AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Mac Laptop/Desktop–Text to Speech 

Cost: Free | Platforms: Built in tool in a Mac Laptop / Desktop. 

Apple laptops and Desktops have a number of built-in tools in System Preferences. One of these tools is a text to speech tool that can read out text in a voice you choose. 

Its key feature is: Get your Mac to read out text so instead of reading a document, PDF or website you can have it read aloud to you. 

Most useful for: People who find reading a challenge so try the text to speech to either read for you or to read along with the text. 

How do I switch on this feature? 

  1. On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, then click Speech. 

  1. Select the “Speak selected text when the key is pressed” tickbox. 

  1. By default, speaking is enabled when you press Option-Esc. To choose a different key, click Change Key, press one or more modifier keys (Command, Shift, Option or Control) together with another key, then click OK. 

  1. To have your Mac start speaking, press the specified key. To stop the speaking, press the key again. 

  1. If text is selected when you press the key, the selected text is spoken. Otherwise, available text items in the current window are spoken; for example, if Mail is the current window, an email message is read. 

  1. Note: If no text items are available, you hear a beep.

text to speech options in a mac like voice and voice speed.

Choosing a voice to read aloud. 

  • On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, then click Speech. 

  • Click the System Voice pop-up menu, then choose a voice. 

  • To adjust how fast the voice speaks, drag the Speaking Rate slider. 

  • Click Play to test the voice and speaking rate. 

Our Top Tip:

Take time to choose the right voice for you. Some voices will click with you better than others. You need to choose a voice you can listen to for a long time. 

Demonstration of Text to Speech on a Mac in Action 


Video source: BeatDyslexia YouTube channel 

Go to the Apple Website> 

For more Advice:  

  • If you are a student in Higher Education, speak to your Assistive Technology Officer or Disability Officer /Learning Support Officer.  

  • If you are a Student in the FET/ETB then it may be possible to speak to an Educational Needs Coordinator, Learning Support Coordinator, Student Access Officer, Student Support Coordinator or a Disability Support Officer for more information about assistive technology.  

  • If you are an Employee and are interested in this technology then speak to your Disability Liaison Officer (public service) or your Line Manager to start the conversation. 

Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

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