Microphone Best Practices

Tips and troubleshooting for getting the most out of any microphone with Talkatoo

Talkatoo will work best with a dictation microphone, such as the Olympus RecMic or Philips SpeechMike, and while many of these tips are geared towards this type of microphone, some can be used with any mic.  

This article will go over the following:

Holding the Microphone

Microphone Buttons

Dictation Microphone vs other mics

Handing Interruptions

Whispering/The shy dictator 

Holding the Microphone

The dictation microphones were designed to be held 2-4 inches from your mouth while you are dictating.  This will ensure the best accuracy, as well as allowing the noise cancelling features to block any speech or other background noise, and only pick up your voice. 

While these microphones will often work when held much further away, or resting on a desk, results can vary wildly depending on factors such as ambient noise and the volume and pitch of your voice. 

Microphone Buttons

Start/Stop (red record button)

On the dictation microphones, the red button in the center of the mic should start and stop Talkatoo.  This will likely be working out of the box, but if that is not the case, there are a few possible reasons.  
Click the 3 dots on Talkatoo and open the Settings menu.

Note that you will not see the diagram of the microphone buttons unless it is one of the dictation microphones listed above.  

Ensure that the correct microphone is selected (The Olympus shows up as above: Audio Control RM).  
If the correct microphone is selected, but pressing the red button still does not start Talkatoo, see the following list, depending on what pressing the button actually does:

  1. If pressing the record button types out a + (plus sign), see this article
  2. If pressing the record button starts Talkatoo (the bar turns black) but nothing is typed, see this article if you're on a Mac, or this article if you are using a Windows PC. 
  3. If pressing the record button seems to do nothing at all, click the Device Setup tab on the settings page and follow the steps to set the mode.  If that doesn't help, see this article

Other Buttons

Below the microphone select, you will see an image showing part of the microphone, and the functions of some of the buttons.  
These buttons are pre-programmed in this mode, and so while they do work, there are a couple of important things to know about using them. 

These buttons are identical to the buttons on your keyboard, and it is very important that you do not use the keyboard to input text, spaces, or to move the cursor while you are in the middle of a dictation.  This is because Talkatoo will often make corrections to the text it has already typed, and if you move the cursor before this is complete, it will confuse the system, leaving you with incomplete notes, or extra characters or words. 

Instead of using Enter (Return) to go to the next line, you should say New Line or New Paragraph.  Talkatoo will take this into account during any subsequent corrections. 

You want to avoid using Tab (or Shift+Tab) for the same reason, but since there is not a voice command for Tab, you would simply need to wait until Talkatoo is not actively dictating to use these buttons.  The same goes for using the mouse or arrows to move the cursor to another location.  

There are several other buttons on these dictation microphones, but most do not do anything, or at least nothing Talkatoo related.   You should avoid pressing them as they sometimes do have other key combinations assigned, which may have unexpected results in other programs. 

Dictation Microphone vs other mics

Using one of the Talkatoo recommended dictation microphones has many benefits including world class audio quality and noise cancellation, and the convenience of buttons on the microphone.

Without the button to start dictation, you need to use your mouse to click Start and Stop dictation each time, or use hotkeys.  On a Mac, using the mouse is doubly onerous as clicking on another program causes the cursor to lose focus, requiring you to place the cursor back into the text field you want the text in before starting to speak.  

Other types of microphones

Aside from a dictation microphone, there are a wide variety of available microphones, ranging from what comes built in to your computer, to other professional quality microphones. 

The most common type of microphone available to most is the built in mic on your laptop.  This will often do a decent job in a quiet environment, but in most cases, they are omnidirectional, meaning they can pick up speech from anywhere nearby.  This is great for conference calls, but not so great for dictation in an area with others speaking.  

With the ubiquity of Bluetooth headsets such as AirPods, many would like to use these to dictate.  Bluetooth, while extremely convenient, can not always be relied upon for high quality, lossless audio, especially inputting your voice.  This is doubly true for the very small sets like AirPods which often experience interference from wind, long hair, or turning your head.  While they may work well for some people, and we do have users who love using their AirPods to dictate, we have encountered just as many who achieve relatively low or inconsistent accuracy.  We always recommend a hard wired microphone for the best outcome. 

There are many good microphones that will do an equally good job with audio quality and even noise cancellation, though they do tend to be more expensive.  The main downside to them is the lack of convenient buttons.

Handing Interruptions

Another common issue is that when in the middle of a dictation, some sort of interruption will occur, forcing you to stop your dictation.  Maybe someone will pop into your office or area and start talking to you, or your phone will ring and you have to answer it etc.  In these cases, even if Talkatoo does not pick up what the other person is saying, it can cause you to have to stop in the middle of a dictation.  

If you're unable to mitigate the interruption until after you have finished, the best way to handle this would be to either stop the dictation right there, and then overwrite the half written sentence, or allow it to continue.  

Stopping in the middle of the dictation is usually easiest if you've only dictated one or two sentences.  You can simply select the text and erase it, and then start the sentence over.  You could also continue from where it stopped, but note that when starting a new dictation, the first word will always be capitalized.  

Alternatively, if you're using a dictation mic and you don't want to lose your place, if you're able to allow Talkatoo to continue working while preventing any more input, you can pick up where you left off, or at least give it time to catch up to where you are.  You can do this by holding the dictation microphone pointed away from you and the interruption, and possibly covering the top input part with your hand. 

Neither of these methods are perfect, but with a little practice you will see what works best for you and your specific types of interruptions. 

Whispering/The shy dictator 

A common reason we hear for hesitancy to use Talkatoo is that some people feel very self-conscious talking to their computer in front of others, which is totally understandable, or that they do not want to disturb the people around them.

The good news is that when held close to your mouth while dictating, the dictation microphones will pick up your voice just fine, even if you whisper.  

Talkatoo will automatically adjust to the input level, and so you don't need to do anything different if you would like to try whispering into the microphone.  

While it is possible to get right up close to your laptop, this advice is aimed at users with a dictation microphone. 


This is not an exhaustive list, but rather some of the most common issues we see users new to Talkatoo struggling with.  If you are still experiencing issues or have any questions after going over this list, please don't hesitate to reach out to our support team at 1-855-886-2156.  We're always happy to help.