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I normally use OS X in visual mode, with just the cursor and fonts a bit bigger.

But when reading long web pages I do like the Text-To-Speech feature. You highlight some text and then a hot-key (Control-Escape on my particular system)

Although pressing that key combination again stops the playback, it resets the speaker to the start of the highlighted text. So if I do the key-combo a third time to resume, it starts all over at the top.

My workaround so far is to highlight smaller sections of text, but this is more manual.

I'd like to find hotkeys that will:

  • Pause and resume where I left off
  • It would also be nice to jump back one sentence or paragraph.

Other things I've looked at:

  • VoiceOver does have some pause/resume and sentence navigation, but the rest of Voice Over is WAY overkill. I was wondering if there's any way to just use 1 or 2 features, but disable the rest?
  • I see some of the third party programs in the App Store let you Pause. BUT they require you to copy and paste into a separate program, which takes you out of the context of the web page. Usually I'm reading technical doc so losing the diagrams and tables isn't good. Also, copying and pasting is even more of a hassle.

Wondering if you folks have any ideas?

Usually I'm in Safari, but I could also use Firefox or Chrome if that made things easier (like some browser specific plugin)


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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The native Text to Speech (TTS) engine is quite useful, but very limiting. One such limit is the one you described above, the inability to pause, and resume where you left off; this is simply because it doesn't keep track of that information, nor does it know how to actually pause the TTS stream (which even the earlier versions of TTS on Windows could do).

I know you don't wish to use the full 'VoiceOver' mode, but really, that's the best level of control you have. All the user does is simply turn on 'VoiceOver', navigate to the text they want to read, and it, well reads it. If they wish to pause the reading, they can press Ctrl on the keyboard, and it pauses. To resume, it's just a matter of hitting Ctrl again on the keyboard.

VoiceOVer does have it's own idiosyncratic issues however, and one such is it may not read right away. If that happens, simply press Ctrl+Option+A, and it should start reading straight away.


There is one extension that I have found, that essentially captures what you highlight, converts it to speech, and allows you to play/pause. Should work on Macintosh, have not tried it:

Select and Speak for Google Chrome

Essentially, just load up the extension, select text on the page, and click the little icon in Chrome; it will then convert the text to speech, and you can pause/resume, by simply clicking on the nice big pause/resume button.

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That's good information, at least I know that there's not some other secret keystroke I'm just not finding, so I can stop looking for it! I know Voice Over is customizable, so maybe I can turn off a ton of things I don't want... A BETTER option might be a plugin for any of the 3 browsers that can talk back and forth with the TTS engine. Maybe it could either get feedback from the tts engine, or maybe estimate the stopping point based on text length and rate, maybe err on the side of backing up just a bit. Thanks again for the info, hope we can get some other ideas going.... – Mark Bennett Feb 1 '12 at 23:01
@MarkBennett, check my edit above. – zackrspv Feb 1 '12 at 23:10
Wow, that's pretty cool. Sadly on the Mac it's a bit glitchy, like skips or ticks on a record player. Also, though I set hotkeys, I couldn't get it to actually pause. Also, clicking the big Pause/Resume button only changes the volume, even though I'm clicking in the center area white area (where I think the pause button is supposed to be). But this is encouraging, maybe there's some other plugins out there! – Mark Bennett Feb 1 '12 at 23:31
Yeah, I do not use macintosh that much, personally, not a fan. Works great on Win7 tho lol. You can search for TTS on the Google Chrome extension store to see if there are any more. I know there are a few from Google TTS, but i couldn't find much more. – zackrspv Feb 1 '12 at 23:32
Hm, was looking up the same issue again, found my old question here. I don't think VoiceOver can be trimmed back all that much, like to just using for occasional TTS (text to speech). In the VoiceOver Utility, under Verbosity, it doesn't let you completely turn things off. if you do Custom for an item and then disable all the check boxes, it says "Invalid setting" – Mark Bennett Feb 12 '14 at 23:06

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