How to Enable and Use Text to Speech on iPhone & iPad

May 30, 2012 - 20 Comments

Text to Speech in iOS

The newer versions of iOS include a fantastic text to speech engine that lets you select any text and have it spoken to you. This basically means you can have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch read you the content of any web page, notes, text files, or even eBooks and iBooks. Before you can use the text to speech function though, you have to enable it.

Enabling Text to Speech in iOS

  1. Launch “Settings” and tap on “General”
  2. Scroll down to “Accessibility” and tap on “Speak Selection”
  3. Slide to “ON” and adjust the “Speaking Rate” slider to an appropriate setting

Enable Speak Selection in iOS

Now that that speech feature has been enabled, it’s time to use it.

Using Text to Speech in iOS

  1. Tap and hold on any text until the selector tool comes up
  2. For a single word, tap “Speak”, otherwise to speak everything tap on “Select All” followed by “Speak”

Speak selected text in iOS with the text-to-speech engine

Once speech has started the “Speak” button turns to “Pause”, making it easy to halt and resume any spoken text. You’ll notice the voice is that of Siri’s, which is also the voice of Samantha in Mac OS X which you can add yourself if you haven’t done so yet.

With speech enabled, speaking text is available in just about any app as long as you can select the text. This works perfectly in Safari, Notes, Instapaper, Pocket, and even iBooks if you want stories read to you, though you’ll have to select all the text again on each page when it’s finished reading the current page. Preferably a future version of iBooks will just include the speech engine natively and we won’t have to do that. Anyway, enjoy!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

20 Comments

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  1. RCook says:

    In the messages app, if you have emoji enabled enter several characters into a text and send it, then highlight the text and have it spoken to you…

    “Winking Dog with stuck out tongue, Bouquet, Dog”

  2. Tom says:

    This is absolutely brilliant, why isn’t there just a button in Safari Reader or iBooks Viewer to read to you without having to scroll? That would be amazing for car and bike rides.

  3. Slvrfx says:

    I tried it in ibooks and found a suprise. Select text of any size and then choose speak. Now, as words are spoken, clicking anywhere on the page will deselect the text but wont pause the speech, therefore the text will continue to be read throught the entire book. You can stop it by selecting new text and seclecting pause.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Slvrfx! I couldn’t figure out how to pause or stop it if the pause bubble disappeared! You are the only source I have been able to find that gives this tip. 😎

  4. Slvrfx says:

    Sorry, disregard the last post. It appears it was a fluke. I wasn’t able to do it agin. Oh well, i’m glad the speak is available.

  5. Edwin says:

    Great tip, thanks!

  6. Nick says:

    Thank you so much for this tip :)

  7. clasqm says:

    My iPad (set to British English) speaks with a male voice that I assume is the same as Siri UK. Anyone know which voice I need to install to get the same on my Mac?

  8. daniel peter says:

    Wow! Thank you!

  9. Catherine Tracy says:

    This works beautifully on my iPad but does not seem work on my iPhone. I changed the settings, when highlighted the speak does not show! Any ideas what I am doing wrong?

  10. Andy D says:

    My Mac doesn’t have the same voice as my iPad and iPhone (Siri female), can I change that?

  11. Nilesh Parmar says:

    wow, a hidden gem, great tip

  12. Jonathan says:

    I found out you can have it read the whole book to you, while automatically turning currently if you turn on VoicOver and swipe the text with one finger.

  13. Rams says:

    Wow thanks! I use it to rehearse my drama lines. Thanks.

  14. Ray says:

    How can I adjust the volume of highlighted speach on my iPad mini. The volume is way too loud and the volume buttons do not adjust it.

  15. omaryahir says:

    Excelent its work perfectly !!!

  16. Gregg says:

    Unless I misunderstand this feature, it is an incredibly short sighted. When would I want text to speech? When I am driving. Why do I need it? So I won’t ‘text and drive’. Having to select text kind of defeats the purpose.

    What a bunch of goobers.

  17. Kathy says:

    I have iPads in my classroom now and am trying to get them to be able to read books to my students….I am able to highlight words but am unable to deselect them….WHAT AM I DOING WRONG???

  18. Emilio says:

    Little Known Easy Methods To Rule equipped with city of heavenly fire

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