Thursday, July 23, 2009

Make Your Macintosh Read Aloud to You

Your Macintosh can read aloud to you. Mac OSX Leopard has a text-to-speech function that will, with a keystroke combination you set, read any text you’ve highlighted in a text-based file. It can read e-mail messages, webpage text, PDFs, calendar entries, spreadsheets, word processor documents, and more.

To set your Macintosh so that it reads text, go to your System Preferences and choose Speech. In the Speech dialog, you can try various reading voices - Alex, Bruce, Victoria, and about 18 others. You can select the speed they read to you. Most importantly, you can choose a key combination to initiate speech. Click the Set Key... button. Then choose the key combination you wish. I would personally avoid common ones like Command-S - which is the save command in most programs. Here I’ve chosen Control-S as my key combination.

Now, whenever I want to have the computer read to me, I first select (highlight) the text I want, press the key combination, and the Macintosh begins to read the text to me. Be sure your volume is turned up so you can hear it. If I want the speech to stop, I just press the same key combination again. It acts as an on-off switch.

Tired of reading the student’s homework? You can have it read to you instead.

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