Enhanced Dictation is not working: How to fix it?

Dictation is one of the best features of macOS. With Enhanced Dictation, you can speak into the built-in Mic, or another connected audio input, then the spoken word is converted to text. Some people rely on this the same way audio assistants, like Siri, help us find things. 

But what happens when enhanced dictation is not working? 

In this article, we look at what you can do when Mac dictation is not working and how to fix it. 

How to fix Enhanced Dictation on a Mac? 

To switch this feature on, you can either use Siri, simply ask it to “turn on Dictation”. 

Or you can find Dictation or Enhanced Dictation in several applications, such as macOS Pages and TextEdit. 

Remember, although Siri can compose short sections of text, such as a message to a friend or an email, Dictation is a more advanced feature and should be used for note taking or writing more detailed documents. 

If Dictation stops working, or has problems — which have been reported from time to time — it can be a real pain. Especially if you've come to rely on it to take notes or start writing something. At times, problems with native macOS features — such as Dictation — can happen after an OS update, so you might find that after a subsequent update the problem has been solved. 

Enhanced Dictation troubleshooting steps 

  1. Firstly, try switching Enhanced Dictation off and back on again. It’s an easy fix and can be done in  System Preferences, or using Siri;
  2. Now if that doesn't work: Switch Dictation off, then shut your Mac down.
  3. Start it up again and switch Dictation back on. Hopefully, that should have worked. 
  4. Another way to fix this is to go to the audio input settings in System Preferences. Change from the internal Mic to a third-party, then back again, to see if this will get Dictation to start working again. 
  5. Another fix is to delete your speech recognition cache in the Library. Here is how you find and delete this: 

- From Finder, navigate to Go to Folder and search for Library 

- Once in the Library, input the following: ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.SpeechRecognitionCore

- Now delete this cache folder and restart your Mac and/or Enhanced Dictation 

If this manual method looks unsafe, there is an easy alternative — remove library caches with dedicated software. In my case, CleanMyMac X has been pretty effective. Get a free version of CleanMyMac here.

To delete caches with CleanMyMac:

  • Launch the app.
  • Click on the system junk tab.
  • Scan and delete the selected elements.
CleanMyMac X - User cache files in System Junk module

Using one or more of the above methods should ensure Dictation is working again on your Mac. If for any reason this isn't the case, there is an app that can provide further assistance with this and other Mac performance challenges: CleanMyMac X — which will be covered in more detail shortly. 

Other ways you can speed up your Mac

Dictation not working is usually a symptom of a Mac that isn't working at its best. Normally, when native features such as this struggle to function, it is merely a sign that your Mac needs some care and attention to get it working as good as new again. 

One way to do that, and a solution that avoids you having to struggle through trying to work out what is wrong and how to fix everything manually, is to analyze your Mac with one of those Mac maintenance apps. You can use a free version of CleanMyMac X — because this tool is notarized by Apple. Here is how you do that: 

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (get it here, for free).
  2. For those who've got a slow Mac, use the Speed module.
  3. Now, use the Heavy Memory Consumers and other tools to fix Mac slowdown.
CleanMyMac X - heavy consumers

CleanMyMac X comes with dozens of other features and modules that can improve Mac performance. Hopefully the above troubleshooting tips will have fixed Enhanced Dictation, but if not, use CleanMyMac X to get your Mac working as good as new again. 

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.