Express Dictate User Manual
NCH Software
Express Dictate
Computer Dictation System
This user guide has been created for use with
Express Dictate Version 5.xx.
© NCH Software
Online Resources
Express Dictate Home Page -
Express Dictate FAQ (frequently asked questions) -
Express Dictate Software Development Kit -
Technical Support
If your problem is not covered in this User Guide (including
Troubleshooting Problems), please view the online Technical Support at If that does not solve your problem,
you can contact us using the technical support contact link on that page.
Software Suggestions
If you have any suggestions for improvements to Express Dictate, or
suggestions for other audio software that you might need, please let us
know on our Feedback and Suggestions web page at
suggestions/index.html. You get a free upgrade if we follow your suggestion.
Express Dictate
© NCH Software
Express Dictate
About Express Dictate
Audio Setup Wizard
Quick Start Guide
Main Window Reference
Hand-held and Foot Pedal Controllers
Options ~ Audio
Options ~ Controller
Options ~ Hot-Keys
Options ~ Creation
Options ~ Sending
Send To Typist Recipient Properties
Options ~ Tones
Options ~ Disk Usage
Options ~ User
Text Formatting Variables
Keyboard Reference
Transfer from Portable Handheld Recorders - Dock
Dictation Attachment
View Sent Work Progress
Working with Multiple Users
Application Programming Interface (API)
Typing Services Index
Troubleshooting Problems
Purchase and Register Software
Express Dictate Software License Terms
About Express Dictate
Express Dictate is a computer based dictation recording application. You
dictate using your computer or a portable recorder and send your recordings
to your typist or assistant by email, the Internet or over your computer
network. Express Dictate can dramatically improve the turn around time for
work and, most importantly, lets you work from wherever you want. As long
as you have access to a computer with email, you can dictate from where
you are - even overseas.
Express Dictate uses state of the art digital audio processing and
compression technology to record and transmit the audio. It also includes
features such as automatic editing, encryption of recordings and voice
activated recording.
You can also use a portable recorder while you are away from your
computer. The Express Dictate Transfer from Portable Recorder (“Dock”)
feature lets you transfer the dictation quickly and easily and send it to your
typist or assistant via the Internet or your computer network.
Express Dictate is designed to have the features that you need made as
simple as possible and is reliable for day to day operation.
System Requirements
Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista/2008/7
Sound Card
Microphone & Speakers (or Headset)
[Optional] Handset controller (to control dictation without your
[Optional] Foot pedal dictation controller
[Optional] Internet Connection (to send files via the Internet)
[Optional] Computer Network (to send files using LAN)
A version of Express Dictate is available for Pocket PC and Palm devices. It
is called Pocket Dictate and can be downloaded at
In order to use dictation files made with Express Dictate the person who
types your work must install Express Scribe, which includes many features
including variable speed playback, foot pedal operation and more. Express
Scribe is free and can be downloaded from the Express Scribe home page
at on our web site.
Express Dictate is part of NCH Software’s Business Audio Software. For
more information about other audio, video and business software, please
Audio Setup Wizard
After the software has been installed on your computer and runs for the first
time, the Audio Setup Wizard will automatically start to assist you with the
basic setup of Express Dictate for recording your dictations. The wizard may
also be run at any time by selecting Dictation -> Audio setup wizard' from the
Express Dictate menu bar.
Step 1 – Microphone Connection and Record Volume
This first wizard step asks you to plug in a microphone and check the volume
level to ensure it is working. Select the appropriate Sound Record Device
and associated Audio Input Channel from the drop-down lists.
If ‘Windows Record Mixer’ is selected as the Audio Input Channel, the
Record Volume Level will display the <Open Windows Record Mixer>
button for setting the record volume level. For all other Audio Input Channel
selection options (e.g. ‘Microphone’) a volume slider will be displayed.
Use the Click here to go to the online tutorials on set up recording link to
access additional information on the NCH Software website about setting up
to record voice.
Step 2 – Soundcard and Playback Volume
Select the Sound Play Device from the drop-down list. You should hear a
test announcement through the speakers or headphones. Set the desired
Play Volume Level with the volume slider.
Click the <Finish> button at the bottom of the wizard’s Soundcard and
Playback Volume window when you have completed the audio setup.
Quick Start Guide
Creating a New Dictation (Ctrl+N)
Express Dictate stores recordings as “Dictations” which are similar to tapes.
Usually each job will be a separate Dictation. For example, if you dictate a
letter, the recording will be an Express Dictate “Dictation”. Each Dictation can
have its own priority (importance) that determines its order for typing.
To create a new dictation press Ctrl+N (hold down the Control key and press
Recording (F5)
Recording is controlled by using the F5 key. To start recording, press and
hold down the F5 key. When you want to pause a recording, release the key.
Alternatively, you can lock recording on by quickly pressing the F5 key. To
stop recording press the F5 key again.
If you rewind and start recording in the middle of a dictation, the default
record mode is Record Overwrite which, when selected, deletes all the
recording from that point on and overwrites it. You can also select Record
Insert (insert at the point) or Record at End (jump to end then record).
The maximum record duration for any single file is 4 hours. To make longer
recordings use either the MSRS Multi-Channel Courtroom or Conference
Recorder or the VRS Recording System; these programs will automatically
split files.
Playback (F9)
Playback is controlled by using the F9 key. To start playback, press the F9
key. To stop, press the F9 key again. Alternatively you can press and hold
down the F9 key to play.
Moving Back and Forward (← → F7 F8 Home End)
To move back and forward in the dictation use the F7 and F8 keys. To move
directly to the start, press the Home key. To move directly to the end, press
the End key.
There are many more features that you can use while recording. For more
information, please see Main Window Reference.
Send the Dictation (Ctrl+S)
When you have completed recording, send the dictation to your typist using
Ctrl+S. (Hold down the Control key and press S).
Main Window Reference
Dictation Management
New Dictation (Ctrl+N)
To create a new dictation click on the <New> button or use Ctrl+N.
Send Dictation (Ctrl+S)
To send the selected dictation to your typist, click on the <Send> button or
use Ctrl+S. This will send the dictation to the default typist-recipient.
If you want to select the typist-recipient from a list, press Ctrl+R instead.
Save Dictation As...
Normally you would have setup your typist as a typist-recipient and just use
the Send option (above). But if you need to manually save the file (as .dct or
.wav) on your hard drive you can use this option.
Note: You do not need to save your dictations when you exit Express
Dictate. Express Dictate saves your current dictation automatically when you
close the program.
Rename Dictation (F2)
The dictation can be renamed by pressing the F2 key.
Delete Dictation (Ctrl+Delete)
To delete a dictation press Ctrl+Delete then confirm that you wish to delete.
Dictation Notes
This notepad can contain any text related to the dictation. It is useful to
include difficult names or addresses for accuracy.
You can also paste large text extracts from other documents, Internet pages
and any other text on your computer here to save your typist retyping the
material. To do this, open the other document, select the text and copy
(Ctrl+C). Then click in the Notes window and paste (Ctrl+V).
Play (F9)
To play, use the F9 key. Pressing F9 starts or stops playback. If you press
and hold down the F9 key, play will continue until you release the key.
Record (F5)
To record, use the F5 key. Pressing F5 starts or stops recording. If you press
and hold down F5, recording will continue until you release the key.
If you rewind and start recording in the middle of a dictation, the default
record mode is Record Overwrite which, when selected, deletes all the
recording from that point on and overwrites it. You can also select Record
Insert (insert at the point) or Record at End (jump to end then record).
If you deleted something you did not want to, you can undo the deletion with
Stop (Esc)
To stop, you can also use the <Esc> escape key.
Moving back and forward (← → F7 F8 Home End)
To move back and forward, use the F7 and F8 keys. You can also use the
left (←) and right (→) arrow keys. To move to the start directly, press Home.
To move to the end, press End.
Dock - Transfer from Portable Recorder (Ctrl+D)
To open dock from a portable recorder using the last used method, click on
the <Dock> button or press Ctrl+D. For more information about the Dock
feature see Transfer from Portable Recorder (Dock).
Hand-held and Foot Pedal Controllers
Recording and playback in Express Dictate can be controlled by hand or foot
pedal controllers connected to one of the computer’s game, serial, or USB
ports. For the latest information about recommended controllers and where
to purchase see
See Options ~ Controller for details about configuring a hand controller or
foot pedal to be the Active Controller for Express Dictate.
USB Dictation Controller
This hand-held dictation device plugs into a computer USB port and lets
you control Express Dictate like a traditional dictation recorder. It is a Plug
& Play device powered by the computer USB port so it does not require any
batteries, cassette tapes, disks or memory cards.
For more information about the USB Dictation Controller and where to buy,
please see
Philips SpeechMike
After you have plugged in the SpeechMike and installed the drivers that
come with it, Express Dictate will detect it automatically.
Other Controllers / Pedals
A transcription foot pedal may also be used with Express Dictate, allowing
hands-free dictation. See for more
information about the available options.
Note: If you only want to be able to start and stop recording, you might not
need to connect special controllers. A microphone with an on-off switch
lets you start and stop recording with the voice activated recording system.
When the microphone is off, Express Dictate will not record.
Technical Specifications of Controller Wiring
This information is supplied only “as-is” for the information of qualified
electronics people to wire their own controllers, and for manufacturers of
controllers for Express Dictate.
Game Port Controllers
The 15-pin D type male plug must be wired as follows: Pins 1, 3 and 6 must
be connected. A pedal switch between 2 and 4 is Reverse. A pedal switch
between pins 5 and 7 is fast-forward. A pedal switch between pins 10 and 5
is play. A pedal switch between pins 14 and 5 is record.
Serial Port Controllers
Wire 9 pin D-type plug as follows: Ground - Pin 4; Play - Pin 1; Rewind - Pin
6; Forward - Pin 8.
To open the Options dialog box, select the Options menu from the menu bar
or click the <Options> button on the Express Dictate Main Window.
Options Tabs:
Options ~ Audio
Options ~ Controller
Options ~ Hot-Keys
Options ~ Creation
Options ~ Sending
~ Sending ~ Send to Typist Recipient Properties
Options ~ Tones
Options ~ Disk Usage
Options ~ User
Options ~ Audio
To open the audio settings dialog use the menu Options -> Audio, or click the
<Options> button on the toolbar.
Sound Play Device
If you have more than one sound card installed, use this pullback list to
select the device for recording.
Play Volume Level
This is the volume setting for voice playback.
Sound Recording Device
If you have more than one sound card installed in your computer, use this
pull down list to select the one to be used for recording.
Audio Input Channel
Use this pull down list to select the input channel for recording. The
recommended setting is “Microphone” or “Mic-In”. If you have problems
using the mic-in setting, select Windows Record Mixer and open the
Windows record mixer to manually adjust settings.
Record Volume Level
Adjust the recording volume using this fader. When the level is set correctly,
the level display on the Main Window will just touch into the red when
If you have selected Windows Record Mixer, you can click on the button
<Open Windows Record Mixer> for manual mixer settings.
Voice Activation
This controls voice activated recording. The default settings is -15dB. If
recording starts too early, increase the Activation Level setting to up to
-10dB to reduce sensitivity. If recording does not start or words are chopped
off at the end, reduce the level to -20dB to increase sensitivity.
Note: You should adjust the Record Volume Level of the recording first.
Voice Activate problems are often due to incorrect record level settings.
Options ~ Controller
About Hand-Held and Foot Pedal Controllers
Many actions in Express Dictate can be controlled by a hand-held or foot
pedal controller. For more information about controllers generally see Handheld and Foot-Pedal Controllers.
Each button or pedal on the controller can be mapped to a command that is
triggered when that button or pedal is pressed.
Foot pedal controllers allow you to trigger commands without removing your
hands from the keyboard or mouse, in a more intuitive way than keyboard
short-cuts or hot-keys. Hand-held controllers usually contain an in-built
speaker and / or microphone, in addition to several buttons, designed to
simulate the experience of a traditional hand-held dictation recorder.
Button or pedal presses on controllers are detected regardless of whether
or not the application is in the foreground or has focus. The controller will
continue to function even when the application is minimized, or while using a
document in another application.
For details about controllers that are compatible with this software please
see Express Dictate Hand Controllers and Foot Pedals at
Enable hand-held or foot pedal controller
Check this box if you intend to use a controller.
Active controller
The “active controller” is the controller that has been configured for use. This
shows the type of controller that is configured, if any, and its status.
See Change active controller below for information about using the
Controller Setup Wizard to configure the active controller.
Note: If the active controller is unplugged and moved to a different port, it
will no longer be detected as the active controller. You must either reconnect
the controller to the original port, or run the Controller setup wizard again.
Click the <Properties> button to show static properties of the active device,
such as the company, model, and interface. Also allows changes to some
configuration options, such as which port to use for a controller that connects
to a serial port.
Command map / test
The <Command map / test> button displays a list of the active controller’s
buttons or pedals:
 The first column shows the name of the button or pedal.
 The second column shows the application command that will be run
when this button or pedal is pressed. Click on the command and select
from the pull-down list that appears to select a different command.
Commands marked with a “*” are affected by the “Tap lock” option (see
 The third column is used to test the controller configuration by showing
if each button or pedal is currently pressed.
Click <Reset to default commands> to reset the command mappings for
each button or pedal to their original state.
Change active controller
Controller Setup Wizard
You must use this wizard to select and configure the active controller.
Verify that your controller is compatible
Open the Options dialog and select the Controller tab. Click the List of
compatible controllers link and verify that your controller is listed.
Run the Controller Setup Wizard
Open the Options dialog and select the Controller tab. Ensure that the
Enable hand-held or foot pedal controller check-box is checked, then click
the <Controller setup wizard> button.
Step 1: Connect Controller
Refer to the manual for your controller (supplied by the controller’s
manufacturer) for instructions on how to connect the controller to the
computer and how to install any required drivers. Ensure the controller is
connected and working, then click <Next>.
Step 2: Detection Method
If your controller appears in the pull-down list of automatically detected
controllers then ensure Use a detected controller is selected, select the
desired controller from the pull-down list, click <Next> and skip to ‘Step
4: Controller Properties’.
If your controller doesn’t appear in the pull-down list, select Select a
controller type manually and click <Next>.
Step 3: Controller Type
Manually select the controller type here if the controller is not plug and
play compatible, then click <Next>.
Step 4: Controller Properties
Verify that the controller description matches your actual controller.
You may also need to configure the controller:
 For specific serial controllers, you will need to configure the serial
 For generic serial controllers, you will need to configure the number
of buttons / pedals, and the serial port.
 For custom driver controllers, you will need to configure the number
of buttons / pedals, and the file path to the driver library.
Click <Next>.
Step 5: Controller Button / Pedal Detection
If you have selected a generic or custom controller type, the application
will need to detect each of the buttons or pedals. Press and release each
of the buttons or pedals as prompted.
Step 6: Controller Command Map / Test
Here you will see a list of the controller’s buttons or pedals:
The first column shows the name of the button or pedal.
The second column shows the application command that will be
run when this button or pedal is pressed. Click on the command
and select from the pull-down list that appears to select a different
The third column is used to test the controller configuration by
showing if each button or pedal is currently pressed.
Click the <Reset to default commands> button to reset the command
mappings for each button or pedal to their original state.
Click <Finish> to close the wizard.
Tap lock
Any command marked with a “*” in the ‘Command map / test’ dialog can be
run for variable duration. The command will start when the mapped button
or pedal is pressed. Change the tap lock options to configure when the
command will stop.
When Enable tap lock is disabled, the command will always stop when the
button or pedal is released.
When Enable tap lock is enabled:
If Enable unlock time-out is disabled: the command will always continue
after the button or pedal is released, and will stop on the next press.
If Enable unlock time-out is enabled: If the button or pedal is released
quickly then the command will continue until the next press. However,
if the button or pedal is held longer than the time-out, then tap lock
is ignored and the command will stop when the button or pedal is
Controller Status
An icon representing the status of the active controller appears on the righthand side of the status bar at the bottom of Express Dictate’s main window.
The icon has four possible states:
Black icon, green dot: The active controller is attached and configured
Black icon, orange dot: The active controller is configured, but is not
Black icon, red dot: The active controller is not configured correctly, or
an error has occurred.
Gray icon, no dot: The controller feature is disabled
Hover the mouse cursor on top of the status icon for a text description of the
controller status.
If the controller feature is enabled but no active controller is configured, a
message may appear in the notification tray area when you attach a plug
and play controller. Click on this message to launch the Controller setup
wizard and configure it as the active controller.
Options ~ Hot-Keys
To open System-Wide Hot Keys settings use the menu Options -> Hot-Keys.
When you are working with Express Dictate open in the foreground, you
can control recording using the Standard Keys - see Keyboard Shortcut
You can also assign ‘hot’ keys that can be used to control dictation while you
are working in another application with Express Dictate in the background.
To do this, use the Hot-Keys tab of Options.
Enable system-wide hotkeys
Check (tick) this box to activate hot-keys in Express Dictate
Key Assignment
Click <Add> to open the Add New Hot-Key dialog.
Click the <Change> button in the Add New Hot-Key dialog to assign
the key or key combination that you want to use (including Alt or Ctrl if
Select the command to be associated with this hot-key from the dropdown Command list.
Click the <OK> button at the bottom of the Add New Hot-Key dialog
Note: Hot-key assignments override the standard key assignments. In other
words, if a key is configured as both a standard keyboard short-cut and a
system-wide hot-key, then only the hot-key command will be run when the
key is pressed.
To change an existing hot-key key assignment or command, click the
<Change> button to open the Change Hot-Key Command dialog.
To remove a hot-key, select it from the list and click the <Delete> button.
Options ~ Creation
To open Creation settings use the menu Options -> Creation.
Create New Dictation
Prompt for Data
When you create a new dictation, Express Dictate can prompt for more
data. This can be used to prompt for a file reference number (e.g. Case
Number, Patient Number, etc.) or any other information to be attached to the
The entered data is stored in the Notes circumfixed with XML tags so the
data can be easily searched by database software. The name of the tag
can also be set. Do not use spaces in the XML tag names. The data can be
viewed on Express Dictate, Express Scribe and Express Delegate and can
be extracted by third party dictation management software using ETOOLS see
Express Dictate also provides the option of using an Additional Prompt if you
Validation of prompt data
To prevent mistakes when the user is prompted for data you can specify
a minimum and maximum number of characters to ensure that the data is
valid. For example, if your file numbers are always 6 characters use 6 and 6
to prevent the user entering anything else.
Click the <Validation> button to open Express Dictate’s prompt Data
Validation dialog to specify the minimum and maximum number of
characters for the validation check to look for.
Insert default note for new dictation
When this option is enabled, whenever a new dictation is created Express
Dictate copies the default template text into the Notes field. This is useful if
you want the dictator to fill in template details which are then sent with the
Click the <Edit Default Template> button to create a note template if one
does not exist, or to edit the existing default template.
Default Priority
This allows you to set the default priority for dictations. The available
priorities are Low, Normal, and High.
Options ~ Sending
To open the recipient Send settings use the menu Options -> Sending.
Typist Recipients
To send your dictations, you require at least one Typist Recipient. You
can have multiple recipients. For example, your own assistant might be a
recipient and an external typing pool might be another. When you send a
dictation, you can select to whom you wish to send the dictation.
To add a recipient, click <New Recipient>. This will open the ‘Send To Typist
Recipient Properties’ dialog where you can set the details. Please refer to
the Send To Typist Recipient Properties section for information about the
various setting details.
To view the Properties of an existing recipient, click on that recipient’s Name
to highlight it and then click the <Properties> button. This will open the
Sent To Typist Recipient Properties dialog box where you can review the
recipient’s current details.
To remove an existing recipient‘s entry completely, click on that recipient’s
Name to highlight it and then click the <Delete> button.
Send To Typist Recipient Properties
The Send to Typist Recipient Properties box will open when you click <New
Recipient> button or the <Properties> button from Options ~ Sending.
Recipient tab:
Recipient Name
Each recipient or send method can be named. Type the name of the typist
into the box.
Send Method
For each recipient, you can select how the dictation will be sent.
Express Delegate
Express Delegate (v4.00 or above) is a dedicated dictation workflow
management server from NCH Software. It offers several advantages
over other send methods - such as automatically assigning typing tasks to
members of typing pools based on customizable rules and criteria.
Express Delegate Options:
The Express Delegate Server can be a computer that is accessible
across a LAN (local area network) or the Internet. The Express Delegate
administrator will need to create an account before you can logon to the
server. Please consult the Express Delegate help for more information
on installing Express Delegate, configuring the server, and creating user
Send dictations directly to an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server. Note
that you must have your own directory on this server. You do not need
to host your own server - almost all ISP web hosting services offer FTP
access which is suitable and very affordable, and the server can be located
anywhere in the world. NCH Software provides a list of recommended FTP
hosting services at
FTP Options:
Use Secure FTP Connection (SSL/TLS):
Check this check-box to encrypt data transfers to and from the server, if
the server is capable of doing so.
e.g. (or to specify a nondefault port number).
User Name / Password:
The FTP account name and password.
A sub-directory of the default FTP server directory - e.g. /typing. Leave
this field blank to use the default directory.
Test FTP Settings:
Click this button to attempt a connection to the server using the current
server and logon details.
Browse FTP Server:
Click this button to view a list of files currently on the FTP server.
If you select this option, the recipient will be sent the dictation as a file
attached to an email.
Email Options:
Enter the email address of the typist in the Destination box.
Express Dictate uses a default email Subject line of the Format “Express
Dictate Dictation %filename%”, where %filename% will be replaced by
the name assigned to the dictation file. You may customize this Subject
line text if you wish. (Use the <Reset to default> button if you don’t like
your changes.) This setting supports Text Formatting Variables.
Automatically split the file if greater than (MB)
Many mail servers will reject incoming email file attachments if they are
above a certain size. By enabling this file split option, Express Dictate
will automatically split a dictation recording file larger than the size you
specify here (in MB) into multiple, smaller, sequential file attachments.
Each of these smaller attachments is sent by separate email and will
include a sequence number in the filename so that the multiply-split
dictation files can be played back in the correct order when received for
Email - Settings
Click the <Email Settings> button to open the Email Settings dialog.
By default Express Dictate uses the MAPI system to send email using
your existing email software (Eudora, Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.). To
use this you must have email software installed and set as the “default
MAPI server”. The advantage of this system is that your email software
manages the email. However, there can be some problems with some
email software. If you have MAPI problems, try the alternative SMTP
Use SMTP to send email directly to the mail server - this is the process
where the email is sent using a networked SMTP server. The SMTP
server usually is provided by your ISP. Its role is to relay emails for you.
You do not require an installed email client. You must enter the name of
the SMTP mail host used by your ISP for sending of mail (ask them if you
do not know it), and your email return address in the Default reply email
If when using SMTP you receive an error message, it might be that
your server requires an authenticated login (a username and password)
to send email. If this is the case, check (tick) the Server requires
authentication checkbox and enter your User Name and Password.
If server is down, attempt to send directly
Enable this option if you want to attempt sending the email using
the direct method (see below) if sending to the SMTP mail host is
unsuccessful due to the server being unavailable.
Send directly to other side (work as own SMTP server) - when this option
is selected the software sends the email directly to the remote persons
email address using a simple internal SMTP server. No outgoing server
relays the email.
Note: The Use SMTP to send email directly to the mail server option
is preferred. The problem with the Send directly... method is that if the
remote email server is down, email will fail. SMTP servers normally
queue or spool mail for 12 hours.
Default Reply Email - this option is enabled if either of the SMTP send
methods is selected. Enter the email address that you want to specify as
the default reply email address.
File Copy
If your typist is in your own office the fastest way to send typing to them is
over your LAN (local area network). For this, your typist must have a share
folder on the network - if necessary ask your systems administrator to create
a suitable folder.
Alternatively, this option can be used for writing dictations to a removable
media such as a USB memory device or a floppy disk.
File Copy Options:
Destination Folder or Drive
A shared network folder (e.g. “H:\Shared\Typing\My Typist”), or the local
drive letter of a removable storage device (e.g. “E:\”).
Custom Command-Line
This option is designed only for advanced dictation automation solutions.
If selected, whenever the user clicks ‘Send’, Express Dictate will run the
selected exe or bat file. The exe can then do almost anything with the
dictation file.
Custom Command-Line Options:
The command-line of the tool to run, including arguments. You pass the
full file path of the dictation to the exe or batch file using %filepath%.
For example, to use the Windows tool xcopy to copy the file to a preset
folder (say C:\AAA) use a line like this:
xcopy.exe “%filepath%” “c:\AAA”
Note: %filepath% will almost always need to be enclosed in inverted
commas (because the path could have spaces).
Display confirmation before sending
When this check-box is checked, a dialog will ask you for confirmation
whenever a dictation is about to be sent to this recipient.
Set as default recipient
Click this button to make the recipient the default recipient (when you send
using Ctrl+S from the Main Window). If this button is grayed out, then the
current recipient is already the default.
File tab:
File Name Format:
You can specify the format of the name of the sent file, which is the actual
internal file name, not the more user friendly display name you see on
Express Dictate and Express Scribe. This setting supports Text Formatting
You must include at least %filenumber% in the file name (and in multi-user
environments %userid% too, to ensures unique file names, so no files
get overwritten. The default file name format is %userid%-%filenumber%
%filename% by %username%.
File Format:
The recommended file format is the DCT format, which includes the sender
information, notes and file priority with the recording. The DCT format can
also be encrypted. Both the WAV and MP3 file formats are also available for
use - with the restrictions noted.
Select format to speed transfer
If you are sending your recordings via the Internet or email, you can reduce
the file size using audio compression. Audio compression can dramatically
reduce upload times but can also reduce audio quality.
To select a suitable record format, click on the <Select Audio Compression
Format> button. This button is enabled when either WAV or MP3 is selected
as the file type. You must ensure that your typist running Express Scribe has
the same codec that you select on his or her computer. (It is best to use a
standard Windows codec - see below).
For WAV files the recommended format is “GSM 6.10” (good balance). More
information about formats is available at
File Name Format
You can specify the format of the name of the sent file. (This is the actual
internal file name not the more user friendly display name you see on
Express Dictate and Express Scribe).
The names of files include text and one or more variables that Express
Dictate expands for each file. Variables are circumfixed with % and can
%filenumber% - a unique number that Express Dictate assigns to each file.
%filename% - the display name of the file (e.g. Dictation 123).
%filepriority% - the dictator selected priority (e.g. “High”).
%userid% - the registration id of the dictator (to ensure all files are unique).
%username% - the name of the dictator (e.g. Joe Bloggs).
%usercompany% - the dictator’s company (as set on User Settings).
%YYYY% %MM% %DD% %HH %MIN% %SS% - Year, month, day, hour,
minutes and seconds respectively.
If you have set Express Dictate to prompt for additional data when a file is
named you can also include the data fields in the file name (e.g. %fileno%).
See Options ~ Creation for more.
You must include at least %filenumber% in the file name (and in multiuser
environments %userid% too). This ensures that all files are unique so they
do not write over each other.
The default file name format is %userid%-%filenumber% %filename% by
%username%. With this default, an example of an expanded sent file name
is “7123-1245 Dictation 1245 by Joe Bloggs.dct”. See Text Formatting
Variables for more information about these variables.
Use Automatic Gain Control
Enabling this option will reduce variations in the output level of the audio
from the dictation file, producing a more constant and balanced volume.
Encrypt recordings for additional security and privacy
Express Dictate can encrypt the recordings (and notes) to protect security
and privacy if you are sending the recordings over the Internet. Only typists
who have the same Encryption Key set in their Express Scribe transcription
software can open the recording or view the notes. The key can contain up
to 64 ASCII characters, offering 256 bit security. The key is case sensitive.
Note: To use encryption, you must select the DCT file format. You must
also have an Express Dictate Medical Legal User License. Encryption is not
available with a Professional or Academic User License.
Backup Sent Dictations
Mirror all sent dictations to this folder
Express Dictate keeps a copy of each dictation file it sends in the Application
Data folder of the user who created the dictation. These are automatically
deleted after the number of days specified in Options ~ Disk Usage.
For long-term or backup retention of completed dictation files, all sent
dictations can be mirrored (i.e. a duplicate copy is retained) to a folder
of your choice. This folder can be a local folder on the computer running
Express Dictate, or a network folder. Click the < > button to browse for the
folder to use.
Options ~ Tones
If you use Express Dictate when not watching the screen, it can be useful to
have an audio confirmation when recording starts and when stopped, and
when sending dictation. By default these settings are off.
Play these Audio Confirmation Tones
The confirmation tones that can be selected are:
Create tone when creating a dictation
Record tone when recording starts
Stopped tone when recording stops
Repeat the Stopped tone while not recording
Send tone when sending dictation
Error tone when sending and recording fails
Options ~ Disk Usage
Disk Space
Delete sent recording(s) after (days)
When Express Dictate “sends” a dictation, it keeps a copy of that dictation
so you can recover it later and / or view work progress. By default these files
are deleted automatically after 30 days. You can change the number of days
here. To disable autodelete enter 0 (zero).
Warn when hard drive space is low (below MB)
Express Dictate will warn you when hard drive space is running low. By
default this is 200MB.
Data Folder
This is the folder Express Dictate uses to keep the current and sent
dictations in. By default this is in the User-specific Application Data folder.
If you want to let users ‘share’ their data you can click the <…> ‘Browse for
Folder’ button and point this folder to some shared folder. You can also point
it to a network folder so that you can ‘roam’ with your dictations.
Click the <Set to default> button if you have modified the data folder setting
but would like to revert to using the default folder.
WARNING: Dictations in your current data folder will no longer be visible in
Express Dictate if you change the Data Folder setting.
Options ~ User
To open User settings use the menu Options -> User.
The user information is sent with every dictation for the reference of your
typist. This is particularly useful if your typing is done in a typing pool.
Note: You need to purchase and register a User License to enter user
information because Express Dictate uses your assigned ID number from
the license registration code to ensure that each user’s dictations are
unique. Under the Express Dictate license terms, your name and email
address must be registered. The name cannot be changed after registration
(without purchasing a new registration).
The information displayed in the Name, ID, and Email boxes comes from the
User License registration and activation code - see Purchase and Register
Software for information about the User License registration procedure.
You may enter additional information about the registered user in the other
boxes on this tab.
Click the <Register New User> button to change the registered user of
the software to another person. This opens the Register Software Express
Dictate dialog. The new user must have a valid User License registration and
activation code for Express Dictate.
Text Formatting Variables
About Text Formatting Variables
Some settings in Express Dictate are documented as accepting text
formatting variables. For example, when sending dictations by email, you
may want to automatically insert into the email subject the name of the
dictation being sent.
Variables are specified by wrapping a variable name in percent (%) signs.
e.g. the variable “%username%” is substituted with the name of the
registered user.
Settings that accept text formatting variables can use any combination of text
and/or variables. Any text not contained within percent signs is used as-is.
List of Variables
Dictator’s details:
%userid% - Registered user ID. (e.g. “123456”)
%username% - Registered user name. (e.g. “John Smith”)
%usercompany% - Company, as set in Options -> User. (e.g. “Smith
and Sons”)
Dictation file details:
%filenumber% - Unique number that identifies each dictation for a given
user. (e.g. “123”)
%filename% - Display name. (e.g. “Dictation 123”)
%filepriority% - Priority, as text. (e.g. “High”)
%fileprioritypercent% - Priority, as a number, where higher is more
important. (e.g. “50” for normal)
Date & time that a dictation was created:
%YYYY% - Year, as a four digit number. (e.g. “2010”)
%MM% - Month, as a two digit number. (e.g. “03” for March)
%DD% - Day of the month, as a two digit number. (e.g. “27”)
%HH% - Hour, as a two digit number in 24 hour time. (e.g. “16” for 4
%MIN% - Minutes, as a two digit number. (e.g. “09”)
%SS% - Seconds, as a two digit number. (e.g. “48”)
XML data (See Prompt for Data in Options ~ Creation for information about
adding XML elements to dictations):
e.g. %client% - Value of the XML element <client>. (e.g. “Jane Doe”)
Percent signs other than those in variable names must be doubled the second percent will be removed when the text is formatted (e.g.
“100%%” would be subsituted with “100%”).
Multiple dictators can create dictations with the same “%filenumber%”.
For a dictation ID that is unique when working with multiple dictators,
use “%userid%-%filenumber%”.
If a specified XML tag is not found, it will be substituted with
Format string:
“%filepriority% priority dictation for %client%”
“Medium priority dictation for Jane Doe”
Format string:
“%YYYY%%MM%%DD%-%HH%%MIN% %userid%%filenumber%%username%”
“20100327-0948 123456-123 John Smith”
Keyboard Reference
The keys listed below can be used when Express Dictate is open in the
foreground. If you want to set ‘hot’ keys to control dictation while Express
Dictate is running in the background, see Options ~ Hot-Keys.
Display Help
Rename Dictation
[Press] Record (or Stop Record) in Default Record
[Held Down] Record in Default Record Mode
[Press] Start or Stop Play
[Held Down] Play
Play Normal Speed
Play Slow Speed
Play Fast Speed
Go to start
Go to End
New Dictation
Recover Old Dictation
Attach File to Dictation
Send to Selected Recipient
Send to Default Recipient
(Notes only) Paste Text as Notes
View Sent Dictation Work Progress
Undo last recording
Delete Dictation
Insert Mode On/Off
Record in Overwrite Mode
Record in At-End Mode
Exit Express Dictate
NumPad 1
Go to End
NumPad 4
NumPad 5
NumPad 6
NumPad 7
Go to Start
NumPad 0
[Press] Start or Stop Record
NumPad 0
[Held Down] Record
NumPad .
[Press] Start or Stop Play
NumPad .
[Held Down] Play
Transfer from Portable Handheld Recorders Dock
Express Dictate supports 2 methods to transfer recordings from a handheld
recorder. If you have a digital handheld recorder (or Pocket PC device) that
uses the open wav file format and comes with its own connection cable and
software you can use the Audio File Transfer Method. If you are using an
analog microcassette recorder or a digital recorder that uses proprietary
formats you can use the Audio Cable Method to record in the dictation.
Note: If you have a handheld Pocket PC device you should install the
Express Dictate partner application Pocket Dictate on your PDA by
downloading it from
Dock - Audio File Transfer Method
Use this option if you are using a digital recorder that uses the open wav file
format to record your dictation.
Your handheld recorder must come with software that will automatically
transfer the recordings and place them in a folder on your hard drive. For
Pocket PC devices Microsoft ActiveSync can be set up to do this (see
Once you have set up your handheld software, on the menu bar select
Dictation -> Transfer from Portable (Dock) -> Audio File Transfer Method.
Then browse to the folder on your hard drive where the docking software of
your handheld has been configured to download the wav files to.
After you have done this once, to dock in future simply click on the <Dock>
button on the main window (after the handheld software has completed
downloading the files).
Sony Recorders / Memory Stick Devices
There is one additional step when docking files from Sony Recorders - using
the Sony Voice editor to export to wav files. This can be done very quickly
once you know how.
Open Sony Voice Editor program. Follow the normal process to load files
from the recorder or memory stick into the default Voice folder of the Sony
Voice Editor. Once new folders/files are loaded into the Voice Editor, select
the menu item File / Save as VOICE Folder. Browse to a folder that you have
created for docking recordings. Select Wav file (16 bit) under Save as Type.
Click on save.
Once this process is complete, use the Express Dictate Dock - Audio File
Transfer method and point to the same folder that you saved to.
Dock - Audio Cable Method
This method must be used if you are using an analog microcassette recorder
or the digital handheld you have uses a non-standard proprietary format.
The process is simply playing back the recording into the computer. This can
be more effective than it might sound because with a duplex sound card and
accurate threshold detect levels, the transfer can happen automatically in
the background while you continue to type.
To transfer a recording from a portable dictaphone or notetaker into Express
Dictate, you need to connect a lead between the Ear socket on the portable
and the Line-In socket of the sound card. You should be able to purchase a
suitable lead from an electronics store.
Sound record device
If you have more than 1 sound card in your computer, select the sound card
connected to your portable from this pull down list.
Audio input channel
This would usually be “Line” or “Line-In” for the transfer connection.
Record volume level
Adjust the record volume so that the level display just touches into the red in
the louder peaks during dictation.
Use audio level activated recording start and stop
Activate level
Transfer will automatically start and stop using the level of the incoming
audio. The default setting is -15dB. If recording starts too early or does not
automatically stop at the end of the tap, increase this level. If recording does
not start correctly, or chops the end of a recording, reduce this level. You
should correctly adjust the record volume level before you adjust the activate
Transfer at high speed
If the player that you use to play in audio recordings can play back at double
speed, Express Dictate can dock the recordings at high speed. Check (tick)
the Transfer at high speed option and select the Speed in percent (200 is
double speed). As the recording is docked at high speed, Express Dictate
will automatically convert it down to normal speed.
You can rename the transfer dictation. For example, you can rename the
dictation to the name of the client or the type of job.
As when dictating directly, you can type notes relating to the dictation
directly in the Notes box. Typically you might type difficult to spell names or
Automatically Send when Done
When this option is checked, Express Dictate will send the dictation
immediately when transfer is done. In day to day operation you will check
this box.
For testing, or if you want to add further dictation, uncheck this box.
If recording has started incorrectly, click the <Restart> button to start
recording from the start of the tape.
When transfer is complete, click the <Done> button.
You should not need to do this manually. The Transfer Window should
automatically close 15 seconds after the end of the recording. As long as
your record volume and activate levels are set correctly, you should be able
to start recording and “walk away”.
Dictation Attachment
Attaching a file to the dictation
Attach File(s)…
This option on the Express Dictate software’s Dictation menu lets you select
and attach files to your dictation before it is sent.
This will only work when you choose to save files in .dct format. See Send
To Typist Recipient Properties for more information on selecting the file
Open Attachment List
This will open the Attachment List dialog that lists any files already attached
to the selected dictation. The <Add>, <Remove> and <Open> buttons may
be used to manage the list.
View Sent Work Progress
You can view the progress of your dictations which you have sent for typing.
Open the Work Progress dialog using Ctrl+W from the Main Window, or by
selecting Dictation -> View Sent Work Progress from the menu bar.
This only works with dictations sent using a direct Internet connection or the
computer network connection, not email.
With the computer network connection, the progress will be updated almost
immediately. With the Internet connection, the progress log will only be
updated when you log into your server by sending a dictation.
The <Refresh> button is used to refresh your list of sent dictations. If you
have the “update always” option selected, this list will be updated each time
you open the Work Progress screen. Users sending files by email or FTP
with a slow Internet connection may want to disable this option.
The <Play> button is used to play the selected sent dictation
The <Backup> button can be used to make a backup of the sent dictation,
either to CD using our Express Burn CD burning software - see www.nch. - or backup to a local or shared network folder.
Click the <Logs> button to display the Express Dictate Sent Log list.
Working with Multiple Users
Express Dictate lets multiple users dictate on a single computer. Each user
has their own dictations, sender information and preferred typist recipients
which will automatically open depending on who logs onto the computer.
Each user of Express Dictate must purchase a separate Express Dictate
User License.
For more information about purchasing a license, including current pricing,
please visit the Express Dictate home page at
index.html and click on one of the purchase links.
Application Programming Interface (API)
Express Dictate supports the Unified NCH Software API – see www. - using “express” as the “NCHAPIKey” parameter.
Application commands:
-testapi [testarg]
Returns the value of [testarg]. Useful for testing the Unified NCH Software
API client.
Returns the application version number, in the format “x.yy”.
Minimizes the application window.
Restores the application window.
Exits the application.
Dictation commands:
Creates a new dictation.
Returns the ID of the new dictation.
Returns the creation date of the currently selected dictation, in the format
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
Returns the creation time of the currently selected dictation, in the format
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
-dictselect [id]
Selects the dictation with the ID equal to [id].
Selects all dictations.
Deselects all dictations.
Returns the dictation ID of the currently selected dictation.
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
-dictnameset [name]
Sets the name of the currently selected dictation to the value of [name].
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
-dictpriorityset [low | normal | high]
Sets the piority of the currently selected dictation(s).
One or more dictations must be selected when this command is run.
-dictdataset [tag] [value]
Adds an XML element to the notes of the currently selected dictation, in the
format “<tag>value</tag>”.
If an element with the same tag already exists then it’s value is updated.
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
Sends the currently selected dictation(s) to the default recipient.
One or more dictations must be selected when this command is run.
Deletes the currently selected dictation(s).
The user is not prompted to confirm the deletion.
One or more dictations must be selected when this command is run.
User commands:
Returns the user ID of the registered user.
Returns 0 if the application has not yet been registered.
Returns the name of the registered user.
Returns “Unlicensed software” if the application has not yet been registered.
Returns the email address of the registered user.
Returns “” if the application has not yet been
Returns the value of the Company field in Options -> User.
Audio commands:
Starts playback of the currently selected dictation.
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
Starts recording and returns the ID of the dictation being recorded.
If no dictation is currently selected, a new dictation will be created before
starting recording.
Stops playback and/or recording.
Moves the playback position to the start of the selected dictation.
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
Moves the playback position to the end of the currently selected dictation.
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
Returns the duration of the currently selected dictation, in the format
Exactly one dictation must be selected when this command is run.
There is also a second software development component that can be used
with Express Dictate. ETOOLS lets other applications extract information
packed in the dct files (for file management, delegation etc.). Please see for more information about ETOOLS, and
to download it.
Typing Services Index
NCH Software maintains a directory of professional typing or secretarial
businesses that can be retained to type dictations sent by Express Dictate.
This directory can be viewed at
If you do not have your own typist, or have excess typing work, you can find
a suitable service fast using the above web page.
If you operate a business that provides professional typing services, you can
list your service (after being properly qualified). Please see the above page
for more information about being listed.
Troubleshooting Problems
These are some of the problems (and solutions) found with Express Dictate.
Recording does not start
If the recording does not start at all then check you have selected your
sound card as the “Sound Record Device” and that you are not running any
other software that is using the card at the same time.
Recording appears to start but the level meter stays blank (e.g. silence)
or very low
 Is a microphone connected to the correct Mic socket on the Sound
 Have you selected the correct Sound Card and “Mic-In” as the Sound
In Device in “Options - Devices“? Alternatively, try the Windows Record
Mixer channel and Open Windows Record Mixer to adjust the mixer
 Does your computer/sound card only have one sound card sound input
for both line and microphone? If so, double click on the yellow speaker
icon on the task bar to open the Windows Mixer, click “Advanced” and
see if there is a Microphone Boost option.
Email Send fails
If you have email problems when using MAPI:
1. Do you have MAPI compliant email software installed? Eudora,
Netscape Mail, Lotus Notes and Outlook(*) are MAPI compliant. If you
do not have MAPI software installed, simply download and install the
free version of Eudora from
2. Have you setup your email software as the default MAPI server? In
Eudora use Tools / Advanced / MAPI / Always. In Outlook use Tools /
Options / Make Default.
3. *Outlook Problems: Some versions of Outlook cause problems because
the automated send feature is disabled or it prompts you every time it
needs to send a message (which defeats the purpose of automated
email!). The easiest solution to this problem is to simply download the
free version of Eudora from You will still be able to use
Outlook as your main email application but you can setup Eudora simply
for sending automated mail. Alternatively you can use SMTP.
If you have any of the above problems you should consider using the
Internal Simple SMTP. To do this, click on the <Settings> button next to
email on the Typist Recipient Properties box. Select Internal Simple SMTP
and enter your ISP’s mailhost server and your email address.
If you have email problems when using Internal Simple SMTP:
4. Have you entered your ISP SMTP mailhost server using the <Settings>
button on Typist Recipient Properties?
5. If you receive an error message when attempting to send mail with
SMTP your server may require authentication (ie. username and
password) to send email. Use the format username:password@smtp. for the mailhost.
Email Sending Takes Too Long
You should select an audio compression format to reduce file size so files
upload faster. To do this select Settings -> Recipient Send Settings ->
Properties -> Select Audio Compression Format and select a suitable format.
For a guide for which format to select see The
recommended format is GSM6.10.
As a practical measure if you are sending files by Internet over a slow
connection, break up your dictation into smaller parts and send each as you
finish them.
Last part of recording is cut off
You may have set your voice activation level too high. Lower the voice
activation level in Options ~ Audio.
Configure the voice activation level slider bar by moving the bar backwards.
Be aware that if you select too low a setting the program may also respond
to background sound.
Working with Philips SpeechMike
Simply install SpeechMike following the instructions provided by Philips.
Then Express Dictate automatically detects it and can be controlled by it.
Lost Files
If a file goes missing or is accidentally deleted by your typist, you can
recover the file using “Recover Sent Dictations” and resend it.
If a file goes ‘missing’ in Express Dictate check you have logged on as the
correct user. Each user has their own files list.
If none of the above solve your problem, please view Express Dictate’s
online Technical Support web page at
html. If that does not solve your problem you can contact us using the
technical support contact link on that page.
Purchase and Register Software
Each user of Express Dictate must purchase and register a User License
to use Express Dictate for more than 14 days. For more information about
purchasing a license, including current pricing, please visit
After buying a software license you will receive two emails. One email is
the ‘Invoice/Receipt‘, and the other ’Software Purchase’ email contains your
full 12-digit license serial number and instructions on how to use the serial
number to activate your User license.
This is done by selecting Dictation -> Register User License from Express
Dictate’s menu bar and clicking the Activate Online link in the ‘Step 2:
Activate Serial Number’ section of the software’s registration window. This
takes you to the Activate Software page on the NCH website.
Enter the serial number into the box at the top of the page, your personal
details, and then click the <Activate Software License> button at the bottom
of the page. The license Registration and Activation Code details (Name Email - ID - Key) will be displayed on your browser window, and will also be
automatically emailed to you.
Enter the details of the Registration and Activation Code into the “Step 3:
Enter the license details” section. You will notice that code has 4 details
(Name - Email - ID - Key), and there are 6 boxes to be filled in on the
registration window. The following steps explain what to enter and where:
For the ‘Name (or Business Name):’ entry use either the name of
your business, or if you don’t have a business name, use the Name
from the User License Registration and Activation Code.
The User License Registration and Activation Code does not
include a Location detail, so just enter your City, State and postal
code in the ‘Location’ box – e.g. Peoria IL 61601.
Enter the Name from the Registration and Activation Code into the
‘User Name’ box.
For ‘Email’, enter the Email address from the code.
Enter the ID number and the Key from the code in the two
remaining boxes provided for the ‘Express ID – Key’. (Note that the
Key is comprised of 8 lowercase letters, and does not contain any
numbers or uppercase characters.)
It is essential that you enter all of the Registration and Activation Code
details exactly as they appear in the email.
Click the <OK> button to complete the User License registration and
activation. If you have done things correctly the following message will be
Click the <OK> button to close the Registration Accepted message and the
registration window.
If your code is not accepted...
1. Check you have entered the Name, Email, ID and Key exactly as they
appear on the email containing the license Registration and Activation Code.
In particular, the Key from the code is lowercase letters only, and contains no
numbers or uppercase letters.
2. If the software User License was purchased a while ago for a previous
version of the software, the license Registration and Activation Code that
you are using may not work with more recent versions of Express Dictate. In
this case you must purchase a software license upgrade at
3. If the User License Registration and Activation Code has worked
previously with the version of Express Dictate that you are using, the code
may simply require resetting. Please contact NCH Registration Support
using the email form at on the
website, and include the full details (Name - Email - ID – Key) of your code.
Express Dictate Software License Terms
The copyrights in this software and any audio or visual work distributed
with the software belong to NCH Software. NCH Software reserves all
rights. NCH Software licenses the distribution and installation of this
software only in accordance with these terms.
By installing, using or distributing this software you, on your own behalf
and on behalf of your employer or principal, agree to be bound by these
terms. If you do not agree to any of these terms, you may not use, copy,
transmit, distribute, or install this software.
This software, and all accompanying files, data and materials, are
distributed “as is” and with no warranties of any kind, whether express
or implied except as required by law. If you intend to rely on this
software for critical purposes you must test it fully prior to using it, install
redundant systems and assume any risk.
NCH Software will not be liable for any loss arising out of the use of
this software including, but not limited to, any special, incidental or
consequential loss.
You may not use this software in any circumstances where there is any
risk that failure of this software might result in a physical injury or loss of
life. Any such use by you is entirely at your own risk, and you agree to
indemnify NCH Software from any claims relating to such unauthorized
You may copy or distribute the installation file of this software in its
complete unaltered form but you may not, under any circumstances,
distribute any software registration code for any of our programs
without written permission from NCH Software. In the event that you do
distribute a software registration code, you will be liable to pay the full
purchase price for each location where the unauthorized use of code
The contract arising out of this agreement is governed by the laws and
courts of the Australian Capital Territory.
Express Dictate
© NCH Software
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