Did you just get a Chromebook? Are you already an owner? How about another sweet and cool Hot Tip to save you some time and energy?
This is Hot Tip #2. And we’ll be talking about talking to your laptop.
Who likes speaking in public?
As you already know, voice control (or voice dictation) is a huge thing now no matter what device you’re using. Smartphones, computers, laptops, and even cars all utilize the handy feature. The thing is, no one seems to be using it.
For the smartphone, I can see why. No one wants to talk to their phone out loud in public.
For the Chromebook, I can’t see why not. If you’re alone or just comfortable talking to your laptop, you can save a lot of time simply by dictating to it.
So why not take advantage of the technology that’s already built into your Chromebook and there for you? I mean, you technically paid for it. So use it. It’ll be of good use if you just give it a chance to run.
It’s not as advanced as Windows’ Cortana, but it’s improving a lot.
Personally, I’ve seen it incorporate more and more searches to the point where it’s basically now my virtual assistant. Of course, it can’t do everything. But it can improve your workflow and speed up your mundane processes. The Chromebook’s voice dictation works well and you’ll be surprised at what it can do for you.
Last updated: 4/13/19
Update: In 2019, it looks like the feature for voice commands has been severely limited compared to how they were when this article was first written.
You can no longer launch “OK Google” and command your laptop to do various things, like “launch Gmail” or “play next track.” These features seem like they’ve been removed. Perhaps they’ll come back in a future release- Google Assistant is available for Google devices and Android, so why not Chromebooks?
As of now, you can still use voice dictations to type with your speech (AKA “speech-to-text”), but that’s about it. If you’re here for that, continuing reading.
How to enable Chromebook voice dictation
So, let’s get started.
Here’s a Hot Tip on using the voice commands with your Chromebook. This feature works on Chromebooks, and Chrome on Windows and Macs as well.
To get started, you’ll want to actually enable it first. (By default, I believe the setting is turned off- what a shame.)
Go to your Settings page. You can do this in one of three ways:
- Click on the status area (bottom-right corner where your Google Account picture is), and then click on “Settings.”
- Open up Chrome Web Browser, click on the menu (top-right corner where the three dots are), and then click on “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
- Type in “chrome://settings” into the address bar in your web browser (you need to be using the Chrome browser).
Okay, so you’ve opened up your Settings page. Nice.
Scroll down and look for the “Search” subsection.
Now find the section labeled “Enable ‘OK Google’ to start a voice search.” Tick it.
Congrats. You’ve now enabled voice search on your Chromebook.
Wasn’t that easy?
It’ll prompt you to ask for permission to access your microphone, but that’s a given. It’ll only ask you this once, so just enable it.
Update: In 2019, it looks like Google has moved this feature around in Chrome OS.
You can now enable voice dictation by giong to Settings > Advanced > Accessibility > Manage accessibility features.
You can enable “text-to-speech” from where, which will let you dictate your words directly into your laptop and type text with your voice.
This feature is pretty cool as it saves you a ton of time dictating directly into your device rather than typing it. Most people can speak faster than they can type. Whenever you’re in a document, field, or form, you can simply press “Search + D” and start talking to your Chromebook. Your speakers will pick up these details and start typing out exactly what you say.
Ready? Now you can talk to your Chromebook…
So now that your Chromebook’s voice detector is on and listening and waiting for your command, what can you do with it?
Well, for starters, you can now say “OK Google” when you open a new tab.
Google will listen to your voice and you can search for whatever you want. Simply dictate your search keywords, then your Chromebook will automatically search for it and show you the search results.
You can also use voice commands on Google’s homepage.
Okay, that’s nice and all. But what else can I do?
It also works in the App Launcher.
If you click on the Launcher icon (bottom-left of the screen), you’ll get a popup box with all your installed apps. You can say “OK Google” and search for apps you’ve installed and launch them. You can also search Google from this screen, as the Launcher is a multipurpose tool. It searches your apps and Google simultaneously.
It even works with partial keywords. If you’re searching for “angry birds” you can simply say “angry” and it’ll show you live search results for “angry” on Google and any apps you have installed that matches “angry,” such as “angry birds.”
Here’s a tip: Note that you can also access the Launcher by pressing the Finder Key, which is the magnifying glass icon on your keyboard (where “Caps Lock” is on a typical keyboard) for quick access.
Pretty cool, huh?
Cool. Show me more cool things I can do.
You can also use “OK Google” for other, more personal, searches.
It can search your emails, your calendar, and even local searches. This means you can ask your Chromebook almost anything, from searches like “show me nearby restaurants” or “when’s my next meeting?” or “what’s the weather next week?” or even “show me my unread emails.”
This is where it shines. Instead of searching your inbox by going to Gmail, typing it out in the search bar and then filtering through the results…you can simply talk to your Chromebook with voice search and it’ll go through all those steps instantly. Think of the time savings.
You can also have your Chromebook translate all your words into that you speak into text. You can do this with apps such as Voice Note II.
It’ll allow you to speak to your laptop and it’ll transcribe everything you say into text on your screen. This is extremely useful for productivity, as you don’t have to type out everything and speaking is a lot faster. The only catch is that you’ll have to click on punctuation marks, or go back and splice them in.
But, if you’re working on an essay or report, speech-to-text saves a ton of time.
You can grab the app here from the Chrome Web Store. It’s free to use and does what it says.
Tired of saying “OK Google” in the right menu? OK, that’s enough.
You can easily eliminate the need to be in the Launcher, a new tab, or Google’s homepage every time you want to use voice commands on your Chromebook.
Turn on “always listening.”
This feature basically has your Chromebook constantly monitor your dictations whether you’re in the proper menus for a voice search or not.
Here’s how to enable it:
Step 1: Open the Chrome Web Browser
Step 2: Type in “chrome://flags/#enable-hotword-hardware” in the address bar and hit Enter
Step 3: Find “Enable simulated hardware ‘OK Google’ features” and tick “Enable”
Step 4: After it’s enabled, restart your Chromebook (because it may not work properly without a restart)
Step 5: Go to your Settings page again (see above for steps on finding where the Settings menu is) and check the box for enabling “OK Google” to start a voice search
Step 6: Your Chromebook will then ask you to say “OK Google” three times to calibrate your voice
Now your Chromebook’s voice detector will constantly listen for your voice.When you say “OK Google,” you can simply input a search phrase by your voice without having to open any specific menu or tab. This will save you time because you can talk to your laptop anywhere, no matter which menu or screen you’re currently viewing.
When you say “OK Google,” you can simply input a search phrase by your voice without having to open any specific menu or tab. This will save you time because you can talk to your laptop anywhere, no matter which menu or screen you’re currently viewing.
Nifty, huh? Oh yes.
Did you like that Chromebook tip?
Well, there you have it.
Your Chromebook has this feature built-in, so you might as well use it. I didn’t want to use it at first, but after I started getting into the habit of using voice commands, I’ve grown used to it. It saves tons of time. And then I turned on always listening, so now it really saves time.
Just try it out for a bit and see how convenient it is. I don’t know about you, but I can’t type as fast as I talk. So it’s a convenient little feature that’s often overlooked. That’s why this is a Hot Tip.
Did you miss the previous tip? You can check out the previous Chromebook Hot Tip if you like.
Got any other tips with voice dictations? Leave them in the comments and help your fellow Chromies.