Adventures in dictationland


I’m not a dictation-only kind of guy. I enjoy typing and do most of my writing that way. But there’s something liberating about being able to sit down, flap my gums, and have the words appear on the page, and when I dictate, I’m able to crank out a lot of them.

For a long time, I used DragonNaturally Speaking to dictate on my Windows desktop. I recently retired that computer in favor of a new laptop and haven’t installed Dragon. When I want to dictate, I’ve been using Google Voice Typing, which is fast and accurate, at least for me. The only drawback is that you can only use it via the Chrome browser and I use Brave as my default.

A few days ago, I downloaded a free app called LilySpeech (Windows only) and have been trying it out. It uses Google’s servers for transcription and seems to deliver equally impressive results.

The advantage of LilySpeech is that I can use it anywhere on Windows—in any browser or app, including Scrivener, which is something I wasn’t able to do with Dragon. Right now, I’m dictating this into Obsidian, and it works like a charm.

On iOS, Siri dictation works well but times out after 30-40 seconds. I tried Google Docs Voice Typing, both the app and via Safari, and it also times out. But who knows, I may be doing something wrong.

The Drafts app (iOS, Mac, Android) does dictation well. I just tested it on my iPad and it didn’t time out, even after several minutes of continuous speaking. (If you get different results, try launching a new document via the widget instead of the app.)

When I started practicing, I would dictate and record and have a secretary transcribe it. Today, many attorneys record and upload to a transcription service like But unless human transcription is required, I’m a proponent for letting technology do it.

There are many other options for each platform that seem to deliver varying degrees of speed and accuracy. If you’d like something that’s cross-platform and can be used via the web or an app, I recommend giving a try. They have a generous free plan and the paid plan is reasonable.

Otter has a couple of killer features to recommend it. It allows you to transcribe a conversation, identifying each speaker by time stamp. Very handing for interviews and meetings. Otter also adds punctuation (at your option), meaning you don’t have to dictate it.

So, over to you. Do you use dictation? What apps or process do you use on desktop, web, and mobile?

I’m all ears.


Speechnotes: A Free alternative to Dragon NaturallySpeaking?


If you’ve never tried voice dictation before, but you’re not ready to take the plunge and invest in the gold standard of voice dictation software Dragon NaturallySpeaking, you might want to try a free online alternative called Speechnotes. (Note, it’s .co, not .com). I’ve been playing around with it for a few days and I am impressed.

Speechnotes is a speech-enabled online notepad that lets you turn your voice into text inside your browser. There’s also an extension, for Chrome users only right now. Go to the website, click on the graphic microphone, and you’re ready to dictate.

Speechnotes uses Google’s technology and it’s fast and accurate. Not as accurate as Dragon NaturallySpeaking (or Dragon for Mac), with which I am able to achieve 99% accuracy, but it does remarkably well considering it doesn’t “know” my voice, speech patterns, or vocabulary. I dictated the first draft of this post with it and estimate it had better than 90% accuracy.

Speechnotes also lacks editing capabilities, but does allow for dictation of basic punctuation. You can use it dictate notes or correspondence on the fly, and then download the text, upload it to Google Drive, or simply cut and paste your words into the application of your choosing.

One thing I really like is that the program doesn’t time out, like Siri or other free dictation solutions. You can dictate for as long as you want, pause and come back for more. I haven’t been able to make it work on my iPhone, unfortunately.

Give it a try. There is no login, registration, installation, or download needed to use Speechnotes. If you like it, it may be all you need. If you really like it, go look at all you can do with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.


Voice to text dictation with Dragon Naturally Speaking


A long time ago, my colleagues and I dictated most of our letters, pleadings and other work product into a recording device, to be transcribed by a legal secretary. At first, we recorded onto a magnetic belt or tape. Later, we used cassette tapes (micro and regular size).

I could type, but this was before computers, and correcting typos, even on a Selectric with built in correction tape, was not the best use of my time.

Today, I type. But in my never-ending quest to increase my writing output, I have lately been experimenting with voice to text (speech to text) apps, including an old version of Dragon Naturally Speaking which I’ve had on my hard drive for several years.

I’ve tinkered with it in the past, but never used it consistently, mainly because of the learning curve and concomitant time it always seemed to require.

That, plus I am a quick typist.

And yet, I know that voice dictation is quicker, and if I can master DNS, I will increase my productivity.

This post wasn’t dictated with the software, but I have started using it daily. I’m learning the program’s commands, practicing my old dictation habits, and things are coming along. Period. Paragraph.

Nuance, which makes the software, just announced a new app for mobile, Dragon Anywhere, coming this fall. This looks amazing for those who are frequently away from their computer. When I’m out, I use Siri to dictate on my phone, but you have to stop and re-set every 30 seconds. Dragon Anywhere offers unlimited dictation time.

Nuance also announced a new Professional version for individuals. I couldn’t resist the price so I upgraded. (If you have DNS, go to Help on the menu and “check for upgrades”.

One thing I like about the upgrade (that I don’t have on my old version) is the ability to import an audio file for transcription. If I don’t subscribe to Dragon Anywhere (it will be a monthly subscription), this will be a big help.

If you read reviews about DNS, you find a mixed bag. A lot of people have had problems with installation and use of their products. Other reviews sing their praises.

If you use voice dictation in your work, or you have done so in the past, I’d love to hear your experiences. What do you use? How has it helped to improve your work flow? Do you have any tips to share?