How to Set Up and Use Voice Access Feature in Windows

Many recent tech devices, like your TV, phone, electronic display, smart speaker, etc., have the convenience of voice-based controls, so why should laptops and computers be left out? Voice Access is a new Accessibility feature built into Windows 11 that allows you to interact with various windows, browsers, and apps with your voice. This guide demonstrates how to install and operate the Voice Access app in Windows.

Good to know: check out the full range of Windows 11 Accessibility features.

1. Getting Started With Voice Access

Voice Access allows you to manage all your PC apps with simple voice commands and dictate to any browser or text box. You can immediately start using this feature if you’re using version 22H2 of Windows 11 or later.

Method 1: Using the Search Box

The Voice Access app can be opened from the search box in Windows, even if using it for the first time. To ensure that it works properly with various menus and options, start the app as an administrator.

Searching for Voice Access app in Windows 11 search box.

Method 2: Using the Accessibility Menu

It’s a slightly lengthier approach, but you may need it if you’re facing any issues with the search box. Open Voice Access from the Accessibility menu, and turn the feature on.

  1. Press Win + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Go to “Accessibility -> Interaction -> Speech.”
Navigating to Speech menu under Settings and Accessibility.
  1. Turn the toggle switch “On” for Voice Access.
  2. Optionally, check the box next to “Start voice access after you sign in to your PC.”
Toggle Voice Access on in Windows 11 Speech Accessibility.
  1. With both methods above, the Voice Access UI bar will be docked on the top of your screen, as the language model, per your PC settings, is being downloaded to the device. Currently, Voice Access only supports the English language in seven regional variations (US, UK, India, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand). Microsoft has announced that more languages and accents will follow in the future.
  2. Wait for the percentage slider to complete the installation, then set up your voice match in Windows.
Setting Windows Voice Access for the first time with welcome screen.

Tip: Voice Typing not working on your Windows PC? Try these fixes to bring back its functionality.

2. Setting Up Voice Access and Voice Match

In the next stage, set up voice access using your PC microphone, and enable voice match by finishing customized tests.

  1. Set up your microphone so that your computer can listen to you.
  2. Either connect to your PC’s built-in Realtek Audio or an external microphone.
Set up mic for voice access in Windows 11.
  1. Once the mic is identified, your Voice Access app is available for further testing. Click “Start guide” to proceed.
All set message in Voice Access of Windows 11.
  1. Initially, Voice Access is in Sleep mode (or sleep state). Before testing your voice with the installed microphone, wake it up by saying: “Voice Access, wake up.” Alternatively, hit the mic button on a touch keyboard.
Windows Voice Access in sleep mode.
  1. When the app is in listening mode, practice with some of the sentences in the left panel. For example, use your voice to “click” with a mouse or activate a control.
Listening mode enabled in Windows Voice Access.
  1. Additionally, control the mouse pointer. For example, say “show grid here” to place the grid over the active window, or say a number between 1 and 9 to move the mouse pointer to the center of that area and get a smaller grid.
Control mouse pointer in Voice Access.
  1. If using dictation, the voice match will require you to test phrases of your choice in the text box. You will see the transcript as you speak.
Dictate and edit text in Voice Match.
  1. Once the voice match process is complete, click “Done.”
Congratulations screen in Windows Voice Access guide.

Tip: learn how to use Google Docs voice typing to type faster.

3. How to Use Voice Access

Follow the steps below to use Voice Access and complete various tasks that you routinely do with the mouse and keyboard.

  1. Launch the app.
Voice Access app being initialized on the top screen.
  1. Click “View all commands” from the help menu (question mark) on the top right to see your options at any time.
Selecting "View all commands" option from Voice Access help.
  1. The commands are grouped by category.
Windows Voice Access list of Commands
  1. For instance, to open an app, say “open Google Chrome” or “open Microsoft Word.” Maximize or minimize the window by saying “Maximize/minimize [app name].”
Open Word using Voice Access in Windows 11.
  1. You can also scroll up and down or right and left inside an application by saying “Start scrolling [scroll direction].” If you make a mistake, the dock UI on top will correct you.
Scroll down using voice access in Word.
  1. You can use Dictation mode to type a website name on the address bar of your browser. In the following example, we said “maketecheasier.com” followed by “Enter.” If you aren’t getting the correct text, spell out all the letters instead.
Launching MakeTechEasier website using WindowsVoice Access app. by inserting its text on a default browser
  1. If you want to type lengthy sentences and paragraphs with your voice, activate “Turn on automatic punctuation” via Settings.
Turn on automatic punctuation in Windows 11 voice access.
  1. Once you get used to the Voice Access app, it really frees you from typing a lot of essential commands. You can freely select and edit text and interact with almost any controls. If you make a mistake, the Help menu is always there.

FYI: check out how to create a mind map in Microsoft Word to make brainstorming easier.

4. Turn Off Voice Access in Windows

Turn off the Voice Access feature by following the steps below:

  1. To exit Voice Access, right-click on the gear-shaped Settings icon in the top-right corner of the dock, and select “Turn off voice access.”
  2. Alternatively, dictate “Turn off voice access,” and the app will quietly exit the taskbar.
Right-click to turn off voice access from the top dock on screen.

Tip: learn how to improve sound and microphone quality in Windows.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enable voice access in Windows 10?

Windows 10 doesn’t have a built-in Voice Access feature like Windows 11, but it uses an older program called Windows Speech Recognition through “Accessibility.” It has to be set up to recognize your voice and complete voice match.

The Windows Speech Recognition feature is also available with Windows 11, but the newer Voice Access app makes it somewhat redundant.

What is the difference between Cortana and Voice Access?

Both Windows 10 and 11 have Cortana as a virtual assistant, but the AI tool is being deprecated and will not be supported with new updates. While Cortana listens to you and actively responds with its own suggestions, it cannot perform a full range of tasks and requires constant supervision and data inputs. Voice Access, on the other hand, is a superb and efficient app built into Windows that can completely replace the mouse and keyboard.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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