Speak directly into your PC with DictationPro speech-to-text


I didn’t expect to see it, but here it is: a freeware speech recognition software, and a good one at that.

DictationPro is a full-fledged speech-to-text software that can recognize words spoken through a microphone with a high degree of accuracy. It is ‘trainable’ such as to better recognize a particular person’s voice over continued usage.

The program also features simple voice commands that can perform various formatting tasks as well, as deleting, copying of words and phrases. It also has the ability to store and recognize user defined ‘frequently used’ or technical words and phrases.

Works on Windows 7 and Vista, and you will need a good quality microphone to use this software effectively.

How it works: once installed, the program will create a default user profile and go through microphone testing segment and a ‘training’ session, both of which involve reading some on-screen sentences aloud. The training session will familiarize you with the various formatting commands. Otherwise, when this is done, the program looks and feels like a typical word processing program, and where you can press the microphone on/off button to enable input.

More notes on this program:

  • Voice commands: pressing ‘CTRL’ as you speak lets DicationPro know to listen for commands. Commands take a little bit of getting used to, and their effectiveness is acceptable but not great. I would say editing/selecting/cutting via the mouse is preferable.
  • Profiles (and training): your voice and intonation will be different than another persons; DictatoinPro will let you create different profiles for different people, and allow you to ‘train’ each profile separately.
  • Defining frequently used phrases: DicationPro will let you predefine a custom list of words or phrases that are atypical and/or that you frequently use (e.g. I immediately went in and defined ‘Freewaregenius’ and ‘Freewaregenius.com’
  • The word processor component: is what you would expect; a fairly competent word processor which offers rich text editing, tables, spellchecking, etc; significantly, it can save in DOC, DOCX, RTF, PDF, and TXT formats.
  • The learning curve: while this software is fairly intuitive and has a very good help file, a video tutorial would be very useful as well; esp. for commands (as far as I know there isn’t one at the moment of this writing).

The verdict: what I found is that switching from the keyboard to speaking into the microphone takes quite a bit of getting used to, and is far from intuitive (esp. when our brains are so used to the keyboard). But if you want to do speech to text, or if you have to do it, you will find DictationPro to be a surprisingly robust and competent software.

But you will get as much out of this program as you put into it; train the program to your voice, define all the frequently used and technical phrases that you can, and get to grips with the ‘commands’ if you need to.

I’ve been asked about freeware speech to text a number of times by friends and readers who eventually had to resort to the (paid) Dragon software (which they’ve subsequently given mixed reviews). So it is thrilling for me to have found a speech to text software that is of this quality. I can only hope is that it remains under development and free.

[Thanks to reader Panzer for tipping me off about this software]

Version Tested: 0.9 beta

Compatibility: Windows 7, Vista. Requires a good quality microphone.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 8.16 megs).

  • michel

    First, “text to speech” means the computer reads a text file aloud, not that it transcribes what you say. That’s Speech Recognition.

    Second, a perfectly good Speech Recognition module is built in to Vista and WIn7. Is this one somehow better?

  • Adam

    Please correct the “text to speech” typos, it’s confusing.

  • Samer

    Yikes! What a mistake to make! Fixed it, thanks guys.

  • Samer

    @ michel: I apologize, I was not aware of said speech recognition module in Win 7 and Vista. My guess is that this is the same module that is being used in this software, since it is specific to Win 7 and Vista.

  • Axel

    First: For game use you can try the scripting language Vocola 3, which runs on Win 7 Speech Recognition. Free. Works quite well for short phrases and commands

    ALL Speech programs I have ever tried improve in accuracy up to a point and then get hopelessly confused all of a sudden. So the usefulness of SR remains debatable. This may have something to do with an odd “feature” of Win 7 SR that decreases the accuracy of the guess when choosing between many alternatives. Ie. as it learns your specific vocab it gets more and more confused. As the speech engines are largely Fraunhofer Institute based, there are no practical alternatives.

    I could live with about 2 mistakes in a paragraph. When working it out I found that is about 99.5% required accuracy. NO program ever came close.

  • Chris

    English is not my first language, and I have never found any speech recognition system that understands my accent … not even remotely. This one’s accuracy was less than 1% upon testing. Not usable, except for the laughs as it bungles a huge mess of unrelated words together. A must try for non-native English speakers! It will make your day.

  • Dalmo

    I use Windows7 in brazilian portuguese, and this software don´t work: “Speech Recognizer is corrupted or not exists”… Help me, please…
    Sorry by my bad English..