I'm reading about 150 pages of text on screen, every day. I will have to read about 15.000 in the next upcoming months. No joke.

Well, the problem is this: I suffer from a sort of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder which forces me to read every sentence up to 10 times until I really get it. Mac OS X Snow Leopard has a built-in text reader with the name "Alex".

Although it is already pretty good quality, I know there are far better natural sounding voices out there. I have heard already voices that are absolutely amazing compared to Alex. They're so good, that you can't tell anymore the difference between a real person or a computer. Alex still has this "metal factor" in its voice, which makes my ears hurt after 8 hours of listening.

The next problem with Alex is, that he never makes a break after a sentence. Also, it's not possible to think about a sentence and then continue reading. It's also not possible to have him repeat a sentence, without tedious text selection and shortcut usage.

Actually, the best tool I can imagine would have the option to read a sentence and move on to the next one after pressing a special key, OR repeating the previously one after pressing a special key. That would help so much! And if that's even with one of those bell lab / AT&T / whatever super-natural voices, even better!

But it would be already a great relief if there was just a better tool to control Alex. To let him make breaks after sentences or let him speak big chunks of text sentence-by-sentence with fine-grained control over repetition and moving on.

Is there anything?

6 Answers 6


Have you tried downloading the extra voices? My view is that OSX offers nice British English voices and a South African female voices. All these these are free. Go to system>dictation & speech and try to change the system voice. I used AT&T in windows in past years but not recently so I cant say that they are the same as what AT&T currently has to offer.

If you have alot to read, have a look at one of the answers to one of my questions. Mac OSX Text to Speech Batch - I split a large file into about 300 text files and will need more. I want each one read out in a different voice, to make it sound more like a radio show... and make me realise that there is a new topic/page.

Good luck with your reading!


Cepstral sells high-quality voices. If you're using text-to-speech that much, perhaps it's worth it to spend $30 or whatever to get one.


Festival or something that uses Festival? http://www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/projects/festival/

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    Although nice that it's free, the voices suck. They're not even half as good as Alex, and like not even a tenth as good as one of those "natural sounding voices" from Bell Labs, AT&T and the like... Jun 16, 2010 at 10:50

Have you given GhostReader ($40US) a look? I haven't personally used it but it does have the features you're looking for (skipping to the next sentence, and back and a larger selection of voices - but none of the AT&T and Bell Labs voices).


Hmm, I really appreciated the say command and some shell scripting. E.g. extract sentences and wait for user action to repeat or next one. But the voice as you said is very hmm lets say.. you must get used to it... HTH


Down load siri voice and with enhanced qualityenter image description here

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