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Google Docs: Speech to text function

September 5, 2018

If you have a Gmail address, a YouTube account, or are signed up to anything ‘Google’, then you have access to Google Docs. And if you have access to Google Docs, you have access to free—and surprisingly accurate—speech to text transcription. I rarely use Google Docs, and I only learned about this feature today. I spent a few minutes testing it, and after I’d checked the Help on how to add punctuation, the end result was very good. It’s worth a try, and is heaps cheaper than many other transcription services and software.

Prerequisites:

  • A working microphone linked into your computer/device (often comes with your headset or device, or may be separate) and turned on
  • Logged into Google Docs on your browser with one of your Google accounts (e.g. Gmail).

Here’s how to transcribe speech into text using Google Docs (these instructions and screenshots are for the Chrome browser on a Windows 7 PC, but other browsers and operating systems should work similarly):

  1. Open a new Google Docs document.
  2. Go to Tools > Voice Typing.
  3. A microphone icon is added to the left of the document. Click the drop-down arrow at the top of the microphone icon and select your language. As you can see from the screenshot, I chose English (Australia).
  4. Click the gray microphone icon when you’re ready to speak or read your text—the microphone icon will turn red, indicating that you can begin speaking.
  5. As you are speaking, don’t forget to add in the punctuation—say ‘period’ at the end of each sentence and ‘comma’ where you want a comma. Other accepted commands are ‘exclamation point’, ‘question mark’, ‘new line’, and ‘new paragraph’.
  6. When you have finished, click the red microphone icon again—it will change back to gray.
  7. Check the text created, and edit as required. In my testing (reading software information, so slightly technical content), I only had to make a few very minor edits.

I was very impressed. But then, I think Google has really excelled with voice recognition in the past few years (think Google Home, Alexa, and the brilliant ‘listen to music‘ option that tells you what song is playing and who’s performing it—we use this a lot when there’s interesting background music in a TV show and we want to follow up the artist and performance; I might write a blog post on it tomorrow…).

 

3 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! Do you think you’ll be creating your posts with Text to speech functionality?


  2. Hi Rhonda. Thank you for this excellent tip. I was not aware of the speech to text feature in Google Docs.


  3. Works for Russian. Cool!



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