Troubleshooting Windows 7 Speech Recognition

May 12, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Windows 7 offers various excellent features for enhanced accessibility, and one of the top tools is something that everyone can use, speech recognition.

This can be used in two ways: with a microphone plugged into your computer you can either assign verbal commands to certain tasks, or dictate to your computer, or a combination of both.

The benefits of this are obvious. You might be unable to type effectively thanks to a disability or because you have to use your hands for a different task, for instance, or you might need to quickly get ideas down on paper without losing them as you write.

Troubleshooting Windows 7 speech recognition

As easy as it is to use Windows 7 speech, it can be tricky to set up, and there are a few issues surrounding the system that can cause problems.

Effective Speech Detection

Available via Start and typing speech into the search box, the Windows 7 speech recognition tool is as good an application as you can expect for a packaged app with quite powerful possibilities.

While it is true that speech recognition seems to have hit a bit of a wall since the turn of the century, Windows 7’s speech tool is good enough to get you using you voice instead of your mouse, providing you have a few key elements.

First of all, you need a good quality microphone. One with lots of background hum (such as the common budget USB varieties) is not going to let you do the job properly. You will also need a good sound card, up-to-date sound drivers and a relatively quiet room; trying to dictate a report into Microsoft Word while calming a screaming baby isn’t a good idea.

The Sapisvr.exe Error

Usually everything works fine with the Windows 7 speech recognition application, but from time to time problems can arise. Often these can be resolved by restarting Windows, but the error message “C:\Windows\Speech\Common\sapisvr.exe. A referral was returned from the server.” Is particularly tricky to deal with, requiring that the User Account Control be disabled before you can be in with a chance of successfully launching the speech recognition software.

To deal with this issue, begin by checking your device drivers and then create a new text file in Notepad, and enter the following commands, each on a new line:

c:

cd\

cd windows

cd speech

cd common

sapisvr =SpeechUX

Save the file as “speech.txt” and then exit Notepad and open Explorer. Go to Organize > Folder and Search Options > View and clear the check box for Hide extensions for known file types.

Once this is done, find speech.txt on your computer, right-click the file and select Rename, and change the file extension from .txt to .cmd, confirming the change when requested by Windows.

When you have done this, right-click the speech.cmd file and select Run as administrator.

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