If you are a high powered business person or a lawyer, professor, teacher, a harried housewife, a busy assistant trying to do a read against in a long document – really the who of it does not matter – perhaps you just do not enjoy reading or have bad eyesight or like to multitask – now you can make Word read your document to you! This feature can really come in handy if you choose to use it.
Windows has the ability to read text by default. This is how a blind person makes use of their operating system. Unfortunately, it is not very intuitive how to use this feature. This is not a problem now that you have my article because I am going to show you how you can “trick” Word into being your personal reader. There may be a bonus at the end of the article as well, so keep reading!
Actually, the ability to read your documents to you is built into Word itself. The problem is, of course, that it is not included in your Ribbon interface. No worries though, I am going to show you how to add a “Speak” button to your Ribbon.
Follow the steps below to learn how:
- Over your Ribbon you should see a smaller toolbar. This is your QAT (Quick Access Toolbar). It contains only Save, Undo and Redo buttons unless you have already customized it. If not, you can place additional buttons on it, including one for speaking highlighted text.
- Click the arrow to the right of your QAT .
- Click the More Commands button to begin looking at all of the functions.
- Under Choose Commands From, use the drop-down and select Commands Not in the Ribbon.
- Now you can either scroll through to see everything housed there or you can simply click the letter S on your keyboard and then scroll to where it says Speak and select it.
- Click the Add button, which you will see between the two columns.
- Click OK.
- A Speak button now resides on your QAT!
- I am not sure if you will have to take this last step, but I did. I had to exit Word and start it again.
- Now open a document that you would like read to you, and make sure your sound is turned on.
- Highlight the text you would like read aloud and click your Speak button on the QAT.
You will now hear the text you selected being read to you.
If you only need to have reading done for you in Word, you are good to go now, simply click the key combination CTRL + A to highlight your entire document and click your Speak button!
Ok, now, as I mentioned at the top of this article, Windows also comes with a built-in screen reading technology called Narrator. It is mostly intended for use by the blind.
If you start it up, Narrator will immediately begin reading every bit of text on every single window that you have open – which is great if you are blind, but not so much if only wanted Windows to read a small portion of text.
So here is the bonus I hinted at:
If you are an intrepid computer user and like to explore new and different features, you should try out Balabolka. The user interface is not as intuitive as some options, but you also gain control over speed and pitch, which is a big plus.
Balboka is known for its ability to open DOC/DOCX/TXT, PDF, EPUB, and ODT files. This means that you can open your favorites in seconds. It also can convert files to MP3, making it very easy to listen to a document on your phone or MP3 player. There is also a batch conversion if you would like audio copies of more than one document.
You can learn more about Balabolka here.
But wait, there’s more!
This is a very good piece of software, has a very simple interface, and also has the ability to export your writing to a text or WAV file. If you past any text into its window or open a TXT file directly and it will be read to you. The user interface is a bit odd with how the buttons scale if you make your window larger but is still very functional. And its FREE!
You can download TypeIt ReadIt here.
Believe it or not, there’s more!
Natural Reader Free for Windows/Mac
The free version of this software cannot export to MP3, but if you want a simple interface for pasting and hearing your text, you will like this one. Paste any text into the window and click the pay button.
If you like this program but would like more features, the Personal version is for you. The price starts at $69.00 and you can add addition features such as exporting to MP3 and different voices.
Want some voices completely different from those that come with Windows? eSpeak may be the one for you! The program has its own engine and is completely difference from Microsoft voices.
e-Speak can open TXT files and export to WAV. It also has weird lips that move! It is primarily a Linux program, but the Windows version comes with a very unique GUI shown above.
You can download e-Speak here.
So now you have learned how to do something using Word that you may or may not have known before and you are now way more knowledgeable about different options you can try if you are not happy with the way Word reads to you!