Ever re-read your own work so many times and still missed an awkward phrase or mistake?  Try having your computer read it back to you, it’s surprisingly helpful when trying to make sure something sounds as you intended (or that you’ve input numbers correctly).

Mac OS has a little know feature “Speech” (part of Accessibility) that allows you to set a hot-key combination to speak highlighted text (stick with me – it’s not as complicated as it seems!)

Start by selecting  –> SystemPreferences –> Accessibility –> Speech.



To enable the feature select “Speak selected text when key is pressed”.  Note that the default key combination is “Option+Esc” so hold down “option” and then tap “Esc” to have your computer read back a selection.   Any text you highlight (in any application that I tested, including Mail, Notes, Microsoft Word, and Excel) is read back to you.  It was especially helpful when highlighting a column of numbers in Excel so that I could double check them for accuracy.  My new assistant “Susan” read them from left-to-right and top-to-bottom.



Other Speech Features

  • System Voice Selection

A variety of voices are available, I found “Susan” to be the most human-like of those I tested.  Novelty voices are also available, some of which sing to you.

  • Announcements

Note the “Enable announcements” is checked, in the options menu you can set a delay to read alerts only after a specified time. You can also customize the announcement Phrase.  By default it starts with the Application name – you can have some fun with this!   This feature is helpful if a reminder is displayed and you have walked away from your computer. 


My name is Peggy Flaxman, I founded Slice Tech Solutions in 2017 to provide technical support and training to indivduals, families and small businesses. I am a problem-solver by nature, and enjoy helping others understand and enjoy technology.

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