How to Use Dictation in Apple OS X Mountain Lion

If you wanted your Mac to serve as a dictation machine up till now, you needed a third-party app, such as Nuance’s Dragon Dictate, along with a specialized headset or mic. Mountain Lion makes it simple with Dictate, Apple’s cloud-based solution for voice typing. This feature works in almost any app that has a text entry feature and also uses your Mac’s Contact app to spell the names of your contacts correctly.


Fortunately, Dictate is very simple to set up and use. You don’t need to spend extended amounts of time speaking silly paragraphs to train your Mac.

  1. Navigate to Dictation & Speech under System preferences
  2. Click the On button to get started.
  3. Select DictationClick Enable Dictation when you see a prompt cautioning you that what you say will be processed by Apple’s servers to make the conversion to text.
  4. Enable Dictation Press the Function (Fn) button twice on your Mac’s keyboard to enable Dictate mode and Fn twice once more when you’re finished speaking.

Dictate defaults to your Mac’s Internal microphone, but you can click the tiny arrow to produce a drop-down menu where you can select a different mic.

You can also click the Shortcut menu to choose a different set of keystrokes for enabling Dictation.


  • To insert a punctuation mark, just say it and your computer will add it in for you.
  • Say ‘new line’ to start dictating on the next line. 
  • Say ‘new paragraph’ to create a blank line between the previous text and the new section of text. 

This Mountain Lion feature can have trouble with names and using all caps can be dicey, but Dictate is otherwise pretty accurate. We wished that it did more with formatting but the accuracy is very impressive. This article is an example.

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  1. mooma_andmoopa Says:

    When I say punctuation mark, my mac writes the words punctuation mark, but does not make a dot at all. Where as question mark seems to work fine.. I don’t get it.. it might be my accent, but if dictation understands me and obviously it does coz it writes the words just fine, how could it be my accent?

  2. john Says:

    It’s simple: say what you ACTUALLY want.

    As far as I know, there is no punctuation mark called quote punctuation mark unquote.

    If you want a period (what you seem to call a “dot”) say “period” . Or if you are English, using the (English/English) version, your quote.unquote is called a full stop.

    Or you can actually say “dot” and, as you can see, it will give you a . (which can be a bit of a teaser if you want to write the word dot!)

    P.S when you say ellipsis, Dictation actually gives you …

  3. Tom Weatherby Says:

    How do I get my message on my email when i am sending a letter. When I type it only shows in the q box in the right hand corner


  4. someone-online Says:

    mooma_andmoopa I have no idea why you grew up thinking a period “.” is actually called a “punctuation mark” because the word punctuation actually means the characters used to separate words such as the comma, colon, semicolon, question mark, exclamation mark, etc. I find your comment on this site sad and a little disturbing.

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