Mac text to speech - have your Mac read web page text to you

As I keep diving deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole that is the Mac OS X text to speech (voice) capability, I'm reminded that one cool thing you can do is have your Mac OS X system read text to you. Here's a quick example of how to get your Mac to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to you.

A Mac "text to speech" example

One of the easiest ways to experiment with the Mac "text to speech" capability is to open the Mac Safari web browser, highlight some text, and tell the system to read the text to you, using the built in Mac text to speech system.

To hear your Mac "speak" some text to you, just follow these steps:

  1. Open a web page in the Safari web browser. As an example, here's a link to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland on the Project Gutenberg website.
  2. Highlight a sentence or two of text (using the typical click and drag technique you'd normally use to copy some text).
  3. Right-click on the text you have highlighted. On the popup menu that appears, select the "Speech" menu item, then click "Start Speaking".
  4. The system should begin reading the text to you, using the default system voice. (You may need to adjust your volume to hear it.)

Any time you want to stop the system as it's reading, just follow the same steps, but choose the "Stop Speaking" menu item from the popup menu. (I wish the Apple Remote would make this stop, but it doesn't. Fortunately you can mute the Mac voice as it is reading/speaking.)

Every time I use this text to speech technology it just blows me away. The voices still have room fror improvement, but from a technical standpoint, wow.

Mac text to speech - reading in other browsers and applications

In this article I've specifically said "Use Safari" because this text to speech reading capability doesn't seem to be available in all browsers or applications. For instance, I use the Firefox and Google Chrome browsers much more than I use Safari, but when I want to use this "text to speech" capability, I know I need to use Safari.

This Mac text to speech capability is also available in the TextEdit editor, but it's not available in the Mac OS X Preview app. In short, the availability varies.

Mac text to speech voices

If you don't like the default Mac text to speech voice, you can change it to other voices. I've written about this in my "Setting the Mac text to speech default system voice tutorial." In the end all of the voices still sound computer generated, but the new "Alex" voice is very good, and I also like the older "Vicki" voice from time to time.

As a final note, if you're a programmer, and want to expreriment with Apple's speaking and speech recgonition technology, here's a link to my "Mac text to speech, and speech to text tutorial." Be careful, though, or you too may fall down the rabbit hole.

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