In System Preferences, under Dictation & Speech, there is a Speaking Rate setting:

Dictation & Speech - System Preferences

Is there a way to change the Speaking Rate to a value that is not on that slider bar?

For example, if I want the speech rate to be faster than the maximum slider value, how can I do that? There's a way to make the terminal speak certain lines of text faster (e.g. say --rate 500 "hello world"), but I'd like it to be the system-wide setting.

Can this be set using something like default write com.example.apple.speech.rate 999?


I discovered that you can change the VoiceDataRateArray in ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.speech.voice.prefs.plist

I just changed the value of Item 2 to a value of value 500 and rebooted.

Thanks to tyler over at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/macvisionaries/HOR7NWxsDQA

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Just to add to the two existing answers, I'd add that you can also do the activity monitor commands in terminal, so you can skip a ton of steps. Doesn't seem like you even need to enter the code separately.

plutil -convert json ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.speech.voice.prefs.plist -o - | python -c 'import json, sys;d=json.load(sys.stdin);[x.__setitem__(-1, 720) for x in d["VoiceRateDataArray"]];json.dump(d, sys.stdout)' | plutil -convert binary1 -o ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.speech.voice.prefs.plist -

killall com.apple.speech.speechsynthesisd
killall SpeechSynthesisServer
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Thanks to this thread and others, I've cobbled together a bash.sh solution that enables you to change the value quickly via terminal.

check it out! https://github.com/insasquatchcountry/TTSpeed

In the README.md is a copy/past install script for people like me who aren't very shell savvy.

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  • It's probably worth adding the code to the answer – Greenonline May 29 '19 at 23:30

Adding to user3621156's answer, change each of the Item 2 values to 500.

If you don't want to reboot, you can open Activity Monitor, search for speech and force quit each of the matching processes under your username. Then, open speech settings and toggle the shortcut key and the next time you use it it should be faster.

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