How to use the Windows speech recognition feature

Updated: 01/24/2018 by Computer Hope

Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 include a speech recognition feature in English, French, German, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese. Below are the steps on how to use Windows speech recognition and common commands and features.

How to start Windows speech recognition

HyperX Cloud headset with microphone

First, either make sure your computer has a built-in microphone or connect an external microphone or headset with microphone. We recommend using a headset with microphone since it tends to give the best results.

After the microphone has been connected, set up the microphone by following the steps below.

  1. Click Start or open the Start screen.
  2. Type microphone and select "Setup Microphone".


  1. Open the Control panel.
  2. In the Control Panel, click Ease of Access and then select Set up a Microphone.

Once the microphone has been set up, open speech recognition by following the steps below.

  1. Click Start or open the Start screen.
  2. Type speech and then, using your arrow keys or mouse, select Microsoft speech recognition


  1. Open the Control panel.
  2. In the Control Panel, click Ease of Access and then Start speech recognition.

During setup, if you do not plan on using the speech recognition all of the time, make sure to not have the program start each time you start up the computer.

Using Windows speech recognition

Windows speech recognition

Once the Windows speech recognition is running, a microphone bar appears in the top center of your screen, as shown in the picture. By default, Windows speech recognition should be sleeping. To start Windows speech recognition, say "Start listening."

If you do not see the Windows speech recognition bar in the top center, click the speech recognition icon (Speech recognition icon) in the Windows Notification Area and select Open speech recognition.

Windows speech recognition commands

The Windows speech recognition can be used to type any text or perform a series of commands. Below is a listing of the common commands that can help you start using this feature immediately. If you want to type what you are saying and the program is listening, you can say anything to start typing. When the text is correct, say "Insert" to insert the text into the document.

The absolute basics

  • Start listening - Make Windows speech recognition listen to your commands.
  • Stop listening - Put the program into sleep and ignore any talking.
  • Undo - Undo anything done with the voice.
  • Cancel - Cancel last command.
  • Caps <word> - Capitalize the first letter of the word.
  • All caps <word> - Capitalize all letters of the word.
  • No caps <word> - Lowercase all letters of the word.
  • New line - Start a new line of text.
  • New paragraph - Start a new paragraph.
  • Go to <word> - Move to the beginning of the word that has been typed.
  • What can I say? - Open a help screen with commands and additional help.

Handling programs

  • Open <program> - Open a program. For example, say "open excel" to open Microsoft Excel.
  • Switch to <program> - Switch to open program, e.g., say "switch to chrome" to switch to the Chrome browser.
  • Close <program> - Close an open program.
  • Minimize - Minimize current window.

Using the mouse with speech recognition

Windows speech recognition can also be used to control what would normally be done with the mouse. Below is a listing of all of the commands to control, click, and move your mouse using your voice.

Using the mousegrid

To click on any portion of the screen, use the mousegrid feature. Saying "mousegrid" opens a grid overlay similar to the example shown below. Saying the number of the area you want to click zooms in and displays another grid. Continue to say the number of the area you want to click until it is at the correct location, and then say "click."


Mouse related commands

  • Show numbers - Show numbers of what can be clicked on the current window. Once numbers are shown, say the number you want to click and then say ok.
  • Click - Click where default button once.
  • Double-click - Double-click the default mouse button.
  • Scroll <direction> - Scroll the screen up, down, left, or right.
  • Scroll <direction> x pages - Scroll up, down, left, or right x number of pages. For example, "scroll down 3 pages."
  • Select <word> - Select a word that has been entered using your voice.
  • Correct <word> - Correct a selected word to something else.
  • Delete <word> - Delete a word.
  • Select all - Select all text.
  • Cut - Cut selected text.
  • Copy - Copy selected text.
  • Paste - Paste text in the clipboard.

Additional information