Voice Control: A Windows Tradition
When Microsoft added Cortana to Windows 10 it was something of a novelty. Despite Cortana's usefulness for checking the news and weather, opening apps, or sending text messages many people balked (and still do) at the idea of talking to their PC. It may seem weird, but people have actually been talking to their PCs for years.
Windows Speech Recognition
Buried inside Windows is a longtime speech recognition program designed to help people interact with their PC using only--or at least primarily--their voice. There are many reasons someone may not be able to use their hands to navigate a PC such as a disability or an injury. That's why speech recognition was built into Windows: To help those who have to overcome a physical problem. Even so, Speech Recognition is also a great tool for anyone who wants to experiment with voice interaction or would just rather not use their hands to control their PC all the time.
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Getting started with Windows speech recognition is simple and Microsoft provides a few tools to help you learn how to use it. The instructions on how to activate Speech Recognition are fairly similar across all active versions of the operating system from Windows 7 through Windows 10.
I am walking through Speech Recognition in this article using a Windows 10 PC. There may be some slight differences in how the set-up process goes if you are using an older version of Windows. Nevertheless, the process is generally the same.
It Starts at the Control Panel
Before we do anything, we have to open the Control Panel. In Windows 7, click the Start button and from the menu select Control Panel in the right-hand margin. In Windows 8 and Windows 10, the easiest thing to do is hit the Win+X keyboard shortcut and select Control Panel from the power user menu. If your device doesn't have a keyboard check out our earlier tutorial on how to open the Control Panel in various versions of Windows.
Once the Control Panel is open make sure Large icons (pictured above) is selected in the View by menu in the upper right-hand corner. Then just scroll down the alphabetical list of options until you see Speech Recognition.
Start Speech Recognition
On the next Control Panel screen select Start Speech Recognition, which should be right at the top.
A new window will appear briefly explaining what Speech Recognition is, and that you'll need to go through a brief set-up process to activate the feature. Click Next at the bottom of the window.
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