Why I don’t recommend Dragon Home 15

home vs individual2

In the Nuance store, you can choose between different versions of Dragon speech recognition (previously called NaturallySpeaking).

The Dragon Home version and Dragon Professional Individual are the most relevant versions and the price difference is significant. At the time of writing this blog post, Dragon Professional Individual costs $300, while the Home version only costs $150.

Are the differences that big, then?

At first sight, the differences between DPI and Home don’t seem hugely important. Especially if you only want to dictate and you have no need of creating custom speech commands.

Both allow you to dictate and use speech commands to navigate around your computer.

The data sheet about the Home version states “You can even have Dragon learn new words as you make document corrections.” So apparently you can add new words to Dragon’s vocabulary in the Home version. Who would need anything else? Right?

Well, I am not really one to climb on my soapbox and rant, but that little sentence has big implications.

Dragon’s Vocabulary Editor

You see, the Dragon Professional Individual version gives you access to the Vocabulary Editor. A hugely powerful way to tweak your recognition rates. The Home edition does NOT give you the option to edit the vocabulary!

And… if you do not have access to the Vocabulary Editor, that means that:

You cannot add words, other than via corrections.
You cannot delete words from your vocabulary (e.g. if you misspelled a correction).
You cannot help Dragon understand complicated pronunciations by adding a “spoken form”
(e.g. my name is spelled ‘Janneke’, but pronounced ‘yah-nuh-kuh’).
You cannot force Dragon to understand that your name is Duane, and not Dwain, Dwayne or Dwaine.
You cannot add phrases to the vocabulary, which would make sure that they are always written with the correct capitalisation and hyphens.
Like in the “Yin-Yang Method for baking Better Eggs”
You cannot tweak Dragon to understand that e.g the word ‘blackboard’ always should be written with a capital if it is followed by a number.
In the Vocabulary Editor you could even make Dragon write that number as a Roman numeral: you say 'blackboard four", Dragon writes "Blackboard IV".

Now, I do realise that some of these features might seem pretty far-fetched, but being able to tweak the vocabulary makes the speech recognition so much more enjoyable to use every day.

Just consider that if you use Dragon’s corrections option to add a word and you make a mistake, without the Vocabulary Editor you can never  delete the mistaken word.

Honestly, if you do any serious dictation at all, spending the extra $150 so that you can have access to the Vocabulary Editor is more than worth it.

Custom commands

Personally I wouldn’t want to have a Dragon version without custom commands. I use them all the time.

In case you don’t know, custom commands are speech commands that you can add yourself to the system. .

These commands can be extremely complicated, but sometimes the simplest of custom commands can make life so much easier.

Example of a custom command

If you often need to log in to a certain website, Dragon’s step-by-step custom commands make it very easy to create a command that will do this for you with a single speech command.

You can make it…

  1. fill out your username
  2. press the Tab key to move to the password field
  3. fill out your password
  4. press the Enter key to confirm and log you in.

Commands like these can save you lots of time. Back when I was an emplyee, I used to start up Dragon especially to fill out my billable hours. That was a lot faster than doing it by mouse and keyboard. And obviously, it wasy WAY less strain on my hurting arms and hands.

User profiles and backing up your custom words

Now, I do not have the Home version installed on my computer and I have unfortunately not been able to find clear information about what features are available regarding your profile and backing up your data.

What I can confirm, though, is that it is possible with Dragon Professional Individual to create multiple user profiles and manage them. This includes exporting a user profile, so that you keep it on a separate disc/USB stick as backup or move it to a different computer.

After all, in case of technical issues or a new computer, it would be fantastic if you could just import your users profile from the USB stick and you’d be right back where you left off.

Also, it is possible to import and export custom words in Dragon Professional Individual. That is particularly practical if you want to share words with someone else or if you want to create a fresh new user profile. You can immediately be up and running by importing your custom words.

The good things about the Home version

I will be fair and also point out the good points of Dragon Home. I have every reason to believe that out-of-the-box the Dragon Home version is exactly as accurate in its recognition as the Dragon Professional Individual version.

  • If you do not mind some persistent mistakes that Dragon will continue to make and that you cannot fix due to no access to the Vocabulary Editor.
  • If you just use Dragon to dictate about everyday topics and don’t use much specific vocabulary/jargon.
  • If you don’t need or want custom commands to speed up your productivity.
  • Or if you honestly can’t afford the more expenisve version…

Then the Home version can be great. It still has got very accurate recognition in many different applications. You can also use the built-in voice commands for many actions. Compared to, for example, Google Docs Voice Typing, Dragon Home is a MUCH more versatile and all-round solution.

(But as you might have guessed from the above, you’ll have to pry the Professional Individual version out of my cold, dead hands before I give it up! 😃)

What version of Dragon do you have?

I’m very curious what version of Dragon my readers are using. Let me know in the comments, please:

A. Dragon Home
B. Dragon Professional Individual (or Group)
C. Different version (please share which version, if you don’t mind)
D. I actually don’t know…

PS: If you want me to help you learning to use the cool features that Dragon Pro offers, check out the LearnSpeechRecognition Academy.

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.

38 Responses

  1. I currently have vs 12 premium. Am I right to understand I would get less functionality with vs 15 Home?

    1. Hi Rachael,

      Yes, that is correct. You would lose significant functionality (e.g. no Vocabulary Editor)

  2. I have Dragon V12.00.100.010.
    I want to find out if I can upgrade to Dragon Professional Individual 17 (upgrade 150.00).
    I just missed an opportunity to get Dragon Professional Individual (not upgrade – full for 99.00)

    1. Hi Mike,

      There is only a Dragon Pro Individual 15, not 17 so I am not 100% sure what you mean.

      But for finding out if you can upgrade, I suggest you contact customer support at Nuance. I don’t sell Dragon overseas (only in Europe) so I’m afraid I can’t give you any definite answers.

      Generally, you can update from the next to last version, e.g. 13 to 15, but not 12 to 15. They occasionally still offer the option to upgrade from Premium 13 to Pro Individual 15, but please check with Nuance if you’re eligible for that. Usually you can’t upgrade from a Home version to Pro Individual. In that case you’ll have to purchase the entire version. However, as I said, I’m not a reseller in the USA, so check with Nuance what they can do for you.

      1. Hi Phillip, Sadly they don’t have updates from further back than 2 versions. So you should in theory be able to upgrade from Dragon 13, but the Home version has no upgrades and the Premium version no longer exists.
        Will you be buying a new version 15 now?

  3. I have a real love hate relationship with Dragon/Nuance. I know their software is often the best on the market but I hate their inflexibility over upgrades. I bought Dragon naturally speaking 11.5 back in 2011. It wouldn’t work as his voice was too young and by the time his voice was old enough we had switched to a Mac. No upgrade pricing available on switching from PC to Mac so had to pay full price for Dragon Dictate for Mac. In no time at all that was discontinued and unsupported leaving us with nothing. Now I have dredged up an old PC for him and going to try to reload Dragon 11.5 and see how well that works (Nuance have again confirmed no update/upgrade possible – sigh!). I see you quite like Dragon 13 – do you know how different Dragon 11 was from that?

    1. Hi Penny,

      Sorry to hear about you not being able to upgrade.

      I believe that version 13 still can be installed on Windows 10, but version 11.5 can’t. Also, though version 15 is definitely more accurate than version 13, still version 13 had good accuracy. Significantly better than version 11.

  4. Hi Janneke

    My son is about to start his A levels in just under two weeks.

    I have suggested to him that we buy some OCR software to scan in his notes that he takes every day (can you advise at all on the best OCR software for MacOS Sierra or High Sierra?


    I have advised him to buy some sort of recording device that he can have running during his lessons so that everything the teacher say is recorded and then he can bring the device home and convert the Audio to Text using dragon (I’m guessing Pro ( as he has maths and advanced terminology and also economics etc so may need to add these to the words list!)

    He can then remove any text was from other students and only have the most relevant info on the teacher notes as teacher often give good tips and tricks during the classes and people don’t always write those down as they are mentioned in passing. Sorry I’m waffling but what are your thoughts and also can you suggest the version and if you are aware then the best usb recording device that can be plugged into an iMac with MacOS Sierra or High Sierra?

    Please note if its can’t be Mac then we can get him a pc but would rather not as it’s all costly

    1. Hi Aash,

      Unfortunately I can’t give recommendations for OCR software, since that really isn’t my expertise.

      And also unfortunately: Dragon isn’t good at all in transcribing lectures. You can do transcription of a single dictator who is DICTATING into the recorder. Simply recording someone TALKING is not going to acceptable results. Sorry for the capital letters, but the emphasis is important. Dictation involves also saying the punctuation marks.

      At this point I am not aware that Appla has dictation software that would facilitate transcription. Sadly, Dragon for Mac has been discontinued. Though that also would not have worked due to same reasons as Dragon for Windows won’t work for transcription.

      Check out this blog post for more info

      You can try otter.ia for automated transcription of lectures. That might be an alternative. Rev.com as described in the blog post is very good, but more expensive, I believe.

      Wishing your son all the best for his A levels.

  5. You wouldn’t happen to know whether I could simply upgrade to “Professional Ind” from “Home” for the difference in the price?

    1. Linda, as far as I know this is not possible. However, I am in the Netherlands and don’t know the exact details of other countries.

      If you purchased at the Nuance web store you could return within 30 days. If more than 30 days have passed, I’d simply Nuance support if they’d be willing to help out if you wanted to upgrade. It doesn’t hurt to ask and who knows…

    2. I had posted that question in a search bar “Google” just a few minutes ago and the short answer is “No”. Nuance said completely uninstall the old version purchase the new version and install it, as there is no upgrading from version to version. I will submit copied/pasted

      QUERY “if i buy dragon 15 can i later upgrade to pro”

      First result- http://www.nuance.com Dragon does not support upgrades from any other versions or editions. If you have any other version or edition installed, you must first uninstall your existing version, and then purchase and install the full Dragon version 15 installation package.

      I am going for it. I have wanted this for years and have never indulged so here goes Pro version 15!

  6. Hi Janeke,
    I am a teacher suffering with RSI due to the huge amount of manual handling I have to do in school (sharpening pencils, shuffling 90 + books a day, stapling papers and to walls and…typing….massive amounts of typing). We often have to produce tables/grids of information, work in teams to plan lessons and share documents via email and use multiple devices – tablets, MS pc’s, MS laptops and I have my own personal Apple MacBook Air. I’ve never used Dragon software but I want to talk to my Head Teacher about it to ease the pain of my RSI so I would be grateful if you could answer these questions:
    1) Is there a special package we could get in schools – it might help some of my students?
    2) How easy is it to create tables/use MS EXCEL, edit photos and videos etc.? 3) Can you blend use of dragon with manual document creation – eg – use dragon to draft a document and a keyboard to edit?
    4)Is there a minimum operating system/memory requirement needed to run the software?
    5) What tech support comes with the product?
    6)Is there any way I could try before I buy since it is quite a big expense? (NB Im in the UK)

  7. Hi Janneke

    I broke my arm on Saturday and it’s given me the final push to go to Dragon (which my 91 year-old Dad loves). I hear your views on the Home 15 version, but what about Home 13? I’m on Windows 8 and don’t plan on changing until I have to. I’m writing a book with quite a lot of medical/biology vocab so need the flexibility of adding it to the programme. Also, I just can’t seem to find Dragon to buy on the internet at the moment! Almost nothing on Amazon. I tried calling the nmbers on their website and was told they no longer existed! Either I’m in a parallel universe or something is really wrong. Could you please advise which version you would recommend and where is best to buy it. Many thanks. I’ll be working with it alongside Scrivener.

    1. Hi Geraldine,
      So sorry to hear about your arm! Hope you recover quickly and completely.

      As for Home 13… I believe that this version does allow for vocabulary editing (the Dutch version did a.f.a.i.k.), so that would be a better option than Home 15. But it’s an old version and I’m not sure you can buy it anywhere anymore.

      Otherwise, I’d just go with Dragon Professional Individual 15. You can buy it at the Nuance web store at store.nuance.com (not an affiliate link).

      Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks. If you think it’s worth the extra (double) price tag, I’ll go with it. Hopefully get many hours of good work out of it. I’ll check out your courses too as I need to catch up. Will definitely try NOT to trip on my own trousers again!

      2. Well, if you intend to keep using it in the future, I definitely feel it is worth it to buy the DPI version. If it’s just to help you out with the weeks that your arm is in a cast, then perhaps not.

        Remains the fact that this is my opinion and there are undoubtedly Dragon Home users who consider their version to be just fine. But it is a fact that there are some big limitations with the Home version.

        The Dutch Dragon DPI version costs $750-$800 if that’s any consolation…

  8. I have Dragon 13 and was thinking of upgrading to Dragon 15 Home. However, if I understand you correctly, it is not possible for me to add custom words to Dragon 15 Home and therefore presumably it is impossible to import my customised vocabulary from my existing version of Dragon 13 to Dragon 15 Home. If I get Dragon 15 professional, am I able to alternate between dictating into a microphone live and dictating into a voice recorder and transcribing later? Thanks, Ian

    1. Hi Ian,
      Exactly, Dragon 15 Home has no way of importing custom words or managing the vocabulary.
      And yes, with Dragon Professional Individual you can use your profile for direct dictation and transcribing recordings.

  9. I have rely on Dragon products greatly since the mid-90s due to my disability (quadriplegia). I’m presently using NaturallySpeaking 13 due to the disaster 14 was.

    I was thinking of upgrading to Dragon home, but after reading your article I’m hesitant. I’ve always been disappointed in their upgrades as I have viewed them more money grabs then actual improvements.

    Honestly I feel the product was superior in the 90s.

    1. Hi Michael,

      I’d not buy Dragon Home if I were in your position. The Pro Individual version would be fine, but is twice the amount.

      Dragon 13 is a good Dragon version, so if you don’t have urgent reasons to upgrade you could stick with that for the time being.

  10. I bought Naturally Speaking years ago, but never really used it. My computer knowledge is not great, but I have superb backup in my office staff. I am trying to choose between Home and the Pro ($150-$300). Your ad hits the point because one of the examples is you can change your vocabulary to make Duane is spelled Duane not Dwain. That resonates with me. My work will be dictating real estate courses and not too many fancy uses. What would be my options if I purchased Home and then wanted Pro or the other way around.

    1. Hi Duane,
      As far as I know you’d need to make a decision on your version before you buy. Over here in the Netherlands you can’t upgrade from the Home version to the Pro version. You’d have to ask Nuance to be sure.

      In my opinion you pay twice the amount for the Pro Individual, but get ten times the value. That’s my personal opinion though. Some people are quite happy with the Home version.

      Not sure if my comments helps, but if the extra $150 isn’t a real problem, I’d go for the Pro version for sure.

  11. Hi Janneka,

    I am 87, retired engineer and am building a complete new computer from scratch (enclosure, PS, MoBo, etc) and Window 10 Pro. I am an avid user of WordPerfect, primarily beaus of the way text is treated (compared to MS Word), and of course, the all-critical Reveal Codes. So I’m assuming this is OK, since my original Naturally Speaking (1998) came in a box with WP8.0 and I loved it, despite being difficult to train.

    However its time to upgrade all my SW including Naturally Speaking.

    Your comparison of Home VS Professional was excellent, and I thank you. But what about the Premium Version. Where does it fall?

    Also, is there a matrix comparing all versions of Naturally Speaking?

    1. Hi Gordon,

      Wow, great to meet another Dragon user since the previous century!

      The current version of Dragon (They dropped the NaturallySpeaking part of the name) does no longer offer a Premium version. If you purchase a Premium version, it will probably be a version 13. So if you want to be up to date, you’ll want the version 15 which comes in Home or Professional.

      To be honest, I can’t comment on how well WordPerfect is supported these days. I haven’t met a WP user in a decade…

      And I hear you re the reveal codes. Those were so helpful.

      Wishing you lots of success with your new computer!


  12. I am new to voice recognition software use and want to purchase Dragon. When I looked at it 2 years ago it would not support my PC with Word 2016 Vers 1909.

    Do you know if the latest S/W version from Nuance now supports it.

    1. Hi,

      I don’t know specifically if your version of Word is now supported by Dragon, but my question would be if you tested with the upgrade to Dragon Professional Individual 15.3 (rather than the original 15.0)? Because that free update solved a lot of issues between Dragon and Office programs.

      If you want to know for sure, you could contact Nuance support to check if there are any issues with your specific build of Word with the current Dragon version.

      Hope this helps.

  13. I hate the inflexibility of Dragon home addition 15 but that is not the worst, on my Win 10 PC it crashes after just a few hours and it takes Nuance tech support hours to get my money refunded and install a new copy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Shame on Nuance to release such a sorry product. I have yet to figure out the solution, if anyone have please let us know.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t manage to get Dragon Home 15 working reliably for you.

      It’s not quite clear what your current situation is, though. Did you get a refund? But you still have to solve the installation of the product? Or did you exchange it for the Professional Individual?

  14. Hi Janneke,

    I am so happy to have found your site! Finally, the Firefox add-on extension is working and though not perfect, it is a huge improvement. I have just returned to Dragon after about 10+ years….hard to remember just how revolutionary the product seemed then, but it was, to me at least. I bought the Pro Individual version 15 a couple of months ago and am just now getting into using it for real. Am pretty sure you’ll be seeing me pop up for training soon enough!

    1. Hi Cari,
      Thanks for letting me know that my site was helpful to you! I’m gladly putting the info on my site, but I can’t be sure if anyone ‘out there’ is taking advantage of it. I appreciate you letting me know 🙂

      Not meaning to be pushy, but since you expressed an interest in training…. Have you signed up for my waiting list yet? I’ll be reopening the doors to my online Dragon course and membership soon with a really attractive price. If you sign up, it ensures that you wouldn’t miss out on a good deal.

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