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The text-to-speech function on Mac OS X Lion is quite good, although sometimes it misses the just-right pronunciation of a word.

Is there a way to specify a pronunciation for certain words or phrases in Lion?

For example, let's say my friend's name is "Tony", and the voice for OS X (Alex) pronounces Tony "tooney". Is there a way that I can set Tony to be pronounced the same way Alex pronounces "Toe Nee"?

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Type it phonetically? – Ian C. Mar 29 '12 at 1:20
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Open Applications > Services > VoiceOver Utility and go to Speech > Pronunciation. Add a subsitution for "Tony" and tell it to pronounce it as "toe nee".

enter image description here

Interestingly, my computer running 10.7.3 with the Alex voice pronounces Tony correctly. Because of this, I wasn't able to test this solution, so it may not work.

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Brilliant, exactly what I was looking for. My computer pronounces it fine too, just using that as an example. Cheers! – element119 Mar 29 '12 at 4:37
Ah, I missed that somehow. There's also some hidden app somewhere I was just using to manipulate the exact phonetics of words, and I'm really annoyed that I can't find it anywhere! – timothymh Mar 29 '12 at 11:44
This doesn't seem to work for the terminal. Try running "say tony" in the terminal, and you wont get your new pronunciation.... and ideas on how to make this happen? – Brad Parks Jun 14 '12 at 22:02
This is a great answer. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work. Is there something I am missing? Some command to set my changes? I tried closing applications and reopening them, then I tried restarting the computer, but it has no effect. (I am running OSX 10.8.5 on my Mac.) – user97473 Oct 24 '14 at 22:37

You can also use [[inpt PHON]]:

 [[inpt PHON]]_t1OW ~n2EY.[[inpt TEXT]]

See the Speech Synthesis Programming Guide.

If you download the Auxiliary Tools for Xcode package from, you can use the Repeat After Me application to convert text to the phonetic syntax:

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