Spotlight and Privacy

Do you, like me, use Spotlight a lot to find things on your computer? I search through my mail, my documents, my applications and lots more by simply clicking on the little magnifying glass and entering a couple of words. I am not usually searching the Web but my computer. It makes organising the files on my computer easy - well, it supports laziness!

I like to think my computer is well organised but often I am liooking for something when I am not quite sure about it - who wrote it? what was it about? how old is it? and more....

BUT we all know "there is no such thing as a free lunch" (see what we know about the history of this expression at There is a connection between your private catalogue of your things and the World Wide Web - if you allow for this. There is a default that you need to access and change if you want to keep your activities private - otherwise, next thing, you'll start seeing ads related to what you were doing in your next Google or Facebook feed!

So perhaps you should have a look at the Spotlight preferences - you'll find these by clicking on the HELP button when you use Spotlight - and then you can think about what settings you want for your 'private' cataloguing system.

Speech - > Text Conversions

At a BMUG Committee meeting, Peter Oakley read from a magazine article, that described a ‘Helper’ network which enabled people with disabilities to seek assistance from volunteer ‘helpers’ via the internet. Considering that this might be of interest to members, the question was: how to easily transfer this text information without having to provide a scanned image of the article.

Normally, this can be accomplished by scanning the article and using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to convert it to portable and editable text, particularly where graphics and photos etc are included. But the text might not be interpreted accurately and the files might be huge.

However, only text was required in this instance and BMUG doesn’t have any OCR software - time to explore the Mac/Apple capabilities.

A Google search for ‘speech to text conversion Mac OS’ provided the following link

To use the software, live dictation has to be turned on in the local device. This may involve finding the dictation options - sometimes just under 'SETTINGS' but otherwise under ACCESSIBILITY' or elsewhere. Look around for it and set up the SYSTEM PREFERENCES as shown.

On a Mac this entails going to Settings -> Keyboard -> Dictation -> Enable Dictation -> Toggle (On).

Screen Shot 2018 04 28 at 6.48.21 am

If you select ‘Use Enhanced Dictation’, this enables usage when not connected to the internet;
You can add other languages via the ‘Language’ drop down (it definitely works in Polish, including all of the correct accents and all the the letter variations from the Polish 32 letter alphabet e.g. ą ę ł etc) .

Once you have activated enhanced dictation via 'SYSTEM PREFERENCES’ settings;

  • open a ‘PAGES’ word-processing document;
  • press the [fn] key twice (a [Microphone] icon will appear on the LH side of the document to indicate your Mac is listening),
  • and you can then start dictating.
  • Click [Done] to stop.

Testing the technique by reading two short paragraphs gave a 100% accuracy transposition. One proviso worth mentioning, is that you may need to use it several times to have your voice recognition trained (maybe you need to have trained Siri beforehand), as it may initially give some peculiar interpretations for some words.

The only limitation encountered is with the iPad when it is attached to the Apple Smart Keyboard - it no longer provides the [Microphone Button]. There may be a keystroke shortcut, but this remains something to explore.

A similar approach works for iOS.

Text -> Speech conversion (in Pages, Notes Apps)

  • To start the reading of the text;
    In ‘EDIT’ pull down menu, select ’SPEECH’ -> 'START SPEAKING';
  • to stop reading -> ‘EDIT’ pull down menu, select ’SPEECH’ -> 'STOP SPEAKING'.

These are the basics - time for you to explore further.