Making Dragon 9.5 work with Open Office

Just because Dragon doesn’t advertise support for something doesn’t mean you can’t make it work to some extent. One of these things is Open Office, specifically Writer. Granted, there are caveats — it’s not going to work as seamlessly with Dragon as Microsoft Word, simply because it wasn’t made to. But, despite this oversight, it will absolutely work for you in a pinch with the right workarounds.

Summary: dictation is excellent. “Select that [or word],” “correct that,” “cap that,” and “scratch that” all work, as do “insert before/after.” So do “new line” and “new paragraph.” You can also say “select the paragraph,”as long as your cursor is at the beginning of the paragraph, and “select line.” “Select all” works too.

Some caveats: Do not under any circumstances perform a vocal or manual left mouse click anywhere in your document, because then you are locked out of going back and correcting anything by voice from then on, even if you close and reopen the document. I don’t know why that is. Occasionally, if you open a saved document and start dictating with the insertion point at the end of a word, you have to say the space yourself. Next importantly, if you want to bold or italicize something, you cannot use the natural language commands. Instead, to italicize something you would say “press control I,” your text, and then “press control I” again to turn off the italics. Alternately, you could say the text first, then tell Dragon to select it, and then say “press control I.” For bold and underlined text, you would do the same with B and U.

Actually, you need to know keyboard navigation commands throughout Open Office because you can’t access the menus by natural language either. To save your document, don’t say “save,” but rather “press control S.” I’m familiar with keyboard shortcuts so this doesn’t bother me, but it requires some memorization if you’re not. There is a very helpful shortcut, though. While you cannot left click in the document, you can absolutely right click. Performing a right-click brings up the context menu. This menu includes the basic formatting options, such as font and font size, bullets, and line spacing. So, if you wanted to double space your document, you would say “mouse right-click,” then “press I” because that letter is underlined in the option for “line spacing.” Then you would say “press D” for double.

Writer also has its own shortcuts built in, which you can see by pressing Alt T, then C, then tabbing over to Keyboard. Saying any of those will perform the corresponding function, and some are blank so you can use them for what you want. What Dragon can’t do by natural language, you can make it do by saying the keys. If something happens to Word and DragonPad doesn’t have enough formatting capabilities, Writer works well enough, with caution.

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