Cleveland State University

Disability Services

VoiceOver and Text To Speech for Mac OS X

VoiceOver is a full function screen reader somewhat similar to using something like JAWS. It reads menus and the contents of programs as soon as you access them. It was designed for people who are blind so it may be too feature rich for people just wanting to read text in a document. The hotkey for starting VoiceOver for all Mac version since OS 10.5 is Command+F5.

VoiceOver will not read in Microsoft Office for Mac or in Adobe Acrobat Reader for Mac. Comparable programs that VoiceOver will work in are Pages (an Apple word processor) and Preview (the default PDF viewer for Mac). More information can be found at


Mac OS X also has a Text to Speech Option which will read selected text when the user presses a user defined Shortcut Key. The text to speech option also works in the Apple Calculator to make it self voicing. It is a simpler option than VoiceOver to use for reading e-texts for people with learning disabilities.

  1. To start, open the System Preferences panel under the Apple icon and click on Dictation and Speech.
  2. Select the Text to Speech tab
  3. Check the option “Speak selected text when the key is pressed
  4. Click the Set Key option
  5. Choose one modifier key — Command, Control, Option, or Shift — plus one other key of your choice
  6. Then click OK

Now each time you type this key combination, your Mac will read aloud any text you have selected. To stop the speech, type the same key combination again.

The default hotkey for TTS is Option+Escape. Directions for configuration of Text to Speech were found at

Creating MP3's with a Mac

Books2Burn is a free Text-To-Speech MP3 creation program for the Mac OS X Leopard. It can use the high quality Alex voice to create MP3's that you can load onto your iPod. This program has not been tested by our office yet but our understanding is that it will only open text files. You may need to cut and paste the text you want for the MP3 in the user interface.

Click here for more info and to download Books2Burn.

For more details about Apple and Mac Accessibility visit:

engaged learning

Mailing Address
Cleveland State University
Disability Services
2121 Euclid Avenue
MC 147
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Campus Location
Main Classroom 147
1899 E. 22nd
Phone: 216.687.2015
Fax: 216.687.2343

E-mail Tests To:
Web Contact
Jeffrey Dell

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