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

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.

postbanner

9 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.

    Like

    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.

      Like

      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!

        Like

      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

        Like

      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

        Like

      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.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s