Apple Watch Dictation Not Working? How to Fix the Problem

Get Dictation fixed so you can take voice notes on the go

If you're having trouble with dictation on your Apple Watch, there are some troubleshooting steps you can work through to get it going again.

Why Does My Apple Watch Dictation Not Work?

There could be any number of reasons dictation isn't working on your Apple Watch. It could be a hardware or software error or something completely different. And the error can appear in many ways, too, but the most common is "Hey Siri" won't respond when you want to dictate a message, or you can open dictation, but once you speak, it just says "Processing..." and never actually creates the words you spoke.

If you're experiencing these issues, you can use the troubleshooting steps below to isolate and fix the problem.

How to Fix It When Apple Watch Dictation Isn't Working

These troubleshooting steps should help get dictation working again on the Apple Watch. Work through each one in order until you find the solution which gets your dictation going again.

  1. Make sure 'Hey Siri' is enabled on your iPhone & Apple Watch. "Hey, Siri," or just Siri, is the voice assistant on Apple Watch (and iPhone, and iPad, and pretty much everything Apple). It also happens to be a significant element in dictation, so if Siri isn't enabled, you won't be able to use dictation on your Watch. To enable it, go to Settings > General > Siri > and make sure Hey Siri is enabled.

    You also need to make sure Siri is turned on, on your iPhone. You can do so by going to Settings > Siri & Search > and making sure it's enabled.

    There's a lot more you can do with Siri than just dictation in messages and voice notes. Take the time to learn how to use your Apple Watch with Siri. You'll be glad you did.

  2. Make sure the Restriction for Siri & Dictation is not enabled. Restrictions are controls that keep certain apps from working on Apple devices. They're most often used as part of the parental controls, but you may have accidentally turned on the restriction for Siri & Dictation unknowingly. Fortunately, it's an easy fix. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Allowed Apps > and make sure Siri & Dictation is toggled on (it should be colored green when enabled).

  3. Make sure Dictation is enabled on your keyboard. Another place dictation can accidentally be turned off is from your keyboard. You'll need to make sure it's enabled there, too. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Keyboard and make sure Enable Dictation is toggled on.

  4. Turn off Siri and then turn it back on. If you're sure Siri is enabled, you can try disabling it, waiting 10-15 seconds, and then turning it back on. To disable Siri on Apple Watch, go to Settings > Siri, and toggle off all the capabilities. Wait a few seconds for it to close down, and then toggle all the capabilities back on. Then try your dictation again.

  5. Make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone are both set to the same language. If you have your devices set to different languages, Siri won't accept dictation because it can't translate from one language to another. You'll need to check both the language on your iPhone and then make sure the language on your Apple Watch is the same. Go to General > Language & Region > and choose the same language you have selected on your iPhone on the Watch App. Then try dictation again.

  6. Remove any obstructions to your microphone. A case or screen protector blocking the microphone port on your Apple Watch could distort your voice and make it difficult for the speech-to-text engine to understand what you're saying. Remove anything which could be obstructing the microphone, and then try again.

    Obstructions can also include any dirt or debris in the microphone port. Be sure to clean your Apple Watch thoroughly and then try using Dictation again.

  7. Restart your Apple Watch and your iPhone. You can power off both devices simultaneously, but make sure when you restart your iPhone, it's turned back on and fully powered up before you restart your Apple Watch.

  8. Unpair your Apple Watch and then pair your watch again. Unpairing your Apple watch erases everything from it, so before you begin, make sure you have a backup of your Apple Watch in iCloud.

    Once the watch is unpaired, restart both the iPhone and the Apple Watch, and then you can restore your Apple Watch from the backup and try dictation again.

  9. Make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone are updated. One last thing you might try is ensuring both your iPhone and your Apple Watch are fully up-to-date. If they're not updated, apps can quit working properly, which in turn affects other aspects of your watch. So, make sure your iPhone is updated. Updating your iPhone usually triggers an update for your Apple Watch (if one is available). If it doesn't, you can update an Apple Watch manually.

    When both updates are complete, try the dictation feature again to see if it's working.

  10. If none of these options has restored the dictation feature on your Apple Watch, it's probably time to make a Genius Bar appointment. The people who work the Genius Bar see all manner of issues and can probably help you get dictation working again in no time.

How Do I Turn on Voice to Text on My Apple Watch?

If you aren't sure if you even have voice-to-text turned on on your Apple Watch, you'll want to check it's enabled. To do so, you need first to access Siri settings on your iPhone, and then make sure Siri is turned on on your Apple Watch.

On iPhone

On the iPhone, you can find Siri settings in the General category.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Siri & Search.

  3. Then make sure Listen for "Hey Siri is toggled On. You may also want to toggle On Allow Siri When Locked so you don't have to unlock your phone to use it.

On Apple Watch

Once Siri is enabled on your iPhone, you can enable it on your Apple Watch for dictation. To do so, go to Settings > Siri > and make sure Listen for "Hey Siri" is toggled on.

Once enabled, you should be able to open a message and tap the Microphone button, dictate what you want to say, then tap Done. You can also use "Hey Siri" to dictate your message and lower your wrist to send the message automatically.

FAQ
  • How do I change the dictation language on my Apple Watch?

    First, change Siri language settings to your preferred dictation language on your iPhone; tap Settings > Siri & Search > Language. Then open the Watch app on your phone and select General > Language & Region > Watch Language > and change it to match Siri's language.

  • How do I turn on the dictation button on an Apple Watch?

    When you compose or select a message in apps such as Messages or Mail, tap the Microphone to start dictation. Alternatively, you can say, "Hey Siri," raise the watch to speak, or press the Digital Crown to wake Siri and dictate a message or note. If you'd like to tap a Siri shortcut to interact with Siri, switch your Apple Watch face to the Siri option to add a Siri icon to your display.

  • How do I insert punctuation with Siri and Apple Watch dictation?

    When dictating messages to Siri on your Apple Watch, speak the punctuation marks you'd like to include. For example, "I'm running late period sorry exclamation mark." For more examples, visit Apple's recommendations for using punctuation with dictation.

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