How to make your Mac read you stories

How to make your Mac read you stories
Quick Mac Tip, 27 March 2011

I had a problem: I wanted to read a long article I’d just come across, but I needed to make dinner. Rather than delay one or the other I did both — by having my Mac read the article aloud to me as I worked. It’s simple, if you know how.

Turn up the volume

First, of course, you need to make sure your Mac’s volume is turned up loud enough to hear.

Choose settings on the Text to Speech tab.

Choose settings on the Text to Speech tab.

Select the text

Select the text you want read aloud. This should work in any application where you can select text.

For the long web article I wanted I found it easier to copy the whole page and paste into a handy text editor then delete the ads, image captions and other stuff I didn’t care about.

Choose a hotkey

Decide which keys you want to press to start and stop reading aloud. I chose Command (⌘) Option (⌥) Control (^) s. Now set up the key command:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Speech in the 4th row (System).
  3. Click on the Text to Speech tab.
  4. Check the box beside Speak selected text when the key is pressed.
  5. Click on the Set Key… button. A sheet slides down from the top of the window.
  6. On the keyboard press the keys you wish to use. I pressed Command (⌘) Option (⌥) Control (^) s.
  7. Click the OK button to close the sheet and save the selected key combo.
On the keyboard press the keys you wish to use.

On the keyboard press the keys you wish to use.

Try out Text to Speech

Now go back to your selected text and press the key combo you selected. Your Mac should start reading the text aloud. To stop it press the same key combo again.

Change the System Voice

I like to have the voice Vicki read for me. Choose the voice you prefer from the System Voice drop-down menu after Step 3 above. Alex is also quite a good choice. Both Vicki and Alex are human sounding voices. The others sound more like computers.

Change the Speaking Rate

I find the default speed to be a little slower than I like. After Step 3 above move the Speaking Rate slider and press the Play button to hear how the voice will sound. I like to set Vicki to be just a little faster than Normal.

What’s your experience with Text to Speech? Tell us in the Comments. Could you write a guest MacTip? If so, contact me.

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One Comment;

  1. Nikira said:

    Thank you for the tip. But I want my Mac to read to me in Russian and Japanese also, or may be even translate on the go. Can you, please, give me advice? I experimented a bit, didn’t happen. Irina.

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