Whether you’ve got your arms full of books or want to find an important document without scrolling through Search, Ease of Access dictation allows you to do it all hands-free.

Getting started

To get started, type Ease of Access Dictation in Windows search then open it.

Screenshot of Ease of Acess Dictation in Windows

Open Ease of Access dictation to turn the Speech Recognition toggle to On.

Screenshot of Speech recognition toggle


If you’ve never used the feature before, a setup prompt will appear. Select Next.

Screenshot of Set up Screenshot Recognition prompt

Selecting your microphone

Select the type of microphone used by your computer. You can choose from Headset Microphone, Desktop Microphone, or Other.

A Headset Microphone includes Bluetooth and wired headphones, like the ones you use to listen to music or talk on your phone. Desktop Microphone refers to the type that sit on your desk and are not a part of your computer. If you are using the microphone built into your computer, select Other.

Screenshot of Select microphone setting

After selecting whichever is most appropriate for your use, you’ll receive information on proper microphone placement.

Select Next.

Screenshot of Microphone placement

Set up Speech Recognition

Now it’s time to set up Speech Recognition. Cortana will learn how you speak in order to accurately dictate what you are saying. Read the sentence next to the microphone icon aloud, remembering to speak naturally, just as you would with someone sitting right next to you. This will help Cortana learn your normal pitch and the way you annunciate your words. Please note that you can always redo these steps if you’re not satisfied with the results. When you are done, select Next.

Screenshot of Speech recognition  recording tool

Want to improve speech recognition accuracy? Select Enable document review to improve the computer’s ability to recognize spoken words by allowing it to review documents and e-mail in your search index.

Select Next.

Improve speech recognition acuracy settings

Turning Speech Recognition off and on

You can choose whether to turn Speech Recognition on automatically or manually by selecting Use manual activation mode or Use voice activation mode.

If you choose to Use manual activation mode, you will turn Speech Activation on and off manually by selecting the Windows logo key + Ctrl + S.

If you opt to Use voice activation mode, Speech Recognition will go to sleep when not in use and reactivate when you speak again.

Choose your preferred activation mode and select Next.

Screenshot of choice of activation

Print out the Speech Reference Card

Your computer can respond to specific commands. These commands are available to you in the form of a Speech Reference Card that you can print out to have on hand for reference.

Print speech reference card

Select Next to prompt Speech Recognition to run next time you start your device.

Run speech recognition at startup

Select Next to complete set up.

Once you’ve restarted your device, the dictation tool will be visible on your desktop.

Tool visibility on desktop

Let’s try out this feature. If the tool shows as Off or sleeping try waking it up by speaking into the mic. Or, if you opted to Use manual activation mode, select the microphone button or press Ctrl + the Windows key to turn Speech Recognition back on.

Transcribe spoken word to text

Above and beyond navigating your computer with no hands, you can also transcribe spoken word to text.

Select the Cortana icon on your taskbar to open Cortana search.

Cortana icon

Select the microphone on the Speech Recognition tool to have it start listening to your voice.

Start talking to see your words magically appear onscreen.

For example, say, “What is the weather like today?”

By turning the microphone on, you can navigate and control your computer and dictate text just by relying on the power of your voice. Select the microphone again to turn it off.

Please note that Speech Recognition is only available for the following languages: English (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, India and Australia), French, German, Japanese, Mandarin (Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional) and Spanish.

Your voice + your device = powerful productivity

Windows features allow you to get more done. Open and close apps or programs, search for files, or capture an important memo. With Speech Recognition, you’ve got the bandwidth to do more with your voice than ever before.