Using Voice Commands to Type

As much as I write, I often think there may be a better way to put my thoughts to page. Some of my best thoughts come to me when I’m exercising or unable to type. And I have apps and systems in place so when that happens I can immediately stop, and ask Siri or Google to take a note for me. But that’s still not ideal.

I’ve messed with Dragon Dictation over a decade ago, maybe even twenty years ago. The problem then was the software/AI wasn’t ready for primetime and I still had a pretty stiff southern accent which the AI was unable to decipher. My accent has faded from being in Kentucky for more years than I care to count, and the AI has gotten better so I’m trying to get back in the saddle and see what happens.

There are several programs I use to write text into. I sometimes use the WordPress native editor and the Divi theme editor, along with the Extra Theme which is what I’m currently using here. Divi always wants to compete with the WordPress editor. Why Elegant Themes, the maker of Divi, which is a structural framework I often use, and sometimes not, won’t program their editor to play more nicely with the native WordPress editor is beyond me. You have to choose one or the other and if you mistakenly toggle between the two, prepare for disaster and frustration.

EDIT: The very day that I wrote this, Someone published a comprehensive essay on the WordPress Classic Block Settings & Options as they relate to Elegant Themes and Divi. Are they reading my writing?

So to avoid that scenario, sometimes I use Ulysses, which is a dedicated editor and I love it. It has an app I can also bounce back and forth with on my smartphone. I can even send my work straight to WordPress from it, and then I still need to format it and then adds categories, tags, images, etc…so it doesn’t really make anything easier in the long run. But if you’re going to use that and have a Mac (you use OSx and perhaps iOS on your Apple iPhone) then you really need to subscribe to SetApp, which is a no-brainer anyway. It licenses you to use a million awesome apps at a very low price. It’s insane and the greatest deal online I’ve found. It’s integrations like that which keep me from jumping ship from the world of Apple to Android or other platforms. Apple has the best apps and they’re integrated between iOS and OSx and as such, you can reap some great workflows and efficiencies.

I also use GitBook, which I really like for a number of reasons, when I’m writing long-form, with chapters and something more like a novel. This is rare, but I have projects in the works I keep there and like to use it. It tacks onto GitHub, which is open-source software that handles repositories and is super-powerful. I love Github for code and the desktop GitBook App for writing. NOTE! The GitBook App is different from the GitBook website, which is about “Spaces” and collaboration. Which is also awesome. I really like the editor in the GitBook App because it’s so minimalist. I code in Atom, which is a software program that’s an editor for writing any type of code and unformatted text. It’s super-awesome as well. But that’s strictly for text and code,

Medium is an editor in a sense, as is Ghost, which offers an editorial UI that’s top-notch. Both then store your writing for a fee in the cloud. SubStack is the same, which boasts a way to make money for your writing, as does Medium, but that’s debatable. I wish WordPress could make the writing experience akin to Ghost or Medium, which are both a dream.

All of these have iOS apps that accompany them as if anyone’s doing any serious writing on their smartphones. Maybe there are some, but God helps them. Same with tablets and kindles. I guess you could write on them but that seems like torture to me.

I’ve never become a proficient typist, despite being an editor and writing a gazillion pages of text in my life and being tutored at home by the typing teacher in school. I just have never picked it up, which is incredible. I have very adept digits. I play guitar and have even trained my left hand’s pinky and ring finger to operate independently, despite being controlled by 1 muscle. So voice to text appeals to me.

While there are some major caveats, there are some positives that come from having to think your thoughts through and speak to a computer the same way a computer would speak to you.

A big one is that you must be able to let your thoughts flow from your mouth in an uninterrupted train of thought, with no going back or deviation, erm, uhms, or stumbles. Or else you need to have the commands that your dictation software understands at the ready at any given time. (See below for tips, cheat sheets and help with this.) And that can be a long list of commands that need to be spoken precisely, at the precise time, or else the dictation keeps rolling. So in that sense, it’s quite helpful with public speaking, to get out all the verbal stumbles that most of us are unaware of.

And each dictation program seems to use variants of the same commands. Close to one another, but not identical. And when you begin to tell your new secretary “last line” instead of “delete the last line” the sentences start to become a bird’s nest of command words.

The programs that work best for voice to text are Google Docs, Zoho Notebook, which is an incredible app that gets no love here in the USA but is awesome, Voice Memos, GitBook Editor (I love GitBook – I can’t believe it’s free) and Apple Notes. Which I almost never use unless it’s a mistake. It should be noted you can set up Voice dictation in any editor and then enable it with the hotkey shortcut you set. For me, it’s double-tapping the “fn” key. And then using the various commands I’ve outlined below.

If you use Chrome as your browser, there’s an extension you can also use, which has a “Pro” version that offers a bit more than the free one, which is pretty complete.


VOICE TO TEXT CHEAT SHEET

USE VOICE COMMANDS

After you start voice typing, you can use commands to edit and format your document. For example, “Select paragraph,” “italics,” or “Go to the end of the line.

Select text

To select text, say these commands:

  • Select word or phrase
  • Select all
  • Select all matching text
  • Select list item
  • Select list items at current level
  • Select next character
  • Select next number characters
  • Select last character
  • Select last number characters
  • Select line
  • Select next line
  • Select next number lines
  • Select last line
  • Select last number lines
  • Select paragraph
  • Select next paragraph
  • Select next number paragraphs
  • Select last paragraph
  • Select last number paragraphs
  • Select word
  • Select next word
  • Select next number words
  • Select last word
  • Select last number words
  • Deselect
  • Unselect
  • Select none
  • Format your document
  • To format your document, say these commands:
  • Text formatting
  • Apply heading 1–6
  • Apply normal text
  • Apply subtitle
  • Apply title
  • Bold
  • Italicize
  • Italics
  • Strikethrough
  • Subscript
  • Superscript
  • Underline
  • Uppercase
  • Title case
  • Lowercase

COLORS

  • Text color and highlighting
  • Text color color
  • Highlight
  • Highlight color
  • Background color color
  • Remove highlight
  • Remove background color

Tip:

The colors available are: red, red berry,

orange, yellow, green,

cyan, blue, cornflower blue,

purple, magenta,

black, white, and gray.

For all colors except black and white, you can add “light” or “dark” along with numbers 1-3 (for gray, 1-4), such as “dark purple 3.” If you say “highlight” by itself, the highlighting color is yellow.

Font size

  • Decrease font size
  • Increase font size
  • Font size 6-400
  • Make bigger
  • Make smaller
  • Paragraph formatting
  • Decrease indent
  • Increase indent
  • Line spacing 1-100
  • Line spacing double
  • Line spacing single
  • Alignment
  • Align center
  • Align justified
  • Align left
  • Align right
  • Center align
  • Left align
  • Right align
  • Columns
  • Apply 1 column
  • Apply 2 columns
  • Apply 3 columns
  • Column options
  • Insert column break
  • Lists
  • Create bulleted list
  • Create numbered list
  • Insert bullet
  • Insert number
  • Remove formatting
  • Clear formatting
  • Remove formatting
  • Remove bold
  • Remove italics
  • Remove strikethrough
  • Remove underline

Edit your document

To edit your document, say these commands:

  • Copy
  • Cut
  • Paste
  • Delete
  • Delete last word
  • Delete word or phrase
  • Insert link then say the URL you want to use
  • Copy link
  • Delete link
  • Insert table of contents
  • Delete table of contents
  • Update table of contents
  • Insert comment then say your comment
  • Insert bookmark
  • Insert equation
  • Insert footer
  • Insert footnote
  • Insert header
  • Insert horizontal line
  • Insert page break

Tip:

If you say “Delete” by itself, you delete the word before the cursor.

Here Are Some Fancy Commands:

If you select the text of a URL and say “Insert link,” the selected text becomes a hyperlink.

Add and edit tables

To add and edit tables, say these commands:

  • Insert table
  • Insert table 1-20 rows by 1-20 columns
  • Insert row
  • Insert column
  • Insert new column
  • Insert new column on the left
  • Insert new row
  • Insert new row above
  • Insert new row below
  • Delete column
  • Delete row
  • Delete table
  • Remove column
  • Remove row
  • Remove table
  • Exit table

Move around your document

To move around your document, say these commands:

  • Go to
  • end of paragraph
  • Go to
  • Move to
  • end of
  • start of
  • paragraph
  • column
  • line
  • row
  • table
  • document
  • Go to
  • Move to
  • next
  • previous
  • character
  • column
  • footnote
  • formatting change
  • heading
  • heading 1-6
  • image
  • line
  • link
  • list
  • list item
  • misspelling
  • paragraph
  • row
  • table
  • word
  • page
  • Go
  • Move
  • forward
  • backward
  • number characters
  • number words
  • Go
  • Move
  • up
  • down
  • number lines
  • number paragraphs
  • Scroll
  • Scroll down
  • Scroll up

Resume voice typing

Stop voice typing

To stop voice typing, say “Stop listening.”

To move the cursor to the end of the paragraph and start voice typing again, say “Resume.”

To move the cursor to the end of a particular word or phrase, say “Resume with word or phrase.”

Here are all the commands you can say to resume voice typing:

  • Resume
  • Resume with word or phrase
  • Go to the end of the paragraph
  • Move to the end of the paragraph
  • Go to the end of the line
  • Move to the end of the line
  • Go to word

Commands to open help

To open a list of voice commands in your document, say one of these commands:

  • Voice typing help
  • Voice commands list
  • See all voice commands

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