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Using Speech Recognition

Before you begin using Spell Catcher’s speech recognition, you should familiarize yourself with speech recognition on OS X in general by opening Mac OS X Help (choose “Mac Help” from the Finder’s Help menu and search for “speech recognition”. As well, you should be able to click About speech recognition to search for relevant topics. It’s important to follow the steps to adapt speech recognition to your sound environment before using it.

To begin using Spell Catcher’s speech commands, choose the “Use Speech Commands” command from the Input menu.

To familiarize yourself with the various commands that you can use, choose Open Speech Commands window if necessary.

Mac OS X Speech feedback window

Spell Catcher’s Speech Commands

There are two sets of speech commands available, depending on whether the Suggest Spelling window is open or not. Many commands are available at all times, some only make sense when Suggest Spelling is open. The first figure shows the speech commands available when the Suggest Spelling window is closed, the next shows the commands available when it is open.

Spell Catcher X speech commands

Spell Catcher X speech commands for Suggest Spelling window

How to Speak these Commands

Many of Spell Catcher’s speech commands are intelligent enough so that you can say them in different ways. If you get good results with OS X speech recognition in general, the shortest form may be all you need to say. Longer or alternate forms of a command may be recognized better - results can vary depending on the person speaking, the kind of microphone you are using, and the sound environment you are in.

Words in parentheses “()” are optional. Phrases enclosed in angle brackets “<>” mean that one word or the other is required. For example, “(Turn) Interactive (Checking) <on or off>” means you can say:

Some commands have more than one form, so if you have difficulty with one getting recognized reliably, the other might work better for you. For example, you can turn Auto-Show Suggestions on or off by saying:

If a part of a command isn’t recognized, Spell Catcher will try to be as forgiving as possible, indicating which part it didn’t understand. For example, if it didn’t recognize the “on” or “off” part of “Turn Interactive Checking On”, this will be indicated in the Speech Commands window. If some information is available, it will often be supplied.

Unrecognized speech command

Enough Reading, Let’s Talk!

Here’s a short session you can try to get the idea of how best to use speech commands with Spell Catcher. Follow each step closely so your results match what’s described!

  1. Make sure your Speech Recognition Listening preferences are set the way you like (we will assume the defaults: Listening Key: Esc, Listen only while key is pressed), and that your Microphone and Volume are chosen and set up for best results. You might want to turn Apple Speakable Items Off for this exercise.
  2. IMPORTANT, for the purposes of this tutorial only: Make sure that in Spell Catcher Preferences -> Interactive -> Spelling tab, that “Keystrokes go to the Suggest Spelling window” is off (deselected).
  3. Open good old TextEdit. If you are on OS X 10.3 or later, because TextEdit supports direct access of a document’s text by an input method, you will also get to see the new instantaneous correction feature added in Spell Catcher X 10.1.2 in action.
  4. Activate Spell Catcher’s input method (if necessary) by choosing Spell Catcher from the Input menu.
  5. Make sure that “Use Speech Commands” is on (checked) in the Input menu, and that the Speech Commands window is open (if it isn’t, see how to open it in Figure 6-1 above).
  6. We want Interactive Checking turned on. Say “Turn Interactive On” (while holding down the listening key, of course).
  7. We want Auto-Show Suggestions turned on. Say “Always Show Suggestions”.
  8. Type the following text, complete with errors. Don’t stop to correct anything when the Suggest Spelling window opens!
    Noww I can kep my hands on the keybaord and tell Spell Catcher whatt todo!
    (Type a space after the final exclamation mark above).
  9. If everything went as planned, the Suggest Spelling window opened, and tracked each of the five errors made above. Just to make sure, say “Show Pending Errors”. You should see a list much like the one here:

    Show Pending Errors feedback

  10. Time to fix things. Watch the document closely to see the instantaneous replacements in action - especially the last one, where we fix the word “Noww” that’s at the beginning of the document. No backspacing!
    Don’t be discouraged if every command isn’t recognized perfectly the first time. Just try again! Note that we didn’t get it right on the first take. Also note that the suggestion numbers used here may not agree 100% with what you observe. The actual suggestions that appear are dependent on what is in your own Learned Words, Omitted Words, and currently-used Spellings documents.

    Watch the Suggest Spelling window’s suggestion list, and say something like the following (feel free to improvise, there are numerous ways to make these corrections):
    • “Use Suggestion Two”
    • “Use Two”
    • “Select Suggestion One”
    • “Replace”
    • “Select Two”
    • “Replace”
    • “Use One”

    Speech example feedback

There is, of course, much more you can tell Spell Catcher to do. Change languages, select suggestions, Ignore errors, Learn words, create shorthands - pretty much everything you can do (maybe even more, for example the “Pending Errors” command) with keyboard shortcuts, menus, and controls.

As with most recognition technologies out there (particularly those that don’t require training, like Apple’s speech recognition), practicing and experimenting will improve your results. So will a better microphone in many cases. And again, be sure to read up on using speech recognition by choosing Mac Help from the Finder’s Help menu, and searching for topics related to speech.

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