How to Use Voice Access in Windows 11

This accessibility feature allows a PC to be used via only voice commands

What to Know

  • Enable Voice Access: Settings app > Accessibility > Speech. > toggle switch next to Voice access.
  • To quickly disable Voice Access: Right-click the voice access icon on the taskbar > Close window.

Voice access is a free feature built directly into the Windows 11 operating system that lets you control apps and settings with your voice and even allows for the dictation of speech. This article explains how to set up and use voice access as well as how to turn it on and off.

How to Set Up and Use Voice Access on Windows 11

Here’s how to set up and use the Windows 11 voice access tool.

Windows 11’s voice access tool is the successor to Windows Speech Recognition and is a completely separate tool. Voice access is also not connected to Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant which is now a separate Cortana app in Windows 11.

  1. Open the Windows 11 Start Menu.

    Windows Start in the Windows 11 taskbar
  2. Select All apps.

    If you’ve previously added a Settings shortcut to your Start Menu, select its gear icon now and jump ahead to Step 4.

    All Apps in the Windows 11 Start menu
  3. Select Settings.

    Settings in the Windows 11 Start menu app list
  4. Select Accessibility.

    Accessibility in the Windows 11 Settings app
  5. Scroll down and select Speech.

    Speech in the Windows 11 Settings app
  6. Select the switch to the right of Voice access to turn the feature on.

    To have voice access begin automatically when you turn on your Windows device, check the box next to Start voice access after you sign into your Windows PC.

    Voice access switched Off in Windows 11 Settings
  7. Windows’ voice access feature should now open as a thin app running across the top of the screen.

    A small welcome popup message will appear if this is your first time using voice access. Select the X icon to close this popup.

    Voice access welcome window and Voice access toggle On in Windows Settings
  8. Select Download to install necessary files associated with the voice access feature.

    Download highlighted in Windows 11 voice access settings
  9. If this is your first time using voice access, a pop-up should appear asking you to select your preferred microphone for making voice commands. Simply select your microphone from the list and then select the arrow icon and Done to continue.

    If you don't get this prompt, open the voice access settings via the gear icon in the top-right corner and select Select default microphone and your microphone's name.

    Microsoft Array refers to the built-in microphone on Microsoft Surface and other Windows devices.

    Microphone and Select default microphone highlighted in Windows 11 voice access settings

How to Improve Your Voice Recognition Results

Here are some tips for improving your voice recognition when using voice access in Windows 11.

  • Switch to US English (EN-US). The voice access tool can work with any language setting but it is optimized for US English. You can change your Windows language at any time. 
  • Reduce background noise. Turn off any music or other media playing in the background.
  • Change microphones. One of your other microphones may be better suited to speech recognition.
  • Test your microphone. There are several steps worth trying to properly set up and test your Windows microphone.
  • Fix your microphone. Check your Windows 11 microphone for bugs and glitches. 
  • Speak clearly. Windows 11’s voice access is pretty good at understanding speech but it’s not perfect.
  • Practice the voice access commands. Microsoft has an official list of voice access commands that are worth familiarizing yourself with. 

How to Turn Off Voice Access

Windows 11’s voice access tool can be turned off at any time either by its own built-in menu or via the Windows Taskbar.

To turn voice access off via its own menu, select the gear icon and select Turn off voice access.

Turn off voice access in Windows 11 desktop voice access menu

To turn voice access off via the Windows Taskbar, right-click the voice access icon and select Close window.

Close window highlighted in the voice access app menu in the Windows 11 taskbar

How to Turn On Voice Access

Once you’ve completed the voice access setup process, you can open the tool at any time via the Windows 11 Start menu or the Settings app.

Voice access app in Windows 11 Start menu

To open voice access via Start, open the Start menu, type voice access in the search bar, and select Voice access.

To save time in the future, right-click the voice access app icon in the Start menu and select Pin to Start to add it to your main collection of Start menu apps. Select Pin to Taskbar to add a shortcut to the Windows Taskbar.

Alternatively, open Settings and select Accessibility > Speech > Voice access to turn voice access on.

How to Practice Window 11’s Voice Access Tool

One of the best ways to learn how to use Windows 11’s voice access tool is to use its built-in interactive guide. This tool can be opened and used at any time as many times as you like. Here’s how to use the voice access interactive guide.

  1. Select the question mark icon from the voice access toolbar.

    Question mark icon highlighted in the voice access toolbar active on the Windows 11 desktop
  2. Select Start interactive guide.

    Start interactive guide in the voice access toolbar in the Windows 11 desktop
  3. Experiment with the sample voice commands on this screen and select the lower-right arrow when complete.

    The first instruction, “voice access wake up,” activates voice access. Once this is done, your Windows 11 device will assume that any spoken word is meant for voice access. This includes any music playing in the background and even media playing on your TV.

    Forward arrow in the Windows 11 voice access interactive guide
  4. Try this second selection of tips and select the arrow when you’re ready to continue.

    Forward arrow in the Windows 11 voice access interactive guide
  5. Repeat for this third page of instructions.

    Forward arrow in the Windows 11 voice access interactive guide
  6. Finally, select View commands to open a list of available voice commands. Alternatively, you can select Done to close the voice access introduction.

    View commands and Done in Windows 11 voice access interactive guide tutorial
  • How do I access the voice recorder on Windows 11?

    To access Windows 11 Voice Recorder, open the Start menu and search for Voice Recorder. Select the Microphone to begin recording, then select it again to stop.

  • How do I access my iCloud Voice Memos on Windows?

    You can transfer iPhone Voice Memos to your computer via iTunes or iCloud. You can also share individual voice memos with services like Google Drive, OneNote, or Gmail and download them on your PC.

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