Mac OS X’s built-in speech recognition software lets you execute various system and application commands by speaking them (assuming that you have a microphone attached to or built into your Macintosh). The system includes many commands. Application developers can also define spoken commands that work within their own programs, and users can expand the machine’s speakable repertoire by writing and installing scripts.
The speech recognition system is primarily useful for defining voice-activated macros and shortcuts. It doesn’t let you use your microphone as a complete alternative to the keyboard and mouse. The system can’t, for example, take dictation into a word processor. For that level of functionality, you need a third-party application, such as IBM’s ViaVoice (http://www.ibm.com/software/speech/mac/osx/).
You can configure and activate the speech recognition through the three tabbed panes of the Speech preferences panel, shown in Figure 5-53.
Figure 5-53. The Speech preference panel, showing the Speech Recognition pane
To turn speech recognition on, set the “Apple Speakable Items is” radio button to On. This causes the speech systems’ round “listener” window (Figure 5-54) to appear. Note that the listener floats over all your active windows, but you can drag it anywhere you like. It remains visible until you ...