Dragon NaturallySpeaking vs Google Docs

Published November 14, 2017

My goal was to perform an unscientific experiment to test the transcription accuracy of both Google Docs and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I wanted to see if the expensive Dragon NaturallySpeaking was more accurate than the free Google Doc’s Voice Typing feature.

How I Performed the Transcription Experiment

Here is a listing of the equipment I used for dictation to perform the comparison:

  • Koss CS100 Headset (not required but I prefer dictating using a headset)
  • Old MotoG android phone (just one more thing you can do with an old cell phone)
  • Voice Recorder app (free download from Google Play Store)

I then dictated a passage from an old blog post that consisted of a heading and two short paragraphs. While dictating I used instructions like “new paragraph” and of course I dictated all of the necessary punctuation. It was a simple and straight-forward dictation.

Once completed I saved the dictation as a .mp3 file and emailed it from the Moto G to my email account so I could access it from my computer. From there I opened it and first used Google Docs to transcribe the dictation. Afterward, I had Dragon NaturallySpeaking transcribe the same file. The results are shown below (click on the image to enlarge):

Google Docs Voice Transcription
Google Docs

NaturallySpeaking Transcription
Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Reviewing the Transcription Results

With one incorrect word, Google Docs appears to have understood the words I dictated better than NaturallySpeaking. Aside from misinterpreting my “new paragraph” command in the beginning, the biggest problem with Docs is it tends to be Cap happy. It has a tendency to capitalize words unnecessarily.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking, on the other hand, was able to understand my paragraph commands but had several errors in transcribing my words. Twice it wrote “with them” instead of wisdom. And, the “Russian Mark” instead of question mark is a big blunder.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking vs. Google Docs

If All Things Were Equal

If all things were equal (and they are not), I would probably say the results were six of one and a half dozen of the other. However, all things were not equal. Here’s where the inequities come in:

Let’s talk Dragon first:
  1. I paid in excess of $100 for Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium edition. Not to mention that I’ve been using Dragon since 2009 and have paid for several upgrades.
  2. NaturallySpeaking can only be used on one computer. To use on additional computers I’ve got to purchase additional licenses.
  3. Before using NaturallySpeaking I had to train the software.
  4. If more than one person wishes to use the program, I’ll need to create separate profiles. Training is recommended for each profile.
  5. Every time I close the program, it takes time (sometimes a long time) to update the user profile. Doing so helps Dragon become more familiar with my speech pattern thus making transcription more accurate.
  6. Dragon, on my Windows PC, can only transcribe Windows compatible files. It cannot transcribe files saved in the .m4a format.
Now we’ll talk about Google Docs:
  1. It’s free
  2. Can be used on as many devices as I wish
  3. No training required
  4. No need to create profiles for multiple users
  5. Transcribes a variety of file formats

When you consider the less than equal playing field, I’d have to say that Google Docs is the clear winner in this competition because it’s free and versatile. Having said that, I’m too well invested in NaturallySpeaking to give it up.

But Dragon NaturallySpeaking has Other Features

What this little experiment didn’t address, however, are the other Dragon features. Dragon (Amazon affiliate link) is a robust software and does much more than just transcribe dictation. With the software properly trained, you could pretty much operate a computer hands-free. Google Docs won’t do that, but it wasn’t created to do that.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a small, rather unscientific test. I did this because I dictate many of my articles and wanted to use the program that required the least amount of editing. As it stands now, I’ll probably use both. Google Docs is so portable that I can use it anywhere. However, when I’m home and have access to NaturallySpeaking, I’ll continue to use it. After all, I’ve already shelled out the cash to own it. Might as well get my money’s worth.

Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low-tech blogger.

Last Modified: 20 June 2023


  • Angus Forbes March 3, 2019 9:25pm

    I have the exact opposite results. I find Dragon Speaking so much simpler and more accurate than Google. ” Google makes a total hash of what I try to shave”

    Example in Quotes: Am typing what I said which was: Google makes makes a total hash of what I say.

    Sometimes it works OK but not as consistently good as Dragon Speaking.

    Also Google takes it upon itself to change words after they are spoken and sometimes really bizarre things come out. Also when I proofread them before sending and then when I press the send button something completely different comes out. It is almost like the program has been written by somebody who English is not their native tongue.

    However, I realized it may be me in the US as I am from the UK

    • Felicia March 4, 2019, 11:40 am

      I guess a properly trained NaturallySpeaking is more accurate than Google Docs. I’ve found the beauty of Google Docs is that I don’t have to train it. Yes, it’s not 100% accurate, but it’s free and doesn’t require training.

      Because I no longer dictate as many articles as I had in the past, I find Google Docs is adequate for my needs. However, if I were to write a book or other labor-intensive writing project, I’d take the time to train NaturallySpeaking and use it instead.

      You do make a valid point about the potential US/UK difference.

  • Mike McArdle October 28, 2018, 5:52 pm

    Google seems to be the leader by far…for what most folks seem to need.

    Yesterday I spent a bunch of time training my built-in Microsoft Speech Recognition software…it’s not even worth fooling with as even after training it, using it, then closing out of it, it seems like it doesn’t remember or isn’t using what it learned in the training.

    Google voice typing within Google Docs/Google Drive is unexpectantly accurate, scary accurate. I tested it for 25 minutes and cannot believe its accuracy. It does stop at times and I have to kick it in the ass to get it going again, that’s okay though, afterall, I didn’t shell out a bunch of money to use it.

    Looking at getting a Yeti Nano Microphone by Blue and see how much improvement I can get.

    • Felicia October 29, 2018, 7:53 am

      I agree with you, Mike. Google voice is so much easier and more accurate than any of the other voice recognition programs I’ve tried. What I especially like about it is I can use it on any platform, whether I’m on my phone, tablet or laptop.

      You’re right about the kick in the pants. I have to monitor my dication to make sure I’m not saying more than the program is transcribing. If it could handle longer dictation sessions, it would be golden!

      The Yeti microphone is an impressive piece of equipment. I hope you’re using it for more things than just transcription.

  • Ronessa Strickland-Roberts July 16, 2018, 4:36 pm

    I tried your suggestion for dictated previously recorded audio using an aux cord. However, Google keeps stopping wherever there should be a period. Do you know if a trick around this? I would like for Google to type and to be able to make corrections later. I just need Google to get the words on paper.

    • Felicia July 16, 2018, 5:14 pm

      Hmmm, I’ve not run into that problem. Could it be that you’re taking too long of a pause after each sentence?

  • JOYCE May 19, 2018, 2:20 am

    I am disabled and have visual and physical disabilities. My son purchased Dragon Speaking for me. I have gotten so disgusted with trying to use this program that I’m just about ready to get another system. There is constantly an issue where it doesn’t indicate the right word, you’re always having to update the user information, and it does not understand the dictation. I tried uploading samples of my speech and documents as it request and that also was useless. It also does not seem to work well with people who are not computer savvy and just have basic skills. I am done with Dragon Speaking there’s got to be something else out there better. I will try the Google app and see how that works. When I use the Google app the microphone on my cell phone, it has little or few errors which are simple enough to correct.

    • Felicia May 24, 2018, 8:48 am

      I feel your pain, Joyce. Back in the day, Dragon was pretty much the only game in town. However, I’ve found that Google’s app is much easier to use and you don’t have to train it and you don’t have to be a computer geek to figure out what’s going on.

      I’d be interested to hear how things are progressing with you and Google Docs.

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