Mac OSX has a suite of programs that allow the user to interact with his or her computer without the aid of a mouse or keyboard. Unfortunately, the Mac OSX voice control, dictation and voice does not train the computer to recognize one’s voice and may have limited functionality for controlling the computer. Therefore, for Mac users if they are going to doing a lot of dictation and or voice control, please consult the ITS support center.


How to turn on accessibility

  1. Open System Preferences then click on Universal Access or on Accessibility depending on the version of your Mac OS.
  2. Then select Enable Access for Assistive Devices. This option is located at the bottom of the screen and is a check box.


Enable and configure text-to-speech commands

  1. To enable text-to-speech commands, open System Preferences then click on Speech or Dictation and Speech (once again it depends on your version of the Mac OS.
  2. Click in the Spoken User Interface tab or the Text to Speech Then select the voice you would like to use when the computer reads to you.
  3. Choose the speed of the voice by moving the rating bar to the left and right. You can hear a sample of the voice by clicking on
  4. Select the Announce When Alerts are Displayed check box if you would want to make your Mac read aloud the text when an alert appears. Examples of dialogue boxes include “Microsoft Word has quit unexpectedly” or “printer out of paper”.
  5. Click on the Set Alert Options button to choose a different voice to announce your alerts. It is also possible to delay the time when the alert appears and when it is spoken to you.
  6. You can set your Mac give you an audio announcement when an application needs your attention. You do this by clicking on the box next to Announce when an Application Requires your Attention.
  7. If you would like the computer to read a text that you have selected click the box next to Speak selected text when the key is pressed. If you would like to change the key selection that activates this option click on the Change Key button and enter the key you would like to use.
    1. Another way to have the computer read aloud a selection of text is to copy and paste the text you want to hear into a blank TextEdit document. Click where you want your Mac to begin reading to you, and then choose Edit->Speech->Start Speaking­. To make it stop choose ­Edit->Speech->Stop Speaking.


Using Voice Commands to control your Mac

  1. In order to give voice commands to the MAC, open System Preferences and then select Speech or Dictation and Speech (depending on your operating system). You then click on the speech recognition or dictation
  2. Enable Speakable Items by checking the yes If you are using a newer version of the Mac OSX turn on Dictation by clicking the on button next to Dictation.
  3. Calibrate your microphone by clicking on the calibrate For later version of the Mac OS you can select the microphone by clicking underneath the microphone icon and selecting the microphone would like to use/configure from the drop down menu.
  4. Select a hotkey that will give the command to the computer to start listening. Click on Change Key and choose the key combination. Once again in newer version of the Mac OS go to the drop down menu next to Shortcut and you select the shortcut you would like to use or customize your own.
  5. You can now use voice commands in programs that support them.


Using Dictation

  1. Open the program (Microsoft Word, Web Browser etc.) that you would like to dictate text to.
  2. Then press the Fn (Function) key twice to turn on dictation. Or press your custom shortcut. You can also click on Edit and then click on Start Dictation.
  3. You will see a microphone icon appear and then you can speak your text.
  4. To use punctuation, such as a period or comma, you must say the name of the punctuation mark.
  5. You can also perform simple formatting. For example you can say “new line” or “new paragraph” to perform these operations.
  6. When you have completed dictation press the Fn key or click the Done button. Then your text will appear.
  7. The program underlines unclear text in blue, click on the text to select an alternate, or type to dictate the correct text.