But before you jump in and use it, there are a few steps you need to take. First, you’ll need to configure a microphone. After that, you need to train your PC to recognize your voice and then you can start using speech recognition.
Microsoft includes a tutorial for using speech recognition on Surface effectively, it’s not necessary to go through it to setup your Surface for voice commands but, it’s a really good idea.
Speech Recognition on Surface: Initial Setup
Obviously, you’re going to need a microphone. The one built into your Surface will do the job, but you’ll find it will work much better if you get a decent quality headset with a microphone.
Personally, I use a Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset and am quite happy with it.
Make sure you’ve plugged the microphone into your PC then follow these instructions to get the microphone setup on your Surface.
- Click Next.
- Now you’ll be asked to select the type of microphone you’ll use. You should really use a headset microphone if you can because the built-in mic picks up a lot of ambient noise. Pick the type of mic you’re going to use and tap Next.
- Now you’ll get a screen telling you about proper microphone placement. Click Next.
- The next screen will ask you to read some text. This is to calibrate the microphone and make sure your Surface can “hear” you. Click Next when you’re done reading the sentence.
- If everything is ok, you’ll get a screen telling you your Microphone is setup. Click Next.
- Next, your Surface will ask you if you want to turn on Document Review. Document Review let’s speech recognition parse through your e-mail and search history’s to get a better idea of what words and phrases you use. It’s your call but, I recommend that you Disable document review for the sake of privacy.
- Now you’ll select an activation mode. Part of the reason using speech recognition on Surface tablets is so handy is because you don’t always have a keyboard. So, you might want to consider choosing Use voice activation mode as that will let you start voice recognition without a keyboard. It’s your call as this option will eat your battery life a little faster (but not too much). Click Next when your done.
- Now you’ll be given the option to look at the reference sheet. That will let you review a web page from Microsoft with lots of information about speech recognition. Click Next when you’re ready.
- Now you’ll be given the choice to start speech recognition at startup. It’s your call. If you do it, you’ll burn battery just a little faster but it will be easier to start using voice commands when you need to. If you don’t, you’ll gain a little battery life but will need to start speech recognition by going through the Search/”speech”/Settings routine we did above.
- That’s it!. You’ll get the “You can now control this computer by voice” window below along with an opportunity to start the tutorial. I highly recommend you do the tutorial as it will help you learn the voice commands better. It takes about 30 minutes.
- When speech recognition is on, you’ll see this little gadget on your screen.
Speech recognition is now setup and ready for you to start using it. Congratulations.
Speech Recognition on Surface: Train your Surface
Speech Recognition on Surface makes a voice profile to recognize your voice and spoken commands. The more you use Speech Recognition on Surface tablets, the better your voice profile becomes. As a result, your Surface gets better at understanding you the more you use it.
However, to get started, you have to initially “train” your Surface to understand your voice. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy.
- Start Speech Recognition.
- Switch to desktop mode.
- In the system tray, tap on the Speech Recognition icon (it looks like a little microphone in a blue circle).
- The following menu will appear. tap on Configuration then Open Speech Configuration Control Panel. Alternatively, you can dig into the Control panel to find the same thing but, this is a bit easier.
- Tap on Train your computer to better understand you.
- This will bring up the Speech Recognition Voice Training window. Click Next when you’re ready to start. It will take about 5 minutes to do the training.
- You’ll be shown a series of sentences that you have to read back exactly. If you don’t read it back correctly, the computer won’t let you proceed. Here’s an example.
- When you’re done, you’ll get this screen. You can either do more training or continue by tapping Next.
- And finally you’ll be given the opportunity to send speech data to Microsoft. personally, it creeps me out that they are collecting this (though I’m sure they’re not doing anything nefarious with it). It’s your call but I always pick Don’t Send.
That’s it. Now your Surface has been “trained” to understand you. It won’t be perfect at first but, it does get better over time.
Speech Recognition on Surface: Using It
The built in tutorial is the best place to go to start learning how to use voice recognition on Surface but, here’s a few helpful hints to get you started.
- Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
(If you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then clickSearch.)
- Enter speech recognition in the search box, tap or click Apps, and then tap or click Windows Speech Recognition.
- Say “start listening,” or tap or click the Microphone button to start the listening mode.
- Open the app you want to use, or select the text box you want to dictate text into.
- Say the text you want to dictate.
You can correct mistakes in three different ways.
- To correct the last thing you said, say “correct that.”
- To correct a single word, say “correct” followed by the word that you want to correct. If the word appears more than once, all instances will be highlighted, and you can choose the one you want to correct.
- In the Alternates panel dialog box, say the number next to the item you want, and then say “OK.”
add or change words in the Dictionary
Using the Speech Dictionary, you can add words, stop a word from being dictated, even correct or delete a word from the dictionary. this is really handy if you use a lot of technical terms and your Surface doesn’t understand them.
- Start Speech Recognition and make sure it’s listening.
- Say “open speech dictionary” and do any of the following:
- To add a word to the dictionary, say “Add a new word” and follow the instructions.
- To prevent a specific word from being dictated, say “Prevent a word from being dictated” and follow the instructions.
- To correct or delete a word that is already in the dictionary, say “Change existing words” and follow the instructions.
I hope this helps you start using this really cool and handy capability of your Surface tablet. As always, if you have questions or feedback, just let me know.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.