mac text-to-speech voice-over

What can you do when you need to create an audio commentary for a video, but your own voice isn’t a good match? If you have the resources, you could hire a voice artist, but if that’s not a possibility, you might want to try an automatic speech tool.

In this post, I’m going to look at the speech feature that’s available for free in Mac iOS (and thanks to John Espirian for pointing it out to me). If you’re a Windows user, I believe there is a similar text-to-speech feature that’s available in MS Office. 

If you want to get straight to it, go to How to use speech on a Mac. If you’d like to know more about the sort of problems your own voice might cause, continue from Why not use your own voice?

Why not use your own voice?

The main issue here is clarity. You need your audio to be understood by as many people as possible, and if you have an accent, that can be a problem. Strong accents are difficult for people from other areas or countries to understand, because they aren’t used to the rhythm and sounds.

There are lots of examples I could choose, but if you take a look on YouTube, I’m sure you’ll come across some accents that you find difficult to follow. Personally, I find strong Scottish, Indian, and Geordie accents a bit difficult to decipher.

Accents also affect the tone. If you’re selling high-end, expensive cars, you’re unlikely to want to use an accent that’s more associated with working-class or industrial areas. My own accent is a diluted Birmingham accent, which I doubt anyone would associate with sophistication!

Of course, you might just hate the sound of your own voice. That’s pretty common, I think. But if  you have a neutral accent, it might be worth giving it a go as you will sound better than a computer-generated voice.

How to use Speech on a Mac

Yep, I’ve gone and done a video and everything, like a citizen of the 21st century. It’s got my mumbling, watered-down Brummie voice on too (captions for those who can’t understand me!).

I’ll summarise below, if you’re like me and really can’t be arsed watching through videos. 

What you need to do is:

  1. Go to System Preferences.
  2. Click Accessibility.
  3. Click Speech.
  4. Choose a voice (or download another one by selecting Customise).
  5. Use Change Key to define the key combination that will start the text-to-speech reader.
  6. Create your dialogue in a Word doc or some other form of doc or web page.
  7. Use a video+audio capture (or just audio capture) app to record your screen and sound. I use Camtasia 3, but other options are available.
  8. Highlight all of the text you want to be read aloud.
  9. Press the key-combo to start the text-to-speech.
  10. You can then edit the audio in your video/audio app, as needed.

That’s it, all done. It’s not perfect by any means, but it might be a better option if you know your accent is an issue. Or if you are unable to speak for a medical reason or something like that. 

And you’ve heard my voice now. I’m going red at the thought of it.

T’ra a bit.

Techncial Writer, Craig Wright

Craig Wright is an experienced technical writer based in Chesterfield, UK.  He hates writing about himself in the third person, so I shall stop now.

Always interested in new content writing opportunities. Remote working preferred.

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