Double Your Typing Speed With Vista’s Speech Recognition

by Brad Isaac on June 6, 2007

I thought it might be fun would be to test the new speech recognition engine in Vista. If the speech recognition works, then I would probably be much more productive in all of the emails, writing and blogging I do. It might be an exciting voyage anyway.

The set up is very easy. You simply good to the start menu and type “speech”. If you have not configured speech recognition before, then you will see a wizard appear that walks you step by step through setting it up.

Welcome screen

speech wiz

Choose a recording device


Quick microphone setup screen


Adjusting the microphone volume


Improving accuracy through document review


Print up the command reference sheet


After you have gone through the basic setup wizard, there is a tutorial that the speech recognition engine uses to recognize words and commands. I went to the tutorial and time did it took about 25 minutes to get through the entire process.

Unlike other tutorials I’ve run with Dragon Naturally Speaking and IBM’s viavoice, this tutorial was a little bit more action oriented. It had you going to the file menu, opening and launching programs, browsing websites, and of course typing and editing text.

First tutorial screen


Example of a tutorial screen


Each page and the tutorial walks you through between one and six different tasks. There is a lot of repetition in the actual words you use, however many of the ways to use the words are unique. For instance, you may be going from the file menu to exiting a program in one instance, and going from the file menu to save in the next.

Manipulating the file menu


There is an attractive monitor bar which hovers at the top of Vista’s screen. This monitor bar can be minimized to the system tray if you like. You can still recognize speech whether it’s in the system tray or the top of the screen. If I know me, I will keep it in the system tray.


I would say that dictating in the beginning resulted in maybe 85% accuracy. For me, since I did not memorize all of the commands, the correction of misspelled words were miss recognize words was a bit clumsy.


It took me about 25 to 30 minutes before I felt somewhat comfortable in dictating.

Compared to Dragon, the recognition is as good or better. In fact, I have dictated this entire post so far with minimal corrections. I will also note, that during at least 50% of the dictation, there were two kids playing in the background, including much yelling and laughing at the top of their lungs.

Only time will tell if this adds to my productivity or not. I would suspect that with the early results I am seeing here today, that it will be very helpful.

if you’re new to speech recognition, here are few tips you can use to improve your accuracy.

  • Write down an outline or make note cards of what you want to dictate – most of us are not perfect speakers on first go round, so having notes on what we’re trying to say helps keep the flow going. You see, the best speech recognition comes about when you speak in full sentences or at least several words at one time. Contrary to what you might think, saying one word at a time does not result in the best recognition.Make a careful adjustment of your
  • microphone – most people see best results if you have your microphone slightly below your mouth one thumb’s width away from your lips.
  • Buy a quality microphone – there is a difference in microphone quality. If you find the you’re relying a lot on text to speech, a decent microphone will go far toward improving recognition. The good microphones cancel out sounds that are not close by. By close by I mean a foot or so away from your face. Therefore to prevent other sounds from causing recognition related problems, a decent microphone as the way to go.
  • Overall, I love the concept of speech recognition. There’s so much hope that one day we will be able to talk and get our ideas on paper without having to deal with carpal tunnel syndrome or simply typing it dirty words a minute. Speech recognition makes the act of getting words to paper much quicker the and typing. However sometimes we have to deal with recognition errors in other words typos.
  • I would say that the way vista speech handles errors, or better allows you to handle errors is better than both Dragon Naturally Speaking and IBM’s Viavoice.

    I’m not sure if it is my past experience that plays a role in my initial success with this product. Your mileage may vary. However, if you do have Vista I installed I heartily recommend you give it a good college try. But don’t mess with it unless you’re going to dedicate at least 1 hour up front, and then continually train it as you find yourself typing throughout the day. It may take a couple days before you have doubled your typing speed, but it is reasonable to expect that you would be able to.

    Have you tried it? Let us know what you think!

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    { 1 comment }

    amanda October 4, 2009 at 6:39 am

    im having problems with my speech program it is not writing what i want it to say in my work it just types letters if you could give me some advice i would be truly greatful
    many thanks

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