11 Best Dictation & Speech to Text Software 2023 (Free & Paid)
The estimate is that there will be 8.4 billion digital voice assistants worldwide by 2024. This number includes a specific genre, which is a dictation software program.
You need a voice dictation program to recognize voice commands. However, choosing one that best fits your business needs is difficult because of the sheer number of these programs. And that is the problem that I will help you solve.
Today, I will show you the 11 best dictation software programs that you can use. These are programs that I used myself. I based my choices on: ease of use, accuracy, and value for money.
What Is The Best Dictation Software?
Here is a list of the vest dictation speech-to-text software you can choose from:
- Windows Speech Recognition
- Otter AI
- Google Docs Voice Typing
- Apple Dictation
- Dragon Professional Individual
1. Windows Speech Recognition
Best for writers and Windows users.
Unique Feature: It filters out background noise and recognizes special symbols.
Windows has long recognized the need for voice commands and voice typing. Therefore, the speech recognition program of Windows is what I recommend for writers and content creators.
While it is not as sophisticated as the other options, it is still one of the best because it is so easy to set up and use. Best of all—it is free.
Windows Speech Recognition Features
- Easy to set up – all modern Windows operating systems have this dictation feature.
- Easy to use – in MS Word, the only step you must take is to click the dictate microphone icon. The speech recognition system will work immediately.
- Works with any PC – You can use this program for as long as your operating system is Windows. You must also use Office 365 to activate it.
- Can recognize special symbols – you do not need to type special characters. For example, say “at symbol” or “at sign”, and the system will type “@.”
Pros of Windows Speech Recognition
- Free to use
- You can use it to write text on MS Word and in emails
Windows Speech Recognition Pricing
This voice command feature of Windows is 100% free.
2. Otter AI
Best for low-cost small businesses and for meetings.
Pricing: There is a free plan and some paid ones.
Unique Feature: It can transcribe live meetings and convert conversations into text.
Otter AI is the best option among paid speech-to-text software programs because it is versatile and made for low-cost small businesses and meetings. With this software, you no longer need someone to provide transcription services or take notes.
Otter AI Features
- Integration – you can integrate the voice typing app with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. As you use these meeting programs, Otter will record the audio and also do the transcription.
- Live Transcription – save time with Otter as it does the transcription as the conversation is happening. The dictation feature works for everyone in the meeting, not just the host.
- Search and Playback – after your meeting, you can search the recording and play it back if you need clarification. For example, it works great if the words in the Transcription do not make sense.
- Annotation – you can find parts of the Transcription and leave comments and notes.
- Audio File Import – you can import audio files into the app and then ask it to transcribe the audio.
- Custom Vocabulary – the ambient voice intelligence can understand customer words you set or program. For example, you can ask it to type a specific word based on how it heard the person speaking. It is excellent for acronyms ad company-specific terms.
Pros of Otter AI
- Can provide real-time transcription services
- You can annotate the transcribed text
- You can integrate it with Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams
Otter AI Pricing
- Free – free for life; you get to record and do live transcription.
- Pro – costs $12.99 per month; you can now integrate it with other programs and add custom vocabulary.
- Business – costs $30 per month; you get everything in pro plus priority support.
You can get Otter AI for free now and upgrade later if you want more services.
3. Google Docs Voice Typing
Best for Google Docs collaboration.
Unique Feature: Works online on a Chrome browser.
Being at the forefront of technology, Google also has a speech recognition software program. It is free, and you can use it in both Google Docs and Google Slides.
To make it work, one has to activate it first. The only gripe you may have is that it only works in the Google universe. You can only use it in Google Chrome.
Google Docs Voice Typing Features
- Type with your voice – you can type with your voice if you have a microphone; most laptops have a built-in microphone, so you do not have to buy an external one. PCs, however, may need an external audio source.
- Languages – there are dozens of languages that the speech recognition program knows. Some examples are Bahasa, Afrikaans, Spanish, Tamil, and many more.
- Add punctuation – you can create a phrase to let the system know that you want it to add punctuation. You can do this for a period, comma, question mark, etc. You can also tell it to create a new paragraph or write on a new line.
- Voice Commands – You can say several voice commands, and the system will know what you are trying to do. For example, you can tell it to select specific texts in the document, format your document, or add and edit tables.
Pros of Google Docs Voice Typing
- Free to use
- Works on a Chrome browser; no installation is necessary
- You can use it on Google Docs and Google Slides
Google Docs Voice Typing Pricing
The Google Docs voice recognition is 100% free.
4. Apple Dictation
Best for Mac users.
Unique Feature: You can customize the voice commands.
Apple dictation is one of the best tools to use on Apple devices. It is free; all it takes to get started is to activate it. Is it accurate, though? I can say that it is about 90% accurate.
One thing that I must mention is that it is not available in all languages. There are multiple languages available, but not for all countries with Apple. In addition, it may not work in some regions because it uses ambient voice intelligence AI.
Apple Dictation Features
- Server-Based – the dictation feature goes to Apple’s network before it returns to your computer.
- Sleep and Wake-Up – you can turn the dictation feature on or off with a click. You can also control this on/off with your voice.
- Works on any text app – unlike Google, Apple works on any application that accepts text. You can use it to type text on MS Word, a website, and many other apps that take the text as input.
- No Mouse – you can tell the cursor to move left, right, up, or down.
Pros of Apple Dictation
- It is free
- It works best with Apple devices
- It is easy to set up and activate
Apple Dictation Pricing
The software program is free to use, but you must be on Apple devices.
Best for social media enthusiasts.
Unique Feature: It has features best used for social media.
GBoard is an app that means Google Keyboard. It is a keyboard that allows you to search, create GIFs, and send emojis. It also has multiple languages. Gboard is available on both Android and iOS.
To enable GBoard’s speech-to-text capabilities, you must go to your phone’s system preferences and set GBoard as your default keyboard, not the one that came with your phone.
Once you do this, there will be a microphone icon that you can tap. Once you do that, you can start speaking. Next, the system will type on the currently open app, like Facebook.
- Glide Typing – this feature allows you to swipe your finger from letter to letter—no more tapping per letter.
- GIFs – you can search for GIFs and use them to send on social media.
- Emoji – there are so many emojis now that it is difficult to memorize them. Use the app to find the right emoji and use that in your text message, email, or even on social media.
- Stickers – you can use the app to look for stickers and improve how to express yourself.
- Multiple Languages – the app works in different languages. However, these language options have a limit for Apple users.
Pros of Gboard
- You can use the app to search for nearby stores and restaurants.
- You can also search for videos and images
- Available in many languages
Gboard is 100% free to use.
Best for online use.
Pricing: Free to use
Unique Feature: Works online on any browser.
- Printing – a print icon allows you to print the result of your dictation. There is no need to transfer the text to a word processing program.
- On/Off for Commands – you can turn the special commands on or off. For example, you want to say “period,” but you do not mean a dot. So you can turn it off so the system will type “period” instead of a dot.
- Download – you can download the text once your speech is complete. After clicking the download button, you have the option to save your work as a DOC or TXT file.
- Browser-Based App – the application works on any browser, not just Google Chrome. You can use the app to convert speech to text for as long as your computer has a microphone.
- Autosave – you can turn the autosave feature on and off. The autosave does not save your work on your desktop. Instead, it keeps your work in your browser’s cache.
There are also options where you can tell the system to capitalize pronouns or not. The settings page also allows you to change the font style and size of the text.
Pros of SpeechTexter
- Easy to use
- Works with any browser
- The text is downloadable
The speech recognition software is free for life.
7. Dragon Professional Individual
Best for professionals who need a reliable tool.
Pricing: $500; people who only need to upgrade will pay $250.
Unique Feature: You can buy hardware from the company for better performance.
Dragon is a product of a company called Nuance. They do sell not only speech-to-text software but also other types of programs for big businesses.
The Dragon Professional has deep learning technology that allows you to leverage the system. As a result, it helps you become more productive. For example, you can dictate words and transcribe three times faster than other software programs.
Dragon Professional Individual Features
- Sidebar – once instaled, there is a sidebar that would appear to the right of your PC. This sidebar contains instructions and guides.
- Voice Command – you can tell the software something like “open notepad,” and it will open the notepad program on your PC.
- Simple Commands – if you say “new paragraph,” it will create a new paragraph. You can also say “backspace,” which will delete the previous character it wrote.
Pros of Dragon Professional Individual
- Works on word processors and email messages
- You can search the web with it
- Your purchase may come with hardware like a microphone or headset
Dragon Professional Individual Pricing
The brand new price of the software program is $500. However, if you already have a previous version, you only need to pay $250 for the upgrade.
Best for people who also need a virtual assistant.
Pricing: The software program costs $199.
Unique Feature: It has a suite of tools for a virtual assistant, not just speech-to-text.
- Dictation – you can dictate, and the system will type for you like all other speech-to-text dictation apps in this list. Artificial Brain – the AI gets an update now and then. As such, it does not only type texts. It also accepts and executes instructions.
- Wireless Control – you can control your computer without wires through your phone (iOS and Android operating systems only). For example, you can remotely tell Braina, through your phone, to make your PC play music.
- Custom Commands – you can create custom hotkeys and commands. For example, you can use it to alter a keyboard shortcut if you want.
- Text-to-Speech – Braina does not only hear; it can also read. So you have the option to upload a text file, and Braina will read it.
- Math – you can ask Braina about any mathematical equation, and it will solve the problem for you.
Pros of Braina
- It has mathematical functions
- You can use it to search for files and folders
- The software update is free for five years
- It has a mouse automation feature
The package costs $199 to get the full suite. If you only use it for one year, you will pay $79. There is also a free version that you can download now.
Best for big companies that need heavy automation of documents.
Pricing: Not available.
Unique Feature: Built for large-scale businesses that need industry-grade software.
Winscribe used to be an independent company, but Nuance acquired it. Nuance is the same company that owns Dragon.
Winscribe allows employees not just to transfer speech into text but to fully automate the process. As a result, it works best for large companies that need to transcribe a lot.
- Seamless Integration – the Winscribe team can provide you with an API that will allow you to integrate the system into any existing program you already have.
- No Manual Transcription – the system allows you to eliminate any manual transcription. Instead, it automatically collects words from dictations.
- Fast Results – the Winscribe software can deliver transcripts three times faster than the average speech-to-text programs.
Pros of Winscribe
- Improves collaboration efforts through file sharing
- Built for heavy documentation
- The system can help in automating complex workflows
The price of Winscribe is not available. You must contact Nuance for pricing.
Best for people who need a voice typist anywhere.
Unique Feature: There is an app for mobile that works on browsers.
Speechnotes is one of the simplest speech-to-text programs I used. It is a browser-based platform, but it offers an API. With this API, you can integrate it with your existing programs.
- Browser and App – You can use the app on your phone or tablet or use the browser-based platform. It works on any browser.
- Auto-Save – the system will auto-cache your results in your browser. So you will not lose your work.
- Great UI – the user interface is easy to understand. The control panel is on the left. Hover your icons over them, and you will see what they are for.
Pros of Speechnotes
- Easy to use
- There is an app for mobile devices
- The interface is easy to understand
- You can upload and download files
Speechnotes is free; the app is free, but if you want to get rid of ads, the cost is $0.1 per minute.
Best for gamers.
Pricing: Between $39.99 and $135, depending on the promotion.
Unique Feature: You can program it to work in games.
Tazti makes itself different from the rest because you can use it for games. It has sophisticated programming that you can make commands for MMO, RPG, and other types of games.
- Voice Recognition – you can customize commands, like Warcraft, according to the program you are using. Once done, you only have to speak, and the game character you control will do as told.
- Speech Recognition – like the others here, it can type words you speak on a word processor, email, or website.
- Control Applications – you can run your apps on your computer or launch them with this program.
- Folder and File Association – you can customize controls to tell Tazti to pen specific files and folders from your PC.
Pros of Tazti
- Works with games
- Supports many languages
- It recognizes not just voice commands but also speech
Tazti only has one price at $39.99.
What Is Dictation Software?
A dictation software program is one in which you speak, and then the software program types or writes what you say. It is different from programs that understand voice commands and is not a voice recognition software program.
The primary function of a dictation software program is what we call voice typing. It types the words that you say. Usually, the people who need it have physical impairment—they lost their hands but need to write.
Today, speech recognition has found its way into many industries. For example, most people who use it have meetings that want word-by-word documentation of the conversations that transpired in that meeting. People also use it to create transcription for events where there are several public speakers.
Things To Look For In An Excellent Dictation App
Before you choose from my list of the best dictation software app, there are some things that you must check. Below are some of the features that I recommend you consider.
Accuracy is the primary aspect that you need to consider. Unfortunately, accuracy is difficult for a program to execute because it also includes grammar.
For example, dictation apps must be able to differentiate between “there” and “their.” The only way that a voice typing software can do this is if it also has artificial intelligence for speaking or grammar.
Speed refers to the rate of voice typing. Some programs take a few seconds of delay, which means that you have to wait between sentences before it can type the whole statement you said.
There is no specific standard for how fast a text software program must type. What is fast to me may be slow to you, so I strongly recommend you get the free trial and see the program in action.
While many voice command or text software programs are free, some companies charge a monthly fee because they offer more services.
If you only need dictation software for personal use, like a small business using the best affiliate programs, there is no need to spend much money. However, be prepared to shell out a few bucks if you want to integrate the text software into another tool.
My take is simple: if you only want to use speech-to-text software with your microphone for your YouTube channel, or if you are a writer, get a free app. On the other hand, get a paid application if you want to use the speech-to-text software with Zoom or other applications like a webinar.
Compatibility refers to whether or not you can integrate the voice dictation software with another program. This feature is essential only if you use the software in meetings, webinars, or broadcast events.
For example, let us say that you have a webinar about how to sell on TikTok. You want to record either your voice or the voices of other participants.
Typically, you would use a microphone and let a simple voice recognition software type the words you say. Of course, you can do this with another speaker, but only if he is with you.
What if the other speaker is not with you physically but in his home? The software will not record his voice if he does not have the dictation app.
The solution here is one of the best dictation software programs you can integrate with your webinar software. The automatic transcription software will record all spoken words through the webinar app.
FAQ – Speech-To-Text Dictation Software Apps
1. Is Dragon better than Microsoft dictate?
In a way, yes. Dragon is better than Microsoft because Dragon made the program specifically for voice dictation. On the other hand, Microsoft created it only as an afterthought for writers.
2. Can I dictate to Microsoft Word?
Yes, you can. Microsoft has free dictation software. However, I noticed that it only works if you legitimately purchased the MS Office suite. Pirated versions do not have it. The Home tab of MS Word has a microphone icon at the far right. Click that and dictate text to make it work.
3. What is AI-based dictation software?
AI-based dictation software uses high-end or sophisticated programs that learn as they work. Most of these programs operate in the cloud, and they also work online. You need an internet connection to use them.
The brain or AI of the automatic transcription software is in a centralized location. Therefore, as the program learns something new, it immediately applies this knowledge to practice.
4. Is using a dictation app faster than typing?
No, typing is faster. But of course, it all depends on who is typing. If a person types with only two fingers and is not that accurate, it is better to dictate text. The thing is that there are many fast and precise typists in the world—many of whom work in courtrooms.
5. What’s The Best Dictation App For Writers?
The best dictation software app for writers is Microsoft Word. The Windows speech recognition system has gone a long way. Writers do not need anything else but accurate and fast dictation apps. Windows users or writers should be happy to know that MS Word is enough to provide what they need.
6. What Is The Best Voice Recognition Software?
Otter AI is the best dictation software I recommend if you want a free one. It is an excellent option because it has a free version; you can also use it with Zoom and other apps to record and transcribe meetings as they are happening.
7. Are speech-to-text programs accurate?
Yes, but only to a certain degree. Speech-to-text programs have limitations because they cannot capture words they do not understand. These programs rely on the accent and pronunciation of the speaker.
8. Are dictation programs expensive?
No, they are not expensive. Most dictation software programs are free. You must spend money only if you want more features, such as saving the file in the cloud or using it in collaboration with other people.
The best free Dictation & Speech to text software is Microsoft Word or Windows Speech Recognition. It is free, and I believe that almost everybody uses MS Word. The best dictation software for meetings is Otter AI. It integrates with Zoom and can record meetings and transcribe the live audio into text in real-time.
Here is a quick summary of the best dictation software programs:
- Windows Speech Recognition – Best for writers and Windows users.
- Otter AI – Best for low-cost small businesses and for meetings
- Google Docs Voice Typing – Best for Google Docs collaboration
- Apple Dictation – Best for Mac users
- Gboard – Best for social media enthusiasts
- SpeechTexter – Best for online use
- Dragon Professional Individual – Best for professionals who need a reliable tool
- Braina – Best for people who also need a virtual assistant
- Winscribe – Best for big companies that need heavy automation of documents
- Speechnotes – Best for people who need a voice typist anywhere
- e-Speaking – Best for gamers.
More Articles Like This:
- Best Text-to-Speech (TTS) Tools (Free & Online)
- Automatic Transcription Software (Free Speech-to-Text)