10 Best Dictation Apps For Writers (In 2021)

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woman dictating into a microphone with audio equipment

 

Are you looking for the best dictation app for writers? You’re in the right place.

 

How did I ever start using such an app?

It all started with pain. Productivity improvement wasn’t even the issue.

After years of keyboard grind, I got symptoms of repetitive strain injury. This made writing, my dearest passion more difficult than it already was.

My quest for relief included buying a vertical mouse and creating an ergonomic workspace.

But the game-changer was installing a dictation app (or writing app/ speech-to-text software, if you will) on my computer.

Using this app, enabled me to work pain-free once again. It also dramatically improved my writing productivity and performance across the board.  After all, we can speak three times faster than we can type.  Did you know that?

Nowadays, writing on my keyboard seems almost archaic. I wouldn’t go back tapping my fingers on those pieces of plastic, even if you paid me top dollar.

The dictation app I’ve found boosted my productivity by at least 30%. I went from around 700 words per hour to a bit over 1000 words per hour.

Just keep in mind that your work may need more editing if you dictate instead of typing. But hey, isn’t editing the easier part?

In this article, I’ll give you a list of nine top speech-to-text apps you can use to obliterate your writing goals.

 

List of the best dictation apps for writers for professional or personal use:

 

1. Nuance Dragon Home 15 – It costs $200 for a lifetime license, but it’s worth it (you can check available versions here) – available for Windows. That’s the one I’m using right now after checking so many different options.

2. Google Docs Voice Typing – Free, web-based tool available on all platforms.

3. Apple Dictation – Free option which is best for Mac users.

4. Braina Pro – Starting at $49 for a 1-year license – available on Windows.

5. Windows 10 Speech Recognition – Free, available on, you’ve guessed it – Windows.

6. Speechnotes – Free, web-based tool available on all platforms.

7. Dragon Anywhere – the best mobile app for power users, including advanced features ($14.99 per month or $149.99 per year). Available on Android and iOS devices.

8. Google Mobile Voice Typing (Gboard) – the best free mobile solution for Android users.

9. Siri Dictation – the best free mobile solution for Apple users.

10. Microsoft Dictation App for Microsoft 365 and the Web – free dictation app for all devices with Microsoft 365 subscription and for MS Word online.

 

Now let’s leave the shallow waters and learn more about each dictation app.

 

Black Friday Promo - My favorite productivity program
Nuance Dragon 15 Home
$200

If you have a good microphone (I recommend a high-quality lapel mic), you can almost say goodbye to your keyboard. This thing will improve your typing speed by 300% and now you can get the mobile Dragon Anywhere app for free for a year as well.

Get a free USB headset when you purchase Dragon Home or Dragon Professional Individual and right now, you can get Dragon Anywhere App for free (worth $150) over the holiday period.

Code: USB2021

Dates live: 2nd November 2021 to November 30th 2021

Check it here
Affiliate link - thanks!

 

The 10 Best Dictation Apps For Writers

 

1. Nuance Dragon Individual 15

 

nuance dragon 15 home dictation app for writers

 

My top pick and the software I use every day as a writer.

 

This app is my chief recommendation, and it’s the one I use regularly (even to write this blog post).

It’s not free and you would need to pay $200 for the lifetime license for the Home Version. But it’s worth every penny.

Once I shifted from a free dictation app to Nuance Dragon, I’ve noticed a big boost in productivity. With Dragon, you get 99% voice recognition out-of-the-box, and it even improves over time because of fancy algorithms.

Indeed, this is more than a dictation app. It allows you to do all sorts of tasks on your computer by using your voice. What kinds of tasks?

Mostly surfing the web, opening programs, text editing, and OS navigation.

 But the biggest game-changer is that with Dragon, you can write in any text field you choose (chats, apps, emails, social media, etc.) 

 

The app is 100% compatible with Microsoft Word, and it has over 60 different voice commands. It has a few minor drawbacks, but all in all, I wouldn’t exchange it for any other app.

I even wrote a complete review of Nuance Dragon, so feel free to check it out to learn more. I also made a video about the installation and customization process for this app.

 

Price: $200 (Home version), $500 (Individual Professional version)

Platform: Windows (dekstop), Android & iOS (Mobile)

Available languages: English (all variants)

 

Bottom Line:
It’s the top app used by many respected writers. It allows you to work in a hands-free mode while enhancing your productivity at the same time. Minor drawbacks aside, it is a fantastic writing tool to use every day.

 

Black Friday Promo - My favorite productivity program
Nuance Dragon 15 Home
$200

If you have a good microphone (I recommend a high-quality lapel mic), you can almost say goodbye to your keyboard. This thing will improve your typing speed by 300% and now you can get the mobile Dragon Anywhere app for free for a year as well.

Get a free USB headset when you purchase Dragon Home or Dragon Professional Individual and right now, you can get Dragon Anywhere App for free (worth $150) over the holiday period.

Code: USB2021

Dates live: 2nd November 2021 to November 30th 2021

Check it here
Affiliate link - thanks!

 

Pros Cons
99% voice recognition out-of-the-box. It’s only available in English, so If you want to dictate in another language, check out option number two in this review.
Over 60 different voice commands that are useful for writing and editing. The browser extension is not entirely functional yet.
You can use the software across all communications platforms (chat, email, etc.). This will make your workflow so much faster. It’s not fully compatible with Google Docs.
You can turn the dictation on and off with a simple press of a button. There will be no further software updates for Mac users.

 

2. Google Docs Voice Typing

 

Google Docs Voice Typing logo-min

 

Best for total beginners when it comes to writing with a dictation app.

 

This is the best free option you can use to start your dictation journey. I used it for at least a couple of months before upgrading to Nuance Dragon. While it’s not perfect, it served me well and taught me how to write in hands-free mode.

The best thing about it is that it’s free and you don’t even have to sign up for anything. You only need to create a Google Doc, go to Tools in the upper menu, and choose “voice typing.”

This will open up the dictation tool and a menu from which you can choose your preferred language. This is where it excels – the number of world languages and English variants it supports.

 

Price: Free

Platform: Web-based tool

Available languages: It has voice recognition capability in several different languages (80+). English in its various accents works best, but other languages like French or Spanish work great as well.

 

Bottom line:
If you’ve never used a dictation software before, this should be your primary choice. It will allow you to get your feet wet and gain the necessary dictation skills without investing a dime. Go ahead and check it out right now.

 

Pros Cons
It’s available in a few dozen different languages, so it’s a perfect choice if English is not your native tongue. The app only works within Google Docs.
It’s free, and with ample practice, you will find it effective in converting speech into text. The voice recognition quality is not the highest.
It’s browser-based, so you don’t have to install anything. The dictation function stops automatically after a moment of silence.
It doesn’t have any extra commands.

 

3. Apple Dictation

 

Apple Dictation logo-min

 

A free speech-to-text tool that comes with all Apple devices.

 

This should be your first choice if you’re a Mac user and on the hunt for something free that works. All you need to do to activate it is go to system preferences,  then click “keyboard”,  look for a microphone icon and follow by “dictation”.

The standard version of this dictation app requires the internet to work and has a time limit of about 30 seconds for each piece of speech, however, once you enable Enhanced Dictation available for OS X v10.9 or later or iPhone 6s or newer, you can dictate without limits and don’t need to be online.

This will take you to the menu where you can turn it on (along with the enhanced dictation capability for offline use).

One thing great about it is that you can turn it on and off by using a keyboard shortcut.

This gives you broader capabilities than the free tool from Google Docs because you can write across different platforms.

What I like about Apple Dictation is that it has many extra commands you can use to format your text. For example, it allows you to open parenthesis, quotes, or add new lines or paragraphs. This makes it convenient if you want to avoid touching the keyboard altogether.

 

Price: Free

Platform: Mac

Available languages: All in all, you can dictate in 31 different languages: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

 

Bottom line:
It’s the number one dictation tool readily available in Apple devices. If you’re a native English speaker, you can count on a 99% voice recognition capability.

 

Pros Cons
It’s free. It’s only available for Mac users.
You can use it across many different apps and in your browser. You cannot use it with Google Docs.
The app has a lot of extra voice commands you can use. If you have an older Mac device, you can only dictate for 30 seconds before it turns off automatically.

 

4. Braina Pro

 

Braina Pro logo-min

 

Here’s an app that recognizes many languages and serves as your personal assistant.

 

It’s the biggest competitor of Dragon Naturally Speaking, and it lets you dictate in languages other than English.

It has a speech-to-text feature in 120 languages. It also recognizes local dialects, so you don’t have to worry that it will misspell words if you have an unusual accent. Just like Dragon, it comes with 99% speech recognition capability out-of-the-box.

You don’t even need to “train” the app by dictating loads of text so it gets used to your pronunciation. You can set it up in a matter of minutes and start enjoying increased productivity in hands-free mode.

You can even take advantage of added voice commands such as “new line” or “delete that”.

Braina will help you write in any text field. This includes your email client, social media platforms, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or any other text editor. Moreover, you can use it even in noisy environments, provided you have a decent microphone.

The app also has a virtual assistant function. It’s better than Siri or Cortana in this regard, as it’s designed for maximizing productivity, especially for writers.

For example, you could say “synonyms of joy,” and it will generate an answer. There are dozens of commands like that, and you can check them here.

Finally, the Braina mobile app lets you control your PC through your mobile device. You only need to be connected to a home Wi-Fi network.

 

Price: $49 for a 1-year license, $239 for a lifetime license.

Platform: Windows (there’s also a mobile app on Android and iOS, but it comes with limited capabilities).

Available languages: 120 languages in total (including regional accents).

 

Bottom line:
It’s great for writers looking for a professional speech-to-text solution in languages other than English. It is also a great productivity enhancer with many voice commands and virtual assistant features. All in all, $49 is a small price to pay for such a versatile writing tool.

 

Pros Cons
Available in 120 languages. You can only use it if you have an internet connection.
It has a virtual assistant option that uses AI to improve your productivity. Not available for Mac users.
It allows you to control your PC through a mobile app. You might experience a few issues when it comes to punctuation.
It allows you to write in any text field.

 

5. Windows 10 Speech Recognition

 

Windows 10 Speech Recognition logo-min

 

A useful free dictation app for Windows users.

 

If you’re reading this on a Windows PC, you can try out this free tool right now. Open “Control Panel” and click on “Ease of access” and then “speech recognition.”

Then click on “start speech recognition”. Afterward, you’ll need to go through a couple more steps (like setting up your microphone, etc.) before you’re ready. But the whole setup should take no more than five minutes.

Now you’ll be able to use Windows 10 Speech Recognition for writing, and use voice commands to control your computer hands-free.

Once the app is in listening mode, you can start using commands like “comma”, or “open quote”, and even do basic web searches.

But in the final analysis, the app lacks advanced voice recognition software capabilities and commands you can find in Dragon or other apps.

 

Price: Free (assuming you already have Windows installed on your computer)

Platform: You’ve guessed it – Windows

Available languages: English (U.S. and UK), French, German, Japanese, Mandarin (Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional), and Spanish.

 

Bottom line:
It’s not a perfect solution, especially if you plan to write daily. This is not designed for prolific writers, but it can be helpful if you’re looking to experiment with voice recognition software.

 

Pros Cons
It’s a free app you can immediately try if you’re working on a Windows PC. The app is only available in a couple of languages.
It has a few useful voice commands that enable you to control your PC. It lacks the advanced features and commands of other dictation apps.
It has a “mouse grid” feature that lets you click on specific objects on the screen. The speech recognition quality is not always up to par with your expectations.
It doesn’t work well with web browsers.

 

6. Speechnotes

Speechnotes logo-min

 

A free browser-based dictation app with a user-friendly interface.

 

This free app only works in Chrome, but you can check it if you’re looking for a free, easy-to-use speech-to-text tool. All you need to do is to open it in your browser, and you are ready to write.

Once your text is in the editor, you can use the “read it out loud” function to eliminate any typos or grammar issues.

The best part about Speechnotes, however, is that it’s also a free Chrome extension.

It’s used by over 100,000 people and has a 4.5-star rating on Chrome Web Store, so you might give it a try. It offers excellent features like autosave, exporting the text to Google Drive, printing, automatic capitalization of letters, and more.

You can also spend five dollars a month to buy the Speechnotes Premium version. It will let you work in full-screen mode (great for focus and concentration), automatically count words, and get rid of ads.

 

Price: Free, with in-app purchases ($5 a month)

Platform: Web-based tool, Android app, and a Google Chrome extension.

Available languages: 11 Languages in total – English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic.

 

Bottom line:
It’s a powerful free app designed specifically for Google Chrome users.

 

Pros Cons
It has an excellent interface that lets you start writing like a pro within a few minutes. It’s only available in Google Chrome.
It lets you read any text out loud for proofreading. It doesn’t work too well if you dictate in languages other than English.
It comes with a Chrome extension that lets you dictate into any text field on any website. It doesn’t let you edit or format text.
It has a fast “copy to clipboard” feature that lets you transfer text to other apps. It lacks advanced voice commands.

 

7. Dragon Anywhere

 

Dragon Anywhere logo-min

 

The best mobile app for power users, with advanced built-in features.

 

This is the top choice if you’re a writer who loves to crunch out words onto your mobile screen as it offers fully-formed dictation capabilities powered via the cloud.

Whether you’re sitting in a local cafe, shopping, or even walking in the park – it’s always there with you.

It’s nice especially if you already use Dragon Naturally Speaking on your desktop computer. In fact, it shares a lot of similar features.

It lets you dictate without any word limits, and with a 99% accuracy rate if you’re a native English speaker. What’s more, it allows you to open the correction menu to rectify any spelling or grammar mistakes.

You can also program it to understand industry-specific vocabulary, so you don’t have to hand-type it like with other apps.

Like the regular Dragon, the app uses advanced deep learning algorithms that adapt to your speech patterns. Many professional authors use this app to write complete book manuscripts, as it lets you dictate up to 5000 words per hour.

 

Price: $14.99 per month or $149.99 per year.

Platform: Android and iOS.

Available languages: English (all variants and accents)

 

Bottom line:
If you’re a writer who is always on the go, you should consider spending $15 a month on Dragon Anywhere. It is going to make your life so much easier. There is also a one-week free trial where you can check the premium features before deciding to buy.

 

Pros Cons
Just like Nuance Dragon but on your mobile device. It lets you format and edit text seamlessly through voice commands. If you’ve never used the Dragon software before, it might take a while before you get completely used to it.
It allows quick exporting to Dropbox and Evernote. It’s a paid app (see pricing).
You can add industry-specific words to improve dictation accuracy. It’s not always 100% accurate, but it gets better the more you use it.
It supports “auto-texts,” which are frequently used passages you can insert into the editor with a single-word command.

 

8. Google mobile voice typing (Gboard)

 

Google Mobile Voice Typing logo-min

 

The best free mobile solution for Android users.

 

If you’re already using Gboard on your Android device, then switching to voice typing is a no-brainer.

I’m using this feature all the time for taking notes in Google Keep and composing articles in Google Docs. I also find it useful when writing emails or writing social media posts while out of the office.

Of course, voice recognition quality depends on the type of microphone you’re using.

Your built-in smartphone mic is usually enough. But if you’re seriously considering voice-writing on your phone, you should invest in an inexpensive lapel mic ($15-$20) with a 3.5 mm jack that can be plugged into your phone.

This will vastly improve your results and turn your phone into a professional writing machine.

Moreover, this app works in 120 languages, so it’s great if you’re multilingual and want to switch from one language to another fast.

And the best part? You can even type while being offline. That’s perfect if you’re exploring the wilderness or sitting on a long-haul flight.

 

Price: Free

Platform: Android

Available languages: 120 different languages.

 

Bottom line:
It’s a viable alternative to a paid option like Dragon Anywhere. It’s always free and readily accessible on your Android mobile device.

 

Pros Cons
It’s free and does a good job. It doesn’t allow you to format or edit the text using voice commands.
It’s not as accurate as other paid tools.
You have to keep pressing the “dictate” button as you go along.

 

9. Siri Dictation

 

siri dictation logo-min

 

The best free mobile solution for Apple users.

 

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, Siri Dictation is your best mobile dictation option.

First of all, it’s completely free, and like all Apple products, it has a slick user interface. It even displays a sound wave graph, based on what you’re saying. This gives the professional sense you won’t get when using an Android device.

Siri Dictation is also perfect for multilingual users. That’s because you can quickly switch between languages with a single tap of a button. If you have a fast iPhone, you can speed up your writing process by 300% compared to just tapping with your fingers.

Moreover, Siri comes with a bunch of advanced dictation commands that let you format text. For example, you can say “dollar sign” and the sign will automatically appear on the screen. With dozens of other symbols on hand, this is a huge time-saver.

If you need help in setting it up, you should check out this comprehensive guide to Siri Dictation.

 

Price: Free

Platform: iOS

Available languages: 120 languages.

 

Bottom line:
This is your top solution for an iOS device. Siri works great where voice to text capability is required. Now you can write at a greater speed than ever before on your mobile device.

 

Pros Cons
It’s free. It takes a little bit of time to learn all of the dictation commands.
It has a great multilingual dictation option, and it’s available in dozens of different languages. It’s not always entirely accurate, but it does the job pretty well.
It even works on Apple Watch. The dictation tool switches itself off automatically after a few seconds, so you need to re-press the dictation button to make it work.
It has an offline dictation feature. It’s not great for producing lengthy documents.

 

10. Microsoft Dictation App for Microsoft 365 and the Web

 

Dictate in Word logo

Free dictation app for all devices with Microsoft 365 subscription and MS Word online.

 

This dictation app works on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, provided you have the Microsoft 365 subscription or signed up on MS Office online.

Microsoft Dictation App for MS Word allows you to type word documents using your voice. You can edit the document anytime using your keyboard, even during the session. You can even dictate punctuation marks such as period, comma, question mark, etc., and the system would understand. You can even activate the auto-punctuation mode and it will automatically close your sentence with a punctuation mark.

This app can also be used in 20 different languages. Besides English, you can dictate Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and several other widely-used languages. It even has a profanity filter that masks swear words with ****. It is so convenient to use even when you are on the road. As long as you have an internet connection on your mobile phone or PC, you can use this app.

If you have Microsoft 365 subscription, the microphone icon automatically appears near the right end of your Word toolbar. All you have to do is click it and once it says: “start listening”  you can begin dictating and the system would start typing the words you said.

MS Word dictate button
The dictate button is circled in red.

To learn more about how you can utilize this feature on your device, just check out this easy-to-follow guide.

 

Price: Free for MS Office online and Microsoft 365 subscribers

Platform: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Web

Available languages: 20 languages.

 

Bottom line:
This is one of the most often overlooked and under-utilized feature in MS Word. You should definitely take advantage of this especially if you’re a prolific writer or when doing a thesis, a book, or any other multi-paged documents.

 

Pros Cons
It’s free and readily available if you have Microsoft 365 subscription. Exclusive for Microsoft 365 subscribers or MS Word online, in which case, you need an internet connection.
It supports 20 different languages that are most commonly used in the world. It has a profanity filter too. It may sometimes misunderstand you if you have a thick foreign accent, but you can always correct using your keyboard.
It works on both Windows and macOS computers, iOS and Android mobile devices, and online using Chrome, Edge, or Firefox browser. It doesn’t work in older versions of MS Word.
It has an auto-punctuation function or you can dictate punctuation marks as needed. It doesn’t support many world languages including Arabic, Afrikaans, etc.

 

The Top 5 Benefits of Using a Dictation App For Writing

 

1) It’s faster

I used to write around 700 words an hour on a keyboard. But with a high-quality dictation app, I increased my output to about 1200 words in the same amount of time. That’s a considerable boost in productivity.

2) It’s more ergonomic

I so wish that someone told me about dictation software a couple of years ago. It would have saved me from a tremendous amount of pain and frustration. By using voice to write and edit, I’ve been keeping my valuable wrists, neck, and back pain-free.

3) It lets you “write as you speak”

Now, you can put this classic writing advice into action because you’ll be talking to your computer. This makes your content much more readable and devoid of complicated terminologies. It makes the writing process more natural.

4) It makes you a better verbal communicator

By dictating your books, articles, and essays, you become better at enunciating precisely what you want to say.

5) It’s the future

You’re probably already using voice to communicate through a variety of apps. Using your voice for writing is the logical next step.

 

Additional Dictation Tips For Writers

 

Bonus Tip #1: Use the right microphone to get the most out of the dictation software

 

I learned that using a proper microphone is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of dictation.

Even if you get the best piece of software, you won’t get an optimum result if you’re speaking into a crappy microphone.

You can choose between three different popular types, depending on your needs.

First on the list is a Bluetooth headset, which you can get from anywhere between $30 and $100. It’s the most recommended option by the majority of dictation app designers.

That’s because the microphone is placed right next to your mouth. This allows the device to pick up sound waves better for a more accurate text interpretation.

This writing gadget also lets you dictate while walking around your office, which may be convenient. The only drawback here is that you won’t be able to dictate and listen to music on your headphones at the same time.

 

Here’s a recommended model you can use:

Up to 7 Hours Talk Time
Plantronics Bluetooth Single-Ear (Monaural) Headset
$68.10

Compatible with both Mac and Android devices. With triple-mic active Digital Signal Processing (DSP).

Buy Now
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11/29/2021 12:32 am GMT

 

The second option is a podcasting microphone. This is convenient for many users because it allows you to dictate while listening to music on your headphones. On the minus side, a mic like this takes up more space and has to be fixed to your desk.

Here’s a recommended model you can use:

Awesome Microphone Kit
USB Microphone Kit with Adjustment Arm Stand
$54.99

A perfect complement for your podcasting, dictation, and speech and lecture recording workspace. Bundled with a clampable mic holder and other accessories.

Buy Now
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11/29/2021 12:18 am GMT

 

Option number three is the best of both worlds. A gooseneck microphone gives you all the flexibility while picking up sounds perfectly.

Yes, you still need to sit (or stand) at your desk to make it work. But at least it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it can provide a desirable dictation quality.

Here’s a recommended model you can use:

For Dictation and Podcasting
Shure CVG18-B/C Gooseneck Condenser Microphone
$108.00

With cardioid polar pattern for an excellent response to speech and employs technology that blocks RF interference.

Buy Now
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11/29/2021 12:19 am GMT

 

Bonus Tip #2: How to use dictation for maximum speech-to-text efficiency

 

Once you have the right software and hardware in place, the only thing you need to do is to learn how to dictate accurately.

Here’s how:

  • Speak rhythmically and pronounce words clearly
  • Speak in full sentences (otherwise, the software may “think” you’re starting another sentence and capitalize words)
  • Speak directly into the microphone and keep it close to your mouth
  • Before starting your sessions, do a couple of mouth warm-up exercises or read a paragraph from a book out loud.

If you want to learn and master the skill, you can read a book like “Dictate Your Book: How To Write Your Book Faster, Better, and Smarter” by Monica Leonelle.

In 59 pages, you’ll get all the info you need along with exercise prompts.

 

Upgrade your skills to thrive in the voice-first world. It’s the future of writing and communications.

The days of tapping your fingers on the keyboard are slowly coming to an end. I’m delighted that you are looking for an excellent dictation app to usher you into the voice-first future.

You’re probably already using apps such as Siri, Cortana, Google Home, or Alexa. Plus, you’re already sending lots of voice messages to your family, friends, and colleagues. This is simply a better, faster, and more ergonomic way to produce content.

All you have to do is take the same functionality and implement it in your writing process. I guarantee that it will improve your productivity a lot, and you’ll never want to go back to the keyboard again.

Have you used any of the apps listed above? Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.

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