Create spoken commands

Before you can create a command, you must turn on Speakable Items in Accessibility preferences.

You should also calibrate speech recognition in your current environment, if you haven’t done so already.

Calibrate speech recognition
Although you don’t need to train speech recognition to recognize your voice, you may need to calibrate it to your environment.

  1. Make sure your environment is at its normal noise level. Try to avoid background conversations or a noisy environment when you calibrate speech recognition.
  2. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, and then click Speakable Items.
  3. Click Settings, choose a microphone from the Microphone pop-up menu, and then click Calibrate.
  4. Read the instructions in the Microphone Calibration window. Position yourself about 21 inches in front of the microphone and speak each of the commands listed in the window. For best results, speak in a normal voice and pause between commands.
  5. Speak each of the commands listed in the window a second time, and then click Done.

Create a spoken command for a keyboard shortcut
You can create a spoken command to perform any keyboard shortcut that appears in a menu. You can make the command work in all apps that have the keyboard shortcut, or you can make the command work in just the active app.

  1. Open the app that contains the shortcut you want.
  2. Press the listening key (or speak the key, depending on your settings), and then speak the command “Define a keyboard command.”
  3. In the “Define keyboard command” window, use the keyboard shortcut (such as Command-S), and then click OK.
  4. Type the phrase you want to use to name the command, such as “Save document.”
  5. For “Use command in,” choose whether you want the command to work in the current app only, or in any app.
  6. Click Save.

About 20 seconds after you save the keyboard command, your command appears in the Speech Commands window and you can use it. To verify your command is listed in the window, press or say the listening key, and then say “Open the Speech Commands window.”

Create a spoken command to open an item
You can create a spoken command to open an app, a document, a webpage, or any other item you can open by double-clicking. You can’t create a command for an icon in the Dock.

  1. Select the item you want to open.
  2. Press the listening key (or speak the key, depending on your listening settings), and say “Make this speakable.”
  3. If you’re viewing a webpage, enter the command you want to speak to open the webpage. Otherwise, the name of the item you selected is used as the command you speak to open the item.

About 20 seconds after you make the item speakable, your command appears in the Speech Commands window and you can use it. To verify your command is listed in the window, press or say the listening key, and then say “Open the Speech Commands window.” Commands for webpages are listed in the section for your browser and are visible only when the browser is the active app.

Create a spoken command to insert text or an image
You can create spoken commands that insert selected text or images at the insertion point in an app. For example, you can create a command that inserts your address into an email message, or an image into a Pages document.

  1. Open the app (such as Pages or iPhoto) that contains the text or image you want to insert.
  2. Select the text or image.
  3. Press the listening key (or speak the key, depending on your settings), and say “Make this speakable.”
  4. In the Make Speakable window, type a name for the command.

About 20 seconds after you make the text or image speakable, your command appears in the Speech Commands window and you can use it. To verify your command is listed in the window, press or say the listening key, and then say “Open the Speech Commands window.”

Create a spoken command to run a script
You can create spoken commands to run scripts that automatically perform common or complex app tasks. For example, you can create a command for a script that automatically sets your preferred text settings for documents. When you speak the command, the script runs, and the text settings are applied to your document.

  1. Open the app that you want to create a script for, and make sure it’s the active app. When you open the app, a folder for it is created in the Library/Speech/Speakable Items/Application Speakable Items folder in your home folder. For example, if you open TextEdit, a TextEdit folder is created. To see the Speakable Items folder, make sure you’re in the Finder, press the Option key, and then choose Go > Library. You may need to turn Speakable Items off and then on again if the folder isn’t immediately visible.
  2. Using AppleScript Editor or another scripting program, write a script to perform the actions you specify in the app you opened.
  3. Save the script in the app’s folder in the Library/Speech/Speakable Items/Application Speakable Items folder in your home folder. The name you use to save the script is the command you speak. To display your hidden home folder in the Save dialog, press Command-Shift-G while in the dialog, and then enter ~/Library.

About 20 seconds after you save the script, your command appears in the Speech Commands window and you can use it. To verify your command is listed in the window, press or say the listening key, and then say “Open the Speech Commands window.”

Guidelines for naming spoken commands
When you create a new Speakable Items command, the name of the selected item or file is the command you speak. For best results, you should rename the command following the guidelines below.

  1. Use three to six words. Avoid names with a single syllable. For example, use “Make this bold” rather than “Bold.”
  2. Avoid proper names, names that sound similar to other words, or names that may be confused with other commands.
  3. Don’t use the same names as other Speakable Items commands. To see all the Speakable Items commands, press the listening key (or speak the key, depending on your settings), and then speak the command “Open the Speakable Items folder.”