Dictation is a feature of iOS and Mac OS X that lets you speak as you normally would, transforming your speech magically into text. It’s impressively accurate, letting you easily crank out notes, emails, diary entries, or just about anything else with it just by talking. To really get the most out of Dictation though you will want to learn a few extra commands, they will help with things like punctuation, creating paragraphs, jumping to new lines, and setting capitalization.

These commands will work in both OS X and iOS, so long as the Mac, iPad, or iPhone supports Dictation and has the featured turned on (here’s how to enable it in OS X and how to enable it for iOS, though it’s almost always turned on by default in the latest versions of both.)

Dictation Commands for iOS & OS X

These are to be spoken when Dictation is active:

  • “All Caps” to capitalize all of only the next word (e.g. START)
  • “Caps” to capitalize the next word (e.g. Start)
  • “Upper Case [letter]“ for making a spelling out acronyms (e.g. SAT)
  • “Caps On” to turn on caps lock
  • “Caps Off” to turn off caps lock
  • “No Caps” to use no capitals with the word
  • “Numeral [number]“ to type the number rather than word
  • “New Paragraph” to create a new paragraph
  • “New Line” to insert and start a new line
  • “No Space” to prevent a space from being between the next word
  • “No Space On” to turn off all spaces in the next sequence of words (helpful for passwords)
  • No Space Off” to resume normal spacing between words

Adding things like periods and commas can be done automatically by pausing in speech, or, usually more accurately, by just simply saying aloud the punctuation needed.

Here’s an example of how to use Dictation to write a quick message that looks as if it was typed normally:

“Hey Homer [comma] [new line]
What time do you want to see a movie [question mark] I think the [numeral 5] showing is the [all caps] best [period] [new line]
Toodles [comma] Bart”

That would come out looking like this:

“Hey Homer,
What time do you want to see a movie? I think the 5 showing is the BEST.
Toodles, Bart”

There are a lot of other punctuation and special commands available, and even though most are common sense, you can find the full list below for convenience.

Punctuation & Special Character Commands for Dictation

Most of the punctuation commands are common sense, but here’s the full list of possibilities from Apple:

question mark ?
inverted question mark ¿
exclamation point !
em dash
underscore _
comma ,
open parenthesis (
close parenthesis )
open square bracket [
close square bracket ]
open brace {
close brace }
semi colon ;
back quote
single quote
end single quote
colon :
slash /
back slash \
tilde ~
ampersand &
percent sign %
copyright sign ©
registered sign ®
section sign §
dollar sign $
cent sign ¢
degree sign º
caret ^
at sign @
Pound sterling sign £
Yen sign ¥
Euro sign
pound sign #
smiley face (or “smiley”) :-)
frowny face (or “sad face”, “frown”) :-(
winky face (or “winky”) ;-)

Did we miss any particularly important commands for Dictation? Let us know in the comments.

« »