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Let's take a look at Text to Speech, a very cool feature found in Lion. Go to System Preferences, we're going to go to Speech. Before we go to the Text to Speech, I just want to mention the Speech Recognition tab. It would be a really great thing if we could talk to our Macs and they would do exactly what we want and I hope that happen someday, but currently I'm afraid that Lion's speech recognition isn't quite capable of doing this. This really is I hit or miss feature. I've tried it. Sometimes it works; other times it doesn't work quite so well. Feel free to experiment with it if you like, but I find it much easier to control my Mac with a keyboard, mouse and trackpad.
Let's move to Text to Speech. Your Mac can talk to you. Before we play Alex, I'm going to give you an idea what Mac's used to sound like when they talk to. Here is Bruce. (Bruce: I sure like being inside this fancy computer.) As much as Bruce may like being inside this computer, I hate listening to him, because he sounds like a computer. Now check out Alex. (Alex: Most people recognize me by my voice.) And the reason they recognize Alex by his voice is because it sounds so human. This is a very nice feature if you want your computer to read things to you or for example you have the option to have it announce alerts or announce when an application requires your attention.
But Alex isn't the only natural sounding voice on your Mac. This is new with Lion. Go to Customize and you'll find that they're not only English voices here, but there are also voices for other languages. So if you use your Mac and use a different language, you'll get a voice that sounds similar to your language instead of a computer resounding voice. But you could also find accented English voices. So let's move down the list and here's this voice and you can audition all your voices here.
(Female voice: Hello, my name is Karen. I'm an Australian English voice.) I very much like Karen's voice. So I'm going to use that and click OK and she now appears in my list of available voices. When you add some of these voices they may need to be downloaded from the Internet. Some of these very natural sounding voices can be about 450 megabytes. So be aware of that before you download one of these things. So we've already heard her voice. Now where can we hear it elsewhere? Well, let's go to my Documents folder.
I'm going to open this TextEdit file, highlight the text, from the Edit menu, choose Speech > Start Speaking. (Karen: Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their party. What party? The OS X Lion party!) Right! So when you're in Text to Speech and you choose a system voice, you can have applications such as TextEdit and other supported applications read the document to you.
Now, of course, this is helpful to people with vision issues, but you may get tired of looking at the computer screen and you may want your computer to read something to you and this is the way you do it. So Text to Speech on Lion, new voices that sound very natural.
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