Speech recognition software recs for sprawly writing on a Mac
April 18, 2014 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Typing is killing me and I have to write a bunch of papers over the next couple of weeks. I have a 2012 MBP (not yet on Mavericks) and could spend ~ $100-150 on some kind of voice-to-text software. Looking for something with a minimal learning curve that will let me work fast. And, whatever else is required to quickly & painlessly navigate multiple documents. Any recommendations?

Usual workflow: I switch between 3-7 docs - one each for an outline, draft, references/lit review, plus a few scratchpad docs for particular sections/themes. I tend to write a bit in each doc, so I can focus my thinking, before pasting bits in the draft doc. Word for Mac 2011. About halfway through, I’ll turn on track changes to “hold” ideas in various places while I sew it all together.

I also have multiple pdfs open at a time -5-10, ish.

It’s kind of a mess, I know. The point is, I guess, I seem to use a visual, extensive and iterative writing and organization process, broadening things out before tightening them back into something linear. Like a “mind map”, I guess. Not easy to translate this into dictation – any ideas? It’s annoying because talking out a draft is more linear than the way I like to hatch my little idea pods. And it’s s l o w . So slow! Like 20 times as slow as typing, with all the corrections that have to be made in Mac Dictation, anyway (how do people get anything done with it?).

Is there voice to text software that will let me write the way I want to (and fast)? Or is it worth upgrading to Mavericks to get that version of Dictation? Was going to wait for all the fixes to come in. Ideas on doing things faster/more efficiently?

And, ideas on how I can navigate all the docs without a mouse/trackpad would be great! Have been wearing a splint & have a wireless keyboard and mouse, & try to keep everything at 90 degrees, but it’s not awesome.

Thank you!
posted by cotton dress sock to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Dragon is the best dictation app. Using speech on a computer is really only great for dictation and unless you spend a lot of time learning to use it, which will likely be slow, you will be horribly slow.

I've been using Mavericks since it was released with no problems. Is say to upgrade first and see if the built in dictation works for you before investing in upgrading Dragon.

The main benefit between versions of Dragon is the upgraded speech recognition engine.
posted by reddot at 4:42 AM on April 19, 2014

Best answer: Oh, and command and control of things with voice is terribly painful. You may be able to create custom commands to do what you want but I think it's unlikely that you'll be satisfied.

Also, have you tried different keyboards or pointing devices to find ones that might be more ergonomic for you? Take a look at your desk and monitor heights and get things situated correctly.
posted by reddot at 4:44 AM on April 19, 2014

I have been using Dragon for PC for 10 plus years, have always bought the upgrades but they have rarely been an improvement, I recommend picking up an inexpensive version that is compatible with your OS along with a good mic. Out of the box accuracy is pretty good on the last couple versions
posted by blueprinter at 5:04 AM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, appreciate your informed responses. I don't know what I was hoping for.

I did buy a keyboard & mouse but will need to experiment with a few more, I guess. I'm hunting & pecking with the right hand, and using more of my left to type & navigate. (I think the MacBook is part of the problem. The actual keyboard is set too far away from the body.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:23 AM on April 19, 2014

You'll pretty much find that all laptop computers will have problems similar to the Mac, unless you get one w/out a trackpad.
posted by reddot at 10:40 AM on April 20, 2014

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