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You’re working in Windows 11 and are unable to use your mouse and keyboard. No problem. You can still work via voice dictation. Like previous versions of Windows, Windows 11 offers a feature through which you can dictate text and commands. After enabling voice dictation, you choose a specific language and train the feature to recognize your own voice. After that initial setup, you can then use the feature in any Windows application. Here’s how it works.

SEE: Windows 11: Tips on installation, security and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

To get started in Windows 11, go to Settings, select Accessibility, and then choose the setting for Speech (Figure A).

Figure A

At the settings screen for Speech, turn on the switch for Windows Speech Recognition. A welcome window pops up inviting you to set up your computer to recognize your voice. Click Next (Figure B).

Figure B

At the microphone screen, choose the type of microphone you normally use with this computer—headset microphone, desktop microphone or other. Click Next (Figure C).

Figure C

Position the microphone if necessary. Click Next. Now read the onscreen text to start training the technology to understand your voice. When done, click Next (Figure D).

Figure D

You’re told that your microphone is now set up. Click Next. At the next screen, you’re asked if you want to improve the accuracy of the voice recognition by allowing Microsoft to review any documents and email messages referenced in your search index. If you’re OK with this option, select “Enable document review.” If you’re concerned about privacy issues, select “Disable document review.” To learn more about this process and the privacy implications, click the link for Privacy statement. After you’ve made your selection, click Next (Figure E).

Figure E

At the activation mode screen, choose one of the two options. With manual activation mode, you turn off Speech recognition by saying, “Stop listening.” To resume, you have to click the microphone icon or press Ctrl + Windows key. With voice activation mode, the recognition feature simply goes to sleep when you stop it and can be reactivated if you say, “Start listening.” After making your selection, click Next (Figure F).

Figure F

At the next screen, click the button for View Reference Sheet to review a list of commands that you can dictate by voice. Click Next. At the next screen, keep the box for “Run Speech Recognition at startup” if you want the feature available every time you sign into Windows. If not, uncheck the box. Click Next. At the next screen, click the button for Start Tutorial to take the speech recognition for a test drive. Otherwise, click the button for Skip Tutorial (Figure G).

Figure G

The Speech Recognition module appears at the top of the screen. To review or change other options for the feature, click the setting for Speech under Related Settings. If more than one language is installed in Windows, you can select the language you wish to use. Check the box for “Recognize non-native accents for this language” if you speak the chosen language with an accent (Figure H).

Figure H

Next, open an app, email, document or other piece of content into which you want to dictate text and commands. Click the microphone icon on the module and start speaking. Remember that you also speak punctuation symbols and navigation commands (e.g., period, comma, new line, new paragraph) (Figure I).

Figure I

To pause or stop the feature, click the microphone icon or say: “Stop listening.” To resume, press the icon again or say: “Start listening” if you chose voice activation mode during the setup. Finally, right-click on the module at the top to access a host of commands, including ones to change the activation mode, open a speech reference card, start a tutorial, open the speech dictionary to add a new word and access various configuration options (Figure J).

Figure J