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Simple way to do text-to-speech on a Mac


NaturalReader has started going balky on me; it's lost its pronunciation dictionary. So, I'm back to the Mac's built-in voices. I rely a lot on text-to-speech to have my computer read aloud to me when my eyes are bothering me, when I'm doing chores or driving. I've even burned some favorite fanfiction to CD. (Justira's Clarion; for some reason I'm stuck on that story.) 

I discovered instructions for using the Mac's own built-in voices to create audiofiles of text files.

Things to add to those instructions:
  • It works better if you save the file as plaintext. When I tried to convert RTF, the audiofile included thirty seconds of formatting codes before it got on with the actual textfile. 
  • You need to move the computer's focus to the folder holding the text file, which means UNIX navigation commands. ls means "list stuff", i.e. the contents of the current folder or directory.  cd foldername means "change directory," that is, move to a folder within the current folder.  cd ..  means jump up a level. (So cd ../spoo means "go up a level, then down into folder spoo). UNIX commands are case sensitive.
  • I can't seem to make it export as an mp3, only aiff, a soundfile which iTunes will recognize. Unfortunately, the iPad doesn't seem to read aiffs. Old versions of iTunes can convert an aiff soundfile to mp3 under the Advanced menu. Newer versions convert to AAC format instead, which works on an iPad. There's probably a utility out there for converting aiff to mp3, if your itunes is missing that helpful converter.
All of which sounds like a lot of work, but the end result is an audiofile of a story or fanfic of your choice. 



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