How to Set up Speech to Text on Android

Using voice to text and customizing its settings

Android phones comes with a convenient speech-to-text converter that let you dictate text messages, emails, and other text you'd ordinarily have to type using the on-screen keyboard. It’s enabled by default, but it might not be obvious how to customize and use this powerful feature. Here's what you need to know to get the most out of speech-to-text on Android.

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

How to Use Voice to Text on Android

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 Email or Messages, then tap in a text field so the on-screen keyboard appears.

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

  4. When you’re done, tap the Voice Input icon a second time to edit the translated text as you normally would, then Send or Save the text as desired.

    Using voice input on Android.
  5. 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.

  6. If you have a Samsung phone, you may see some extra text editing options at the bottom of the voice input window. You can add punctuation like a comma or period, or use the backspace key to erase entire words at a time.

    The voice dictation controls on a Samsung Galaxy S10.

How to Customize Speech to Text on Android

You can start using your phone’s speech to text feature right away, but you can also customize its behavior.

  1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and input.

  2. Tap On-screen keyboard.

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  3. Tap Google voice typing.

  4. If your preferred language isn’t already selected, tap Languages to choose it.

    If you want to be able to dictate to your phone when there’s no internet connection available, tap Offline speech recognition. If your preferred language isn't already installed, tap All, then download the language of your choice.

  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 Hide offensive words on or off.

    Choosing keyboard settings on Android.

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, read-to-send messages by speaking the punctuation as a part of the message, such as by saying, "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. Add to the dictionary by searching for "dictionary" in the Settings app, then tap the + to add to the dictionary. 
  • Avoid noisy environments. You’ll get better results by dictating in quiet spaces.