How do I enable text to voice?

What is text to speech?

Text-to-speech (TTS) is a type of speech synthesis technology that converts written text into spoken voice output. TTS systems take in digital text, analyze it, and generate artificial speech that sounds like a human voice reading aloud the text. The technology enables any digital text such as a web page, ebook, document, or email to be read aloud by a computer or mobile device.

The origins of text-to-speech date back to the 1930s when Bell Labs developed the Voder, the first machine that could generate speech. In the 1970s and 80s, as computer technology advanced, more sophisticated speech synthesis systems were developed that could generate full sentences and paragraphs. In the 1990s, as the internet grew, TTS began being used for web browsing and reading email. Today TTS is widely used as an assistive technology for people who are blind or have reading disabilities.

At the core of TTS technology is a speech synthesis engine. This software contains a speech corpus, which is a large database of recorded speech that includes whole words, parts of words, and phonemes (individual speech sounds). The TTS engine analyzes the input text to break it down into its component sounds and words. It then retrieves matching recordings from the speech corpus to construct speech. The resulting audio sounds natural and human-like because it’s constructed from real human speech recordings.

TTS engines also apply algorithms to manipulate variables like pitch, rate, volume, pronunciation, emphasis, and pauses to further improve quality and naturalness. High-end TTS systems generate speech so lifelike that it’s nearly indistinguishable from a real human voice.

Why enable text to speech?

There are several key reasons why enabling text to speech can be beneficial:

Accessibility for visually impaired – Text to speech allows people with visual impairments or reading disabilities to access digital content through audio. This opens up possibilities for education, information, entertainment and more that may not be accessible otherwise (1).

Convenience while multitasking – Text to speech allows people to consume content hands-free while doing other tasks like driving, cooking, exercising, etc. It makes absorbing information more convenient (2).

Learning assistance – Text to speech can aid auditory learners and people with reading difficulties like dyslexia. Hearing the words while reading along can improve comprehension and retention (3).





Text to speech on mobile devices

Mobile operating systems like iOS and Android come with built-in text-to-speech engines that allow you to have text read aloud. Here is an overview of how to enable text-to-speech on the two most popular mobile operating systems:

On iOS devices like iPhones and iPads, the text-to-speech feature is called Speak Selection. To turn it on, go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content and toggle on Speak Selection. You can then highlight text in any app and have your iPhone read it aloud by tapping Speak. There are options to adjust the speaking rate and language [1].

Android has a similar text-to-speech feature built into its Accessibility settings. To enable it, open the Settings app and go to Accessibility > Text-to-speech output. Choose your preferred text-to-speech engine, language, speech rate and pitch. You can then go into any app, highlight text, and have it read aloud by tapping Speak [2].

Text to speech on computers

Modern computers come with built-in text to speech capabilities that can read aloud text on screen. On Windows machines, the Narrator feature can convert text to speech and is useful for accessibility. Users can customize the voice, rate, pitch and volume to fit their needs. Similarly, Macs have the Speak Selection feature built into macOS that can read text from any app aloud.

For those looking to enable text to speech across the web, the ChromeVox extension for Chrome allows the browser to read web pages, PDFs, and more aloud in a variety of natural sounding voices. Useful shortcuts and customizations like speed, voice, pitch and volume allow users to tweak the speech to their preferences.

Third party text to speech software

There are several popular third party text to speech software options available today, both paid and free. Some of the top options include:

Paid software like Natural Readers, ACME Text to Speech, and Cepstral offer high quality voices, customization options, and integrations. These programs allow you to create custom voices, adjust speed and pitch, and more.

Free software like Natural Readers Free, Panopreter Basic, and ReadLoud provide text to speech capabilities without the premium features. While limited compared to paid versions, these free options can still read text aloud using computerized voices.

A major advantage of paid software is access to human-like custom voices. By recording your own voice, you can create personalized voices tailored to your preferences. Paid programs also tend to offer more accurate pronunciation and intonation.

Free programs utilize computer-generated voices which sound more robotic. However, these voices continue to improve over time. And free options provide text to speech capabilities for basic needs, without costly fees.

Customizing text to speech

One of the benefits of text to speech is the ability to customize the voice, pitch, speed and more to meet your needs and preferences. Most operating systems like iOS and Windows come with a variety of built-in voices, but you can change them up and even download additional voices.

To change the voice, open the text to speech settings and select a different default voice. Here you can choose a male or female voice as well as specific languages and accents. Changing the pitch and speed can help make a voice sound more natural and human. Higher pitches sound more youthful while lower pitches sound older. Adjusting the speed allows you to find an ideal pace that’s easy to listen to.

If you want more variety, most text to speech services allow you to download additional voices. These may include celebrity voices, specific accents, or voices optimized for different situations. Downloading new voices gives you more options to find a natural voice that fits your needs. With customization, text to speech can be tailored to sound clear, natural and human.

Using text to speech practically

Text to speech technology has many practical applications that make daily tasks easier. Some of the most common uses are:

Reading web pages and documents

Enabling text to speech on your computer or mobile device allows web pages, PDF files, Word documents and more to be read aloud to you. This assists people who have visual impairments, reading difficulties like dyslexia, or simply want to multitask while having content read to them (Source).

Proof listening to your writing

Hearing your written work read aloud makes it easier to catch errors and improve the flow of your writing. Text to speech provides an efficient way to review and edit documents by listening to the computer read them back (Source).

Listening to ebooks

Text to speech allows digital books and articles to be read aloud, turning them into audiobooks. This makes consuming long form reading material easier for people on the go, or those who retain information better by listening (Source).

Future of text to speech

The future looks bright for continued improvements and wider adoption of text-to-speech technology. Here are some key trends to expect:

Improvements in natural voices – With advancements in deep learning and AI, TTS voices are sounding more human-like all the time. Companies like AWS and Lyrebird are developing incredibly natural voices that capture subtle intonations and inflections.

Integration in more software and devices – As TTS quality improves, demand is growing for integration in more platforms like e-learning systems, digital assistants, in-car systems, and talking toys. The global TTS market is expected to reach $7.6 billion by 2029 according to Markets and Markets.

Personalized voices – Companies like Replica are allowing users to create custom voices built from recordings of themselves or other people. This allows for ultra-realistic voices for audiobooks, assistants, and other applications.


Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about text to speech technology:

What devices and platforms support text to speech?

Most modern smartphones, tablets, computers, and laptops have built-in text to speech capabilities. Platforms like Wattpad, Kindle, and Learning Ally also offer text to speech features.

How do I enable text to speech on my device?

On mobile devices, text to speech settings are typically found in Accessibility or General device settings. On computers and laptops, text to speech engines like Natural Reader can be downloaded to enable the feature. Most e-reader apps have a built-in “read aloud” option as well.

Why can’t I get text to speech to work on my device?

If text to speech is not working, first make sure the feature is enabled in your device settings. Also check for software/app updates, as older versions may not fully support text to speech. Restarting your device can help refresh the speech engine. Finally, check your internet connection, as TTS often requires connectivity.

How do I change the voice in text to speech?

Most text to speech apps allow you to select from a variety of included voices. On iOS, open Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content to change the default voice. On Android, go to Settings > Accessibility > Text to Speech output. Select a different engine to access more voices.

Can I adjust the speed and pitch of text to speech?

Yes, most text to speech apps and devices let you customize the speed and pitch. This helps optimize clarity and listening comfort. On screen reader software like VoiceOver, open settings to adjust speed and pitch.

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources on text to speech and related topics:

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