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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.

I decided to remove every last vestige of Dragon 4 and 5 from my Mac and start over with a clean installation of Dragon for Mac 5.

Pre-install tips

Nuance doesn't tell us how to install Dragon for maximum reliability and performance. I believe that I have figured that out and will explain it shortly.

First, however, some pre-installation preparation info. As I just explained, you can't upgrade over your existing Dragon user profile and expect a reliable upgrade. But what you can do is export two very important things from your old profile and reimport them into your new one: your user-created vocabulary and custom commands:

  • To export the user vocabulary in Dragon Dictate 4, go to the Tools > Vocabulary Editor dialog window; you'll find the export option on the menu behind the gear icon.
  • To export commands from Dictate 4, open the File > Command Export dialog box.
  • To import vocabulary into Dragon 5, open the main Dragon menu and choose Edit Vocabulary. Click the gear icon and choose Import.
  • To import commands in Dragon 5, open the main Dragon menu and choose Manage Commands. Click the left-most gear icon and select Import Commands.

If you never created custom commands, you don't need to export them. You should be adding to the vocabulary, though. Savvy use of the Vocabulary Editor increases accuracy quite a bit.

I know I just gave you instructions explaining how to do it, but I do not recommend importing all your custom commands into your newly built Dragon 5 installation. Dragon 5 debuts a change to the structure of some commands, specifically the text macros, which were replaced by the slightly dumbed-down "auto-texts." Moreover, the Commands Manager facility, which lets you create, edit and delete custom commands, is the buggiest part of Dragon for Mac 5.

Even in my stable installation, the only crashes I've ever seen have come with the Commands Manager window open. Because of these two issues, I decided not to import commands into a clean-installed instance of Dragon for Mac 5, which turned out to be the right move for this particular Dragon upgrade. So don't you do it either.

Steps for a clean install

These are the steps I recommend to get a reliable, fast installation of Dragon for Mac 5:

Step 1. It will be easier to make this transition if you re-create your Dragon Dictate 4 installation on a second Mac or second Mac user account. That could help with a variety of things, including highly selective exportation of commands that aren't AppleScripts. (More on this in a moment.) My understanding is that the Nuance license allows you to install Dragon on two machines. You can deactivate any Dragon installation on the Help menu. That should clear the way for you to install DD4 somewhere else if you need to.


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