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In Mountain Lion, Mac OS X can use its dictation/voice recognition to turn your speaking into text.

Suppose I have an audio file of my voice speaking. Is there a way to use this dictation ability to turn that audio file into a text file?

I suppose the brute force solution would be to plug headphones into the audio port and hold them up to the microphone. Is there a more software-based solution more analogous to Unix pipes?

  • This may not work so well as the voice dictation feature has a cut off that seems to be around 30 seconds. I've had much better success with short dictation rather than long (with long being in the 20 seconds range). – bmike May 29 '13 at 14:33
  • I can break it into ten to twenty second long chunks if need be. – Daniel May 29 '13 at 14:57
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You can install Soundflower. It's a great utility that creates virtual input and output devices. So you could route QuickTime player, for example, as the input for the dictation. http://cycling74.com/soundflower-landing-page/

  • Soundflower can feed into other voice recognition programs too, e.g., Google Docs under the Chrome browser has a "Voice typing" feature. – Paul Price Aug 27 '18 at 3:25
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On Mavericks, you can use the dictation on an audio file if you use Soundflower plus an audio player which allows you to choose the sound output device, such as Audacity. This way you won't be affected by Mavericks muting the system sound output during dictation, because the output will go into Soundflower before it gets muted, and you set the dictation to receive only from Soundflower. This also has the advantage of other sounds that may occur (such as a reminder notification sound) not causing interference. It will also work better than previous Mac OS X versions because the enhanced dictation in Mavericks (which needs to be enabled first) does not cut off the dictation after 30 seconds.

This webpage provides the details on how to use the Mac OS X 10.9 dictation on an audio file: http://www.leveluplunch.com/blog/2013/12/30/convert-recorded-audio-text-using-osx-dictation-audacity-soundflower/

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In Yosemite, Whenever we try to use the dictation feature in OSX it mutes other sounds and active only the build-in microfone. You need to set some hidden preferences to make this work. Open Terminal and enter the two commands below:

defaults write com.apple.SpeechRecognitionCore AllowAudioDucking -bool NO

defaults write com.apple.speech.recognition.AppleSpeechRecognition.prefs DictationIMAllowAudioDucking -bool NO

After doing this turn off dictation in Systems Preferences, wait a few seconds and then re-enable it. You should now be able to dictate while audio is playing. I’ve only tried this while using a headset/headphones, it’s probably not advisable without. :)

To restore your system to it’s virginal state, run these commands in Terminal and then restart dictation:

defaults delete com.apple.SpeechRecognitionCore AllowAudioDucking

defaults delete com.apple.speech.recognition.AppleSpeechRecognition.prefs DictationIMAllowAudioDucking
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Please note that the Soundflower solution will not work in Mavericks: the system mutes all sound when the dictation is on. Even the sound that goes into Soundflower.

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