I use the Mac Yosemite (10.10.3) built in dictation extensively, and I find it does a really good job of understanding my speech, at least when I'm speaking in complete sentences.

I also use the dictation commands that you find under accessibility in system preferences, Like scroll down and scroll up. (It even does a really good job of telling the difference between when I say "scroll down" as a command and when I say it as part of a sentence.)

BUT I can't for the life of me get any custom commands to work. For example, I have tried to bind "Close this" to cmd-w, and "tooth paste" to "success" (as an experiment).

I can't get dictation to recognize these commands, ever. I seem to be following the steps shown on every tutorial. It just doesn't seem to work.

(FWIW, I can't get many other commands to work either. For instance, "select previous word" will happily write that text, without dictation realizing that it has just recognized a command! About half the time that I select something and say "delete", it performs a delete, and the other half of the time, it writes the word delete.)

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    Having done some experminents it depends on the application too. Using TextEdit most commands seems to work fine. But not in ie Atom. Jul 21, 2017 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


I think I've found the solution to the custom commands. Open your accessibility preferences and press "Dictation Commands". At the bottom "Advanced Commands" must be checked. From there, you can enable all of your user-created commands.

  • Thanks, my "tooth paste" test command works now! (I tried it in Slack) Jul 21, 2017 at 19:43

I have been experimenting with the dictation app a lot recently since some RSI issues. Had issue with user created commands at first. Not sure if you got yours working yet but we'll add my scenario and fix for general FYI:

  1. multiple choices of the same app in the app List : for example Google Chrome showed up twice. When I created a user command and chose the first Google Chrome app in the list. User created command did not work. When I chose a second Google Chrome option it works. Somehow and I'll have to sort that out I have multiple choices of the same app. So maybe check that.
  2. increased memory: overall dictation working better since I increased memory on my computer from four gigabytes to sixteen. Actually a whole lot better. And I know dictation uses a lot of your memory. For example if you open up Activity Monitor you can see the resources being used and what application using it. And when you're low on memory features in certain applications are sacrificed or affected.

One last suggestion or maybe more of a qualification Beyond your OS what hardware are you working with – ie what type of Mac product an what year–information found in About this Mac

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