Microsoft’s Garage Project was set up to develop special experimental projects. So far, some pretty nifty ideas have come out of that garage, including Dictate. This add-in for Office allows you to convert speech to text in Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.
It will even translate speech to another language using the same technology as Cortana. Let’s check it out. Click here to head over and download it for your version of Office 2013 or later. (Note: you’ll need a built-in mic for your device, or you’ll have to plug one in. Obviously, your PC must be able to hear you.)
Go to your Downloads folder and double-click on Setup-Dictate.
Follow the instructions of the Installation Wizard. You’ll have to accept the installation agreement.
Once the installation is finished, open or create a Word document.
You should see Dictation as an option at the top of the document. Click it.
When this window opens, click the mic symbol to start.
Then just start talking. I found the program to be pretty responsive.
I even tried to get tricky. Then I tried talking fast.
It did start to trip up a little when I got into some interesting Ohio place names.
I can say “new line” to skip a space and also insert punctuation just by saying the name like “colon.”
Here are the list of punctuation commands:
Full stop or period: Types period character (.)
- Question mark: Types (?)
- Open Quote: Types (“)
- Close Quote: Types (”)
- Colon: Types (:)
- Comma: Types (,)
“New line” gives you a new line. “Delete” removes the last line you typed. “Stop Dictation” ends the dictation session. You can also choose manual punctuation.
Need to type in another language? Click on the Dictation tab and choose a language to translate to from the drop-down menu.
Your text will come out in the selected language. I did this copy in Dutch and then ran it by a friend who speaks the language to see how the translation went. It was exactly what I said.
Here, I tried it in Outlook. Just as with Word, I click the Dictation tab at the top.
And then I start talking.
I’ve only just started to experiment with it. But if you already have Office, it’s free to try. So go ahead and let me know what you think. Since this is a Garage project, there’s no guarantee that MS will keep it forever. But it does show they are working to integrate text-to-speech into Office.