Introduction: Use Spells to Control Your Computer!

Ever wanted to use spells like Harry Potter? With a little work, and some voice recognition, this can be mastered.

Things you need for this project:
  • A computer with Windows XP or Vista
  • A microphone
  • Some time and patience!

If you enjoyed this Instructable, hit me up with a plus! Thanks. :D

Featured on Gizmodo.

Step 1: Download Voice Activiation Command Software

I simply googled the term, and Voice Activated Commands came up as the first choice. This program serves a useful purpose in RPGs and other computer games where voice commands can be given rather than typing in key combos. For this project, it can be used to cast "spells" on your computer to manipulate it to do your bidding.

VAC Download Page

It's currently only available for Windows XP and Vista.

Step 2: Grab Some Spells and Plug 'em In!

For researching all of those tip-of-the-tongue-can't-quite-remember spells, the coolest place I found was MuggleNet. It's the cream of the crop as Harry Potter fan sites go. Their spells section is extensive and gives a description of each spell.

Some sample spells:
  • Brighten Screen
  • Dim Screen
Petrificus Totalus
  • Hibernate
  • Mute
  • Volume Up
  • Stop In Web Browser
  • Exit application

Also, I made an action called "Marauder's Map" which is activated by saying "I solemnly swear I am up to no good." which opens the browser to the home page.

Step 3: Enter the Incantations

Boot up VACBuilder and create a new profile. Name it whatever you like: I did Harry Potter as an example.

Next, you want to start making spells. You go into the "Action Description" box and hit the "Add" button. Enter the spell name and click "OK".

After this, go over to the "Command List" box. This is where you will program what will happen when a certain phrase is said. Qualifier keys can be anything from "Alt" to "Shift", so just explore both lists. The extended keys reach almost anything, including browser commands and media player commands.

If you want to make sure you have the right key, boot up the Keyboard Tester program that came with VAC. Click the button in the top left to change it from "Disabled" to "Enabled". When enabled, your keyboard will light up buttons when you push them.

You can do multiple things with one voice command.. Just add another command and repeat the last step.

The "Command Attributes" can be used for more personal commands, dealing with the duration the combo is held, the pause before it is executed, and the number of times to repeat the combo.

"Profile Activation Keys" deal with activating and deactivating the voice commands by using key combos. I didn't bother with these in my project, but you certainly can if the mood strikes you.

Finally, you want to test your phrase to make sure the computer can recognize the voice commands. To do this, simply hit the "Test Phrase" button in the bottom right corner. If it matches your voice command with the correct spell, you're golden. If it doesn't just try again or pick a different phrase to say.

And of course, save your profile with the button in the bottom right before you close.

Step 4: Categories

If you are going to be using this program for more than one project, you may want to make categories for the different commands. To do this, go into "Tools" and "Category Setup". Hit "Add", make one, and hit "Okay." To add spells to a category, right click them in the "Action Description" box, go into "Category", and click the one you made for it.

Step 5: Boot Up the VAC System

Boot up the VAC system and a little icon with a microphone will pop up.

From the manual:

When the icon is just the microphone:
  • VAC is running and ready.
When there is a blue "P":
  • VAC is running and has a profile loaded.
And when there is a green circle and a blue "P"
  • Vac is running, has a profile loaded and the recognition is active.

To load a profile, right click the icon, go to the top and hit "Load Profile". Then, right click it again and hit "VAC On". Now you're set and ready to go!

I'll get a demonstration video up sometime soon!

My backup file is attached which contains all of the spells I have made thus far. To use them, go into VAC builder and hit "File", "Import", and "Text File (txt)".

Step 6: Your Spells!

Here's what you suggested!

I don't know what he uses, but I'd suggest:Imperio - Task ManagerAvada Kedavra - Shut downOblivio - RestartAlso, he has Volume up and mute, but not volume down. I'd suggest Quietus for that.

Quietus - Reduces VolumeReducto - Closes current windowI solemnly swear that I'm up to no good - Open web browserMischief Managed - Also closes current windowLegilimens - Opens the Task ManagerImperio - Opens the Command Prompt

benthekahn suggests his own reverse psychology spells...

You should make everything a normal but different command. ie...Startup=shutdownmute=full volumeprevious song=next song

Step 7: Additional Software

Here are some other programs you can also use to have some of the same effects on your computers using speech recognition.

  • RedGuff suggests using Shoot, a similar voice recognition program.

Mac OS X
  • Munkey suggests using the default speech recognition software
"speech recognition is built into the Mac OS X system, so you can replicate this exactly without any extra software:"

  • has agreat article detailing how to install and use Perlbox, a voice command program for Linux.
  • CVoiceControl is another program similar to VAC, although the author is no longer supporting the program anymore.
The Instructables Book Contest

Participated in the
The Instructables Book Contest