When You’d Rather Listen…


(Announcement: this is a Mac only post. Apologies to my beloved PC readers.)

We all read on our computers. We all squint. What if you could give your eyes a rest and still take it in?

Well, fellow Mac-owner, your computer can read to you! (When they start formulating their own sentences, I’ll start getting scared…)

It works best on Leopard and above, since Leopard introduced a much better “voice” than prior versions of OS X, but here’s how it works:

  • If you’re on Leopard (or below?), paste some text into TextEdit (in your Applications folder), then click “TextEdit” in the menu bar. Under Services -> Speech, click “Start Speaking,” et voila!*
  • If you’re on Snow Leopard, it’s a little easier. Paste the text into TextEdit, select it, right click (Ctrl+click), and click “Start Speaking” under “Speech.”*

Even in Leopard/Snow Leopard, the voice takes some getting used to, but it’s not too robotic. As an added bonus, you can adjust the speed and voice under Speech in System Preferences.

If you want put some of your reading into iTunes (to put on your iPod, perhaps), here’s a little script I put together to do just that. Launch the script, paste your text in the top box, edit the iTunes file info in the bottom box, and hit play. (The script is free and open source, so modify and distribute as you will. A link would be nice.)

If anybody knows how to do this on a Windows PC, share the love in the comments!


*This works in other applications, too, including Mail and Safari.


One Response to “When You’d Rather Listen…”

  1. Actually, you can just select text and right-click, and there will be an option for “Speech” – that’s been there since Tiger, I believe.

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