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Want to teach your Mac to speak? No need, it already knows how. (Vol #10)

Inside: Making your Mac speak alerts, time, or any selected text

It’s a special weekend edition this week. Why? Well, I’ve had a busy week getting my son ready for and off on a four-week trip to China, and also entertaining numerous guests from out of town. One was my good buddy, Tim Carter of Ask the Builder, who joined me for a round of golf.

I had a rare three-stroke lead over Tim after the front nine. But the tide turned when Tim (apparently energized by a hot dog he ate at the turn) birdied the tenth hole and my triple bogey cost me the lead. It was time to pull out the big guns: distraction!

I told Tim about how I was watching my son do something on his Mac the other day when it started talking to him, telling him that some application needed his attention. Tim’s also a Mac user and had no idea his Mac could speak to him. We played on but whenever he seemed to regain focus on the game, I tantalized him by telling him yet another way his Mac could speak. I figured if he was so interested, that maybe you’d be too.

Getting your attention

Your Mac sometimes tries to get your attention by bouncing an icon on the Dock, or displaying an alert window. But turn away for a few seconds and you may not see the bouncing icon. Watch this video to see how easy it is to have your Mac speak to you when an icon bounces. You can even have it read alert window titles to you.

How to make your Mac speak to get your attention

Announcing the time

Your Mac’s speaking abilities also include announcing the time. This can be really handy if you (like me) sometimes get a little too focused (distracted?) and lose track of time.

How to make your Mac announce the time


Probably the most impressive speech capability is having your Mac speak any text you select. You have to watch the video in this article to see this in action. My son actually uses this feature to have his Mac read to him web pages he needs to read for homework. He somehow listens while simultaneously carrying on numerous Facebook chats with friends. I used to question the effectiveness of this method of studying but he just got the highest possible score on the Advanced Placement English and U.S. History tests, so I’m no longer going to complain about his multitasking. Click here to learn more and see how you might use this neat feature.

How to make your Mac speak text

Word of the Week

The word is “four”.

That’s how many strokes I beat Tim by. Distracting him with cool Mac features apparently worked. I hope you find some of them interesting too. The usual, more educational, “word of the week” will return next week.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Winnie.yates@gmail.com July 17, 2011, 8:53 pm

    This is so Cool! I usually loose track of time when I am on the computer. Now, Alex helps me remember that time is swiftly passing.

    • Jamila820 November 8, 2011, 7:23 pm

      I use Alex as well…. I think its the only voice that sounds close to normal. My husband laughs whenever I tell him bring me Alex

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