Recently we showed you how to set up Windows Vista's speech-recognition tool, so here's how to use speech-recognition and save time and effort. It's easy and really very accurate.

Windows Vista: the definitive review

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 1

Go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access, Windows Speech Recognition. This will launch the engine in sleep mode. To begin controlling your PC or dictating documents, simply say "start listening". If at any point you wish Windows to stop dictation, say "stop listening".

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 2

Using Speech Recognition to control your PC is simple, but you need to remember a number of commands. To view the necessary commands, right-click on the microphone applet and select Open Speech Reference Card. Here you will see common commands for Windows, dictation, controls and punctuation.

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 3

To open and close programs, simply say "open" or "close", followed by the application you want to use. Use the commands "maximise", "minimise" and "switch" to reveal, hide or move between windows. If several programs match your command, Speech Recognition displays a list. Pick a number, followed by "okay".

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 4

Vista allows you to say what you see. If you're working on a Word document and wish to save it as a web page, say "file, save as web page". To open files, say "double-click", followed by the icon, folder or document you wish to open. Likewise, the command "right-click" will display any context-sensitive menus.

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 5

For dictation, open an appropriate program (such as Word) and begin talking. In practice, merely completing the tutorial will give Vista a head start in terms of recognising your voice, but if you make a mistake, say "correct", followed by a pause and the words you want to change. A list of alternatives will appear.

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 6

You can also use the program to navigate your documents. "Go to start/end of sentence" allows you to move to the beginning or end of text, and you can move between paragraphs or an entire document in the same way. Similarly, "select" can be used to choose specific words or a range, such as "select next 10 words".

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 7

If you use Vista's voice-recognition features regularly, it's worth improving performance by using the Speech Dictionary to store phrases or words that you employ habitually. To do this, say "open the speech dictionary" and select 'Add a new word' or 'Prevent a word from being dictated' (if it commonly mistakes a word, for example).

Speech recognition in Vista

Speech recognition - step 8

We'd recommended that you put time into training the program to recognise your voice more accurately – that way you’ll get fewer mistakes during dictation. Right-click on the microphone and select Configuration, Improve voice recognition, then read out the series of sentences it displays.