The Blue Parrot

Update, July 28, 2013: I modified the Blue Parrot to add a volume control for audio files.

The Blue Parrot app plays sound clips and speaks text phrases at random times, mixing them randomly as well. Here's a 90-second video demo:

The Blue Parrot installs just like most other Mac apps, just drag it to your Applications folder. (For more information on why this is a Mac-only app at this time, see the "Source Code" section way down below.)

Hopefully it's pretty obvious how to use the app:

  1. Create a sound files directory somewhere, and tell the Blue Parrot where that directory is.
  2. Enter a list of text phrases you want the parrot to say.
  3. Set a maximum delay time between sounds. Note that this is currently in seconds. (3600 seconds is one hour.)

In theory, if you set the maximum delay time to one hour, the parrot will "speak" on average every thirty minutes. However, because this time delay is random, some times it will speak again very quickly, other times it will take closer to the full hour. (After thinking about it, that first statement isn't exactly true, but it will have to do for today.)

Sample Sound Files

I don't think I can give you sound files legally, but I can point you to some URLs where I found some great sound clips:

Firefly sound clips:

Nacho Libre clips:

Short Circuit:

Star Trek:

Star Wars:


Many more:

Again, for these sound clips, create a directory (folder) somewhere, something like /Users/Al/SoundClips, download the sound clips you want to that directory, then tell the Blue Parrot where they are. You only have to set this once, it will remember your directory (and the text phrases you enter).

Using Different Voices for Speaking

In the Text Phrases part of the app, you can enter phrases you want the parrot to say. It starts with a couple of phrases like these:

Polly wants a cracker.
Polly wants a drink.

This works with the Mac OS X "say" command and text to speech capability, so with plain sentences like that, the parrot will use the default voice on your Mac.

To use a different voice, just add a pipe symbol and a valid voice name after the pipe, like this:

Polly wants a cracker. | Vicki
Polly wants a drink. | ALEX

Names can be uppercase, lowercase, or any combination of uppercase and lowercase, but they must be valid names. To see a valid list of voices on your Mac:

  • Click the Apple menu, then
  • System Preferences, then
  • Speech, then
  • Click the "Text to Speech" tab

You'll see a valid list of voices in the System Voice drop-down list.


The Blue Parrot app is available under the terms of the GNU GPL License.

You can download the app as a zip file here:

Just download the zip file, double-click it to open it, read the README.html file, then run the app.


This is the first release of this app, and it probably has bugs. As I was writing about voices, I realized I didn't test what would happen with an invalid voice, so please make sure you use valid names there.

To report a bug, please use the contact form on the website.

For updates and other information, please visit the Blue Parrot web page:

The Source Code

The Blue Parrot is an open source app, and you can find the Scala source code for it at Github:

(I need to put a license on the code, but it will be something like GNU GPL or similar.)

At some point I'd appreciate it if someone with a Windows system would help port it to Windows (I don't have a Windows PC), but at the moment, I need to hop in the car and head to Los Alamos.

Alvin Alexander