60+ dictation commands available on your iPhone or iPad

I use the dictation feature on my iPhone a lot – far more than I use Siri really. In fact, it sometimes seems that Siri and the keyboard dictation uses different voice recognition engines as what you access via the keyboard icon is often far more accurate.

In case you are not aware, the dictation is available on your iPhone or iPad everytime you use a keyboard. It is accessed by clicking on the small microphone icon to the left of the space bar.

Dictation Keyboard Icon

Although less private, dictating is far faster than typing with your thumbs. The trick is to know all of the commands that your phone understands and so I thought I’d compile a list from every source I could find. This should be the complete list, but if you find any others that are not here – please let me know in the comments or via my contact page.

The complete list of iPhone and iPad dictation commands.

Command Result
New line New line (next line)
New paragraph New paragraph (will have a gap between lines)
Space bar
Cap Capitalise the next word
Caps on.. [section of text] ..caps off Capitalise a section of text
No caps Make the next word lowercase
No caps on.. [section of text] ..no caps off Next section of text that you speak will not be capitalised
All caps Make the next word all uppercase
No space on.. [section of text] ..no space off Prevent a section of text from having spaces between words
Period or Full stop .
Quote or “quotation mark”
Semi-colon ;
Apostrophe
Colon :
Comma ,
Double comma ,,
Question mark ?
Inverted question mark ¿
Exclamation point !
Inverted exclamation point ¡
Forward slash /
Back slash \
Open quote
Close quote
Open parenthesis (
Close parenthesis )
Open brace {
Close brace }
Open bracket [
Close bracket ]
Dash
Hyphen
Em dash
Underscore _
Cent sign ¢
Euro sign
Pound sign £
Dollar sign $
Yen sign ¥
Point .
Dot .
Ellipsis or “dot dot dot”
Equal sign =
Greater than sign >
Less than sign <
Percent sign %
Ampersand &
Asterisk *
At sign @
Hashtag #
Copyright sign ©
Registered sign ®
Degree sign °
Caret ^
Section sign §
Trademark sign
Vertical bar |
Frowny or “frowny face” or “frown face” 🙁
Smiley or “smiley face” or “smile face” 🙂
Winky or “winky face” or “wink face” 😉
E.g. (pronounced as “e g”) e.g.
i.e. (pronounced as “i e”) i.e.

 

I’ve also uploaded these dictation commands as a PNG or PDF for future reference.

40 Comments

  1. Hi Matt, nice article thanks. What about backspace and delete some commands deletion commands, any ideas since I haven’t found anything best Charles

  2. As well , thanks Matt, have same need as Charles–for backspace, delete letter / word / sentence parGraph. Voice commands. Any clue if thesis inthey works for inbuilt dictation on the iPad Pro ?
    Richard

  3. Lovely. Thank you so much. [I think there’s a typo on the ‘degree sign’.]
    Piers.
    Yes, it would be nice to have a delete or backspace command.

  4. Hi Cynthia

    I’ve had a look around and it doesn’t seem that you can add bullets. I think that the reason for this, at least for now, is that the focus here is more about “voice to text” and a bit less on formatting – you also can’t add bold or italics.

    However, you could use either the dash or the asterisk to at least simulate bullets in the text your are creating perhaps?

    “this is a list of bullets, new paragraph, asterisk this is bullet one, new line, asterisk this is bullet two, new paragraph”

    Hope this helps,
    Matt

  5. Hi Linda.

    I couldn’t get “star” to create an asterisk when I tried it just now, but will have another look and update this post when I can get it working.

    Thanks for commenting.
    Matt

  6. Not that I have found. This should be dealt with by Siri/Apple with their natural language processing technology but I appreciate that it doesn’t always get it right.

  7. Have you experimented with these commands in iOS 11?

    I have not been able to get the No Space On/Off Or No Caps On/Off. to work at all.

  8. thanks for all the info Matt! I’ve run into a problem – my iPhone has refused to display “Erin” when dictating a text message and instead replaces it with “Aaron” 100% of the time. I’ve done the “shortcut” trick to auto replace “Aaron” with “Erin” but this works only when text has been manually entered – and does not work when the text appears through dictation. I’ve been dealing with this problem for 2 years (only way I know to get around it is having to spell out each letter individually to get the name Erin to appear, even then the system places a blue underline below it and wants me to change it to Aaron, totally sexist! Just kidding!! I would find that joke a lot more funny had it not caused so much frustration for me over the last 2 years) So ANY help I can get would be great!!!

  9. Hi. Try the following – I’ve just tested this and it seems to work fine.

    1. Add a contact in your iPhone Contacts app with the first name of the word how you want it spelled (e.g. Erin). If you already have this person as a contact, skip to the next step.
    2. After typing in the first name, scroll to the bottom & tap “add field” then tap “Phonetic First Name”. Scroll back up and you’ll have a new field under the name of phonetic first name.
    3. Tap that phonetic first name field and dictate in the word. This will tell the voice capture how the name “sounds” then tap done to save it. (It could be typed, but dictation ensures you get the spelling matched precisely.)
    4. Double-tap the home button to bring up the app switching screen. Swipe up over the Contacts app to force close it. Also, swipe up over whatever app you want to use voice dictation with immediately, to close that too. This forces the apps to reload the settings for dictation ASAP so your fix is ready for use.

  10. Yes, there does seem to be a problem in iOS11 – certainly with British English dictation.. seems like they have messed around with it for some reason.

  11. Hi Chad – use Siri to send the message rather than the keyboard dictation (e.g. “Send a text to Chad”).. you can then dictate the message and then Siri will ask if you want to send it.

  12. I am using iOS 11 and I am wondering if your table of commands needs to be updated as follows:
    1. In order to get a “section” of text capitalized I have to use the command “ALL CAPS ON”

    2. To get a series of words capitalized I have to use the command “CAPS ON”

    3. To get a following single word capitalized I need to use the command “CAP”

    Am I looking at an out of date table ? Thanks

  13. Hi
    Kindly guide as to how to move to next cell
    While dictating under numbers
    Speaking next line add line but in same cell
    Instead of going to down cell for next entry

  14. Is there any way around it always using a cap letter? So if i find a mistake i have to manually correct it but when i resume dictation it auto caps the first word… i mean even android does better than this, meaning it remembers that you are in middle of a sentence. I got my brand new ipad pro bc the sales ppl told me it would be superior in dictation asi have dexterity probs… but it is a good 5yrs behind android and a decade behind dragon. It doesn’t seem to learn from my voice or accent either. And of all stupid things, you can’t access dictation when you are not online! Crazy.

  15. Is there a command for go or done? With iOS 11 using verbal commands the keyboard disappears when speaking. So I end up tapping on the keyboard icon after I’ve given my verbal command so I can hit go or done. Thank you!

  16. Unfortunately not. You can use Siri to issue commands (“send a text to Molly”, etc) but not directly from dictation.

  17. According to the Apple forums, the solution is to say: “no caps on, no space on”, then spell the word, then say “no caps off, no space off”. But have not tried it in iOS11

  18. Thanks. Incredible that they put in “Section sign” but no undo/delete/backspace. What were they thinking?!?

  19. Hi Matt and thanks,
    My wife and I occasionally work and volunteer with seniors that have hand tremors and arthritis, and they all struggle with inputting text into an iPad and/or iPhone. While they can perform simple dictation commands their problem is getting the cursor positioned correctly to even begin dictation. Larger text sizes do help but the basic problem is getting the cursor into position. With a Mac there are more options. Any suggestions for an iPad?
    Thanks,
    Jay and Jacci

  20. Hi Jay – sorry for the delay. Unfortunately, you can’t use dictation on the iPad for navigating around a screen (yet). But there are a couple of options I can think of for you:

    1. Use the “track pad” functionality on the iPad – it’s really useful for more exact placement of a cursor. Here’s an explanation: https://www.lifewire.com/ipad-virtual-trackpad-4103748
    2. Use a stylus such as Apple Pencil or the new Logitech Crayon? This may be more natural for your seniors as it will work just like a pen/pencil.

    Hope this helps
    Matt

  21. Hi, Matt!
    Somehow, I accidentally turned on a feature where when I text, each letter is spoken out while I’m typing. Ugg! How do I get rid of that? I don’t even know how it was activated. Maybe my kids playing something?

  22. Hi Jessica – you must have enabled a setting in the accessibility section. Go to the “Settings” app and then select “General” and then select “Accessibility” and then “Speech” and see if any of the settings have been enabled by mistake.

    Hope this helps
    Matt

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