As a recent college graduate, yours truly is very familiar with the daily drudge of writing papers. The majority of mine were banged out between 11 PM and 5 AM, and most of those were written under the influence of enough caffeine to kill a bull seal. Quite often, I needed to have my paper proofread, but there was nobody to do it. Everyone was either passed out or high as a kite on coffee or energy drinks. My bloodshot eyes were not to be trusted, so I was in a bit of a bind. This is where OS X’s text-to-speech engine steps in to save the day. Though my eyes were shifty, my ears were as trusty as the day is long. I realized that I could use Alex (Or Bruce at the time) to read back my papers, and listen for any glaring mistakes. While not 100% accurate, hearing your words read to you is a great way to stomp out wonky wording or egregious typos.

First, launch System Preferences. Under “System,” you’ll find an icon that looks like a microphone with the label “Speech.” Click that, and then switch to the menus labeled “Text to Speech.”

Next, you’ll want to adjust the speaking rate to fit your liking. Personally, I crank that sucker up to eleven so I can crank through a couple papers a night. You can change to a different voice, but you’ll probably want to stick with Alex. He is by far the best voice as of this release of OS X.

Now you’ll want to check the box labeled “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.” Click the “Set key…” button, and choose what key combination you want to use. I like to use “Control + V” because it doesn’t conflict with any of my other key combos, but your mileage may vary.

All that’s left now is to select the text of your document, and press your text-to-speech key combo. The next sound you’ll hear is Alex’s beautiful speaking voice reading back your prose.

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