Dictating text built into your Mac

One problem that plagues me is typing properly and quickly while working on my book.  Even though I can

Proofreading Marks

Proofreading Marks

crank out a decent amount of text, my typing accuracy isn’t perfect.  One thing I learned from my Dad is that if you begin typing and then try to correct something, you switch out of the creative mode into the editor mode.  That really slows you down.

What I’ve started doing is just grinding out the text and then listening to it once I’ve made my first pass.  Listening to it?  Yes, that’s right.  Apparently this feature has been around on the Mac since 1984 (or thereabouts).

When I’m done typing a blog post or a section in my book, I’ll highlight the text and have my Mac read it to me.  It’s the coolest thing ever.  It helps me find typos that I’d never catch and even the spell checker would miss.  Just because the word is spelled correctly doesn’t mean it’s the correct word in context.  (accept vs except, etc).



More than once, I’ve been blasted by my editor for tossing something out for review or blogging from my phone without taking a little time to do a read through.

The worst part was I did read it.

And I read right over my mistake.  If I let things sit for a day or two and then go over it, the chances of catching an error goes way up.  But in the land of blogging and instant everything, it’s difficult to let something sit there for a while.

Apple Menu

Apple Menu

Hence, I have my Mac read to me.  It’s almost like bedtime stories except I get to do the story creation.

To activate this, you go into the Apple Menu (absolute top left icon), then select System Preferences, then choose Dictation & Speech under System.

Dictation and speech

Dictation and speech

Once that window opens up, choose Text to Speech.  Then, as with all Macs, you can play with things to your liking.  The Alex voice seems to be the most natural without the discontinuity glitches found in the other voices.

The default key combination for activating speech is Option+Esc.

You have to highlight the text you want,  press Option+Esc, then you will begin to hear a dictation of your typing.  Very quickly you will discover errors that you read over several times.  I usually keep the speaking rate pretty high, as the whole point of the exercise is to edit things quickly.

Dictation menu settings

Dictation menu settings

Your mileage may vary.

Hopefully I didn’t miss any errors in this blog after listening to Alex read to me.  At least he helped catch three errors:  chose instead of choose and that instead of this.

Now, only if I could get my Mac to read out of my brain to get things on the screen faster.  And, while I’m in dreamland, how about something that helps me magic wand up best selling stories and narratives, too.

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