applications, switching between applications, and checking time and date simply by speaking to your computer.

    In order to set-up voice commands in OS X, you will first want to navigate to the system preferences. This can be done by clicking the apple icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and then selecting system preferences. From there, you will want to make sure you are at the system preferences home window by clicking the "show all" button. Then, click on the "Speech" icon located under "System" heading in the system preferences pane.

    Now, the "Speech" window should be open. From here, you will see two tabs labels "Speech Recognition" and "Text to Speech." Click the tab that says "Speech Recognition." Directly below these tabs, you will find another tab that lets you choose "Settings" or "Commands." Click "Settings."

    From here, you are going to want to calibrate the microphone on your Mac. Click the calibrate button, and speak the commands listed to the left. Slide the slider to the right or left until your voice is in the green area of the scale. When you have spoken a command correctly you will see the text for that command blink. After you have calibrated correctly, click done.

    Next, you will want to choose the listening method for your commands. Make sure that there is a checkmark in the box labeled "Listen only when key is pressed." Finally, place a checkmark in the box entitled "Speak command acknowledgement."

    Now all you have to do is turn on the voice recognition. Toward the top of the speech recognition window, you will see a option to turn speakable items on. Select on. A small circle with a microphone in it should now appear.

    To use the voice commands, all you have to do is hold down the esc key and speak your command. When you are done speaking your command fully, then release the control key. Test it out by asking the computer what time it is.

    If you want to access the commands without having to hold a key down, simply click "listen continually with keyword." Now, you can speak to your computer at any time, but only if you say the keyword first.

    Note: you can also adjust which commands are speakable by simply clicking the commands tab and configuring new commands from there.