Olympus RecMic, Philips SpeechMike Premium, Nuance PowerMic II

What Is the Dragon Microphone?

Maybe you’re brand new to this whole “speech recognition” thing. Maybe you just got your first crack at Dragon®, but it’s not doing anything yet. You speak fervently into your headset, but the DragonBar stares back at you like a snack machine that won’t give up the goods.

Have you tried turning on the Dragon microphone?

Yes, this question is a long-tail variant of the oft-quoted tech support rejoinder, “Is it plugged in?” But we are no less justified in the asking—and perhaps even more so in this case. For it’s not 100% apparent right out of the gate that there’s something to turn on.

Plugging in your handheld or headset microphone is not the same as turning on the Dragon mic. Having your physical microphone properly plugged in is key; just as critical is having the software microphone turned on. The former allows you to speak into your computer; the latter tells Dragon that you are trying to dictate.


How Do I Know If the Dragon Mic Is On?

Essentially, the Dragon mic works off of the traffic light design principle.

For instance:

When it’s off, you’ll see a red square with a microphone icon lying on its side.

Dragon Naturally Speaking microphone off icon

When it’s sleeping, you’ll see a round yellow circle with a diagonal microphone icon.

Dragon Naturally Speaking microphone asleep icon

When it’s on, you’ll see a green circle with a microphone icon standing up straight.

Dragon Naturally Speaking microphone on icon

The microphone icon normally resides either on the far left or in the middle of the DragonBar—depending on your version and edition of Dragon. Do note that the DragonBar can sometimes be minimized, and you may need to look for your microphone icon in the system tray.

So now that you know a little more about the Dragon microphone, let’s explore the different ways that you can enable it. And just so you know, these tips apply to all current flavors and editions of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Dragon Dictate for Mac, Dragon Dictate Medical for Mac and Dragon Medical Practice Edition.



This is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward method for turning on the Dragon microphone. Get your PowerMic II ready. Pair your Plantronics® Bluetooth headset. Hold your Philips® SpeechMike Premium aloft.

Grab hold of your mouse, or use the mouse functionality built into your handheld microphone. Guide the mouse cursor over the Dragon microphone icon. Left click once. The Dragon microphone, if off, is now on—or vice versa.

Doesn’t get much simpler than that, folks.

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Four More Methods to Turn On the Dragon Mic

Perhaps, in the course of dictating with Dragon speech recognition, you find that you want to branch out a little and try something new. Instead of just clicking the Dragon microphone button, you wish that you could turn on the mic without using the mouse.

You’re ready to learn about four more ways to enable your Dragon microphone. Of course, it’s up to you to decide which one best suits your needs.


Dragon has a default hotkey combination for toggling the microphone on and off: [+]. In fact, it has a host of preset hotkeys for various actions. These may be configured by going to the Dragon options menu.

If you press the [+] key in the numeric section of your keyboard, your microphone should toggle on/off. Some people prefer different keys or key combinations, so try making up your own.

Be sure to pick something that you won’t commonly type while doing other operations. For instance, we don’t recommend choosing any single letter key by itself.


If you have a handheld microphone, look for a button with a red circle (like you’d find on a VCR) prominently featured near the center of the controls. This is the record button, and it can be set up to do many things. But the function we’re going to concentrate on is controlling the Dragon microphone.

The microphone button is usually configured with a default of “Toggle On/Off.” This means that if you press this button once and let go, the Dragon mic will turn on. If you press it again, the Dragon mic will turn off.

The other setting, “Press-to-Talk,” works like a walkie-talkie. When you hold the record button down, the mic is on; when you let it go, the mic turns off.

To configure “Press-to-Talk”:

  • Nuance® PowerMic II—Go to the Dragon options menu. Select the “PowerMic II” tab.
  • Philips SpeechMike Premium—Open the Philips Device Control Center. Select the “Device” tab.
  • Olympus® RecMic—Open the Olympus Device Control Manager. Select the “Device” tab.

Verbal Commands

Remember when we were discussing the three modes the Dragon microphone can be in? There are three simple commands that you can speak to change those modes. You don’t need any buttons; these are totally hands-free.

When the Dragon mic is on…

  • Say “Microphone off” to turn off the mic.
  • Say “Go to sleep” or “Stop listening” to put the mic in sleep mode.

When the Dragon mic is sleeping…

  • Say “Wake up” or “Listen to me” to turn the mic on.
  • Say “Microphone off” to turn off the mic.

When the Dragon mic is off…

Sorry, the mic is off. Dragon can’t hear you at all, so no verbal command is going to activate the mic. If you want to avoid this, we suggest starting Dragon in sleep mode. This can be set up in the “Miscellaneous” tab of the Dragon options menu.

Motion-Sensing Activation

This is probably the coolest way to interact with the Dragon microphone. Technically, though, it has nothing to do with Dragon. Allow me to explain.

The Philips SpeechMike Premium has a motion sensor inside of it—so it knows when it’s lying down and when it’s being held up. Thus, the SpeechMike can mute or unmute itself when you lay it down or pick it up, respectively.

If you decide to try this, take special note of the distinction between the SpeechMike and the Dragon microphone. Remember, one is a hardware input device, and the other is a software button. When you pick up or set down the SpeechMike, you aren’t affecting the Dragon mic one bit.

Therefore, you first need to turn the Dragon mic on. Then, you can mute and unmute your speech with the SpeechMike’s motion control ability. If you want to dictate, pick up the mic. If you want to mute the mic, set it down on the table.

The configuration settings for this feature can be found in the Philips Device Control Center, under the “Advanced Settings” tab.

Learn More About Dragon

We provide 1-on-1 virtual training, technical support, and more

We hope these microphone tips helped you work more effectively with Dragon. If so, consider signing up for our Train Me membership, which includes three customizable training sessions, led by a Dragon expert!