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This chapter is from the book

Letting Mac Do the Talking

Your Macintosh can speak to you as well as listen. OS X can read aloud what appears on your screen, such as typed text, alert messages, window items, menus, and other interface items. It speaks using a synthesized voice, such as Pipe Organ, Cellos, or Junior. Some voices, such as Pipe Organ, are based on a song and sing the voice. Alex is a new synthesized English voice that uses advanced Apple synthesis to deliver a more natural speaking voice at a faster rate. You can use the Dictation & Speech pane in System Preferences to select a default voice, set talking alert options for when alerts appear on the screen, and other spoken options for the user interface. Instead of just showing you, the Mac can tell you when an application needs your attention, such as when your printer is out of paper, or read buttons, icons, tabs, dialog options, and selected text in e-mails and documents when you point to it as well as read select text when you press a keyboard shortcut.

Set the Default Speaking Voice

  • bluecircle_1.jpg Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock, and then click the Dictation & Speech icon.
  • bluecircle_2.jpg Click the Text to Speech tab.
  • bluecircle_3.jpg Click the System Voice pop-up, and then select one of the voices from the list.

    • Click Show More Voices at the bottom of the pop-up to display more voices from which to choose. Click Show Fewer Voice at the bottom of the pop-up to reduce the list.
    • The computer speaks so you can hear the voice, and a description of the voice appears on the right.
  • bluecircle_4.jpg To change the speed at which the voice speaks, drag the Speaking Rate slider.
  • bluecircle_5.jpg To hear the select speaking voice at the current rate, click Play.
  • bluecircle_6.jpg Click the Close button.

Set Spoken User Interface Options

  • bluecircle_1.jpg Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock, and then click the Dictation & Speech icon.
  • bluecircle_2.jpg Click the Text to Speech tab.
  • bluecircle_3.jpg Select the Announce when alerts are displayed check box, click Set Alert Options, specify the following alert options, and then click OK.

    • Voice. Reads the contents of an alert dialog. Use the pop-up to select an alert voice.
    • Phrase. Speak a certain phrase when an alert appears. Use the pop-up to select a phrase.
    • Delay. Drag to set the delay between the alert and the computer speaking.
    • Play. Click to display a sample of the alert.
  • bluecircle_4.jpg Select the other spoken items options you want:

    • Announce when an application requires your attention. Check to verbally announce when an application needs your attention, such as your printer is out of paper.
    • Speak selected text when the key is pressed. Check to read any text you select when you press a key combination. In the dialog, press a keyboard shortcut or stop speaking selected text, and then click OK.
  • bluecircle_5.jpg Click the Close button.
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