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Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Tiger Edition by David Pogue

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The Mac Reads to You

So far in this chapter, you’ve read about the Mac’s listening ability. But the conversation doesn’t have to be one-way; it’s even easier to make the Mac talk.

Some Mac OS X programs come with their own built-in speaking features. For example, Mail can read your messages aloud; just Control-click inside a message window and, from the pop-up menu, choose Speech→Start Speaking. Most Cocoa programs can speak when you use the Start Speaking Text command in the Services menu (Send File to Bluetooth Device). You can add a Speak Text button in AppleWorks, or add a Speak command in FileMaker Pro scripts. Tiger’s Chess and Calculator programs can talk back, too.

But that’s kid stuff. Truth is, the Mac can read almost anything you like: text that you pass your cursor over, alert messages, menus, and any text document in any program. It can speak in your choice of 22 synthesizer voices, ages 8 to 50. The Mac’s voice comes out of its speakers, reading with a twangy, charmingly Norwegian accent.

Note

This reading-text business is not the same thing as Tiger’s new VoiceOver feature. VoiceOver is designed to read everything on the screen, including pop-up menus, buttons, and other controls, to visually impaired Mac fans (and to permit complete control, mouse-free, of everything). Details begin in Announce when an application requires your attention.

Setting Up the Mac’s Voice

To configure the way the Mac talks, revisit the Speech pane of System Preferences. Click the Text to Speech ...

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