I tried previous suggestion to have my MacBook to read PDFs with speech. I tried Edit -> start speaking in Preview. I also tried the regular way of of using a shortcut key preset in System Preferences for a highlighted section. Nothing happens.

I checked to make sure it reads using other documents and/or screen text.

My eyes need a break and I would like to get speech to read aloud the PDFs. What other suggestions do you have?

  • 1
    specific PDF or any PDF ?
    – Ruskes
    May 11 '15 at 4:38

Preview voice reading will happen after selecting the text you require to be read first / as mentioned above it needs to be selectable and recognisable text - then proceed with previous steps: Edit -> Speech -> Start Reading

Hope this helps

  • How do you speed it up? Jul 14 '19 at 5:04
  • System Preferences ... / Accessibility / Speech. Change Speaking Rate and System Voice if want. Jul 14 '19 at 6:08

A command line solution:

  1. Install homebrew. See https://docs.brew.sh/Installation for details.

  2. Launch Terminal and run:

    brew install xpdf
    pdftotext file.pdf - | iconv -t UTF-8//IGNORE | say

VoiceOver can only read PDFs that are actually text-encoded. If they are simply image files, it has nothing to "read." You can use Acrobat Pro or another PDF application like Abbyy FineReader or ReadIRIS with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to "read" the graphics and convert them to text. Then you can use VoiceOver to speak if for you. OCR isn't perfect, but it's enough where you'll be able to understand it.


I use Read2Text application, to copy/paste pdf encoded text into it and it reads my files. It's a hassle to copy pages and pages into it, but for now as mac read won't do this, this is what i do, and it does the job.

  • Welcome to Ask Different and thank you for your answer. If possible, could you edit your answer (there's an edit link below it) to also include a link to the Read2Text application you use? This will avoid any ambiguity in the event there are similarly named apps (either now or in future).
    – Monomeeth
    Mar 18 '17 at 7:57

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