Making Macs Listen and Obey
A brief introduction to Speech Recognition
Q: I just installed the latest version of Speech Recognition on my computer. It works great, but it doesn't do what I want it to. How can I make it launch AOL whenever I say Internet? Also, is there any place where you can change the little person that pops up and listens to you?
A. The latest version of SR (Speech Recognition) actually listens to what you say. In fact, I could use it almost problem-free with my iMac!
But what happens when you want it to do more than just tell you the date?
Well, that's easy.
First, decide what you want it to do (some things are easier to do than others). If you want it to launch one of your favorite programs, just highlight it and say, "Make this speakable." It will. Now, whenever you say the name of the program, it will launch it.
If you want to have a program like AOL launch when you say something other than AOL, you can do that, too. All you need to do is open the "speakable items" folder (just say, "Show me what to say"), find the file you want to change, and rename it to whatever you want. So, if you rename the file "bob," whenever you say "Bob," AOL will launch.
You can even make it do more than just launch programs. You can also make it say whatever you want - create a virtual "yes man," if you will. This is easy too.
First, launch script editor (it's probably in your "Apple Extras" folder). Next, type the word "say" and then in quotation marks what you want your new "virtual suck-up" to tell you. Easy enough?
Now go to "Save as Application" and save the file as whatever you want to ask the computer. For instance, if you want to ask the computer "who is the best?" save the file as "Who is the best?" When you do this, make sure "Never show start up screen" is checked.
If you thought making SR do what you want was easy, changing the person is even easier.
First, open up the Speech control panel. Then select "Feedback" from the top drop down menu. Now, you can select many different characters, in fact, the little person will be in color if you have OS 8.6 or above.
But, what if the nine default characters aren't enough? Well, you can do something about that, too. ResExcellence has a nice section on how to change the person who listens to you.
After all of these tips, you can pretty much get your virtual person to do whatever you want. Well, almost. Apple still hasn't created a version of SR to make your bed.
Evan Kleiman has been writing for Low End Mac since January 1999. He also runs his own site, Evansite. Evan uses an iMac, along with some vintage hardware. You can read more about his computing experience in The Many Macs of Evan Kleiman.
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