Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 (review)

Written by Erik Vlietinck

Our Erik Vlietinck says Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 is faster and has better correction, increased accuracy and transcription features. It isn’t perfect. REVIEW.

Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 understands what I’m saying about 99 percent of the time. And that’s a first.

According to Nuance reps, its latest rev — Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 — is 15 percent more accurate than its predecessor. I checked out the software to check out that claim for aNewDomain.net. Here’s my review.

Let’s first run down Nuance’s stated improvements in Dragon Dictate for Mac 3. These include: faster recognition, more advanced correction, the ability to select an alternate word choice and increased accuracy.

There are new features, too, reps claims. Those include the capability to use a voice recorder or a mobile with the mic app that the Nuance web site lets you download for free.

I found the fact that it’s possible to spell and train new words differently than the default — e.g. “colour” instead of “color” — quite useful in Dragon Dictate for Mac 3. And the Express Editor in the software lets you dictate within more applications.

Now for the details.

I first tested Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 with the Apple iMac’s built-in microphone — and then with a Plantronics Savi 745 DECT system and a WAV file from a Zoom H4n audio recorder.

Bottom line: After having played with it for the better half of a week, it’s clear to me that, at last, Dragon Dictate now understands what I’m talking about.

Thanks to an enhanced audio engine and a refinement of the recognition algorithms the app gets it right most of the time.

It’s not perfect. Dragon Dictate 3 still gets some words wrong, words it should really right. Sometimes it interprets the word “command” as “comma.” Often I found it heard the word “this” as “his” or these.”

I discovered that just a slight shift of the microphone’s position from its original spot during training is causing more frequent errors than it would had I left the mic is in its original place.

All said, I found this rev to perform far better Apple OS X Mountain Lion’s built-in Dictate, though.

Dragon Dictate 3’s learning capabilities are not perfect, either. Correcting misinterpretations does result in better “learning” by the application, but you may have to correct the same misinterpretation a couple of times before the app catches on. The errors vary so you need to watch for it. Also, correcting and calibrating led to a couple of crashes. These should be fixed, obviously.

Correcting errors is either easy or slightly tedious, depending. It catches some errors and renders alternatives in its recognition window. Now, that’s an easy correction. You just select the correct word or sentence and you’re done.

It only gets tedious and slows you down when you have to type out the word in Spell mode.

Also, despite Dragon Dictate for Mac 3 having a longer list of words, it recognizes correctly, specialized terminology is still beyond it. My advice: train Dragon Dictate first with your own text files containing the jargon you’re using and you’ll get much higher recognition scores.

The Express Editor is a nice addition to Dragon Dictate for Mac 3. It lets you use your dictation skills in a lot more apps than previously. For example, dictating in InDesign may be pain without, but it’s a no-brainer using the Express Editor.

Dragon Dictate for Mac 3

Transcription is in my opinion the best new feature. It works with MOV, WAV, M4A, MP4, AIF and AIFF files. Start with a clip of at least 20 seconds for best results.

Dragon Dictate for Mac 3

It’s possible to use an Apple iPhone, Apple iPod touch, Apple iPad, Android device or other smartphone,voice or audio recorder as I did.

Just select Transcription from the menu, load your file, and Dragon Dictate will enable you to calibrate the input. After calibration, the app is ready to use with the recorder, as you see below.

Dragon Dictate for Mac 3

Bottom line:

Dragon Dictate is, no question, more accurate and faster than its predecessors. I also liked the transcription functionality a lot. The other improvements are appealing too, although less spectacular. To me, this version is worth the upgrade.

Company: Nuance

Product: Dragon Dictate

Price: $199.99 – upgrade: $149.99; digital download; physical product available September 24, 2012

Pros: Accurate, transcription capabilities, remote dictating (mobile phone)

Cons: You still need to train the app

I rate this rev as a four out of five. Not bad, Nuance.


  • How did you find using the H4N recorder compared to the mac’s built in microphone? i’m wondering should I use the H4N, the H2N or my Galaxy S3 for recording interviews I will make … any insights would be welcome – thanks, Rory

  • “My advice: train Dragon Dictate first with your own text files
    containing the jargon you’re using and you’ll get much higher
    recognition scores.” -HOW?