Tired of reading? Let your devices read for you (you will be surprised how well it works)

Tired of reading? Let your devices read for you (you will be surprised how well it works)

We live in an age where we have to absorb lots of information and quickly distinguish between valuable and not useful content. For me, this includes emails, work documentation, books for career development, scientific research papers, legal documents, tech news, […].

That is a lot of reading every day. But what if you don’t enjoy reading?

The answer is speech synthesis. Over the past years, speech synthesis has come a long way. If you don’t believe me, then listen to this:

audio-thumbnail
Comparison between old and new voice
0:00
/0:09

Incredible, right!? And what might surprise you even more is that there are plenty of voices that ship with your smartphone and computer. You can literally choose them, speed them up, pick different genders, and even select from a collection of languages and accents.

This short post will show you how you can leverage this technology.

Situations for when text to speech can help you:

  • If you don’t enjoy reading, but you have to read: Not everyone finds pleasure in reading. That can have various reasons such as monotone posture if reading a paperback book, hours of screen time, the genre isn’t your favorite, and more.
  • To review a document that you wrote: When we write, we usually get so accustomed to our inner-voice so that it becomes hard to improve our writing and spot errors. Text-to-speech will equip you with a unique opportunity to listen to your written content from a different perspective.
  • If you can’t read or struggle reading: This includes all kinds of temporary or chronic challenges with your vision or internal processing of letters and symbols.
  • Perform other activities while reading: If you would rather not be bound to a monotone sitting or laying posture and prefer listening on the go (like going for a walk).
  • Increasing the chances of remembering: Reading is one way of educating yourself. But most of us limit ourselves by only using a single sense to pick up knowledge. If you read and listen at the same time, you increase the chances of remembering.
  • Learn or strengthen your language skills: If you’re learning a new language, it can be great to have a reference for the pronunciation of words.

How to choose the right voice

To choose the right voice, you want to keep the following principles in mind:

  • Understandable → Many people find lower pitched voices easier to understand
  • Authenticity → The voice should sound as natural as possible. Some languages like English typically come with a variety of accents (US, UK, Indian, Australian, Irish, …)
  • Understandable with faster speed → some voices sound great with 1x speed but start to sound strange when you speed them up
  • Personal preference

I recommend you to test as many voices as possible. Play around until you find the voice you feel most comfortable with.

How to set it up for your device

Mac

You can find the settings under System Preferences → Accessibility → Spoken content.

The following video walks you through the required steps and demonstrates the text-to-speech feature using the configured keyboard shortcut.

I highly recommend using the keyboard shortcut. If you would rather not use it, you can always select a text range and perform a right click and select “Speak”.

iPhone and iPad

You can find the settings under Settings → Accessibility → Spoken content.

There, you will have to activate the “Speak Selection” and “Speak Screen” options. The video below will walk you through the steps, voices, and settings. It will also show you the feature in action.

The best way to use the feature is by activating a triple tap shortcut which lets you read the content of the screen by tapping on the back of your phone three times. That feature is not available for iPads. If you use an iPad, I recommend enabling the Speech Controller option.

Bonus for audiobook fans:

If you love audiobooks, but the book you want to read doesn’t have an audiobook version, you can get the ebook and import it into the iBooks app. With the tripple tap shortcut, you can instruct your phone to read the ebook for you. It will also automatically transition to the next pages. There is the chance that it stops reading once in a while, but you can re-do the tripple tap gesture and your phone will continue reading the book for you.

Combined with my passion for taking long walks, I have already read books (400+ pages) using text-to-speech.

Windows 10/11

On Windows, you can use the “Narrator” app. The following video (not recorded by me) will walk you through the setup steps.

Android

The Android ecosystem is broad. Therefore, it strongly depends on your android version and phone manufacturer. To get started, I would recommend following this tutorial.

If this doesn’t work for you, then I recommend you to google for your phone model and “text to speech”. I would appreciate if you could contact me in case you figure it out, so I can extend the list and provide a tutorial for future readers.


Other devices

💡
If you own a not listed device and found a way to enable text to speech, please let me know. This way I can extend the list and provide a tutorial, so that future readers have guidance.

Subscribe to my blog

Get my latest articles delivered right to your inbox .
[email protected]
Subscribe