Mountain Lion includes a systemwide Dictation feature. But until you learn some tricks for better transcriptions, you can’t harness the true power of telling your Mac what to type.

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Show Notes

I reference a video we made earlier that walks you through getting started with Dictation; that video can be found right here.

All of the Dictation tips included herein should work when you use the Dictation feature on iOS, too.

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Show transcript

Mountain Lion includes a feature Apple calls Dictation, which lets you talk to your Mac and have your text transcribed by the OS, anywhere you can type. We have another video that walks you through getting Dictation set up. Now that you’re ready to dictate, let’s go through a few clever dictation tricks you should learn to make the service more useful.

First up: Quotation marks. To put a word or phrase in quotes, use “open quote” and “close quote” cues, like this: I can’t want to see Samsung’s next open quote original close quote tablet, which yields… this. I can’t wait to see Samsung’s next “original” tablet.

If you prefer, you can just say “quote” instead of “open quote.” But you do need to use “close quote” when you want to close your quotation marks up.

(You can use “open” and “close parenthesis,” too.)

You can tell Dictation when words that aren’t always capitalized should be. For example, if I dictate the sentence “I’m going to write about Mountain Lion today,” Dictation transcribes it with a lowercase “M” and “L” in “Mountain Lion.” Instead, I use the “cap” cue, like this: “I’m going to write about cap mountain cap lion today.” And Dictation gets it right.

If you want to put something in all caps, try this: “The last part of this sentence is all caps on very important period all caps off.”

Dictation lets you control spacing, too. Say “new line” for a hard return; use “new paragraph” to skip two lines.

Dictation knows a LOT of punctuation marks and symbols. If you’re not sure how to type an unusual character—say, the pounds sterling sign, or an inverted exclamation point—just speak its name, and Dictation will transcribe it. Other symbols you can speak this way include the degree sign, caret, registered sign, copyright sign, section sign, inverted question mark, vertical bar, and plenty of others.

And don’t forget that Dictation can help you type a winky face, smiley face, and frowny face as well.

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