I like the idea of being able to select a bunch of text and have it saved as an audio file and/or simply read back to me using OS X's default say functionality. It's almost like I can create my own instant personal audiobooks anytime I like. The problem is; the default voices, and more specifically, the robotic speech patterns, can get become quite unbearable to listen to. Is there a solution or an alternative available to overcome this problem? Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Have You tried all the voices? In System Preferences -> Dictation & Speech there's a possibility to download additional voices. Some of them are not so "robotic". Nov 10 '15 at 8:53
  • @MateuszSzlosek I have done, yeah. The problem is not so much the timbre or dialect. It's more; the unnatural rhythm & inappropriate tone (or lack thereof) that make it difficult to follow.
    – voices
    Nov 10 '15 at 10:13

Optional Voices in OS X

OS X includes support for numerous languages, take a look at the Other Languages section of Speaking with a French accent – OS X say. The optional voices include alternative English speakers:

To discover the full list of voices and associated languages:

  1. Open System Preferences.app
  2. Select Dictation & Speech
  3. Select System Voice > Customize…

Select voices in OS X

Customising Synthesised Speech

Apple's development documentation includes Techniques for Customizing Synthesized Speech. This is a technical document aimed at developers but it includes a section on Use Embedded Speech Commands to Fine-Tune Spoken Output that offers a way to embed additional statements within your text that influence the synthesised voice.

Cepstral: Buy Professional Voices

You can also purchase additional voices for use with OS X. Voices are available from Cepstral:

CereVoice text-to-speech is available for Apple Mac OS X, bringing CereProc's high-quality voices to computers running Apple's OS X: 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.7 Lion, 10.8 Mountain Lion, 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite and 10.11 El Capitan (Intel Macs only). CereVoice can replace the default Mac voices with a wide range of other accents and languages.


well if you were insane you could manipulate the rhythm somewhat using "delay x". Though that would only enable you to lengthen a pause between words, not shorten one. Still, that enables you to make the rhythm more natural. You can probably adjust the volume using applescript too, but im not sure. If you can you could make the volume louder for things in caps, and/or titles/headings. You could probably even make a script to take some text and make replace different things with various delays (i.e., replace commas with a certain length of delay), volume adjustments (if thats possible to begin with) and similar stuff.

say "you're right"
delay 0.6
say "she breathed very loudly"
delay 0.4
say "even back then"
delay 0.7
say "but she made up for it in other ways, "
delay 0.3
say "that"
delay 0.6
say "is why i married your mother."
delay 0.5
say "and if all goes well tonight"
delay 0.2
say "i'l find a new mother for you and you can meet her in the morning."
delay 0.6
say "barring that"
delay 0.5
say "i'd would say youll have her before the end of the we"
delay 0.7
say "well"
delay 0.5
say "if i was a betting man"
delay 1.5
say "i'd say two weeks max"
delay 1.3
say "maybe a month"
delay 0.3
say "no more thanthat"
delay 1
say "i think."
  • Wow, that seems time consuming. The whole idea is to save time. Very interesting though, thank-you :) . So where does this delay command come from, anyway? Is it part of a suite, with commands like say? Or is it something different entirely?
    – voices
    Dec 15 '15 at 5:03
  • i think so yes. I think theyre in the same suite but only because theyre both always available, (they might not be in the same suite),
    – pau
    Dec 15 '15 at 14:18
  • Read Me a Book
  • Tell Me A Story
  • TextSpeech Pro for Mac OS X

And you can write own program:

  • Use speak
  • Use own voice, but so hard because need voice for all words and need some tones :)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .