iPhone Dictation App Tips and Shortcuts To Use It Like A Pro

In reading the title of this article you probably thought to yourself, “Oh another article on how to use Siri.” Nope we’ve already written that article and as much as we love Siri, she’s a bit of an attention hog. No, this article is going to cover the iPhone dictation app and I’ll give you some cool tips for using it!

Let’s start by clearing up what I mean by the iPhone dictation app and it’s features. This is where you can speak to your phone and it will convert what you say into text. In other words, you dictate your words instead of typing it yourself.  This is incredibly useful when you’re driving or have your hands full and can’t do more than tap a button or two or when you’re just plain lazy (my main excuse for using it).  Alright here is a list of tips that’ll help guide you through how to use iPhone voice dictation and get the most out of it.

How To Enable The iPhone Dictation App

how to enable the iphone dictation app

You can’t use dictation unless you turn it on first. I mean this is just basic physics (or not, I’m not entirely sure, I failed high school physics).

To enable dictation simply go to Settings > General > Keyboard and then switch “Enable Dictation” on. Then you just tap “Enable Dictation” and you’re ready to go.

You may see a couple of old articles here and there that tell you that you need to turn Siri on before you can use dictation. This is no longer true, just follow the above steps and you’ll be golden.

How To Use The iPhone Dictation App 

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how to use the iPhone dictation app

Now you’re ready to step into the voice to text arena. Open your text message, e-mail, Safari or anything where you need to use your keyboard to type.

Tap in the empty text space to compose your text and the keyboard will pop up. You’ll see a tiny mic to the left of the space bar. Tap it and now you can dictate whatever you want. When you’re finished hit “Done” and then “Send” (if using Safari “Go”) or whatever’s appropriate.

Now there’s a little mic symbol to the right of your text message box. This is not for voice to text, it’s where you can send audio messages via text, let’s not confuse those two.

How To Punctuate Using The iPhone Dictation App

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Unless you’re going for the gold medal on “Worse Grammar Imaginable,” you’re going to want to use some punctuation here and there, even when you dictate and it’s actually pretty simple.

Let’s say you want to text the sentence:  “Hey Mike, how are you?” First tap the little mic symbol.

Now say “Hey Mike comma how are you question mark.” Simple right? I know!

This works with pretty much any punctuation. Here’s a list:

  • “Period” = .
  • “Exclamation point” = !
  • “Question Mark” = ?
  • “Comma” = ,
  • “Apostrophe” = ‘
  • “Colon” = :
  • “Semicolon” = ;
  • “Quote” = “ (Unquote also works to create the same symbol because they’re indistinguishable on the iPhone keyboard)
  • “Slash” = /
  • “Backslash” = \
  • “Dollar sign” = $
  • “Percent sign” = %
  • “Plus sign” = +
  • “Equals sign” = = (You get that?)

That’s a brief list of the most common punctuation marks you’ll be using in dictation.

Useful iPhone Dictation App Commands

So the punctuation marks will help you avoid run on sentences or sounding like an insane person, but how about the commands to create a new line so you don’t send someone a 50-line paragraph? 50-line paragraphs are no good. Only psychos send 50-line paragraphs.  So let’s take the above example text and see how we can use some commands to spruce it up a bit.

Hey Mike, 
How are you? Remember when I said, “I’ll be back”? I wasn’t kidding.

iphone dictation app commands

Here’s how you would make that work in dictation. You would say:

“Hey Mike comma new paragraph how are you question mark remember when I said comma quote I’ll be back unquote question mark I wasn’t kidding period new paragraph best comma new line Nick”

In other words, you need to know the basic commands to make it work and they’re not hard to remember. In fact, basic intuition and understanding of grammar will allow you to figure it out on your own. But don’t worry I’m still going to help you out. Here’s a list of basic commands:

“New paragraph” = Create a new paragraph with a space in between the last line and new paragraph

“New line” = Create a new line with no space between the last line and the new one

“Caps” = Capitalizes the first letter of the word you’re about to say

“All caps” = All the letters of the word you’re about to say are capitalized

“All caps on” = Turns every letter into caps beyond just the next word

“All caps off” = Undoes the previous command of capitalizing every letter

“No caps on” = Doesn’t capitalize anything in the entire text

“No caps off” = Removes the last command so appropriate capitalization occurs

“Open parenthesis” = (

“Close parenthesis” = ) (I know I could have included these two in punctuation marks but they seemed to fit better in this list. So sue me “close parenthesis”

“Space bar” = Adds a space. Say it as many times as you need to create as much space as you need between words.

“No space” = Removes any space between words. Let’s say you wanted to write “howareyou” you would say “no space” between every word.

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Yes there are emoticon commands

I know this question has been eating you alive, so yes you can add some emoticons with voice to text. It’s really hard and complicated and might take a while to learn. For instance to create a smiley face you have to say…“smiley face.”

Here are a couple more:

“frowny face” = 🙁

“winky face” = 😉

“cross-eyed laughing face” = XD

iPhone Dictation Apps To Take You Further Into The Dictation World

Before I allow you to go too far down the rabbit hole you need to decide if it’s worth it. The road to dictation may wind you up in the land of “Forgot How to Spell and Type.” Use dictation when necessary but don’t forget to give those fingers a work out.

Now that we’ve cleared that up here are a couple of dictation apps that I thought you’d like to check out. Both of them can be found in the App Store and each one allows you to convert speech to text for e-mails, texts and pretty much anything else.

Active Voice iPhone Dictation App

active voice iphone dictation app

This is easily the top app with 4 ½ stars in the App Store with over 300 reviews. Not too shabby. While it costs $9.99 it looks to be a pretty robust app.

Dragon Dictation

This app has been around a long time and always remains one of the best selling voice dictation apps in the App Store although it has a lot of mixed reviews (3 Stars and over 1000 ratings for the latest version).



So there you have it. Some tips on how to best use the iPhone dictation app. Are there any hidden tips or tricks we left out?