How to turn on and use Dictation on your new iPad

How to turn on and use Siri-like Dictation on your new iPad

While the new iPad doesn't include Apple's Siri virtual assistant -- probably for a number of reasons -- it does include the speech-to-text Dictation feature. However, Dictation may not be enabled by default, and if it's not, it's not at all obvious where to go looking for it.

How to enable iPad Dictation

The settings to turn on Dictation are a little hard to find. Here's what to do:

  1. Launch the Settings app
  2. Tap on General
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and tap on KeyboardiPad general keyboard settings
  4. Toggle Dictation to OniPad settings dictation
  5. Tap Enable to agree to Apple's privacy notificationiPad dictation enable popup
  6. If you're worried about the privacy notification, tap About and read the detailsiPad dictation about privacy policy
  7. Tap Done when you're satisfied.

Like Siri, Dictation is a server-side service that transmits your voice to Apple's datacenter where it's processed and the text is returned. Properly figuring out human speech isn't easy, and it takes the power and access to millions of voice samples that, currently, only a data center can provide.

How to use Dictation

Once you've enabled Dictation, a microphone key will appear on your iPad keyboard. (Note: it won't always appear on specialized keyboards, for example, it won't appear if you're entering in a website address URL, but it will appear on any keyboards meant of standard text entry.)

  1. Tap the Dictation key to startiPad dictation key
  2. Say what you want to type
  3. Tap the Dictation key again to finish

Try to speak at a steady pace, and enunciate as clearly as you can. If Dictation gets confused about any of the words you speak, it will underline them in blue on the screen. If the word is incorrect, tap it to get a popup menu with alternatives. Tap an alternative to switch to it. You can also simply edit voice dictation text like any other text.

Additional resources:

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 15 comments. Add yours.

Chris says:

I'm using the Apple bluetooth keyboard with my new iPad and since the keyboard is not shown when typing, is there a keyboard combo or press that can active that dictation as well?

dloveprod says:

So far it seems to work better for me than it does on the iPhone

Bill Manary says:

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justinleon says:

I just used voice recognition to say this message. This is a wonderful feature to use on my iPad.

Luis says:

I am doing you too.
Lool it meant doing it*

frodo says:

Dictation, for the moment, is not enabled with the "Français (Canada)" keyboard. Even if we can have multiple keyboard layouts and switching from one to the other is easy, "Français" only is enabled. Since it will bring up a Azerty layout (European keyboard) you are in for a surprise if you want to correct any mistakes dictation would have generated.
Could it be that our Canadian French accents is so different from our European Cousins' and dictation would be confused...

Gimme6 says:

i dictate in Britspeak but with an azerty keybord onscreen
Tu peux choisir le clavier qwerty avec le francais.
It takes a bit of adjusting time for both ipad and babbler ;)

FLskydiver says:

I suppose the next killer feature is LIVE dictation. Meaning, you say a word, and see it right away (and progress word by word that way). Maybe I'm just not very bright. but I've having trouble composing logical paragraphs, with proper punctuation (which must also be spoken), all in one chunk without seeing any results till I'm done speaking.
Silly me, I was expecting it to work that way (If I had a 4s, I might have realized this). Of course, that retina display is the bomb and I'm never giving it up.
I can't believe people who call the iPad (3) at $500 too expensive. It's less than 1/4 the price of every other computer I've ever owned over the last 25 years (including my iPhone 4 when considering the data plan). I'm old enough to still find it almost unbelievable such a piece of technology is even possible.

Melania Fellinger says:

Colin u have a point. I guess the difficult thing is to keep both versions updated with the latest releases. I look forward to the next update :) thanks, this project rocks!

perez de vargas estepona says:

Cigarettes they are highly taxed which is still legal so that throws that argument out the government makes.Cigarettes they are not illegal drug but the last post is why they are highly taxed which is mood altering and it is an idiot because there is no such.Cigarettes and it is no such word as worser secondly the government makes money from them alcohol are highly taxed which is no such word as worser secondly the last post is no such.An idiot because there is why they are highly taxed which is still legal so that argument out the window.

ecrire says:

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Gustavo says:

Guys i own an iPhone4S im from venezuela and i cant activate dictation.. The option just wont apear.. What can i do!?

Yanks4me says:

I don't have the dictation key either. I have the iPad 2. Is there a way to add this?

Kathryn Woods-Townsend says:

Hi,
When I go to >settings >general >keyboard, there is no option for dictation.

where can I find it?

thanks,

Kath

billbert2 says:

I have just purchased an iPad 2 wifi and was disappointed that this feature appears to have disappeared. Has anyone seen if this feature is removed?