Text to Speech for Educational Apps

Text to Speech for Educational Apps
You might already know that your Mac has a text-to-speech feature. Many children’s educational app developers have used this feature to create the audio for their apps. This is a great way to let your app talk to the user. For example, a child might use the drag and drop feature to assemble the letters of a word. When the child correctly assembles the word, an audio file would play the pronunciation of the word as well as the individual letters that make up that word.

Of course, if you or a friend have a great voice and a great microphone, you can record the audio for the letters and words. But, if you are like me, you don’t have a setup for creating professional audio soundtracks. A second option is to use the text-to-speech feature on your MacR to create the audio files. Here are the steps for Mac OS X.


TextEdit is your Mac’s basic word processor and has the built-in text-to-speech feature. To use the feature, first add the text you wish to “hear” into the editor window.

  1. Select the text in TextEdit.

  2. From the Menubar, click Edit - Speech - Start Speaking. This will play the audio through your computer speakers.

  3. To stop, click Edit - Speech - Stop Speaking.


  1. Select the text in Pages.

  2. Right-click and choose Speech - Start Speaking.

  3. To stop, right-click and choose Speech - Stop Speaking.

Audio Files

Instead of hearing the audio on your Mac, you can also create an audio file. This option is not turned on by default. You first need to turn on this feature.

  1. From the Apple Menubar, click the Mac Apple icon and choose System Preferences from the menu.

  2. In the dialog box, select the Keyboard icon in the Hardware section.

  3. In the Keyboard dialog box, select Services on the left.

  4. On the right, extend the Text section.

  5. Put a check in the box next to Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track. This will add the option to the TextEdit and Pages menus.

  6. Close the Keyboard dialog box.

Now you can go back to TextEdit or Pages and create an audio file of the selected text.

  1. Quit and reopen TextEdit or Pages. Select the text.

  2. From the Menubar, click TextEdit (or Pages) - Services - Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track.

  3. In the pop-up dialog box, choose a System Voice from the pop-up menu and click Play to preview the voice. Check the voice you prefer.

  4. Give the audio file a name in the Save As box.

  5. Click Continue. Your Mac will not play the sound through its speakers but will create an .m4a audio file and place it in iTunes.

  6. Open iTunes. In the Library menu, select Music. You will see your audio file listed.

You can also find the .m4a file on your Mac in this location.

Users/you/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/Unknown Artist/Unknown Album/NameOfFile.m4a

If you prefer .mp3 format

  1. Open iTunes Preferences

  2. Click the Import Settings button

  3. In the Import Settings dialog box, set the Import Using option to MP3 Encoder

  4. Click OK

  5. Find the .m4a file in iTunes

  6. Right-click an choose Create MP3 Version from the menu

  7. iTunes will create an .mp3 version of your .m4a audio file

Apple, Motion, iBooks Author, GarageBand, TextEdit, Pages, iMovie and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. BellaOnline is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. Screenshots used by permission.

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This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.