The Best Speech to Text Software for 2021: 8 Top Choices

In this guide, we test and review the best speech to text software options, both free and paid.

Do you spend hours time sitting in front of the computer writing and editing documents? If so, you understand how physically demanding typing is. I remember the first time I felt a shock of pain in my wrists. 

I was so scared that I was developing carpal tunnel syndrome. I instantly started looking for ways to save my wrists, knowing that if I could not type, I could not do my job. That is where I uncovered speech-to-text software.

Speech-to-text software programs are great because they use artificial intelligence programs to translate your spoken words to text. Then, this software program transcribes it into text for you, displaying it on the screen.

In addition to enabling faster work, you can also prevent the development of wrist problems, including carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are numerous software programs available. In this guide, we try and test some of the best speech-to-text software options available.

Recommended
Dragon Anywhere
$14.95 per month

Dragon offers professional-grade speech to text with near 95% accuracy. It's available on iOS and Android.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Testing Criteria

Best speech and voice recognition software

I tested each of these speech-to-text apps in this review extensively. I picked a paragraph of text from The Irish Times newspaper and read it into each different apps. I used a set of Apple Airpods Pro and an iPhone 7 and also an iMac. I also commissioned a third-party freelance writer who dictates freelance articles extensively to share his experiences.

The original text reads as follows:

The interim analysis by a committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) determined that serious side effects of rare blood clots are likely to occur in 1 out of 100,000 vaccinated people, the regulator said in a statement.

Before we get into the software choices, remember these tips to ensure better accuracy:

  • Use a quality headset (the Apple Airpods work well)
  • Speak in slow, complete sentences
  • Dictate in a quiet environment
  • Avoid editing and dictating at the same time

1. Dragon Anywhere

This is the best speech-to-text software for dictating on mobile devices. It’s also the best choice for Mac users.
Cost: $14.99 per month

This program has excellent speech recognition capabilities

If you need a dictation software program for your mobile device, then consider Dragon Anywhere, available through Nuance

This program has excellent speech recognition capabilities similar to those on the desktop version. Even though there may be a delay in spoken words showing up on the screen, this application is responsive, fast, and accurate. You can also share documents easily using cloud services, including Dropbox

Here is Dragon Anywhere‘s output for my test (Errors in bold):

The interim analysis by a committee of the European medicines agency determined that serious side-effects of their blood clots are likely to occur in 1/100,000 vaccinated people, the regulator said in a statement.

I currently use Dragon Anywhere regularly via my iPhone 11 as it’s accurate, portable, and fast. It’s my recommended choice for writers and Mac users who take dictation seriously.

Pros
  • Works well on mobile devices
  • Exceptional functionality when compared to other dictation apps
  • Works well the desktop Dragon program (if you’re on Windows)
Cons
  • Expensive subscription service
  • Delay in the spoken text showing up on the screen
  • Editing dictated text is a challenge

2. Windows Speech Recognition

This is the best free speech-to-text software for Windows 10 and upwards.
Cost: Free

What is the best speech to text software options? Windows Speech Recognition
Documents improve as the program learns your vocabulary and manner of speech

If you need free speech-to-text software for Windows, the freelance writer I worked with on this review recommends Windows 10 Speech Recognition. 

This program available on Microsoft’s desktop OS. It has solid voice recognition abilities included in the operating system, even if it is not named Cortana.

It’s not always an accurate program, particularly when compared to Dragon, but it won’t cost you extra money. Furthermore, documents improve as the program learns your vocabulary and manner of speech.

Here are the results (errors in bold)

The interim analysis by a pity of the European Edison Agency determines that serious side effects of rare flood clot are likely to occur in 1/10000 fractured people the regulator said in a statement.

Pros
  • Free
  • Integrates with your existing operating system
  • Becomes more accurate as it learns your voice
Cons
  • Not that accurate compared to other choices
  • Can freeze up if you speak too quickly

3. Braina Pro

This is the best speech-to-text software to use as a virtual assistant.
Cost: $49 per year

What is the best speech to text software options? Braina Pro
You can also instruct this virtual assistant to start your computer for files

Braina Pro is a speech recognition software that handles dictation but also acts as a virtual assistant for your PC. It supports transcription through third-party software programs and not only English but dozens of other languages as well. 

You can also instruct this virtual assistant to start your computer for files, browse the internet, or set alarms. It can even read a book out loud for you or play an MP3 file using customized commands. Here are the results, errors in bold:

The interim analysis by a committee of the European Medicineregency determined that sirius side effects of rare blood clots are likely to occur in 1 out of 100000 vaccinated people the regulator said in a statement.

Pros
  • Handles dictation in different languages
  • Searches your computer, the internet, and even play music files
  • Supports and Android application for remotely controlling your PC
Cons
  • Subscription service can be expensive
  • Works online only

4. Google Docs Voice Typing

A good choice if you use Android apps or want to transcribe text on the go.
Cost: Free

What is the best speech to text software options? Google Docs Voice Typing Commands
This is a sensitive dictation program that can even pick up your voice if you are across the room

If you are looking for voice recognition software you can use for free, then consider the voice typing feature from Google Docs. All you have to do is open up a Google Document via the Google Chrome Browser, turn on the microphone, and start speaking. 

This is a sensitive dictation program that can even pick up your voice if you are across the room. Of course, that means that if there's any background noise, this could mess up your dictation. This is a great way to try out real-time dictation software for the first time. 

Here is the Google Docs output of my test (errors in bold):

The interim analysis by a committee of the European medicines agency emea determines that serious side effects are rare blood types are likely to occur in one hour vaccinated people the regulator said in a statement

Pros
  • Free and widely available
  • Short learning curve
  • Repsonsive
Cons
  • Background noise interferes with the program from time to time
  • Software lags if speak too quickly

5. Speechnotes

This is a good online choice if you don’t want to create an account or take out a subscription.
Cost: Free

What is the best speech to text software options? Speechnotes 1.78 for Android - Download
You can also dictate punctuation marks and formatting using voice commands

Speechnotes is another dictation program that is easy to use. One of the things that set this program apart is that you do not need to create an account to use it.

You simply have to open the application, press the microphone, and get started. This application is powered by the same software that powers Google's voice recognition technology.

You can also dictate punctuation marks and formatting using voice commands as well. Finally, you can also include greetings, signatures, and names using custom keys that you set up on the keyboard.

Here is the output of my test (errors in bold):

The age of analysis by a committee of the European medicines agency emea determines that serious side effects are rare blood types are likely to occur in one hour vaccinated people the regulator said in a statement.

Pros
  • You do not need to create an account
  • A mobile application is intuitive to use
  • The program is free to use
Cons
  • No iOS mobile app available for Mac or Apple products, such as the iPhone
  • You need to purchase additional features to access TK

6. Dragon Professional Individual

This is the best choice for businesses that run Windows machines.
Cost: $500

Dragon Professional Individual
The company behind it also offer different versions for medical and legal companies with specific needs

If you need a dictation software program for your business, then consider Dragon Professional. When I need to quickly type up records at work, Dragon Professional is invaluable. 

I can speak at 150 words per minute easily with almost complete accuracy, even if I'm using industry jargon. I am also able to import customized word lists with ease.

A flexible, powerful tool, Dragon Professional significantly reduces the amount of time I spend going through records. The company behind it also offers different versions for medical and legal companies with specific needs.

I used an older version of this tool for several years on my Mac machine. The test results were similar to Dragon Anywhere, not surprising considering they are powered by the same technology. 

Unfortunately, the older versions are buggy and unreliably on Mac. What’s more, the developers no longer support it for Mac. Microsoft recently purchased Nuance for $19.7 billion. It’s unclear if they’ll support a new Mac version (I suspect unlikely). 

Here is the output for my test (Errors in bold):

The interim analysis by a committee of the European medicines agency determined that serious side-effects of their blood clots are likely to occur in 1/100,000 vaccinated people, the regulator said in a statement.

Pros
  • Powerful and accurate
  • Handles industry jargon well
  • One of the fastest dictation programs available
  • Can control your computer too
Cons
  • One of the most expensive software programs available
  • Takes time to learn your voice, which impairs accuracy
  • No longer supported on Mac

7. Apple Dictation or Siri

Apple Mac and iOS users can dictate text for free using Siri.
Cost: Free

Siri
This program also has a voice-to-text feature that controls commands on a Mac computer

This option works well for short dictation sessions via your iOS device or Mac. On iOS, Siri handles 30-40 seconds at a time. This makes it ideal for jotting down notes or sending short texts.

This program also has a voice-to-text feature that controls commands on a Mac computer. It doesn't work well for dictating large pieces of content, however.

Here is Siri‘s output (errors in bold):

The interim analysis by a committee of the European medicines agency the term is that serious side-effects are where clock clocks are likely to occur in one and a 100,000 vaccinated people.

Pros
  • Online and offline features
  • Works well for note-taking
  • Compatible with iOS devices
Cons
  • Not a dictation app for long pieces
  • Handles 40 seconds at a time
  • Comparably inaccurate to Dragon

8. Otter.AI

Otter works well if you want to transcribe phone calls, meetings, and interviews.
Cost: Free/from $8.33 per month.

You can also add speaker notes, audio files, images, and video files to the transcript

Otter.ai is a transcribing tool for speeches and conversations that works online and via a mobile app. You can take it into your business meeting to get a quick transcript of what was said. You can also add speaker notes, audio files, images, and video files to the transcript after the meeting.

Otter has a free version that has 600 minutes of transcription time a month. It also has several premium plans based on your needs. It’s a good choice for transcribing meetings and interviews, although don’t expect 100% accuracy. That said, it performed well with my test.

Here are the results:

The interim analysis by a committee of the European Medicines Agency FMEA determines that serious side effects of rare blood clots are likely to occur in one out of 100,000 vaccinated people, the regulator said in the statement.

Pros
  • Free option
  • Built-in team collaboration options
  • Real-time captioning
  • Excellent accuracy
Cons
  • Limited minutes on the free version
  • Not designed for writers
  • No desktop version

Why You Can Trust Us

I’ve written and published dozens of articles for newspapers, magazines, and online publications including Forbes and Lifehacker. I'm also a best-selling non-fiction author and a trained journalist. 

Speech-to-text software forms a key part of my writing workflow for non-fiction. I regularly outline articles and then dictate first drafts using some of the software options in this guide.

Final Word: The Best Speech To Text Software

My recommended choices are Dragon Anywhere and Otter.ai. The price point and accuracy should meet the needs of most writers and those with dictation needs.

When selecting speech-to-text software for your project or work, consider your operating system, budget, and whether you’re using a desktop or mobile device. It’s also a good idea to consider what you’re dictating. For example, Otter.ai works well for meetings and podcasts whereas Dragon is ideal for articles.

Remember, it takes time to adapt to writing via speech to text. However, the rewards are great. You’ll rapidly increase a daily word count and save your wrists from developing overuse injuries. Remember, always proofread and edit your work before submitting to clear up dictation errors!

Recommended
Dragon Anywhere
$14.95 per month

Dragon offers professional-grade speech to text with near 95% accuracy. It's available on iOS and Android.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

FAQs About Best Speech To Text Software

Are speech-to-text programs accurate?

Most speech-to-text programs are relatively accurate. Many of the programs get more accurate as you use them because they learn your voice. Some programs will prompt you to correct unclear dictation issues to expedite this learning process. 

How Does Voice Recognition Software Work?

Voice recognition software recognizes your speech and uses artificial intelligence to transform that into typed words. Many programs also use voice commands to handle formatting and punctuation needs.

Are dictation programs expensive?

They do not have to be expensive. Even though the best programs can require a significant investment, there are free options available. You may want to try out these free options before you figure out exactly what features you are willing to pay for.

Does Dragon NaturallySpeaking Need The Internet?

Once you activate your software you can dictate while offline.

Can Dragon NaturallySpeaking Transcribe Audio Files?

You can upload a personal audio file or one from social media to Dragon NaturallySpeaking and it will transcribe it. You may have to clean up the result.

How Much Does Dragon Speech To Text Software Cost?

Dragon costs anywhere from $59 to $300. It depends on which version you buy.

What’s The Best Dictation Software For Mac?

If you’re on a budget, use the inbuilt dictation software first until you’re comfortable dictating. After that, your best choice is Dragon Anywhere, which is usable via an iOS or Android device. You could also use Rev.

What’s The Best Dictation App For Writers?

Dragon Naturally Speaking is a good dictation app for writers as you can train it to recognize character names and unusual words. Rev is a popular transcription alternative.

What Is The Best Voice Recognition Software?

Dragon products regularly top the list of best voice recognition software because of their robust features, tutorials and integration into most operating systems. However, the best software for your needs will be the one that fits your budget and has the features you need for your work.

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