Speech Recognition in Windows Vista

Tech, Tools, Windows

One of the cool new features introduced in Windows Vista is Speech Recognition. The feature allows you to control your computer through voice. You can dictate documents and e-mail messages, fill out forms on the web using voice commands, and manage Windows Vista and applications by saying what you see.

In older version of Windows this was accomplished by using third party software such as E-Speaking and Say Now. There are other commercial applications like Dragon Naturally speaking from Nuance which is very powerful , but on the downside the price is pretty high.

Before you get started using Speech Recognition, you need to have a microphone hooked up to the computer (Obvious Right πŸ™‚ ). Once you’ve got your microphone set up, you can train your computer by creating a voice profile that your computer uses to recognize your voice and spoken commands.

Getting Started

  1. Start the Speech Recognition Service (Again in vista it’s pretty easy to search for an application with the integrated search box in the start menu) . A microphone icon should pop up in the task bar.
  2. The options available is shown below
    Speech Reco Options
  3. Start the tutorial by selecting β€œStart the Speech tutorial”
  4. The tutorial other you through the features also starts adapting to your style of talking. The tutorial is pretty extensive and it covers:
  • Basics : How to start/stop/hide speech recognition
  • Dictation : Letters/Words, Correcting Mistakes, Navigation etc.
  • Commands : Say what you see , Show Numbers etc, Working with Form Windows etc.

The tutorial is best place to explore all the features.

The service is controlled using 2 keywords : Start Listening and Stop Listening. The Speech Recognition widget gives a textual feedback on how it’s interpreting the voice.


Some of the commands like β€œStart Menu”, β€œStart Notepad”, β€œStart WordPad” seemed to be working nicely. On the Dictation front, I was not so happy with the recognition Engine. Most of the words were not interpreted properly.

The Top 10 command list

Voice Commands for working with Windows

Don’t forget to check the Windows help, it has a big list of voice commands for Dictation, Punctuation marks, clicking anywhere on the screen etc.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Vasuki Raghavan Jun 18, 2006 Link

    Interesting feature, but I am skeptic as to how far it can be really useful.
    I personally feel it should not be overused. If somebody thinks that they can do most of their things by taking their hands off keyboard or mouse, I think they are wrong!

    I feel it can be used to start notepad, because saying “Start notepad” takes lesser time than Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Notepad or Win+R (Run), type notepad and enter! But things like right click which can be achieved by one keyboard button is more efficient than saying “Right click folder-name”!

    And does the voice recognition works if somebody other than you gives those commands? Sometimes these voice recognition dont recognize different accents. And what to do when we have cold/bad throat?

    Did you think it was really helpful and usable? Or is it just another fancy and ‘cool’ one? Let me know your thoughts on this.

  • venu Jun 19, 2006 Link

    Actually I pasted a list of only few commands. There are a lot of very useful commands.
    Speech Reco in its present state is definitely not in a state to be overused. There are lot of shortcomings.

    Also you need to have a good microphone. My notebook has a inbuilt microphone and I had to raise my voice a little bit for the commands to work.
    Start “Any application” is cool and I am using it extensively. “Close” “Minimize All” are the other useful commands.

    Regarding Helpful and usable, definitely not as of now. I tried to dictate the above blog but after a few words (not sentences) I was exhausted πŸ˜€ .

    But playing with it was cool. And in the long term I guess should be useful for people who can’t use keyboard !!

  • Brian Jun 25, 2006 Link


    I’m a fan of the existing speech recognition in Word 2003: it does an exceptional job and handles complex vocabulary IF you are willing/patient enough to train it well, and IF you are willing to train yourself to be clear, select the correct vocabulary and speak in whole sentences. Breaking into short bursts makes it very difficult for the speech engine to interpret: hence it never deals quite as well with the formatting commands as it does with the text.

    I remember when the first Compaq tablet PC came out (about 12 years ago – way before Windows tablet PC). One of my colleagues was swearing at it’s inability to understand his writing. We looked – and we couldn’t read his scribble either πŸ™‚

    The main bad press comes out of the fact that most people give up after their first few attempts: but remember how long it took you to learn to type? (Or did you give up on that also and stick to two finger typing – grin).

    As a developer and I.T. consultant I spend a LOT of time on the keyboard (you can’t dictate code!) so it is a real relief to be able to give the fingers a rest whenever I have an article to write.


  • Venu Jun 26, 2006 Link

    Rightly said.. if you have the patience and if your attitude towards it is postive..you will get the best out of the feature. In Vista, other than dication, you can startup applications via voice/choose menu options etc. There is a big list of features..

  • chris Feb 14, 2008 Link

    well when in notpad i can only get it to type only one letter at a time and i want whole sentices when i say a word i want it to spell it i dont want too how can i get it to type whole sentices