Making your computer speak using Mac

OS 8-9

Apple text to speak

Note: Apple Text-To-Speech technology is a basic text reading facility built in to the operating system, it only provides a framework that other applications can use. It does not provide full screen reading but offers speech feedback in dialog boxes and will only speak in some parts of specific applications, for example a Word document.

To activate Mac Speech:

  • Click on the ‘ Apple ‘ menu (no keyboard shortcut).
  • Click on the ‘ Control Panels ‘ sub-menu and then click on ‘ Speech ‘ to open the ‘ Speech ‘ control panel; (No keyboard shortcut) .
  • Click on the pop-up menu next to ‘ Voice: ‘ and select a voice, for example ‘ Kathy ‘ by clicking on it and then click the speaker button next to it to play a sample of the selected voice . (No keyboard shortcut)
  • Click on the slider next to ‘ Rate ‘ to speed up or slow down the voice. (No keyboard shortcut)
  • Click the drop down menu next to ‘ Options: ‘ and Select ‘ Talking Alerts’ .
  • Click the checkbox next to ‘ Speak the alert text ‘ to have your Mac speak the text in dialogue boxes .(No keyboard shortcut).
  • Click on a delay time on the slider named ‘ Wait before speaking: ‘ below ‘ Speak the alert text ‘ to have the computer speak the dialogue immediately click on ‘ 0′ for a 5 second delay click on ‘ 5′.(No keyboard shortcut).

You can also have the alert speech start with a phrase, to do this:

  • In the ‘ Speech ‘ control panel lick the checkbox next to ‘ Speak the phrase: ‘ to turn this option on. (No keyboard shortcut).
  • Click on the pop-up menu next to ‘ Speak the phrase: ‘ to see a list of available phrases and click on one to choose it . (No keyboard shortcut).
  • Note: You can edit the list of phrases and add your own, to do so choose ‘ Edit phrase list ‘ from the list in he pop-up menu next to ‘ Speak the phrase: ‘ .
  • Click the close icon in the top left of the speech options box or press ‘ Apple ‘ + ‘ W ‘ on the keyboard to close the window.

Making your computer read Simple Text documents

SimpleText can use Apple Text-to-Speech Mac OS facilities to read aloud text files. To do this:

  • Click on the ‘ Sound ‘ menu and select ‘ Speak All ‘ with the mouse or press ‘ Apple ‘ + ‘ J ‘ on your keyboard .
  • To stop the computer speaking click on the ‘ Sound ‘ menu and Select ‘ Stop Speaking ‘ or Press ‘ Apple ‘ + ‘. ‘ (full stop) on your keyboard .

OS X

  • Make sure you are in ‘ Finder ‘ – press ‘ Apple ‘ + ‘ Tab ‘ if necessary to cycle through open applications until you return to ‘ Finder ‘.
  • Click on the ‘Apple ‘ menu or press ‘ Ctrl ‘ + ‘ F2 ‘.
  • Click on ‘ System Preferences… ‘ or press the down arrow key to highlight it and then press ‘ Enter ‘.
  • Click on the ‘ Speech ‘ icon or press ‘ Tab ‘ repeatedly (you might need to press ‘ Ctrl ‘ + ‘ F7 ‘ first) to cycle through the icons until the ‘ Speech ‘ icon is highlighted and then press the ‘ Spacebar ‘

Setting the voice

  • Click on the ‘ Default Voice ‘ tab or press ‘ Ctrl ‘ + ‘ F7 ‘ (once or twice) to highlight one of the three tabs and then press the left or right arrow key to select the ‘ Default Voice ‘ tab (highlighted in blue).
  • Under the ‘ Voice ‘ heading click on a voice to select or press ‘Tab ‘ until the voice list is highlighted and use the up and down arrows to select a voice.
  • Next click the ‘On’ radio button next to ‘ Apple Speakable Items is: ‘ or press ‘ Tab ‘ to highlight the ‘ Off ‘ button and then press the up arrow to turn ‘On’ ‘ Apple Speakable Items ‘.
  • To hear the selected voice click on the ‘ Play ‘ button or press the ‘ Tab’ key until the ‘ Play ‘ button is highlighted and press the ‘ Spacebar ‘.
  • Click on the slider next to ‘ Rate ‘ to speed up or slow down the voice or press the ‘ Tab’ key until the blue pointer is highlighted in the ‘ Rate ‘ gauge bar and use the left and right arrow keys to select your speed.

Setting up the Spoken user interface

  • Click on the ‘ Spoken User Interface ‘ tab or press ‘ Ctrl ‘ + ‘ F7 ‘ (once or twice) to highlight one of the three tabs and then press the left or right arrow key to select the ‘ Spoken User Interface ‘.
  • Click the checkbox next to ‘ Speak the alert text ‘ to have your Mac speak the text in dialogue boxes or press the ‘ Tab’ key until the ‘ Speak the alert text’ checkbox is highlighted and press the ‘ Spacebar ‘ to check it.
  • Click on a delay time on the slider named ‘ Wait before speaking: ‘ or press the ‘ Tab’ key until the blue pointer is highlighted in the ‘ Wait before speaking: ‘ gauge bar and use the left and right arrow keys to select your speed. To have the computer speak the dialogue immediately select a value of ‘ 0′ for a 5 second delay select ‘ 5′.

You can also have the alert speech start with a phrase, to do this:

  • Click the checkbox next to ‘ Speak the phrase: ‘ or press the ‘ Tab’ key until the ‘ Speak the phrase:’ checkbox is highlighted and press the ‘ Spacebar ‘ to check it.
  • Click on the pop-up menu next to ‘ Speak the phrase: ‘ or press the ‘ Tab’ key until it is highlighted and then press the ‘ Spacebar ‘ to see a list of available phrases and click on one to choose it or use the up and down arrows to select a phrase. Note: You can edit the list of phrases and add your own, to do so choose ‘ Edit phrase list ‘ from the list in he pop-up menu next to ‘ Speak the phrase: ‘ .
  • There are also additional options under ‘ Other spoken items that you might want to turn on such as ‘ Text under the mouse ‘ which will read any text under the mouse pointer to do so Click the checkbox next to ‘ Text under the mouse ‘ to activate it or press the ‘ Tab’ key until the ‘ Text under the mouse’ checkbox is highlighted and press the ‘ Spacebar ‘ to check it.
  • When you have finished with your selections click the close icon in the top left of the speech options box or press ‘ Apple ‘ + ‘ W ‘ on the keyboard to close the window.

You can also find help with making your computer speak on these other operating systems:

For Windows, For Linux.

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