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How to control your computer using Voice Control in macOS 12 Monterey

How to control your computer using Voice Control in macOS 12 Monterey

Short guide:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and select System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.
  3. In the sidebar, click Voice Control.
  4. Tick the checkbox for Enable voice control.
  5. Say β€œShow Commands” to see a list of all the commands you can use with Voice Control.
  6. Say β€œShow items numbers” to show numbers next to all the selectable items on the screen. Say a number to select the item next to it.

Before and after

Images showing the screen before and after Voice Control has been enabled

This section gives you step by step instructions on how to enable Voice Control in macOS 12 Monterey, with pictures of the screens to help.

Open System Preferences

1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of the screen and choose System Preferences from the menu.

Open the Accessibility settings

2. In the System Preferences window, click Accessibility.

Find the Voice Control settings

3. In the sidebar, click Voice Control.

Enable Voice Control

4. Tick the checkbox for Voice Control to turn it on. The first time you do this, your computer will download the Voice Control software.

The Voice Control button (a large microphone icon) will appear on the screen showing that Voice Control is ready and listening for your commands.  We cover using Voice Control a little later in this guide, but first, let’s look at some of the settings to make Voice Control easier to use.

Choose the microphone to use with Voice Control

5. By default, Voice Control will use your computer’s built-in microphone. If you want to use a different microphone, connect it to your device, then choose it from the drop-down menu for Microphone.

Note: A good USB microphone will give you better results than a built-in microphone and might be worth considering if you intend to use Voice Control a lot.

Show a grid overlay

6. The real power of Voice Control comes when you use an overlay so that it is easier to select the items on the screen.  There are two types of overlays:

  • Item Numbers – every selectable item on the screen has a number next to it. You speak the number to select that item.
  • Numbered Grids – the screen is divided into numbered grid squares. You say the number of the grid square containing the item you want to select. You will then see a more precise grid so that you can select a specific area or item.

You can turn overlays on and off at any time using the commands, β€œShow/hide numbers” or β€œShow/hide grid” (more on this in the How to use the Item Numbers/Numbered Grid Overlay sections, below). However, after making a selection, the overlay is turned off. If you’d like the overlay to always be on-screen, choose an overlay mode from the drop-down menu for Overlay.

Show hints when your command isn’t recognised

7. When you say a command that doesn’t quite match the system command, Voice Control will show examples of what you can say. These examples appear above the Voice Control button.

This feature is enabled by default.  If you would like to turn it off, untick the checkbox for Show Hints.

Play a sound when a command is recognised

8. If you would like to hear a sound to confirm that Voice Control has recognised a command, tick the checkbox for Play sound when command is recognised.

Close System Preferences

9. When you are happy with your settings, close System Preferences by clicking the Close button (red circle) in the top-left corner of the window or using the Cmd + W keyboard shortcut.

Using Voice Control

10. You navigate and interact with your computer by speaking commands such as:

  • Open {app name} e.g. β€œOpen Safari”
  • Close {app name}
  • Hide {app name}
  • Scroll up/down
  • Open {document name} e.g. β€œOpen Shopping list”
  • Save document
  • Zoom in/out
  • Turn volume up/down
  • Single/Double/Triple click
  • Select {word} (in a document)
  • Select {phrase} (in a document)
  • Search for {phrase} (either an item on your computer, or something on the internet)
  • Click {name of toolbar menu} e.g. β€œClick File”

To see the full list of commands that you can use with Voice Control, say β€œShow Commands”.

Pause Voice Control

11. If you would like to pause Voice Control so that your computer stops listening for commands, say β€œGo to sleep” or select Sleep on the Voice Control button. To resume Voice Control, say β€œWake up” or select Wake Up on the Voice Control button.

How to use the Item Numbers overlay

12. Using the Item Numbers overlay, you interact with what is on screen using numbers shown next to clickable items, such as menus, buttons, and links.

To show the Item Numbers overlay, say β€œShow numbers”. Say β€œClick {number}” to select that item. To hide the Item Numbers overly, say β€œHide numbers”.

Note: Numbers will always appear next to the items in system menus without having to say the β€œShow numbers” command.

How to use the Numbered Grid overlay

13. Using the Numbered Grid overlay, you can interact with areas of the screen that Voice Control doesn’t recognise as being clickable.

To show the Numbered Grid overly, say β€œShow grid”. To only show the grid over the window you are currently using, say β€œShow window grid”.

Refine the grid

14. Say a grid number to subdivide that grid square into smaller squares. Repeat as many times as necessary until the item or exact area you want to select has its own number. To select the item or area, say β€œClick {number}”.

Move items using overlays

14. You can move items when using either of the overlay modes by saying, β€œDrag { x to y}”

Dictating text with Voice Control

15. When you are in an area where you can type text, for example, when writing an email, or document, Voice Control automatically switches to Dictation mode. In Dictation mode, the words you speak are entered as text.

To perform commands (and to ensure the command isn’t entered as text in your document), switch to Command Mode (say β€œCommand Mode”).  In Command Mode, dictation is paused, and you will see a dark icon of a crossed-out cursor. To return to dictating, say β€œDictation Mode”.

You can use Voice Control to format your dictated text using commands. For instance, say β€œSelect {word or phrase}”, then β€œBold that”.

Note: If this does not work it could be because your computer settings are managed by someone else (an IT department or administrator for example). If so, you will need to contact them to access these settings or for help.

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