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What is this microphone image from? It appeared on my friend's MacBook and she can't figure it out.

screen capture of a round window with a microphone icon inside

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2 Answers 2

This is the Mac OS X built in voice input mechanism.

enter image description here

To turn it off, visit preferences - it's possible to turn it on via a keyboard shortcut which may explain it's random appearance.

enter image description here

Speech Recognition

Speakable Items, built into OS X and located in the Speech pane of System Preferences, lets you control the computer using your voice instead of the keyboard. And you don’t have to train your Mac to use it. You can use Speakable Items to navigate menus and enter keyboard shortcuts; speak checkbox names, radio button names, list items, and button names; and open, close, control, and switch among applications

This article from Lifehacker explains how to use the feature is you are interested in learning more.

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1  
You are so very great. Thank you so much for your help on this. I was close with my investigation. Nothing was listed in the Force Quit, so from that I deduced that it was from some built-in feature. I then figured it would be in Universal Access, kinda the opposite of VoiceOver, but looked and looked and couldn't find anything with a microphone in Universal Access. I guess I should have looked further down on the System Preferences list to Speech, like you said. Thanks SO much! –  MarkTap Mar 19 '12 at 17:31
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I would hazard to guess 9 out of 10 people that see this icon for the first time discover speech recognition when the Chess app runs... –  bmike Mar 19 '12 at 17:33
    
Interesting. I have never used the Chess app, so I had never seen the mic before. Man you guys are helpful here. Thanks! –  MarkTap Mar 19 '12 at 17:41

If your friend navigates to the Speech pane of her System Preferences she'll see that Speakable Items is enabled. Speakable Items is a limited form of voice recognition that allows you to issue commands to your Macintosh vocally. The microphone device you see indicates that the system is listening and, if I remember correctly, can also be used to toggle the listening state of the Mac.

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You are so great. Thank you so much for your help on this. I was close with my investigation. Nothing was listed in the Force Quit, so from that I deduced that it was from some built-in feature. I then figured it would be in Universal Access, kinda the opposite of VoiceOver, but looked and looked and couldn't find anything with a microphone in Universal Access. I guess I should have looked further down on the System Preferences list to Speech, like you said. Thanks SO much! –  MarkTap Mar 19 '12 at 17:28

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