How to Dictate Email in Microsoft Outlook
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It’s time to speed up how you write emails. If you struggle typing quickly, dictating email can help boost your productivity. We’re going to show you Dictate, which integrates straight into Outlook.

Dictate is a utility developed by Microsoft and also works with other Office programs. You just plug your microphone in, click a button, and start talking. Everything you say is then transcribed.

If you use Dictate or have a different speech-to-text software that you use, please let us know in the comments.

About Dictate

Microsoft Garage is a division of Microsoft that allows employees to work on their own projects Microsoft's New App Means You'll Never Oversleep Again Microsoft's New App Means You'll Never Oversleep Again The newest Android app from Microsoft has some creative ways of getting you to shut the alarm off in the morning. Read More with the support of the company. Its name comes from the fact that Bill Gates started Microsoft out of his garage and this division is now located in his former office on the Redmond campus.

The teams can be made up of any number of people and can receive support from those experienced in all stages of project development. Not only does Microsoft Garage foster creativity, but it also helps the company look for innovation.

One such project that came from this is Dictate. It’s a speech to text utility that integrates into Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint, similar to Google Doc’s voice typing feature Google Doc's Voice Typing: A Secret Weapon for Productivity Google Doc's Voice Typing: A Secret Weapon for Productivity Learn everything you need to know about voice dictation and voice control in Google Docs, including how to get started and a few essential tips for productivity. Read More . You simply talk into your microphone and it turns that into text, using the technology that powers Windows 10’s virtual assistant Cortana Hey, Cortana? Everything You Didn't Know to Ask and More Hey, Cortana? Everything You Didn't Know to Ask and More Cortana can do a lot more than you think. This master list of basic and not-so-obvious commands will help you get to know your virtual assistant and increase your productivity. Read More .

Dictate is capable of understanding more than 20 languages and can scribe into 60. It can also automatically input punctuation, or you can switch to speak it manually. We’re going to show you how it works for Outlook.

Download Dictate

Before you download Dictate, you first need to check whether you’re using the 32-bit or 64-bit version What Is the Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? What Is the Difference Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows? Do you know whether your computer is 32-bit or 64-bit and does it even matter? Yes it does! Let's take a look at where these terms come from and what they mean for you. Read More of Office. Note that even if you’re using 64-bit Windows, it doesn’t mean that’s your Office version.

To check, open Outlook and go to File > Office Account > About Outlook. You will see your version of Outlook listed.

Finding the version of Microsoft Outlook

Next, close all Office programs you’ve got open. Then, go to the Dictate website and download the version you need. Run the installer and open Outlook once it’s completed.

How to Use Dictate

You can use Dictate at any point when writing an email, accessible via the Dictation section on the ribbon. Before beginning, ensure your microphone is plugged in.

Use the From dropdown to set what language you’ll be speaking and the To dropdown to set what language you want the text to output as.

The Dictation tab of Microsoft Outlook

When you’re ready to talk, click Start. It’ll detect your microphone and the icon will display a red circle to show that it’s listening.

The Start Speaking notification for dictating in Outlook

Unlike some other email dictation apps, Dictate doesn’t input the text immediately as you talk. Instead, it’ll wait until you’ve reached the end of your sentence and then put it in. When you’ve finished, click Stop.

You can use the following commands while talking:

  • New line: Enters a line break.
  • Delete: Removes the last line you dictated.
  • Stop dictation: Ends the dictation session.

Dictate will automatically place punctuation in your sentences. It’s pretty good at detecting when to do this, but you might prefer to control it yourself. If so, before recording, click the Manual Punctuation button from the ribbon.

Manual Punctuation option in the Dictation tab of Outlook

These are the commands you can use for that:

  • Period
  • Comma
  • Question mark
  • Open quote
  • Close quote
  • Colon

One of the most requested features for Dictate is support for more manual punctuation commands, so this list might be expanded in the future.

Dictate in Action

I’ve recorded some videos so you can see how to dictate email in Outlook with Dictate. This first video shows me talking in English, with the text being outputted in English, and the punctuation automatically being detected.

As you can see, Dictate is very accurate. I tried a few different attempts, somewhere I was talking very quickly or not fully pronouncing words, and it still did a commendable job at turning it into text. Of course, your mileage may vary, especially if you’re in a noisy room.

I then created a second video to try out manual punctuation while dictating email.

Although it correctly transcribed what I said, including the punctuation, it didn’t adhere to grammar rules as well as it did when the punctuation was being automatically detected. It placed spaces between punctuation if you pause before saying it, which wasn’t necessary. However, it’ll handle punctuation well enough if you say at the same time as the sentence.

Other Speech-to-Text Options

It’s still early days for Dictate, so hopefully, the development team will continue to improve its functionality alongside the detection quality of the Cortana technology. Perhaps one day it’ll even be integrated into Office out of the box.

If you’re looking for other email dictation options for Windows 10, check out our articles on how to enable use speech recognition to control your PC Enable Speech-to-Text and Voice Control by Setting Up Speech Recognition in Windows Enable Speech-to-Text and Voice Control by Setting Up Speech Recognition in Windows Speech Recognition remains more powerful than Cortana. It drives speech to text and voice control. This article will show you what Speech Recognition can do, how to set it up, train it, and use it. Read More and the best free third-party programs to do similar things The Best (Free) Speech-to-Text Software for Windows The Best (Free) Speech-to-Text Software for Windows Looking for the best free Windows speech to text software? We compared Dragon Naturally Speaking with free alternatives from Google and Microsoft. Read More .

Do you use Dictate to transcribe your emails? Is there another program that you prefer?

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  1. Charlie
    January 24, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Ha, on a Mac, simply turn on Dictation under System Preferences -> Dictation & Speech
    I recommend enabling "Use Enhance Dictation"
    If you really want to control your computer and not just Dictation then go to System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Dictation -> select "Enable the dictation keyword phase"
    and also then
    Preferences -> Accessibility -> Dictation -> Dictation Commands... -> select "Enable Advance Commands"
    Now you can also control your computer from afar with the keyword... "Computer, what time is it?"