Leopard’s Text-to-Speech, guest appearance by Soundwave?

Text to Speech in LeopardLeopard’s Text-to-Speech capabilities are great for visually impaired users. Highlight some text, click the designated trigger key, and your Mac will read the text to you in one of it’s many different voices. The default is Alex.

But I prefer Zarvox.

Off the record, I believe Zarvox is just a cover name. I suspect it’s really Soundwave from the Transformers, who having been excluded from the Transformers movie was snatched up from the unemployment line by Apple.

But seriously folks, I can see how this text-to-speech function can be extremely beneficial to visually impaired Mac users. Basically, you highlight a section of text – be it two paragraphs or two pages – and then hit the set key to trigger the reading. I have my keys set to Command+Shift + S. To demonstrate, here is “Zarvox” doing a reading of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”

“The Road Not Taken” – by Zarvox, MP3 File

The Road Not Taken, as read by Soundwave

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Bravo Zarvox!

As for the default voice, Alex, his isn’t flawless english, but it is as good a computerized voice as I’ve seen to date. This feature could come in handy if you have any e-books that you’d like Alex to read to you, possibly while you’re doing some chores around the house. Or, for all you deadbeat dads out there, have Alex read a bedtime story to your kids while you sit back with a beer and watch the Battlestar Galactica.

Here’s Alex doing an excerpt from the Gettysburg Address:
MP3 File

Now if you’re a real a-hole, and you want to scare the beejesis out of your kids, you can have Zarvox read to them. Go to the drop down menu, and select “Show More Voices” (see below). Zarvox is hiding at the bottom.

Text to Speech in Leopard, choose zarvox

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