All of the information in this post can also be found in this YouTube video:

1. Command History

When I say

command history

This will open up the command history. The command history is a record of the last 10 commands Talon heard me say. This allows me to see what Talon thinks I said.

The command history is the most useful way to get feedback on what is going on when I say things to Talon.

The command history appears in the middle of the screen. It is possible to grab it with a mouse and drag it around so that it is not in the way, but doing so involves learning the voice commands for dragging things with a mouse and those are not included in this tutorial. The easiest way to get it out of the way is to say

command history

again and the command history will toggle itself off.

2. Talon Sleep and Talon Wake

When I start Talon, Talon is awake, listening, and responding to the commands I give it. Often I don't want Talon to be awake and responding to my commands. To make Talon stop responding, I say

talon sleep

This makes Talon go to sleep.

Talon is now asleep, and won't respond to my commands. (Mostly. Talon does wake up a bit too easily if you are using wav2letter as the voice engine, and you should see the article on Essential Talon Configuration for the fix. )

To wake Talon up again to have it respond to my commands, I say,

talon wake.

Talon is now awake and responding to my commands.

3. Mouse Grid Commands

Talon (more specifically, the knausj script repository) comes with a built-in mouse grid, but I have to enable it.

In users/knausj_talon-master/settings.talon, I uncomment line 32 to enable the mouse grid.

# uncomment tag to enable mouse grid
# tag(): user.mouse_grid_enabled

specifically, delete the # in front of line 32 so that it looks like this:

# uncomment tag to enable mouse grid
tag(): user.mouse_grid_enabled

Note: don't leave a space in front of the tag. Make sure the tag() is to the left, without any spaces between it and the left side of the page, or it won't work. Talon files are sensitive to whitespace.

With that, the mouse grid is enabled, and I have a voice-controlled mouse.

To use this voice-controlled mouse, I say

M grid

This will split the screen into nine separate grid panels labeled with numbers. I can choose a number like


This will split the fifth panel into nine smaller panels.

When I choose another number, such as


something interesting happens. Talon will create a zoomed view of that panel in the center of the screen. I can keep choosing numbers and get larger and larger zooms, which allows me to be very precise in exactly where I want to position the mouse.

You'll notice that every time you choose a number, Talon will reposition your mouse cursor.

4. Command Mode and Dictation Mode

Talon has several modes, but the two most used modes are Command Mode and Dictation Mode. Command Mode is the mode used for pretty much all commands. It is the mode that lets me press keys, operate the mouse, spell things, select things, edit things and so on. Command mode in general is for when I am commanding my computer to do something.

Dictation mode is for writing. It removes the vast majority of commands and doesn't make me preface my words with a command to write something out. I just start talking and Talon writes out what I say.

When Talon first boots up, I am in command mode.

To switch into dictation mode, I say

dictation mode

While I am in dictation mode and in a text box, I say

the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog period

Talon will write out

the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

To switch into command mode, I say

command mode

I can write things in command mode, too, but I have to preface them with a command. For example, I say

Sentence the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog period

and this writes out

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

In short, the big difference between command mode and dictation mode is that command mode is for giving commands to get my computer to do things, and dictation mode is for writing without having to think about saying special writing commands.

5. Help Alphabet

Sometimes I want to be able to press letter keys or to spell things out. Talon has a specialized phonetic alphabet to press letter keys. I say

help alphabet

This brings up the talon phonetic alphabet.

a: air 
b: bat 
c: cap 
d: drum 
e: each 
f: fine 
g: gust 
h: harp 
i: sit 
j: jury 
k: crunch 
I: look 
m: made 
n: near 
o: odd 
p: pit 
q: quench 
r: red 
s: sun 
t: trap 
u: urge 
v: vest 
w: whale 
x: plex 
y: yank 
z: zip 

When in command mode, if I say any of these words, it will type the corresponding letter key. When I am in a textbox, it will type the letter. When I am in a program with hotkeys, typing a letter will trigger the keyboard shortcut that the letter is associated with.

6. Arrow Keys

When in command mode, I can press the arrow keys by saying

go down

to press the down arrow key,

go up

to press the up arrow key,

go left

to press the left arrow key, and

go right

to press the right arrow key

7. Accessing Help Menus

The help context command is perhaps the most valuable command in this list because it gives me access to every other command available in Talon. When I say

help context

The help menu appears. It is a list of all the categories of commands. Each of these categories corresponds to a talon file in my script repository, so I can go look at the file itself if I don't like the help menu.

To choose a subcategory, I say help and then the number. For example,

help 2

opens the abbreviate menu, and shows the abbreviate command.

To go back to the main menu, I say

help return.

This presses the return button.

The help menu often has more than one page. To get to the next page, I say

help next.

To get to the previous page, I say

help previous

To close it, I say

help close

However, I get overwhelmed looking at all of the commands. The active command contexts have an asterisk (*) beside them. So there is a command to whittle these down to only the commands contexts I am currently allowed to use. That command is

help active

Even so, there are still about 30 categories of commands.

The reason the help context menu is called the help context menu is that Talon activates and deactivates commands based on my context. For example, if I am in the browser, I want to have commands related to being in a browser context. However, when I am not in a browser, I don't want those commands available and potentially getting mixed up with other commands. Being in a browser is being in a browser context, so Talon makes the commands for the browser context available because I am in a browser. That is why it is called the help context menu- because the help I need changes based on the context I am in.

I can see how the commands available change when I use the help active command to open the help menu. For example, if I say 'talon sleep' the help menu goes from having 30 subcategories available to having only 3.

And that's 7 essential command sets for getting started with Talon!