Proofreading Your Text with Mac OS X’s Text-To-Speech

Mac OS X Speech Panel

I write an almost weekly blog post for HuffPost and I’m terrible at proofreading my own work. I use the text-to-speech function on my Mac to read the text to me. I find I can hear grammar errors in my own work more readily than I can see them. Most word processors and text editors that I’ve found don’t have a specific feature for text to speech. I like to have a short-cut key for this feature so I can review the text, make changes, listen again, and repeat the process without slowing down to find a menu item.

Apple has a great facility in Mac OS X that makes it easy for me to send a selected paragraph to the Mac’s speech service that works with most applications. Well it works with Pages, Chrome, Dictionary, TextEdit, and Scrivener. It doesn’t work with TextWrangler and I have not tested it with Microsoft Word.

The location of the speech service control panel has changed over the years and is a little hard to find in Mountain Lion. (I’m sure it will change in Mavericks too.) But as of today this is what you do:

Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences…” In the System row click the “Dictation & Speech” icon. In the Dictation & Speech panel click on the “Text to Speech” tab. Check the “Speak selected text when the key pressed” checkbox. Whew! That was crazy!

The default key for speaking text is “option-escape” which I can not easily remember or press. For ultimate productivity I set it to a single keystroke (F13) which makes having a full size keyboard rewarding.