Some of the best dictation software available today has come a long way since their introduction in the 1990s.

We’d been waiting to instruct an AI ever since watching the Terminator movies.

While the first iterations couldn’t understand you very well, on the plus side they didn’t threaten to end your whole family.

Almost 30 years later, speech recognition AI, or just AI in general has come a long way in terms of interpretation and accuracy, and fewer homicidal tendencies……allegedly.

Who benefits from dictation software?

best dictation software for busy professionals

Some of our clients who get their dictations transcribed most often include:

  • Book authors (to record new ideas)
  • Medical professionals (patient records)
  • Entrepreneurs (voice notes & ideas)

Or anyone else who wants to take notes and save time, and then maybe transcribe them for record-keeping.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best dictation software available in the world right now, free or paid.

How to dictate and record for free

Even if you’re using the best dictation software money can buy, its accuracy is heavily dependent on recording quality.

We’ve done detailed guides with useful tips and tricks on:

You may find those helpful, but if you can’t be bothered to read entire guides, here’s the condensed version below:

On Smartphones:

Whether you’re using an iPhone or an Android phone, all of them have in-built voice recording apps.

In most cases, you can locate them in your phone menu by searching for “recorder” on Android phones, or “Voice Memos” on iPhones.

But if you can’t find any voice recording apps, try searching for them on your phone’s app stores.

The interface is very straightforward in most cases where you just have to hit a red “record” button and hit stop when you’re done recording.

Once your recording is complete, you can either transcribe it yourself, or upload your recording on a transcription services website.

Having a transcript of your dictation makes your life a whole lot easier in terms of saved time.

Dictation transcripts are fully formatted, spell checked documents that are easily searchable.

How to Dictate and Transcribe for Free

Some of the best things in the world are free, and it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to the best dictation software.

Below are some of the best free options available now, whether you’re using a PC, Mac, or a smartphone.

Best Dictation Software for PC:

1. Windows 10 Dictation

windows 10 dictation software

This isn’t exactly a free, standalone dictation software, because it’s bundled with Office 365.

But since most Windows PCs these days have a version of Office installed, this can come in handy.

Here’s how to use it:

On a Windows 10 Laptop or PC:

In an office document, select a text field and press the Windows logo key + H to open the dictation toolbar.

Once you’re done dictating, say “Stop dictation.”  Very James Bond-ish.

On a Windows 10 Tablet or touchscreen:

  1. Tap the microphone button on the touch keyboard to start dictating.
  2. Tap it again to stop dictation, or say “Stop dictation.”

Best Dictation Software for Mac:

2. Apple Dictation

apple dictation software

The best dictation software for Apple devices is made by Apple themselves.

How to turn on keyboard dictation?

  1. On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Dictation.
  2. Click On.  If a prompt appears, click Enable Dictation.

How to dictate text using Apple Dictation?

  1. Open an app on your Mac, place the insertion point where you want the dictated text to appear.
  2. Press the microphone key if available in the row of function keys, use the dictation keyboard shortcut or choose Edit > Start Dictation.
  3. When the feedback window shows a microphone icon with a fluctuating loudness indicator, or you hear the tone that signals your Mac is ready for keyboard dictation, dictate your text.

Best Free Online Dictation Software:

3. Google Docs Voice Typing

google docs voice typing dictation software

One of the best dictation software from Google works online on any device as long as it has a browser and an active internet connection.

How to start voice typing in a Google Doc

  1. Check that your microphone works.
  2. Open a document in Google Docs with a Chrome browser.
  3. Click Tools and then Voice typing.  A microphone box appears.
  4. When you’re ready to speak, click the microphone.
  5. Speak clearly, at a normal volume and pace.
  6. When you’re done, click the microphone again.


Even the best dictation software in the world (free or paid) are designed to work best with a single speaker, speaking slowly, right next to the microphone, with absolutely no background noise.

They will struggle if you want to transcribe even a two-person interview.

To transcribe interviews with speaker labeling + spelling & grammar check + quality analysis to achieve 99% accuracy, we recommend trying our transcription services.

Best Dictation Software for the Money

4. Dragon Speech Recognition

dragon dictation software

Cost:  Starting at $500

The original Dragon NaturallySpeaking was one of the first consumer-grade dictation software in the 90s.

It’s evolved in leaps and bounds over the years to become one of the best dictation software for the money.

However, the price point is a bit of an issue, especially if you won’t need it on a regular basis.

It starts at $500.

If you think you’re going to need it on a daily basis for years, then the purchase probably makes sense.

Furthermore, it is a speech recognition AI at the end of the day which won’t give you a final, polished transcript.  You will have to spend time to clean it up and format it.

For intermittent projects, it’s probably better to hire a transcription service for a fully formatted, polished, spell-checked transcript with speaker labeling and 99% accuracy.

5. ScriptoSphere Speech-to-Text

best dictation software speech to text from ScriptoSphere

Cost:  $0.10 per audio/video minute

While not the best dictation software on this list, it’s a potent speech-to-text service.

We’ve put our knowledge and expertise of a decade’s worth of audio transcription to good use training its AI.

You can get started by uploading an audio or video file you need transcribed and ask for a free trial.

How to get the best results from a dictation software?

Any dictation software that executes commands or transcribes is built around a voice recognition AI.

While very advanced, this voice recognition AI still doesn’t understand the complexities of speech like a human does.

But if you take care of a couple of things beforehand, you can make your life much easier down the line.

Things like:

1. Speak close to the microphone

best dictation software results - speak close to a mic

In our experience, even the best dictation software using the latest voice recognition AI doesn’t do well with fast speakers, faint voices or any background noise.

So, make sure you’re speaking close to the microphone, at a slow pace, and try to eliminate any and all background noise.

2. Enunciate

Clear speech is something that is non-negotiable for any voice recognition AI.

Audio recorded with a fast speech or inside a busy restaurant or a pub won’t do well with even the best dictation software on the planet.

3. Train yourself and the software

Some of the best dictation software allow you to read passages to the software to help it “learn” and get used to your voice, and your pace and style of talking.

Some hours spent doing this may pay dividends down the line in terms of saved time and money.

It may also help you learn useful commands for the software and tailor the way you dictate to get the best results.

4. Find a quiet spot to record

If you’ve got people around, go to another room.

If you’ve got TV or music or any other ambient background noise, switch it off or turn it down.

If you’ve already recorded interviews which are unsuitable for a voice recognition or dictation software, please try our human transcription services.