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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.

Make sure your existing Dragon Dictate 4 user profile is tucked into the Dragon Profiles folder within your Documents folder wherever you reinstall Dragon Dictate 4. If you didn't save your Dragon Dictate 4 installation file you may have trouble getting it from Nuance now. Always save installers for applications you buy.

Step 2. Fully delete Dragon Dictate 4 from your Mac using a free software-uninstaller called AppCleaner by FreeMacSoft. It can find and delete all of the files that Dragon Dictate installs and creates. Opt for improved AppCleaner version 3.1 if you've got Yosemite or El Capitan. (My Dragon 5 installation is running on El Capitan 10.11.1.)

Step 3. Install Dragon for Mac 5.0.1, but exit without creating a new profile. Immediately apply the 5.0.2 patch by opening Preferences from the main Dragon menu and then choosing Updates. Once 5.0.2 is fully installed, create a new Dragon 5 profile. Run Microphone Setup and perform at least some voice training.

Virtually all the problems I described about using my first installation were absent when I followed these steps. I was able to import my Dragon user vocabulary of some 500 words. Accuracy and performance are notably improved over Dragon Dictate 4. It's very fast and there's no wandering cursor.

I rebuilt my custom commands, manually, one by one, with some highly selective export/import from my Dragon Dictate 4 installation (re-created on another Mac). I only imported my set of URL-opening "Jump to" bookmark commands. Thankfully, Nuance no longer jams a bunch of archaic bookmarks into your profile.

I was able to resurrect the "Sleep Mode" AppleScript command by making a copy of the Go To Sleep command and simply renaming it. But it worked intermittently until clicked the Compile button and saved it. That trick has made a lot of my AppleScript commands come back to life.

Bottom line

Despite the problems I've noted, I wouldn't return to Dragon Dictate 4. Dragon for Mac 5 is clearly the superior product. Its accuracy and performance make it a pleasure to use -- at least some of the time. Plus, Nuance is heading in right direction with Dragon for Mac 5.

Speech recognition is at a crossroads between being usable by a small percentage of people who are patient and precise and attracting a much larger percentage of people who expect things to just work. Making Dragon run automatically when OS X launches, noticeable performance enhancements and a boost in accuracy all build user confidence and work toward that larger potential user base.

Of course, bugs do not. Dragon 5 is a far less polished product than its predecessor. Nuance made changes to Commands (probably to help support the forthcoming Dragon Anywhere cloud product), but didn't smooth over the rough edges, such as consistent crashing behavior with the Commands Manager window open. Nuance created the new Status Window, a good idea, but it didn't finish the job. It's a buggy mess that threatens to ruin the overall user experience.


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