About Dragon for Mac v5
Today, we’re providing an overview of Nuance’s latest (non-medical) speech-to-text application for OS X: Dragon for Mac 5. We’ll be looking at several of the changes Nuance made to the application, so if you want to review the previous version, click here.
The first alteration you may notice is that there’s no “Dictate” in the name any more. More importantly, though, let’s see what updates have been made to the system requirements.
A Dragon for Mac v5 upgrade license will allow you to upgrade from either of the previous two versions, Dragon Dictate for Mac v3 and v4.
You can run Dragon for Mac 5 on OS X Mavericks (10.9), Yosemite (10.10), and El Capitan (10.11). This is the first significant advancement we see in v5. Take special note that you must have version 5.0.1 (at least) for El Capitan support.
How do you get the latest update (v5.0.4)? Click here for instructions.
The processor clock speed needs to be at least 2.4Ghz, and you should have at least 4GB of RAM (or more). These are the same hardware specs we find for Dragon Dictate for Mac v4.
The program itself, though, is a little bigger than version four. If you are installing from physical storage media, you need 4GB of disk space—and 8GB if you are installing from a digital download. Naturally, those extra 4GB are due to the size of the download.
No Changes Here
These features of Dragon for Mac v5 are exactly the same as v4, with one exception:
- Audio formats for transcription
- Vocabulary Editor
- Programmable hotkeys
- Commands Manager – Text macros can be viewed here, but not added. Other commands are the same as before.
The Big Changes
Here’s where Dragon for Mac v5 really diverges from v4, with improvements to accuracy, support for more applications, and a UI redesign.
- “15% more out-of-the-box accuracy than Dictate 4”
- Full support for Word 2016
- Better compatibility with the internal microphone
- Voice commands to select from any Mac menu
- Dragon Anywhere integration
- Express Editor replaced with DragonPad
If you aren’t familiar with what the Express Editor does, it’s essentially the Mac version of the Dictation Box.
The Status Window is the main interface for Dragon for Mac v5. Known as the DragonBar on the Windows side, it’s the place where you normally find the microphone controls.
In this new Dragon release for the Mac platform, the Status Window now allows you to access more functions with less navigation. This redesign centers around the expand/contract principle—which Nuance also incorporated into their DragonBar refresh for Dragon Professional v13.
When the Status Window is contracted, it fits just about anywhere on the screen—while still displaying the microphone button and volume indicator, and allowing you to switch modes. If you expand the Status Window (by clicking on the caption box icon), you have access to online help, the Available Commands tool, and Dragon’s “What Can I Say” function.
Having these resources available within the Status Window makes it very simple to find out how Dragon works, to learn the basic dictation methods, and to utilize custom commands. Additionally, if you click the “i” symbol, you can expand the Correction Menu, which will show you your options when you say “Correct that.”
Instead of clicking on the Dragon icon in the Dock, and then navigating through the menu bar at the top of your monitor, Dragon now has a persistent menu icon. Open Dragon for Mac v5 and look at the top right of your screen for a black flame symbol. From this icon, whenever the program is open, you can access Dragon menu items without having to switch back to the application.
Some of the most helpful things you can do from the new menu icon include:
- Switch profiles and sources on-the-fly
- Enter transcription mode
- Access “Voice Training,” “Vocabulary Training,” and “Microphone Setup” (under “Improve Recognition”)
Starting with Dragon for Mac v5, text macros have a new name and a simpler process for creation.
These commands are now called auto-texts, and they’ve been separated out within the Commands Manager to make them easier to identify. It used to be the case that you had to look through the commands by application/context to find your text macros. Now, “Auto-text” has its own category.
There’s a minor issue, though. If you select the “Auto-text” category in the Commands Manager window, you’ll be able to view all of your auto-texts—but that’s it. You cannot add new ones from here.
Nuance has actually created another method for adding auto-texts. If you click the black flame icon (mentioned earlier), you’ll find an item called “Add New Auto-text.” Select this, and it pops up a user-friendly “Quick Auto-text” window with three fields.
These are, top-to-bottom:
- The name of the auto-text
- A description of what it is
- The text you want to appear
This is a huge improvement over the previous procedure for creating macros. There’s no need to select a context, or figure out if you’ve got the appropriate command type selected. The new auto-texts are simple to manage and work in all supported applications.
If you go into transcription mode, either from the Status Window or the flame icon, a very helpful window pops open to walk you through the process of transcribing files—along with context-specific instructions. To get these, make sure to expand the window by clicking on the caption box icon.
Here’s what you can expect when you transcribe with Dragon for Mac v5:
- Dragon asks whether you want to transcribe your voice or someone else’s.
- It then prompts you to select an existing transcription source, or create one—for which you will need 90 seconds of audio to train Dragon with. See the audio formats here.
- You can set the directory where transcription files should be stored, or use the default folder, “Transcribed Files.” To configure settings for transcription, click the gear icon.
- Dragon could previously create an RTF, but now you have the option to transcribe in Microsoft Word as well!
- “Copy to Clipboard” can automatically put your whole transcription in the Mac clipboard, ready to paste into another window.
- A new feature, “Reveal in Finder” will show you where the transcribed document is located on your computer (once the transcription is complete).
- You can just drag audio files onto the audio file icon, if you don’t want to browse to them.
- It’s easy to switch back to regular dictation, or to view all of your available profiles and sources.
Overall, this redesign simplifies the transcription process, with detailed instructions along the way, and settings/configurations in easy-to-find places. It’s a significant upgrade for anyone who uses Dragon to transcribe recordings on a daily basis.
If You’re Still Waiting to Upgrade
Remember, Dragon for Mac v5 is the only version of Dragon that’s officially supported on El Capitan. Aside from that, the UI redesigns make it easy to figure out what you’re doing, even if you don’t consider yourself tech savvy. And don’t forget about the new transcription setup. For the first time, Dragon now produces documents in a folder, rather than just pasting your transcription into a text window. That folder could be on your local machine, or on the network—which makes Dragon for Mac v5 even more attractive to anyone who works with dictation and transcription regularly.