Aug 10 2014

Why I downgraded Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 to 12

As an user of Dragon NaturallySpeaking for about the last 10 years, and as most Dragon NaturallySpeaking users were, I wanted to upgrade to version 13 as soon as possible. Nuance, historically, has come out with better versions each time Dragon NaturallySpeaking has been released; always adding some additional functionality to the program that made it even more robust than before.

Ten (10) days ago, I downloaded the latest version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and installed it on my PC. As a bona fide fan and advocate of Dragon NaturallySpeaking I was greatly looking forward to having the latest version installed in trying to take advantage of whatever new functions the application could provide, but what I found was disappointing.

While Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 has some improvements, the problem is that it also took away features that easily made the favorite of anyone using was recognition software.

The Problem

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If you’re familiar with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, you’re probably used to seeing or using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking toolbar. In that toolbar, there’s a check icon that becomes illuminated with green when the window that you’re dictating into has additional natural voice commands. If Dragon NaturallySpeaking could directly interact with this particular application, if you are using the sidebar, you would get hints on how to control the application with voice commands.

In the latest version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the application has become much more strict on when and where you can use the was recognition software. Dragon NaturallySpeaking now has the same debilitating behavior as Microsoft voice recognition.

In previous versions, you could use Dragon NaturallySpeaking in pretty much any application. Although you could not control every application with voice commands, you are allowed to do basic dictation with correction options. That meant that you could use commands like ‘cap that‘, ‘correct that‘ or ‘new paragraph‘ in just about every application that ran inside Windows.

From my view, this is what made Dragon NaturallySpeaking the most powerful applications you could have for Windows. Being able to dictate into any application compose and edit in almost every application that I used.

But with the latest version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking [13], if that check icon is not illuminated green, that means a Dragon NaturallySpeaking is not fully compatible with that application; meaning that you can’t control it with your voice, but it also indicates that you can’t make any corrections by voice or by using hotkeys.

I’m not the first to notice this issue and report it. There’s already another case in the support forums.


To clarify, you can dictate into any application that you want using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, but you can’t make corrections. The problem with this is that periodically Dragon NaturallySpeaking will make errors in the recognition [believe it or not].

Anyone who’s used Dragon NaturallySpeaking in the past knows that the was recognition for this application is very good, but is not perfect; making corrections to dictated information is essential. There’s no other way to argue that point. Users of Dragon NaturallySpeaking must be allowed to make corrections on the text, otherwise it’s very frustrating to use.


The devs for Nuance must’ve known that this was going to be a big change for Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I say this because Nuance included three new Dragon NaturallySpeaking plug-ins/add-ons for the most popular web browsers on the Internet right now. They want to make sure that the most popular browsers that were being used were going to be compatible, the best they could.

One of the new highlights with Dragon NaturallySpeaking was that was supposed to be more web compatible with services like Gmail and Yahoo; and it is, but a lot of users like myself, use Dragon outside of a web browser all the time; and I don’t exclusively use Microsoft products this puts me at a disadvantage because Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 seems to be more well suited for greater compatibility with Microsoft products.

The immediate solution to this problem is that you have to use Nuance’s DragonPad to dictate into any application that you want.

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This means, to be compatible, Dragon NaturallySpeaking will detect that the active window that you’re dictating into doesn’t have natural voice commands and it’s not supported, and then will automatically start/open DragonPad, where the translated text is stored until the operator/user says transfer; or clicks the transfer button.


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So while using DragonPad to dictate into other applications does make it compatible, by using DragonPad, also makes the flow of dictation distracting and a bit irritating. Dictating your thoughts into a box and then having to remember to click on transfer or say transfer, interrupts the flow of getting information from your head to text format on the screen.

In my review for Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, I indicated that there was a performance increase with the latest version, but there was also a trade-off between the compatibility. At the time, I could make the determination if continuing to use version 13 was worth my time. At this point, I would have to say that Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 has become more of a detriment to my ability to be productive versus the increased recognition and speed of the corrections.

I need to be able to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking/voice recognition in other applications like Thunderbird, eM client, Evernote and applications that support plain text editing [just for dictation].

I have always felt that any ‘productive application’ that was a detriment to me being productive, was not worth my time. For that reason, and after 10 years of using Dragon NaturallySpeaking [always upgrading], I decided to downgrade from version 13 to version 12.5.

If Nuance is to make any changes to this behavior, and IF they follow an update schedule of v12 to 12.5, it may be 6-7 months before they address this. If they don’t address this, I may be on v12.5 for a while.

The high side of my decision seems to be that there was a 15% increase in the level of recognition between version 12 and version 13. If that’s the case, I’m only missing out on a 15%performance boost that I was already used to before version 13.

If you are seeing the same thing, I would love to hear about it [comment below].

Since Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 came out, are you running in to compatibility issues?

  • Yes (76%, 148 Votes)
  • I don't use Dragon NaturallySpeaking. (14%, 28 Votes)
  • No. (10%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 195

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