What is Speech recogntion?

What is speech recognition
[updated Jan 2020]

Generally speaking, the term ‘speech recognition’ in technology describes the capability of an electronic device to respond to words spoken by humans. Nowadays there is speech recognition for Windows and Mac computers, smartphones, cars, GPS navigation systems and much more.

At LearnSpeechRecognition, I specifically teach people to work with Dragon Professional Individual and Apple Voice Control. So that’s what I’ll be talking about. 🙂

And speaking in that context, speech recognition is software which can be installed on a computer. We’ve got speech recognition for the Mac/iOS and for Windows PCs.

For the PC, the best option is Dragon Professional Individual. There also used to be a version for the Mac, but that is no longer the case.

For the Mac, we now have Apple Voice Control, which is available on the Mac – from MacOS Catalina – and on both iPad and iPhone – from iOS13 and higher. As I am updating this article to include Apple Voice Control, the best language by far for on the Mac is US English and for iOS this is the only language available at all.

As this orignal article was written when there was no really good coice control option for the Mac, I’ll be talking about Dragon going forward. I’ll have a nice article about Apple Voice Control for you soon (and then I’ll link here, of course!)

So over to the fire spitting monster 🙂

To be able to successfully use Dragon, you also need a suitable microphone and a reasonably powerful computer. This combination then allows you to dictate text. Your spoken words appear on the screen. You can also use speech commands for controlling the computer.

What can Dragon do?


Dragon speech recognition software has allowed me to create this blogpost without having to type a single word. I’ve also entered the words on my screen at a much faster speed than I could type. Basically, the main thing slowing me down is my brain, which has to come up with the words I want to write!

So I am entering these words by dictating and next I will use speech commands to save this document. And, if I like, there are speech commands for editing and formatting this text as well.


Dragon has many built-in commands, but you can also add your own speech commands. That way you can navigate many applications by voice, even if they are not supported by Dragon out-of-the-box. This is a more advanced feature of Dragon. Personally I really enjoy creating custom commands form myself and my clients. It makes me so much more productive and it allows me to merge several actions into a single commands.

How does Dragon work?

When I speak into a microphone that is connected to my pc, Dragon analyses the sound. The newest version of Dragon uses ‘deep mind’ artificial intelligence to decide what I said.

Depending on what I said – and on the context in which I said it – Dragon either writes down the words as text or executes a command.

When I dictate a word that is not in its vocabulary, Dragon will not be able to write it down (unfortunately it is kind of stupid, that way). However, I can easily make corrections or manually add words to the vocabulary. Since the software already recognises an incredible number of words, I don’t have to teach it many new words.

To be honest: if I use a lot of specific words for a topic (jargon) I may have to put a bit more effort in teaching Dragon the words that I commonly use.

Fortunately, Dragon can analyse existing documents and find new words. That makes it fairly easy to add these words to Dragon’s vocabulary.

In the short video below I will demonstrate some dictation and commands.

Janneke den Draak

Janneke den Draak

Hi, I'm Janneke and I'm your go-to person for Dragon and Apple speech recognition software help.

When I got severe repetitive strain injury issues over 20 years ago, I didn't want to give up using the computer. So I learned all about controlling the PC with speech recognition and dictating my documents and emails.

I've now been a speech recognition software trainer and consultant for almost two decades, teaching over 2000 people handsfree productivity!

My online courses for Apple Voice Control and Dragon offer self-paced learning and I also love running my membership for Dragon users. For those in need of an intensive training or custom speech command creation, I am available for one-on-one calls.

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