How to Use Speech-to-Text on Android

Using speech-to-text and customizing its settings

What to Know

  • In a Text message field, tap microphone icon; tap again to stop recording. Edit text if necessary > send message.
  • To change settings, go to Settings > System > Language and input > On-screen keyboard.
  • To add entries to the dictionary, tap Settings > Plus (+) sign.

This article explains how to use speech-to-text on all devices that run Android regardless of the manufacturer (Google, Samsung, etc.).

How to Use Speech-to-Text on Android

Android phones come with a speech-to-text converter that lets you dictate text messages, emails, and other text you'd ordinarily type using the on-screen keyboard. It's enabled by default.

You can start using your voice to dictate text right away, in any app in which you'd ordinarily type with the on-screen keyboard.

  1. Launch any app you can type into, such as Gmail or Messages, then tap in a text field.

  2. Tap the Voice Input icon, which looks like a microphone.

    On the Gboard keyboard (the default for many Android phones), it’s in the upper right corner of the keyboard. If you’re using another keyboard, it might be elsewhere. In the popular Swype keyboard, for example, tap and hold the comma key to get the microphone.

  3. As you speak, you should see your speech converted automatically to text.

    If you’re using some keyboards (like Swype or Grammarly), you may see a window with a microphone button while you're dictating. Tap this to alternate between recording and pausing.

  4. When you’re done, tap the Voice Input icon again to stop recording. You can edit the text as normal if necessary, then send the message.

    The Microphone key on the Android keyboard and Send SMS highlighted in Android Messages

Speech-to-text conversion is different from using your Android phone to read text aloud to you.

How to Customize Speech-to-Text on Android

Start using your phone’s speech-to-text feature right away, or maybe you need to customize its behavior first. Here's how.

The settings options may look slightly different depending on your version of Android, but the steps are basically the same.

  1. Go to Settings > System > Language and input (or Settings > General Management > Language and input on older devices).

  2. Tap On-screen keyboard.

    System, Language and input, and On-screen keyboard highlighted in Android Settings
  3. Tap Google voice typing.

  4. If your preferred language isn’t already selected, tap Languages to choose it. If your preferred language isn't already installed, tap Add a Language or All, then download the language of your choice.

    On some phones, you must turn on Offline speech recognition to dictate when there’s no internet connection available.

  5. You can also control the way the speech-to-text engine responds to obscene language. If a potentially offensive word is dictated, by default that word will appear with asterisks. You can control this by toggling Block offensive words on or off.

    Google Voice Typing, Add a language, and Block offensive words switched On in Android Settings

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Speech-to-Text

Using speech instead of typing is a powerful way to save time and work more efficiently since you can almost certainly dictate a message more quickly than you can type it. Here are some tips for getting the most out of text-to-speech.

  • Speak clearly and slowly. If you talk quickly or slur words together, the speech translation will be less accurate and you'll need to waste time editing it after it's translated.
  • Speak punctuation when you talk. It might sound weird at first, but you can create polished, ready-to-send messages by speaking the punctuation as part of the message, such as, "Hello, how are you question mark I am fine period."
  • Add entries to the personal dictionary. You can add specialized words you use often, as well as names of people and places Android has trouble understanding. To add to the dictionary, go to the Settings app and search for Personal dictionary, then tap the Plus (+) sign and choose your language to add to the dictionary. 
  • Avoid noisy environments. You’ll get better results by dictating in quiet spaces.
  • How do I turn off speech-to-text on Android?

    Go to Settings > System or General Management > Language and input > On-screen keyboard and tap the Google voice typing toggle to turn off speech-to-text on Android.

  • How do I use text-to-speech on Android?

    To set up text-to-speech on Android, go to Settings > Accessibility > Select to Speak. Tap the Select to Speak toggle switch to it turn on. In any app, tap the Select to Speak icon > Play to hear the phone read text aloud.

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