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Look ma, no hands! How to use Google Docs’ new voice dictation

Always tinkering, Google recently added voice typing to its browser-based word processor, Google Docs. Although there is some noticeable delay between speaking the words and seeing them appear on-screen, the tool is quite accurate, and surprisingly good at a variety of formatting tricks. For those who do not have their own personal transcriber, Docs’ voice typing is a surprisingly capable substitute. Given the time it takes to edit and format, though, it’s much better suited for personal notes and agendas than writing a Great American Novel.

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Dictating text

Getting started with voice typing is simple. First of all, Google Chrome will need to be up to date. Additionally, you will need to have a microphone installed on your computer, whether it be built in or external. To check that a mic is working properly on Windows, right-click the speaker symbol on the far right of the taskbar.

This will bring up the various sound options on the computer. Select “recording devices” to bring up a list of all such devices.

check mic 22

Any microphones that Windows detects will show up here. If your mic is working, there should be a green check mark.

Open up a new Google Doc in Chrome — this feature only works in the browser, not in the mobile app — and select Tools from the tabs in the upper-left corner. Select Voice typing to open the tool.

screen 1 final

A small microphone should appear on screen. Above the microphone will be a drop-down menu to select your language. Click the microphone, and it should turn red. This means the voice recognition software is now listening.

mic example

Two important things to note before dictating: one must speak clearly and at a moderate pace for the software to understand, and punctuation has to be spoken aloud. As an example, let’s start with the sentence, “Google, please write down everything I say.” Since the voice recognition software requires users to include punctuation, one would need to say “Google comma please write down everything I say period” in order to produce that exact text.

dictating text part 2
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