Text and Speech Assistance

Using Built-in Tools in Mac OS X


Mac OS X comes with many tools to make online learning more manageable. The related speech-to-text and text-to-speech tools can be particularly useful to students with visual impairments, reading challenges, or those who simply learn better by listening (auditory learners). These tools are simple to use, and what's more, they are already built into your Mac operating system out of the box.

Many of you may be familiar with Siri, the personal assistant software built into Apple's mobile iOS, but have you met Alex? Alex is the default voice on the Mac Speech application (although other options exist). You can use Mac Speech to read text from websites, word processor documents, and PDFs.

Here are a few ways you can use Text to Speech in this course:

  • Safari: Use Safari to access course readings on the web
  • Text Edit: Open Word docs or other word processing files in Text Edit
  • Preview: Opening PDFs in Preview allows you to activate Speech

How to Use Speech:

Using Speech is easy--and consistent across native Apple programs. Simply click Edit>Speech>Start Speaking, or right-click and scroll directly to Speech.

You can even convert Speech to MP3s to load into iTunes and take with you. The video below shows the simple steps necessary to convert to iTunes.

Text-to-Speech built-in functionality in MS Word for Mac OS X