Dictation, also known as speech to text, refers to the process of speaking to a device which converts spoken words into written text. Dictation software allows people to write sentences by speaking them, instead of typing them. Dictation software enables users to write without relying on a keyboard, allowing them to document their ideas quickly.
Dictation software is an essential assistive technology for users with visual impairments, physical disabilities or learning differences that impact their ability to type. Free dictation software has limits on the length or number of audio files the user is able to upload per month. Consider the limits when choosing a free dictation software.
The 14 best free dictation software are listed below.
- Google Dictation: Google's built-in dictation tool provides voice command capabilities, real-time editing, and text prediction for correcting misspelled words.
- Windows Speech Recognition: Any Microsoft devices that run Windows 10 or higher have Microsoft’s in-built dictation. The dictation offers to switch between typing and dictation, high accuracy, and a customizable dictionary.
- TalkTyper : A basic dictation tool suited to composing short content, offering the same text prediction as Google Dictation.
- Speechnotes: Google Chrome extension which exports the completed transcript to the chosen third-party software.
- Dictation.io: W eb-based tool with remarkable language coverage, supporting 135 languages, but only compatible with Google Chrome.
- Notta AI Speech to Text Software: Browser-based dictation provides enhanced security and syncing features, making it easier to work on the same projects.
- Microsoft Word: The Microsoft 365 dictation feature guarantees accuracy by learning the user’s voice over time.
- Dragon Professional: Dragon Lite, the free version of Dragon Professional, is available for a 1 week trial. The Lite version is best suited to short projects.
- Sobolsoft: Basic speech-to-text converter which is user-friendly and easy to master. Perfect choice for new users with limited skills.
- Otter: H ighly accurate dictation software reaching 96%, with an intuitive interface.
- Microsoft Transcribe: Microsoft Word has introduced a new audio transcription feature that supports both live and pre-recorded audio. This feature is available without any transcription limits for users of Word on the web .
- Trint: U ser-friendly dictation platform with keyboard shortcuts, translation options and collaborative features.
- Fireflies: D ictation platform reaching 98% accuracy, with automatic filters categorizing information based on sentiments, themes and topics.
- Converse Smartly: A dvanced speech to text software which automatically analyzes the transcript to identify trends and patterns.
1. Google Dictation
Google dictation, also known as Google Voice Typing, is a free dictation tool compatible with all web browsers. Google dictation comes equipped with voice command, allowing users to edit and format the transcript in real-time. Google Dictation features text prediction, suggesting likely alternatives to misspelled words.
Google Dictation supports only live audio, limiting users as they cannot upload pre-recorded files. The voice command features are available only in English, despite the software's extensive language coverage.
2. Windows Speech Recognition
Windows Speech Recognition is available at no extra cost on any Microsoft device using Windows 10 software or above. Windows Speech Recognition features a shortcut that lets users easily switch between keyboard use and dictation. Windows Speech Recognition employs artificial intelligence to ensure high accuracy by learning the user’s speech patterns. Windows Speech Recognition offers a customizable dictionary for enhanced user experience.
Windows Speech Recognition stores the contexts, grammar, and vocabulary needed to learn the user's voice in its own database. Windows Speech Recognition’s dictation feature is limited, working only when the device is online.
TalkTyper uses the Google Voice algorithm, so users must have Google Chrome installed to use it. TalkTyper is a basic tool with limited features, suited to producing shorter content like emails or social media posts. TalkTyper offers likely alternatives for misspelled or incorrectly recognised words.
TalkType is accessible to anyone with a computer and is easy to use. The downside is that while it supports only one language, its accuracy is somewhat low and it struggles with understanding accented English.
4. Speech Notes
Speech Notes is a dictation extension for Google Chrome, which exports the transcript to a chosen program like Gmail or WordPress. Speech Notes is compatible with Google Drive for easy access, editing and sharing. The software equips Speech Notes users with smart capitalization, automatic spell check, and auto-save to improve their experience.
Users note that Speech Notes lack advanced features, like formatting options and comprehensive editing tools. The software is better for smaller dictation tasks.
Dictation.io is a free web-based dictation tool with remarkable language coverage by supporting 135 languages. The voice command feature in the software allows users to easily add punctuation, formatting and special characters. Users are able to do this without needing to use a keyboard or mouse, making the process more fluid and user-friendly.
Dictation.io uses Google’s speech recognition engine, meaning the software is only compatible with the Google Chrome browser. Windows and Mac users need to install Google to use it.
6. Notta AI Speech to Text Software
Notta is a browser-based dictation application, available as a website and as an iOS-Android app. Notta offers extensive language coverage, high security for confidential information and cross device syncing to streamline the switch between different accessories.
Users report that Notta can produce an accurate transcript despite background noise and poor input audio quality. Frequent errors in sentence structure and unreliable speaker identification cancel out this benefit.
7. Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word has a dictation feature, included with all Microsoft 365 subscriptions, which works with any device enabled with a microphone. Users have the option to dictate in 29 languages that Microsoft Word supports. Users use any of the 36 additional 'preview' languages, which have lower accuracy or limited punctuation options.
The accuracy of Microsoft Word dictation improves over time, as the software collects more training data and trains the artificial intelligence, but it is only accessible to Windows users.
8. Dragon Professional
The Dragon Professional dictation software is available for 1 week without any cost. Dragon Professional uses state-of-the-art deep learning technology to guarantee 99% as the software learns and adapts to the user’s voice.
Users are only able to access the free version of Dragon Professional for 1 week, so the software is perfect for one-time users in search of a sophisticated software which produces high-quality results.
Sobolsoft is a free speech to text converter software which allows users 500 minutes of dictation every month. Sobolsoft only supports pre-recorded audio files, in the MP3 format, not live dictation. The Sobolsoft software is compatible with Windows and Mac, user-friendly and easy to master, making it the perfect choice for novice users with limited technical skills.
Sobolsoft is outdated, in comparison to advanced dictation softwares, backed by state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and equipped with sophisticated features.
Otter.ai is a free automatic transcription platform, available as a webpage and mobile app. The free subscription entitles users to 300 minutes of transcription and 3 imported audio files per month, meaning it is perfect for transcribing emails, essays and reports. The layout of the Otter.ai software is straightforward and intuitive, making it easy for users to find, edit, highlight and share transcriptions.
The artificial intelligence in Otter.ai software guarantees 96% accuracy and a customised experience where it learns the way the user talks, which both save time by minimizing the need to ‘clean up’ the transcript during editing.
11. Microsoft Transcribe
Microsoft Transcribe the name of the new audio transcription feature in Word, supporting live speech and pre-recorded audio files. Microsoft Transcribe entitles offline users of Word to five hours of uploaded audio, and no transcription limits for online users of Word on the web.
Users are able to listen back to parts of the transcription in Microsoft Transcribe, which is a feature that goes amiss in other dictation softwares. Microsoft Transcribe allows users to take notes alongside the recording, and insert text from the completed transcript into the notes after the fact.
Trint turns audio and video files to text in one software, with various options for translating, editing and collaborating. The Trint interface is incredibly user-friendly, with the added benefit of keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation, and highlight or strikethrough text for editing convenience.
Users report that despite Trint’s benefits as a budget dictation option, the software struggles to differentiate between speakers and background noise causes significant errors to the transcript.
Fireflies is a speech to text software whose 98% accuracy, calculated using word error rate (WER), rivals Google and Microsoft’s built-in tools. Fireflies enhance user ease with automatic filters that categorize information based on sentiments, speakers, dates, themes, and topics to save time and make finding specific details incredibly easy. The Threads feature in Fireflies allows users to add, reply and edit timestamped comments in the transcript.
Fireflies is popular with users who are concerned about confidentiality, as its data is end-to-end encrypted and hosted in a database which adheres to top security standards.
14. Converse Smartly
Converse Smartly is an advanced speech to text software that transcribes audio files into editable text, while highlighting themes, differentiating between speakers and performing sentiment analysis. The most prominent feature of Converse Smartly is the text analysis which automatically identifies trends and patterns in the completed transcription.
Converse Smartly, built on the IBM Watson Speech API, one of the most powerful speech recognition software guarantees high accuracy and speed in equal parts. Converse Smartly requires just an internet connection to perform dictation.
What is Dictation?
Dictation is a process where spoken words are converted into written text. Dictation can be done manually, where one person speaks and another writes down what is said, or through the use of technology such as dictation software. Dictation involves speaking to a device that uses voice recognition software to transcribe the spoken words into text in the context of technology.
What is the Purpose of Dictation Software?
The purpose of dictation software is to transform spoken words into written text, providing a hands-free way to interact with computers and digital devices. The technology is particularly beneficial for individuals who have disabilities that make traditional typing difficult. Dictation software allows them to use computers and other devices more easily, enhancing accessibility.
What are the Benefits of Using Dictation Software?
The benefits of using dictation software are listed below.
- Increases speed: Talking is much faster than typing. Dictation software enables users to capture their thoughts as quickly as they think of them.
- Enhances productivity: Dictation is often a tedious and time consuming task. Dictation software saves individuals precious time, allowing them to multitask while dictating or simply direct their energy to more complex tasks.
- Reduces physical strain: Using dictation software prevents eye, neck, and hand pain from typing on the keyboard for long periods of time.
- Guarantees accessibility: Dictation software enables users with visual impairments, physical disabilities and learning differences to access writing in the same way as non-disabled people do.
- Improves flow: Writer's block or fear of the blank page prevents many people from producing content. Users are able to 'get words on paper' faster than when typing, allowing ideas to flow more freely with dictation software.
What Can You Do Using Dictation Software?
Dictation software is a helpful tool for a variety of people, including individuals with visual impairments who cannot see the keyboard and those with physical disabilities that impact hand use. Dictation software benefits students with learning differences who struggle with writing, professionals who take extensive notes on their clients, and authors preparing book manuscripts.
How to Choose the Best Free Dictation Software?
To choose the best free dictation software, consider the things below.
- Define your needs and goals. Understanding the requirements from dictation software is crucial. Consider factors such as the type of documents to be dictated, workflow, and any specific features that might be necessary.
- Consider compatibility. Ensure the software is compatible with the operating system and other tools. Compatibility with various devices and platforms significantly enhance your productivity.
- Assess accuracy and language support. Look for software that offers high accuracy in voice recognition to minimize corrections, and check if it supports multiple languages.
- Evaluate adaptability and training. Choose software that learns from the voice and language patterns over time. The ability to adapt to the speaking style and vocabulary greatly improve efficiency.
- Check integration and compatibility. Investigate how well the software integrates with other applications, such as word processors, email clients, or CRM systems. Seamless integration streamlines the workflow.
- Assess the user interface and ease of use. A user-friendly interface is key for a smooth dictation experience. Look for intuitive controls and easy navigation to enhance your productivity.
- Consider mobility and accessibility. Opt for software that offers mobile app support. Accessibility features are also important for users with different abilities.
- Examine privacy and security. Ensure the software has robust security measures in place with sensitive information often dictated. Privacy policies and data encryption are critical aspects to consider.
- Compare cost and licensing. Be aware of any hidden costs or limitations in the free versions while focusing on free options. Understand the licensing terms to ensure they meet the long-term needs.
- Utilize trial periods and user feedback. Take advantage of trial periods to test the software's capabilities. Read user reviews to gauge real-world performance and satisfaction.
- Investigate customer support and updates. Reliable customer support and regular updates are vital for long-term usability. Check the frequency of updates and the availability of support resources.
- Consider scalability. Choose software that can scale with the requirements, which includes handling larger volumes of dictation or more complex tasks.
- Check backup and export options. Ensure the software allows users to easily backup and export your dictated documents. This is crucial for data safety and flexibility in how you use your documents.
- Stay informed about future trends. Keep an eye on emerging trends in dictation technology, like AI advancements, to ensure your chosen software stays relevant and efficient.
What is the Best Free Dictation Software for Mac Users?
The best free dictation software for mac users is Notta, as users with apple devices don’t have to install any application to use Notta. Notta is available as a website on Safari and as an iOS app. The best dictation software for mac users must be compatible with their operating system and dictation needs.
What is the Best Free Dictation Software for Microsoft Users?
The best free dictation software for Microsoft users is Microsoft Transcribe. Microsoft Transcribe is one of the best dictation software for microsoft users because of the unlimited dictation minutes, the rewind feature, and being able to insert quotations from the completed transcript into any notes made on the text.
What is the Best Free Dictation Software for Writers?
The best free dictation software for writers is Otter.ai. Otter.ai is versatile, and available as a web browser, desktop and mobile app, allowing authors to write from anywhere. The artificial intelligence in Otter.ai guarantees 96% accuracy, learning how the user speaks over time by training itself using their voice and specific vocabulary.
The result is a customized experience, during which Otter.ai users need only expect to undertake minimal ‘cleaning up’ of the transcript in editing.
Note that the free subscription to Otter.ai limits users to 300 minutes of transcription per month, in 30 minute chunks, so it is best suited to writing texts like outlines and chapters. The best dictation software for writers allows them to brainstorm, ‘get words on paper’ and outline ideas, without having to worry about dictation limits or accuracy of the transcripts.
What is the Best Free Dictation Software for Lawyers?
The best free dictation software for lawyers is Fireflies because of the security and privacy services.The best dictation software for lawyers accommodates the confidential information about clients, cases and verdicts that they record. Fireflies provides end-to-end encryption, which conceals details. Fireflies adhere to the highest security standards.
What is the difference between Dictation and Transcription?
The primary difference between dictation and transcription is that the former originally referred to the action of the speaker, whereas the latter originally referred to the action of a writer. T ranscription is the process of converting speech into text, while dictation is the action of speaking to a person or device responsible for recording the speech.