How can I enable and use voice typing in Google Docs?

January 17, 2019 |

greater than 9 minutes

If you do not enjoy typing or if for some reason you cannot use your fingers, you can employ the Voice Typing functionality to work on documents. In this guide, we will show you how to enable voice typing in Google Docs, walk you through some essential commands, and so on. Here we go.

How to use Voice Typing in Google Docs on Windows

  • First, you must understand that the Voice Typing functionality is only available for users to employ in Google Docs and the speaker notes for Google Slides. You must also use the Google Chrome browser to access the feature. Old versions of Chrome are unlikely to support it, so you will do well to update the Chrome app on your PC to the latest version.
  • To check if your system is running the latest version of Chrome, you can go through these simple steps: Click on the 3-dot menu (arranged vertically) to see some options, click on Help, then select About Google Chrome.

Your browser will get in contact with Google servers now. If a newer version of Chrome is available for your PC, it will be downloaded and installed.

  • To use Voice Typing, you need a Google Account. Well, to use Google Docs in the first place, you need to sign in with a Google Account anyway, so this requirement is pretty standard.
  • Since your microphone is going to be involved, you might want to check and ensure that the required audio device is currently working. Verify that the needed drivers have been installed. Auslogics Driver Updater can help you deal with a wide range of issues involving the drivers on your computer.

If your PC’s built-in microphone is poor (or if it is not working currently), you may have to connect an external microphone or listening device.

A dynamic microphone should serve you well. Dynamic microphones are constructed to pick up very little background noise. This ability ensures that your computer hears the words you say quite clearly, which means the voice recognition engine will be significantly more accurate than it would have been had you gone with a regular microphone.

Once you are done with the necessary checks on the state of your PC’s microphone, you can move on to launch the Chrome app and open Google Docs.

Continue with the steps below:

  • If you want to start working on a new document immediately, you can input the following address into the text field on the Chrome program window:

Hit the Enter button on your computer’s keyboard, and your browser will load up the site.

  • Now, to activate Voice Typing in Google Docs, you have to click on Tools (one of the items on the menu close to the top of the window), then click on Voice Typing. You can also use the shortcut that comprises of the following buttons to do the same thing: Ctrl+Shift+S.
  • At this point, we believe you should see a window with a microphone. You have to click on it once you are ready to dictate.

Note: You can move the microphone window by clicking on it and dragging to whatever location or section you want it to be on the window.

If you are trying to use Voice Typing for the first time, a prompt will come up to ask you to grant Chrome the permissions that allow it to use your microphone for the intended purpose. Click on the Allow button.

In theory, the Voice Typing feature is supposed to load up your native language automatically. If this does not happen, you have to click on the icon formed from 3 dots arranged horizontally, then click on the drop-down menu below to see the relatively long list of languages.

Over 40 languages and accents are available. Choose one and move on.

  • Here, you get to speak clearly to the functionality in your normal volume and usual pace. This way, the tool easily understands what you are saying. Everything you say should appear as words in the body of your document.

If the Voice Typing feature is struggling to understand you (or if it is failing to make sense of what you are saying), you have to go through the languages list again and ensure you have selected the appropriate dialect or accent.

  • The Voice Typing functionality is programmed to process voice input in real-time, which means it does its job while you are speaking. To this end, once you are done talking to your microphone, you have to click on the microphone icon to stop the feature from trying to listen to you.

If you switch to another tab or minimize Chrome to use another application on your system, Voice Typing will be turned off automatically.

While speaking, you might have to insert punctuation. Fortunately, the Voice Typing feature on Google Docs is designed to understand when you want to add punctuation to the sentence. Here are the phrases you must use:

  • “Period”
  • “Comma”
  • “Exclamation point”
  • “Question mark”
  • “New line”
  • “New Paragraph”

For example, if you wish to dictate the sentence “I have just begun to learn how to use Google Docs, but I find it interesting already.”, you must say the following words aloud and clearly:

“I have just begun to learn how to use Google Docs comma but I find it interesting already period

Note: The punctuation capabilities are only supported when you use any of the following languages: German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Russian.

How to use voice commands in Google Docs

You can do more than just typing words and adding punctuation with your voice on your Google Docs. The platform is equipped with capabilities that allow you to edit or format text and paragraphs within an already existing document (without you having to click on anything in the toolbar).

Note: English is the only language with which the commands are usable on Google Docs, though. The stated functionality is not available in the Slides speaker note. Furthermore, another condition requires both the account in use and the language involved to be English.

For example, if you make a mistake or say the wrong thing (which means you want it to be deleted), all you have to do is say “Delete” or “Backspace” and Google Docs will move to remove the word before the cursor.

To start working with voice commands on Google Docs, we have provided some lists you can go through quickly to become productive.

  1. Selecting Text:

If you plan to edit documents without using a mouse, the ability to select text is one of the most critical functionalities you can ever employ. The Voice Typing functionality in Google Docs is equipped with a relatively smart engine that allows you to select all forms of text located anywhere in the document.

Nevertheless, the operations involved remain challenging to master. When you start, you might notice that you are working slowly, which means your productivity will decrease (compared to your output when you are using the regular method of doing things).

You must not give up on dictation, though. With enough practice, you should get better at selecting text, and eventually, you will become faster at your job using dictation than using a mouse.

To select already written text, you can check out the following phrases:

  • “Select all” “Select [word]”
  • “Select word”
  • “Select next/last word”
  • “Select next/last [number] words”
  • “Select line” “Select next/last line”
  • “Select next/last [number] lines” “
  • “Select paragraph”
  • “Select next/last paragraph”
  • “Select next/last [number] paragraphs”
  • “Select next/last character”
  • “Select next/last [number] characters”
  • “Deselect”
  1. Editing Texts:

The commands used in text editing are typically short (they consist of few words or phrases). They come in handy when you make mistakes while dictating or if you ever decide to rewrite something, introduce new words, and so on.

To edit your documents, you can use the following phrases and words:

  • “Cut”
  • “Copy”
  • “Paste”
  • “Delete”
  • “Delete last word”

We find it impressive that Voice Typing supports the annotations and extra features, which typically exist on the peripheries of a document. You can put things in places, using the “insert” command. See the commands below:

  • “Insert comment”
  • “Insert bookmark”
  • “Insert equation”
  • “Insert footer”
  • “Insert footnote”
  • “Insert header”
  • “Insert page break”

Furthermore, if you ever have to deal with a table of contents, you will enjoy using the following commands:

  • “Insert table of contents”
  • “Delete table of contents”
  • “Update table of contents”
  1. Document Navigation

The “Go to” phrase is often the most frequently used command here. Typically, you have to pair it with phrases such as “start of”/”end of” or “next”/”previous”.

To move or navigate through a document, you will find these words and phrases useful:

  • “Go to start/end of document”
  • “Go to start/end of paragraph”
  • “Go to start/end of column”
  • “Go to start/end of line”
  • “Go to start/end of row”
  • “Go to start/end of table”

If you pair “Go to” with “next” or “previous”, you get the following commands:

  • “Go to next/previous character”
  • “Go to next/previous word”
  • “Go to next/previous line”
  • “Go to next/previous heading”
  • “Go to next/previous paragraph”
  • “Go to next/previous page”
  • “Go to next/previous link”
  • “Go to next/previous list”
  • “Go to next/previous list item”
  • “Go to next/previous image”

If you want to use some voice commands to work with tables, check out the list below:

  • “Go to next/previous table”
  • “Go to next/previous row”
  • “Go to next/previous column”
  1. Formatting Texts

You should be happy to know that you do not have to rely on the formatting toolbar to indent, rubricate or change the state of texts. To be fair, not all formatting commands are available to carry out every single formatting operation, but the vast majority of the most important ones have been included to great effect.

To format a document, these phrases or words are generally useful (you have to combine them with the selection commands):

  • “Apply normal text”
  • “Apply title”
  • “Apply subtitle”
  • “Apply heading [1-6]”
  • “Bold”
  • “Italics”
  • “Underline”
  • “Strikethrough”
  • “Subscript”
  • “Superscript”
  • “Capitalize”
  • “All caps”

If you want to undo things, check the commands below:

  • “Remove bold”
  • “Remove italics”
  • “Remove underline”
  • “Remove strikethrough”
  • “Remove formatting”

Use the Voice Typing commands below to change alignments:

  • “Align left”
  • “Align center”
  • “Align right”
  • “Align justified”

If you want to create lists, the commands below will come in handy:

  • “Create bulleted list”
  • “Insert bullet”
  • “Create numbered list”
  • “Insert number”

If you want to make changes to individual paragraphs, check out these commands:

  • “Line spacing single”
  • “Line spacing double”
  • “Line spacing [1-100]”
  • “Increase indent”
  • “Decrease indent”

Some commands even allow you to play around with colors on texts. See some of them below:

  • “Highlight”
  • “Highlight [color]”
  • “Text color [color]”
  • “Background color [color]”
  • “Remove highlight”
  • “Remove background color”

Extras: You change the font size using these commands: “Decrease font size”, “increase font size”, “font size [6-400]”, “make bigger”, “make smaller”

Other things to note

To be fair, the number of commands is almost endless, so we have provided only the most basic or essential commands of the lot. To see the full list of commands you can use on Google Docs, you must click on the Question mark icon on the Voice Typing tool window. Well, you can also bring up the required list by using a voice command: just say “Voice Commands list”.

Similarly, once you are done working on a document (or want to pause things), all you have to do is say these words: “Stop listening”. Voice Typing will now stop trying to pick sounds through your microphone.

A reasonable number of people prefer using voice dictation to take notes or record their thoughts on the go, but the functionality’s application to productive typing for documents is relatively new even in this age. Voice typing is actually good enough to help users write entire documents in no time.

If you experience pain while using your fingers to type (or if you cannot type due to other medical reasons), you might consider the feature an absolute necessity. You have to learn a lot of commands and get used to many features though.

It might take you time, but we believe your efforts will pay off. After all, if you master all the commands and setups, you might never have to use your keyboard or mouse again. Furthermore, your productivity might even improve as a bonus.


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