Differences between Catalina dictation and Dragon dictation

I’ve just got my hands on a huge list of commands for dictation in Catalina operating system which is coming this autumn. These are also available in iOS 13 and iPad OS. There are 127 dictation commands and none of that includes the extra commands required for Voice Control.

  • {Phrase} – Type spoken phrase into a text field or application
  • {Phrase} emoji – Type desired emoji into working space
  • Insert date – Insert date into working space
  • Enter that – Tap or click to return
  • Drop {number} – Drop desired number

New Article on iOS Dictation

You use the first one of these commands when you’re in whatever application you use for writing. Basically, you speak and the words appear on the screen. The second one is more or less the same, except you can tell it to type in an emoji word such as winking face and get an emoji image. It’s obvious that Insert Date will put the date into the working space and Enter That will click or tap on return. You might work with an online form rather than dictating into something like Ulysses or Scrivener. I have no idea what Drop Number does.

I’m wondering how the system will know what it is you have in the document. Does it keep track of the words it has given you through dictation? Will it know if you have made corrections using the keyboard? Does the system take into account in an artificial intelligence way, all the things you do when writing dictation? These are important things to consider. With Dragon dictation if I change a word using the correction editor it learns from its mistakes. The next time I say the same thing it will give me what I really wanted and not what it thought I wanted the first time around. I’d like to know if there is a personalised Siri dictation dictionary. Does it get to know about my vocabulary and get better the more I use the system?

I have seen mentioned that the Catalina dictation system will keep a personalised vocabulary. You can add words to it which could be strange technical words or proper names you can’t expect a dictation system to know and understand. I can already do this in Dragon dictation and I use this to add markdown syntax to my text. I say the word header two and it will add a pair of hashtag symbols ## into my document. Or I will say doo-dah and I get the symbol for a bulleted list. This is for when I’m doing a list of items in something I’m writing.

In Dragon dictation when I want to make a correction I tell it to select the word I want to correct. When selected I can either type over the word I really want, choose from a list given to me or I can say the word I want again. Maybe it will get it right the second time around. In Catalina dictation there are a good selection of text editing commands. One of the most used of these will be – Replace {phrase} with {phrase}. This will probably work best when you’re reading through the sentence you have just created and you want to change one or several words for something else which says what you want to say in a better way. If there is more than one you may get a set of numbers asking you to choose which one.

Making Corrections

There is also another command called Correct {phrase}. The way this works is that a selection of options pops up. This is a numbered list and you choose the number for the correct word. Another similar command is Correct that and you’d use this if you have used a previous command to select a part of your dictation.

One command I often use with Dragon dictation is to say the command Cap followed by a word I want to capitalise. This just capitalises that following word and there is another command I can use Caps On if I want all the following words capitalised. Using Siri dictation in Catalina you dictate the words you want to capitalise and then after that say the command Capitalise That. Another way to do this would be to issue the command Capitalise {phrase}. So it seems there are ways to do what needs to doing with Catalina dictation, but using different commands. After using Dragon dictation for several years it will take some time to get used to the new system.

The Meaning of Life and Selections

There are 42 different commands to help you select any of your text. Everything from select all to select next and selecting the previous word or the next word. You will also be able to select lines, sentences or paragraphs combined with – current, previous or next. You can even tell it to select the previous required number of characters, words, sentences or paragraphs. If you find you need to select more, you can extend the selection by whatever count of item required. Many of these selection commands have equivalents with the word delete instead. So you don’t have to select and delete you can do it with one command.

What have I noticed missing so far

  • There doesn’t seem to be a mode you can use for spelling a word letter by letter into your documents.
  • There isn’t a mode specific for numbers. There aren’t any settings you can make to specify whether numbers come out as actual numbers all the words for the numbers.
  • There isn’t a heads up display correction window and maybe it isn’t needed. With DragonDictate the correction window gives me several options which I can either choose or edit.

Buy the Book

Dictation is three to four times faster than writing with a keyboard. In this book I go over all the things you should consider when you start with dictation. The best apps to use and how to get into the mind set of talking to your computer instead of pounding your fingers on a keyboard.


Nuance doesn’t support Mac dictation anymore with Dragon Dictate. You can still use the last version they made V6 with the latest Mac OS. I use it with Catalina and it works just as well as it used to.

I might do what some people do with running a virtual computer on my Mac with Windows. In that I will have the Windows version of Dragon Dictation. I don’t need to do that for now because it’s working fine. Maybe a project for the future. Or maybe the new accessibility dictation will improve.