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Dragon for Mac 5: Despite bugs, an upgrade worth making

Scot Finnie | Nov. 17, 2015
The state-of-the-art speech-recognition product for the Mac improves markedly, but there are also gaping holes where it needs improvement.

dm5 review 02 wide
The Status Window showing only three of the eight suggested corrections it offered for the command "correct bug."

Let's say Dragon is offering five suggested corrections. It's not uncommon for the Status Window to display only three of the five recommendations (typically the third, fourth and fifth suggestions). The first two are there -- you just can't see them because the status window didn't expand tall enough to display them.

The Status Window won't let you scroll the suggestions so you can see the ones that aren't visible or allow you to drag the edges or corners of the Status Window to make it taller or wider. Adding the ability to manually expand the box would be a useful fallback option. You can sometimes tease out all the corrections by clicking the Information button on the right side of the Status Window, but about half the time you find yourself unintentionally blanking out the correction suggestions.

I see this error about 65% of the time that I attempt to make a correction. The other 35% of the time the Status Window automatically expands to display four, five, six, seven -- however many suggestions Dragon is offering. That's when you can run into the second problem.

Problem 2. Using the command "Choose 3," for example, to insert the third correction does not work reliably. About 60% of the time, Dragon thinks you're dictating words for display -- so it inserts them. What you see in your document is your uncorrected error followed by "choose 3." That never happened in the previous versions of the product.

The bug even occurs in command mode. After you issue a "correct" command, Dragon should always expect that when the word "choose" follows, it's a command -- not a dictation.

Problem 3. Homonyms-- words that sound the same but are spelled differently -- create a unique problem for the Dragon 5 corrections process. The Windows version of Dragon has a useful solution for handling this that also gives you a way to control nearby identical instances of the word you're trying to correct. It displays small numbers in colored boxes just to the left of the possible words you might be trying to correct; you then voice the number of one you want to fix.

Until Dragon for Mac has something like that, we'll struggle along with this problem. Unfortunately, in version 5 the situation is worse rather than better.

I encountered a good example of a no-win situation when I dictated "I liked that version too." Dragon interpreted that as "I liked that version 2." When I tried to correct the "2," the program bounced up into the document and found a nearby "to." When I tried to correct by saying, "Numeral 2," it bounced up several paragraphs, finding a "2" there.


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