Saturday, July 18, 2009

Text to Speech: A great proofreading tool

Speech Icon System PreferencesIf you are like me, you make common grammar and spelling mistakes in your writing, which sometimes can hinder with the message or story you are trying to get out. Also, most of the time, you miss those mistakes when proofreading. Well, a good tool that I use is my Mac’s “Text to Speech” feature, and I use it to read back what I wrote, and to check if what I wrote made sense. I do this with most of my writing (with the exception of Tweets, Facebook statuses, AIM conversations, etc.), and while it is a little time consuming, it helps me feel more confident and “sure” when publishing, or handing in work.

Note: Text to Speech will work in all applications that allow text highlighting. The text-to-speech will basically speak any text you highlight.Speech

1. In order to allow easy access to text to speech, first, you have to go to the System Preferences ( > System Preferences), and go to the “Speech” pane, which is under the “System” category.

Picture 3

2. Then, once the Speech pane is open, go open up the “Text to Speech” tab. The window should be similar to the screenshot above.

TTS Hotkey

3. To make the “Text to Speech” easier to access, go check the box next to the “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”. A locked button saying, “Set key…” should, now, be click-able. Click it, then a little dropdown window should appear, asking you to make a hotkey, that will enable text to speech on a highlighted text, with one or more modifier keys (Shift, control, command, etc.) and another key.

Press the keys that you want in your hotkey “key-combo”, and it will be recorded. Then to confirm the hotkey, click “OK”.

4. Now, you can test it out. Go to any software on your Mac that allows texts highlighting, and then highlight all, some, or a portion of a text, then use the hotkey you created. You should, then hear the computer talk. If it does, congratulations, you have successfully made this feature easily accessible. If it did not work, you will have to repeat this tutorial.

Now that the tutorial is completed, you can customize the speaking rate of the computer’s voice, change the person (voice) that is talking, and more. All the features can be seen in the “Text to Speech” tab in the “Speech” System Preferences pane.