MacSpeech Dictate 1.5 Review

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It wasn't too long ago that I reviewed MacSpeech Dictate version 1. At the time I concluded it was the best dictation application on the Mac but is still wanting against the DragonDictate on the PC.

Because MacSpeech Dictate uses the Dragon speech recognition engine, I've always felt it is only a question of time before MacSpeech catches up with the feature list on the more mature PC application. Recently, MacSpeech Dictate came out with version 1.5 that takes several important steps on that path.

Since the original release of MacSpeech Dictate, the Dragon engine has been updated to version 10 on the PC. MacSpeech Dictate 1.5 brings that Dragon version 10 engine over to the Mac. It is both faster and more accurate than the Dragon 9 engine in the prior version. The developer states the accuracy improved "up to 20%." Even using the prior version, my accuracy was very good. Having used speech recognition software (off and on) for over 10 years, I simply cannot understate the accuracy of the Dragon engine if you spend a little time and are careful with your dictdion. Frankly, my biggest accuracy problems are not the software but my occasional sloppy dictation habits. While difficult to quantify, the improved accuracy and speed with the new version is noticeable. Indeed, the engine upgrade is, in my opinion, the most important reason to move to version 1.5.

Another reason to upgrade is the addition of the vocabulary editor which allows you to train individual words and add them to your dictionary. It can be anything: technical jargon, latin phrases, even "MacSparky." This is one of the PC features that I missed on the Mac. Thankfully, you can also save your profile so the additional words and nuances of your voice can be captured by the system.

The application now also recognizes 13 distinct English dialectic variations. The new "cache document" command allows you to navigate a document and perform edits. In practice, I still found it easier to use the mouse and keyboard for proofing and editing following dictation.

The interface has not changed significantly. It still provides you with a list of available commands and an easy to use control window. Once you get used to MacSpeech Dictate, I recommend you turn some of these additional windows off. These days I use this application exclusively through its menubar icon.

As I get older, I find myself using speech recognition software more and more often. This results from the fact that I'm getting older and my fingers get sore after long typing sessions. Also, I'm really busy and using MacSpeech Dictate allows me to write much faster. Most of then content at MacSparky.com and, for that matter, this very review started out with MacSpeech Dictate.

MacSpeech Dictate remains the only option on the Macintosh for speech recognition. Thankfully, the developer is aggressively moving forward with the addition of new features and support. If you are buying it new, the price is $199 and includes a microphone. For the upgrade to version 1.5 it is $55. You can learn more at macspeech.com.

You can listen to this review on the MacReviewCast Episode 214.