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Changing Text-To-Speech Voice on Your Mac

In the last tutorial, we learned how to use the default text-to-speech feature on your mac to listen to and record text for your educational app. In this followup tutorial, we will learn how to setup a keyboard shortcut to start and stop the text-to-speech feature instead of using the menu inside your word processor. We will also learn how to download another voice that is not already installed on your Mac.

Text-To-Speech Keyboard Shortcut

If you prefer to use a keyboard shortcut to start the text-to-speech, here are the steps for setting this feature. This will work in both MacR TextEditR and PagesR.

  1. Open System Preferences and click the Dictation and Speech icon.

  2. Select the text-to-speech tab.

  3. In the bottom section, check the box next to Speak selected text when the key is pressed. The default shortcut is the Option and Esc keys.

  4. Close the dialog box.

  5. Open your word processor and select the text.

  6. Hold down the Option and Esc keys to hear the text through your system speakers.

Download Another Text-To-Speech Voice on Mac

You have probably noticed that the voices installed on your Mac do not sound very realistic. You do have a few move voices available, for free, to you for your Mac that sound a little better.

  1. Open System Preferences and click the Dictation and Speech icon.

  2. Click the text-to-speech tab.

  3. Open the System Voice menu to see the choices that are installed. Alex is selected by default. Select each voice and click the Play button to hear a sample of the voice.


  4. To see more voices, select the Customize option to open another menu. In this second menu, the installed voices already have a checkmark.

  5. Select, but donít check, another voice from the list and click the Play button to hear a sample of the voice. The Princess and Junior voices are supposed to be childrenís voices - but you decide.

  6. To download a voice from the menu, check the box next to the name. You will see a yellow alert icon and a message saying the voice will be automatically downloaded.

  7. Click OK. Your Mac will automatically download and install the voice on your system.

  8. Go back to the Dictation and Speech dialog box and change the default voice from Alex to the voice you just downloaded.

Note: You can use the Speaking Rate slider under the System Voice menu in the Dictation and Speech dialog box to adjust the speed of any voice.

Note: Each voice is a large file. So keep this in mind when deciding how many voices to download onto your system.

Note: If you are using Kwik to create an educational game or book app, you will need your audio file in the mp3, caf or aif audio format. You can use many audio editor software including AudacityR, AuditionR or GarbageBandR to convert the .m4a file created by the text-to-speech feature into another format if necessary.

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