Dragon for Mac Goes from Zero to Hero – But Is It Too Late?

UPDATE Dec 16 2017: The information in this article is still valid. However, Dragon has now been updated to version 6.0.8 which also brings High Sierra compatibility. Things are still pretty stable although some quirks still remain.

Well, it took them long enough. After six updates to the current version of Dragon Professional Individual for Mac (including one that was subsequently pulled after it turned the program from a crashing, buggy mess into an even worse crashing, buggy mess), it appears Nuance may finally have delivered a stable version of the product.

The 6.0.6 update that was recently released appears to – shock, horror! – fix many of the terrible problems that have plagued this version of the software. Out of my many years of using Dragon both on the PC and Mac platforms, Dragon Professional Individual for Mac 6 has been the worst performing version of the software I have ever come across. I don’t say that lightly, by the way – the Mac version has never exactly been a bastion of well-written software. But this latest release has been nothing short of a disaster.

Something tells me that it wasn’t meant to be like this. This seemed to be the release where Nuance finally unified the branding across both versions of the software, bringing Dragon for the Mac in line with its more mature, feature rich Windows counterpart. Instead, we got a piece of software that promised much (including the new, improved “Deep Learning” speech engine) and instead delivered tear-your-hair-out frustration in spades. Even getting the thing to launch could be a challenge – keeping it stable long enough to deliver any form of accurate recognition was even more problematic.

A familiar sight for Mac users of Dragon Professional Individual 6.

It’s hard not to feel like Mac users have been paying to be beta testers since its release. That’s pretty unacceptable for any company, but I wonder whether the sheer level of instability in this version took even Nuance by surprise. That’s no excuse, of course; it should never have been released in the first place. The 6.0.6 update, however, belatedly seems to fix an awful lot of the problems that have plagued Mac users this time around.

The crashes, for the most part, seem to have stopped. The whole thing now feels relatively stable and dictation into Word, Pages and even Google Docs seems a lot smoother (I haven’t yet had a chance to test it in Scrivener, however). It still seems to have the odd problem with the famous “wandering cursor” though, so I still recommend dictating into TextEdit just to be safe and cut-and-paste into your word processor of choice.

While it’s undoubtedly good news for Mac users of Dragon, I have to wonder whether Nuance have done some irrepairable damage to their reputation. The Mac community has been a pretty patient bunch of customers over the years, putting up with a consistently flaky version of the product while Windows users enjoyed everything the Mac version should have been. This time, however, the backlash seems different. It seems like Mac users’ patience has run out and some of the comments in Nuance’s own forums and the Amazon review section have been nothing short of vitriolic.

Although version 6.0.6 is now usable, it doesn’t change the fact that people paid good money to put up with six months of sheer misery from a program that simply wasn’t fit for purpose. If that’s not enough, it’s Professional Individual in name only – the equivalent PC version (and even Naturally Speaking 13 Premium, which was released in 2014) is still significantly more feature rich and customisable. The transcription functionality, for example, is incomparable between the two (the Mac version still cannot make corrections to transcribed output, never mind learn from it).

What’s a Mac user to do? Buy a separate PC just for dictation? Go the Parallels route on their Mac? Or simply accept that the software isn’t as good but is at least finally stable? If you go for the latter choice, at least you’ll be able to significantly increase your word count without worrying whether the program is going to crash on you several times an hour any more.

For those who want to give Dragon 6 another try on their Mac (and I know of plenty of people who gave up, reverted to version 5 or switched to the Windows equivalent), I recommend following Graham Snook’s excellent post here which outlines the “nuclear option” of completely removing any trace of Dragon from your system before installing version 6. Once that’s done, head to the Dragon menu and download the 6.0.6 update, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

While it’s great news that Nuance has finally delivered the version of Dragon that people paid for in the first place, it’ll be interesting to see how quick Mac users are to cough up more hard-earned cash for the inevitable release of version 7. Maybe a free upgrade would be a valuable gesture in restoring some goodwill. That, at least, would demonstrate some acceptance on Nuance’s part that they got things very, very wrong this time around.

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30 thoughts on “Dragon for Mac Goes from Zero to Hero – But Is It Too Late?”

  1. Hi Scott, I originally got the Mac version 6 last summer when it came out. Had never used dictation software before. It was so unusable. So I then talked with Nuance and they allowed me to return it and instead get the windows version and with your advice, run it on parallels on my Mac. A couple months ago I got Scrivener (LOVE IT) and now I wish I could use a Mac version that works well — I saw your recent post about v6.06 — and dictate straight into Scrivener.

    As it is currently I dictate into dragon on the dragon pad in parallels, then copy and paste it into Scrivener. I don’t really mind it, but it the Mac version has gotten good enough (in terms of accuracy…and that it actually WORKS) then I would probably make the jump BACK to the Mac version.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks you Scott.

    — Scott H.

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    1. Hi Scott (great name, by the way).

      If you have Dragon running well under Parallels I would still stick with it. Dragon for Mac 6 is much improved but it’s still nowhere near as feature-rich and the stability can still be pretty wonky in anything other than TextEdit. As you would still be copying and pasting into Scrivener that way, your workflow will be barely any different. In my experience, Dragon has never worked well in Scrivener on the Mac (or in much else, for that matter) – the UI seems too complex and appears to confuse Dragon – and the cursor still seems to go haywire or insert random characters.

      In short – I think you’re better sticking with the setup you have for now.

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      1. Great. Thanks for your reply Scott. That was my feeling too… the stability and accuracy of the Windows version is AWESOME! And LOVE it in Parallels!

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      2. Hi Scott,
        I have read your book and in the book on page 89 you state:

        “Just to clean things up even further, PC users should deselect these options again under “Tools – Administrative Settings”. Also, select a folder other than the default for the backup copies of your user profile. Dragon will normally just save these on the same disk that the program is running from, which is useless in the event of a disk failure. You will lose both your profile and the backup! Set the backup copy to an external drive or synced cloud folder for safekeeping”

        However. I have tried numerous times to click on “Tools-Administrative Settings” and nothing at all happens. I closed the User profile, shut down parallels, restarted, etc. Every time I click on it, it doesn’t open anything. I am concerned because the backup is being saved to the same place as the user profile…. in Parallels… This is really bad because I have trained it well and is 99% accurate. I’d hate to have to retrain it in the event of a crash.

        Any thoughts?

        Thanks again,

        Scott

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      3. Am 18 year user of DNS since v 3.2 on Windows. Now use DNS 13 with parallels. Still a little wonky but works pretty well dictating into Word, but would love to dictate natively on Mac . Have tried virtually every version of Dragon for Mac. Couldn’t believe how bad v. 6 was and returned v. 6.0.0 You described that 6.0.6 is usuable–my biggest issue was randomly jumping cursor and trying to edit. Have they had any other updates since your article to make it even better? Jumping cursor was dealbreaker as it made it impossible to use. Even jumped in wordpad.

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      4. It has now been updated to version 6.0.8 which also brings High Sierra compatibility. Things are still pretty stable although the jumping cursor can still rear its ugly head. The best solution is to stick to dictating in TextEdit in plain text mode (you can set this from the TextEdit preferences).

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      1. Hi Scott. Thanks for your reply. That’s what I thought too, but….

        The User Profile Properties dialog box

        Profile>Manage User Profiles>Properties button

        Use this dialog box to view information about a user profile, including the language, dictation source, and the steps you have taken to set it up.

        The User Properties dialog box is for informational purposes only. You cannot make changes to the properties in it.

        Since there seems to be a bug in v15 because I can’t get it to work and I suspect that nuance will charge me money to ask them to help me, I did use that manage user profile to “export” my profile to another location in dropbox which also gets backed up regularly JUST IN CASE the drive got corrupted and I would need to reload parallels. I know that I will have to go in from time to time and re-export it, but its way better than starting from scratch. I have spent several months training dragon and it is 99% accurate.

        BTW… After experimenting with several headsets and mics I have settled on a wireless Bluetooth headset so that I can walk around my living room and dictate. I know you have mentioned that Bluetooth headsets are never going to be as good as wired but my experience in using it is that it is 99% accurate. In fact I am dictating on it right now and I have not had a mistake. It’s called the blue parrot b450 by VXICorp. It is wonderful walking around and sometimes flailing my arms around completely untethered from any wires and having this high amount of accuracy. It is expensive at $150 but I would never want to go back to having to be connected by a cord and the accuracy is equally as good.

        thanks,
        scott hall

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      2. “Since there seems to be a bug in v15 because I can’t get it to work and I suspect that nuance will charge me money to ask them to help me” – I had to smile at this. You’re probably right! It sounds like the export to Dropbox option may be inelegant, but if it works and keeps the profile backed up then that’s a good thing. Thanks for the info on the BlueParrot – I’ll look into it. Not all Bluetooth mics are bad – not at all – but many just lack the quality needed for Dragon accuracy. There are exceptions and it sounds like this is one of them.

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  2. Dragon for Mac 6 is still pathetic. There is not one application I have ever used that is crashed so many times, made so many mistakes, and had been so frustrating with jumping cursor glitches that indiscriminately begin typing anywhere in your document but where you wanted to stay. Sadly STILL in version 6.06 for Mac there’s a constant jumping cursor that destroys all of your text as it starts typing randomly anywhere it wants continues your dictation separating words indiscriminately with lots of mistakes. After a run of usually about three or four paragraphs, I have to constantly force quit by opening and Activity Monitor. When it works for a few paragraphs it’s still worth it to use – but just barely. I feel stupid that I keep buying into the idea that their new updates are going to fix all these issues. Each time they want more money and each time I stupidly purchased this absolutely horrific application that constantly has new bugs and never fixes the old ones. There should really be a class-action suit against them to get all our money back for every upgrade/downgrade.

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    1. I’ll comment. I purchased Dragon for Mac in January 2018. It was an exercise in tremendous frustration. You could not even dictate into Windows that did not support full dictation. Sporadically, sometimes dictation would fail to work properly. Furthermore, the macro system for Mac is missing several key features, not limited to parameterized commands (as you can do with Dragon macros in Windows).
      The web browser support in February 2018 was completely nonexistent. When you go to download the plug-in for Safari, you are greeted with an alert dialog letting you know that the certificate has expired. How reassuring! Alas, even bravely forging ahead, the plug-in still did not work. The Firefox plug-in didn’t work either, even if I installed the pre-quantum release of Firefox.
      Anyways, I ended up getting a refund, and purchasing the Windows version. Also, I have switched from a MacBook to a desktop configuration (liquid cooled, overclocked I7 processor, 24 gigs of RAM). Running virtual machines seems to do a lot better on this configuration than my 2016 MacBook Pro (which I still have, use, and enjoy). Maybe it is overkill, but things are working extremely good for me with the setup. I toyed with the idea of having a Windows desktop PC, and a MacBook, but in the end, it was simpler to just use parallels desktop. The integration between the 2 Operating Systems is way better that way.
      I will say that there is an annoying issue with audio with parallels desktop: overtime, the audio record latency will increasingly delay, giving the appearance that dictation runs more and more slowly. I have created this auto-hotkey macro which I will run on occasion to reset the audio delay: https://gist.github.com/timcharper/bf4feb3994ae285bbdd4511058ba0924

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    1. 1. Make sure you have installed all system updates via the Apple menu;
      2. Run the Dragon update to ensure you are using version 6.0.8;
      3. Keep things simple by only dictating into TextEdit. This prevents Dragon from having to interface with a more complex program.

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  3. Hi

    I was having issues and couldn’t update then found this on the nuance site and had to manually download it and it has worked well since. It wouldn’t update in dragon it’s self kept crashing as I had a small update come up on the MacBook today (only 1 day old) and it has reverted dragon to version 6.0.0

    http://nuance.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26574/~/information-on-dragon-professional-individual-for-mac-6.0.8

    I have litearally come from NS13 on windows, as got fed up of windows crashing.

    I am dictating into word with no issues and using custom commands.

    Scott – FYI this has been the best support thread I have found and most upto date so thanks

    Like

    1. Thanks for providing the link, Nick. The update functionality seems intermittently down lately for both Mac and PC versions of Dragon so both the 6.0.8 (Mac) and 15.3 (Windows) updates need manual installation.

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  4. I got an email indicating Dragon Professional Individual for the Mac is on sale for $150 (50% off). I think this is the first time I’ve seen the Mac version get this discount since I’ve been looking. It’s been quite some time since I’ve given Nuance any more of my money. I’m still on version 5.05, which works well enough although some things, like making corrections by voice, don’t work well anymore. But I’ve kept using it because I still prefer it over Siri dictation. And I’m severely disabled so I dictate ALOT.

    So I’m seriously considering jumping on this deal even though I hate the idea of giving them more money. Their support forums haven’t even been accessible for quite some time for whatever reason which is why I’m here instead. In fact I’m grateful that this thread exists.

    So now that it’s been updated a bunch does anybody feel that it’s worth it at that price? And does anybody know if the new version for the Mac is imminent? Thanks in advance and thanks for the great article and support.

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  5. Scott, Nuance took down their Dragon Dictate for Mac forum and have not brought it back online. Where are you going these days to discuss all things Dragon Dictate for Mac?

    27-inch 5K iMac, Buddy DesktopMic 7G, OS X (10.13.4), Dragon 6.0.8, Windows 10 under Parallels 13, DPI 15

    Like

  6. Thank you for all the useful information, I wish I had read your article on using Dragon on a PC versus a Mac before I bought my version for my Mac. I have cubital tunnel syndrome which has made typing and using a mouse very painful. I have found the dictation very good, and the editing seems to get better as I keep practicing, but I still get a “wandering cursor” sometimes (thanks for teaching me the term for it!), and navigating Safari is very frustrating. The program overall seems buggy. It has quit on me a few times, and sometimes the dictation will randomly start adding an extra letter until I restart my computer, but it sounds like nothing compared to the earlier trials you went through.

    Does anyone have any experience using Dragon to navigate a web browser on a PC and a Mac? If so, did you notice any significant differences?

    Also, is there any way to write a command using the function key? I think that is why scrolling never works on Safari.

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    1. It randomly starts leaving an extra letter for me as well sometimes. This has been present for several versions. Fortunately I need only restart the app to correct the problem so it’s a very minor annoyance at best for me. It also doesn’t happen constantly either although most of my dictation takes place within TextEdit, which the application fully supports.

      Overall version 6.0.8 has treated me pretty well since I recently finally gave in and purchased it (50% off). I’m not thrilled with supporting Nuance by purchasing this less-than-perfect product but as many have said before there’s nothing like it available on the Mac. Siri dictation, which is getting better and better, still falls far short of this in my opinion.

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  7. Bleh! I’ve been paying for Dictate upgrades since the early days and it has always been frustratingly behind the PC version, not to mention buggy as heck. But even with the 6.08 update, the program is all but unusable except for TextEdit. MS Outlook functionality (especially editing) is totally broken – for example, if you select a word and dictate a new word to replace it, the old word will still be left behind. Same goes for Mail.app. Since the annual Shell Out Another $99 To Nuance For a Disappointing Upgrade fall special never happened in fall of 2017, I fear that Nuance has given up on Dictate altogether. Sorry for the bitterness but the whole thing is very disappointing.

    Like

    1. Nuance skipped an update cycle in 2017 (presumably to get both v6 for Mac and v15 for PC more stable). If there’s going to be any new versions, I’d expect them in the last quarter of this year.

      You have every right to be annoyed – I also don’t use Dragon on the Mac for anything other than dictating into TextEdit. Too erratic elsewhere.

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      1. In my brief experiment with DragonDictate (2 months), I had created AppleScript macros that would take the contents of TextEdit, press command tab, paste, and then switch back.

        It was the only way to get reliable dictation. The Mac version is truly sad. Fortunately, Nuance was not overly stringent on giving me a refund. I hope that they can get the product to work. The speech recognition engine is second to none. The integration with Mac OS, however, is abhorrent.

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  8. Hi Scott,
    I just need something to dictate 10-15 page reports on my MacBook Air (macOS High Sierra 10.13.4). I don’t mind using the keyboard for the Internet, etc.

    Mostly I’m dictating normal English sentences, and occasionally citations with abbreviations, commas, and page numbers.
    No tables, no photos. You recommend dictating in TextEdit and I (newbie that I am) don’t know what this means. Will I be able to dictate a Word document and enter some boiler plate (happy to use key strokes for that)? Edit mistakes?

    Alternately, I have an old Parallels Desktop and could get a new version, but not sure how much that would complicate
    things.

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated. I’ve bought two earlier versions of Dragon for Mac and given up – it would
    be great if this is really easier.

    Thanks,
    Andrea Jacobson

    Like

    1. Hi Andrea. TextEdit is a basic word processing program built into your Mac. You can access it by hitting Command & Spacebar and typing ‘TextEdit’ or via your Applications folder. You can even go into its preferences and switch to plain text input – I recommend this as it makes things as basic as possible and becomes difficult to trip up the Mac version of Dragon.

      From here, you will simply copy and paste into Word. You can, of course, dictate directly into Word but I find this is erratic on the Mac.

      One thing you absolutely cannot do while dictating in the Mac version of Dragon is use the keyboard. Mixing voice and typing is a big no-no and can completely confuse the program. If you keep things extremely simple as outlined above, using Dragon as a draft tool as opposed to creating finalised documents, it will work really well.

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    2. Hi, Andrea,
      I use Dragon Naturally Speaking for work. It’s an essential tool for me. I’d never be able to keep up with all my email without it.
      I finally got to the breaking point with the Mac OS version of Dragon Dictate. I realized that I was losing productivity and wasting precious time correcting things that Dictate was getting wrong. So I got the latest version of Parallels Desktop running Windows 10 on my MacBook Pro, and installed Dragon Professional 15. (It’s the only version of Dragon that runs properly under Windows 10.)
      It’s a great solution for me. Granted, it is not an inexpensive one, because Parallels Desktop is now a $99 annual subscription. Plus, there is the cost of Dragon 15, and then the eventual cost to pay to register Windows 10. On the other hand, the PC version of Dragon is so many miles ahead of the Mac OS version that it’s not even a fair contest.
      I have one of the latest MacBook pros, and I don’t know how smoothly your MacBook Air would run this configuration, but there is a trial period for Parallels Desktop with Windows 10, so you could start there and get a sense how well it would run for you.
      One other thing: there are two ways to avoid paying for Parallels Desktop. The first is to run Boot Camp. But that requires rebooting your Mac every time you want to run Windows, which wasn’t going to work for me because I need to have access to my MacOS files and applications while I am running the windows version of Dragon. The other possibility is to try using software called Virtual Box to run Windows. Virtual Box is free software. I was able to install it and then to install Windows 10 from a DVD, but it’s not as polished as Parallels and I eventually got frustrated with it and uninstalled it. In the end, Parallels is very slick and I decided I didn’t mind paying for it to get the convenience and performance.
      Hope this helps.

      Like

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