Speakable Items

Normally, speech recognition listens for commands only when you press the “listening key,” which is by default the Esc (Escape) key. If you prefer, you can set speech recognition to listen continuously and act on a command when it hears you speak a certain word, without you first pressing a key.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, and then click Speakable Items.
  2. Click Listening Key, and then choose how you want your computer to listen:

Listen only while key is pressed:  Makes your computer listen only after you press the listening key. With Speakable Items turned on, you can also select this method by speaking the command “Turn on push-to-talk.” The default listening key is Esc. To set a different key, click Change Key, and then type a new key or key combination.

Listen continuously with keyword: Makes the computer listen continuously for a certain keyword. You can change the default settings that determine when you need to speak the keyword (such as before each command), and what the keyword is (such as Computer). You can use any word or phrase for the keyword; long words work better than short ones.

If you speak a command without saying the keyword first, the computer won’t act on the command, even when listening is turned on (that is, the microphone and feedback lines are not dimmed in the speech feedback window).

The listening method you choose is used for Speakable Items, Chess, and AppleScript Listener. Other apps with speech recognition capabilities may use different listening settings.

If you use a portable computer and change the listening key to one of the function keys (F1-F12), you may need to press the Fn key with the function key.