How to fix dictation not working on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac

Dictation lets you enter text using your voice instead of typing on the keyboard. It’s also known by other names like talk to text, voice to text, or speech to text. However, sometimes the dictation microphone icon may be missing on the keyboard or it may not convert what you speak into text.

If dictation isn’t working on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac, here are some reliable solutions to fix the problem.

Fix dictation not working on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac

Fix dictation not working

Connect to Wi-Fi or Cellular

You can use dictation offline on iPhone 6s and later. However, not all dictation languages work without being connected to the internet. So, for best results, make sure your iPhone or iPad is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data.

Plus, when you select a new dictation language (or immediately after setting up your iPhone), you will have to connect to Wi-Fi for support files to download.

Dictation Languages support download file

Enable and disable Airplane Mode

Go to the iPhone or iPad settings app and enable Airplane Mode. After waiting for around 15 seconds, tap the same toggle to turn off Airplane Mode.

Force quit the app in question and reopen it

If dictation isn’t working in a particular app, force close and reopen it. After that, tap the microphone key on the iOS keyboard and try to use dictation. It should input what you speak.

Use dictation on iPhone by tapping the microphone key on the keyboard

Restart your iPhone

When dictation is not working on iPhone, or it comes and disappears from the screen, simply turn off your iPhone and turn it back on. It’s an important fix. So, make sure you don’t skip it.

Disable and re-enable dictation to refresh it

Follow these steps to turn off and turn on dictation which should ensure it starts working correctly. This particular step will help you verify if you had enabled dictation in the first place or not!

  1. Open iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch Settings and tap General.
  2. Tap Keyboard.
  3. Turn off Enable Dictation > Turn Off Dictation.
  4. Wait for a few seconds and restart your iPhone.
  5. Go to Settings > Keyboard and turn on the switch for Enable Dictation.
Turn off Enable Dictation on iPhone

Now, open the Apple Notes app, tap the microphone icon on your keyboard, and dictation should work like a charm.

Turn off extra dictation languages

If you’re bilingual or multilingual, you might have added more than one keyboard to your iPhone. After that, you’ll see a Dictation Languages option appear below the Enable Dictation toggle. Tap it and uncheck all the languages except one. Now, restart your iPhone and try using dictation. It should work as expected.

Once that’s done, you can check more dictation languages if you want to use them. In case doing so starts causing dictation problems again, update your iPhone.

Important: Make sure you select the right accent for the same language. For example, if I’m from India, for best results, I should select English (India) as my dictation language instead of English (US) or English (UK).

Dictation Languages on iPhone

Dictation option missing in iPhone Settings?

If you don’t see the Enable Dictation option in the steps above, follow these two fixes:

Add iOS keyboard

You will lose Apple’s dictation feature if you add just a third-party keyboard (like SwiftKey) and remove the built-in Apple keyboard. To see the Enable Dictation option in iPhone keyboard settings, do the following:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard.
  2. Choose a keyboard under Suggested Keyboards or Other iPhone Keyboards.
  3. Now go back and you should see the Enable Dictation option. If not, restart your iPhone.
Add New built-in Keyboard on iPhone to see dictation option

Note: Some third-party keyboard (like SwiftKey) may also offer their own dictation feature. You can use that while using the third-party keyboard.

Unrestrict Siri & Dictation

Follow these steps to ensure dictation is not restricted:

  1. Open iPhone or iPad Settings and tap Screen Time.
  2. If it says, Turn On Screen Time, you can skip all the steps below. Else, tap Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  3. If Content & Privacy Restrictions is disabled, you can skip the steps below. If it’s enabled, tap Allowed Apps.
  4. Under Allowed Apps, make sure Siri & Dictation is enabled.
Siri and Dictation in Screen Time on iPhone

You should see the Enable Dictation option after adding the iOS keyboard and ensuring dictation isn’t restricted.

Try using dictation without AirPods or earphones

At times, you may not be able to use dictation at all, or it may function poorly with wired or wireless earphones. If it isn’t working at all, make sure your iPhone isn’t stuck in headphone mode.

Remove iOS keyboard and add it again

Here’s how you can remove the iPhone keyboard and re-add it to ensure dictation works:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards.
  2. Tap Edit > red minus icon > Delete > Done to remove the keyboards. You can leave the Emoji keyboard.
  3. Tap Add New Keyboard and select your desired iPhone keyboard. Now, open Notes or a similar app and use dictation. It should work well.
Remove iPhone keyboard and add it again to fix dictation problems

Turn off Siri and turn it back on

Siri and dictation are related. So, if dictation isn’t working after following the above solutions, turn Siri off and on.

  1. Go to Settings and tap Siri & Search.
  2. Turn off Listen for “Hey Siri” and Press Side (or Home) Button for Siri.
  3. Restart your iPhone.
  4. Enable Siri again by turning on the switches you turned off in step 2.
Turn off Siri on iPhone

Clean iPhone’s microphone

If your iPhone’s microphone grills are dirty, it can cause blockage, which causes poor experience on calls, Siri, voice recordings, dictation, and other related things. To fix this, make sure you remove any iPhone case and use a cloth, dry brush, or toothpick to clean the microphone holes.

Important: If any external device (like earphones) is attached to your iPhone, disconnect it to ensure the on-device mic is used.

Update your iPhone

We can’t rule out the possibility of dictation being flaky due to software bugs. To fix this, go to iPhone Settings > General > Software Update and get the latest version of iOS.

Reset network settings or all settings

In case the dictation problem continues, reset your iPhone’s network settings. This should help, and if it doesn’t, you can reset all settings. Here’s how to do both.

Contact Apple Support

Finally, if nothing helps, contact Apple Support or take your iPhone to an Apple Store and get it inspected. If there are issues with the iPhone hardware, they will take care of it.

Fix dictation not working on Apple Watch

When dictation isn’t working on your Apple Watch, follow these basic fixes first:

  • Restart your Apple Watch
  • Make sure your watch is running the latest version of watchOS
  • Check for Siri and Dictation restriction on iPhone (mentioned above)
  • Clean the Apple Watch for a perfect microphone experience and remove any full body case or cover

Besides the above checks, follow these solutions to fix dictation not working on Apple Watch.

Make sure Apple Watch is connected to Wi-Fi, Cellular, or the iPhone

Your Apple Watch can connect to the internet via Wi-Fi, Cellular (on cellular models), or use the iPhone’s internet. We have explained more in this interesting post titled how to know whether your Apple Watch is connected to the internet or not. Dictation should work flawlessly once Apple Watch has internet connectivity.

Enable dictation on Apple Watch

Do you see “Dictation Disabled. You can enable dictation in Settings” on your Apple Watch? Here’s how to enable (or check) dictation on Apple Watch:

  1. Open the Settings app on Apple Watch and tap General.
  2. Tap Dictation.
  3. Toggle on Dictation and tap Enable Dictation to confirm. Now go back to the typing screen and tap the microphone icon to use dictation on your Apple Watch.
Enable Dictation on Apple Watch

Make sure Apple Watch and iPhone language are the same

You can simply mirror your iPhone language to your Apple Watch or use different settings for your wrist. But choosing the latter may cause dictation problems on the Apple Watch. To fix this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Watch app on your paired iPhone and tap General.
  2. Tap Language & Region.
  3. Tap Mirror my iPhone.
  4. After a minute, restart your iPhone and Apple Watch. Now, dictation should work flawlessly on your Apple Watch and let you type with your voice.
Language and Region in Watch app

Unpair and repair your Apple Watch

Finally, if you’re still unable to use dictation on your Apple Watch, unpair it from your iPhone and pair it again.

Fix dictation not working on Mac

Here’s how to ensure dictation starts working on your Mac and lets you type without the physical keyboard.

Turn off Voice Control

Do you see “Keyboard Dictation is disabled when Voice Control is on” in the dictation preferences screen on Mac?

Keyboard Dictation is disabled while Voice Control is turned on

Follow these steps to turn off Voice Control which should stop the conflicting issues with dictation:

  1. Click  and choose System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.
  3. Select Voice Control from the left.
  4. Uncheck Enable Voice Control.
Turn off Voice Control on Mac

Now, you should not see any error message in the dication settings on Mac.

Enable dictation on Mac

To enable dictation, do any of the following:

  • Press fn + D on your Mac and click Ok > Enable Dictation.
  • While in a Mac app, click Edit from the top menu bar and choose Start Dictation.
  • Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation and check the box for On.

Once that’s done, press the control key twice (or your usual dictation shortcut) to use dictation. You can see which keyboard shortcut is set to start dictation by going to System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation.

Dictation on Mac

Restart your Mac

Click the  and choose Restart. Once that’s done, try using dictation in Notes or any app where you can type.

Connect your Mac to the internet

For a consistent dictation experience, make sure your Mac is connected to the internet. You can also use Voice Control to dictate text on Mac if you’re offline. To use Voice Control, go to System Preferences > Accessibility.

Additionally, your Mac must be connected to the internet to use dictation if:

  • Offline dictation file isn’t downloaded, or
  • The language you’re using dictation in isn’t supported for offline dictation.

To check or refresh the offline dictation file, click the Language dropdown menu, uncheck and re-check the desired language. While you do this, make sure your Mac is connected to the internet for the support file to download locally.

Downloading dictation file on Mac

Note: On a Mac with Apple silicon (M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra, and their successors), some basic dictation requests like composing messages or notes are processed on the device without needing internet. Using dictation in the search box requires an active internet connection.

To use dictation offline on macOS Mojave or earlier, go to System Preferences > Dictation & Speech > Dictation and check the box for Enhanced Dictation.

Use dictation in a quieter room

If you’re having patchy experience with dictation on Mac, use it in a room with less noise. This is especially help if you have an old Mac.

Tip: Dictation can listen to you continuously for about 30 to 40 seconds. After that, you must pause and let it process and type what you said before speaking again.

Turn dictation off and back on

Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation. From here, click Off. After waiting for a few seconds, click On to enable dictation again.

Select the right microphone for dictation

While you’re on the dictation preferences screen, make sure the correct microphone is selected. Select Automatic if you often use AirPods or other audio devices with your Mac.

Select microphone for dictation on Mac

Quit the Mac app and retry using dictation

If dictation doesn’t work in a specific app, save your ongoing work and quit the app. You can do that by right-clicking on the open app in the Dock and choosing Quit.

If the app isn’t behaving correctly, press Command + Option + esc. From here, select the non-responding app and click Force Quit.

Disable and enable Siri on Mac

In case the problem continues, take a few seconds to turn off Siri and turn it back on. For this, go to System Preferences > Siri and uncheck Enable Ask Siri. After a few seconds, recheck the same box.

Delete Speech Recognition file

Finally, if nothing helps, follow these steps:

  1. From Finder, press Command + Shift + G.
  2. Copy this location path, paste it in the Go to Folder box, and press the enter key.
  3. Delete this file from here.
  4. Restart your Mac.
Delete file to fix dictation problems on Mac

Now, try using dictation and it should work perfectly. If the problem continues, go to  ~/Library/Caches/ and delete the file (if you see it).

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