microphoneDid you know that both windows 7 and Windows 8 have built-in voice commands and speech recognition? If you hate to type or have dexterity problems, this could be a great solution for you.

To get started with Speech Recognition, just search for those two words in the Settings area in Windows 8 or the shearch box that appears when you click the Windows 7 Start Button. You will then be presented with a screen where you can start Speech Recognition, setup your microphone, take a speech tutorial, train your computer and/or print a list of common voice commands.

From this screen you can use a built-in wizzard to perform the setup. Remember that you must have a microphone on your computer for the speech recognition software to work. You can use the microphone that is built into your camera, but for the best results you will want to get a headset with a built-in microphone.

During installation you will also be asked if you want to use manual or voice activation mode. In manual mode you will have to start voice activation by clicking the microphone button or pressing Ctrl + the Windows key. Voice activation mode allows you to activate or deactivate the speech recognition mode by simply saying "start listening" or "stop listening".

It will take you a little while to get the hang of this, but once you do, you are sure to like it. You can use the Speech Recognition to dictate text as well as to open programs and perform menu functions. And best of all, it's free!