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How to use speech-to-text in Safari for hands-free typing

If you need to be able to use speech-to-text to type within your web browser, macOS has a very simple accessibility solution.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

Accessibility is a critical aspect of life for many. Most computer operating systems do a good job of making it easy for many to work with applications and macOS is no exception. Apple's OS has plenty of options available to those who require a bit of assistance. 

One such option is speech-to-text. Where many operating systems struggle with this feature, macOS does an outstanding job without requiring the installation of third-party software. Out of the box, you'll find speech-to-text is not only ready to go but one of the most accurate you'll use.

Also: The best assistive tech gadgets to create an equitable workforce

Safari is no stranger to this option. In fact, it offers a ready-made solution that you can use to dictate whatever you need into the browser. Say, for instance, you run a WordPress site and you need to write a post. Using the built-in speech-to-text, you can accurately dictate that post without having to manually type a single character. Or maybe you want to create a Google Document. It's easier than you think.

Let me show you how it's done.

Enabling speech-to-text in Safari

What you'll need: To make this work, you'll need a macOS device, such as a MacBook or iMac, with an updated version of the OS (because you should be upgrading regularly for security purposes). Of course, if you want to test this by creating a Google Document, you'll also need a valid Google Account.

That's it. Let's enable speech-to-text for the Safari browser.

1. Open Safari

If you're reading this in Safari, you're one step ahead of the game. Otherwise, open Safari from either the Dock or Launch Pad.

2. Enable the feature

To enable speech-to-text, click Edit in the Menu Bar and then click Start Dictation.

The Safari Edit menu.

Don't be misled by the Speech entry, as that is text-to-speech.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Agree to enable dictation

A new popup will appear, asking if you want to enable Dictation. When prompted, click OK.

The enable Dictation OK popup.

You must enable Dictation before the feature will work.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Enable Dictation

In the confirmation popup, click Enable to enable the Dictation feature for Safari.

The Dictation enable popup on macOS Ventura.

If you're curious as to the privacy agreement, click Dictation Privacy.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

5. Use Dictation

To use the Dictation feature, open a new Google Doc or even use it to dictate URLs for Safari. Make sure you have the cursor where you need it (such as in the Google Document or in the Safari address bar) and click Edit > Start Dictation. You should see a small popup box with a mic and a Done button. That indicates the speech-to-text feature is turned on. Start dictating whatever it is you want to type. When you're finished, click Done.

The Dictation popup while in use.

You can move that small popup box to anywhere on the desktop.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The macOS speech-to-text feature is one of the most accurate I've used. And given that it's built right into the system, it's easier to use than any similar desktop dictation you'll ever experience. Also, you don't have to worry about Apple listening in on your conversations, as Dictation remains off until you start it.

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