Mac OS 9: Using the English Text-to-Speech Software Version 2.0 Read Me

The contents of this article are from a Read Me file included with Mac OS 9.
This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
Using the English Text-to-Speech Software Version 2.0

With the English text-to-speech software installed, many Macintosh programs including SimpleText can read English text and the contents of many alert dialog boxes out loud. SimpleText comes with this computer and is already installed on your hard disk. (You are probably reading this document using the SimpleText program.)

The instructions in this document tell you:
  • how to install the software
  • how to try out the software using SimpleText
  • how to choose the default voice
  • how to annotate text to improve intelligibility or add emotion
  • some technical details, including what Text-to-Speech software is installed
  • how to solve common problems

Installing the software

To install the English text-to-speech software, follow these steps.
    1. Print these instructions before you start. You will not be able to view them on screen during the installation.
    2. If you have been using an earlier version of text-to-speech software, see the note at the end of this section.
    3. Double-click the Installer that's in the same folder as this document.
    4. Click "Continue", then click "Install". The installation takes a few minutes.
    5. When you see a message reporting that the installation was successful, click Restart.

After the computer restarts, you can start using the text-to-speech software.

Note for users of older English text-to-speech software. Installing English Text-to-Speech software version 2.0 may remove some or all of your older English Text-to-Speech voices. You can restore those voices by downloading an older version of the English Text-to-Speech software from However, only the voices that came with this version of the software have been tested and qualified by Apple on this Mac OS release. MacinTalk 2 and its associated voices (Ben, Boris, Brenda, Mariel, Marvin, Mr Hughes, Otis, Robovox, Votron, and Xero) are no longer supported. For a corresponding but more intelligible sound, we recommend trying Trinoids or Zarvox.

Trying out the Text-to-Speech software.

Follow these steps to try out text-to-speech software:
    1. Open any SimpleText document. (This document will work well.)
    2. Click anywhere in the text to make sure nothing is selected.
    3. Choose "Speak All" from the Sound menu. (If you cannot hear anything, you may have the sound turned all the way off. Check in the Sound control panel.)
    4. If you want the computer to stop reading, choose Stop Speaking from the Sound menu.

You can also try the following:
  • To read a portion of the file, select the words you want to read, then choose Speak Selection from the Sound menu.
  • To have the computer speak in a different voice, select a voice from the Voices sub-menu in the Sound menu, then choose the Speak All or Speak Selection command from the Sound menu.
  • To use the text-to-speech features of other programs, see the instructions that came with those programs.

Choosing the default voice.

You can use the Speech control panel to use your favorite voice as the default voice for all your programs. To set the default voice, follow these steps.
    1. Open the Apple menu and choose Control Panels.
    2. Open the Speech control panel by double-clicking its icon in the Control Panels window.
    3. Open the Options pop-up menu at the top of the Speech control panel and choose Voice.
    4. To change the default voice, choose the voice you want from the Voice pop-up menu. To hear what the voice you chose sounds like, click the speaker button.
    5. To change the rate at which the default voice speaks, move the Rate slider.
    6. Close the control panel.

Memory Constraints

If there is not enough memory available to hold a voice, then this software will not speak. The voices with "high quality" in their names have the most natural and intelligible sound, but take up the most memory. To see the memory requirements of the voices, view their sizes in the Voices folder, which is in the Extensions folder. To see how much memory you have available, click the desktop and then select "About This Computer" in the Apple menu.

Turning Talking Alerts on or off.

You can use the Speech control panel to turn Talking Alerts on or off. When this feature is on, your computer will read aloud the contents of alerts. (An alert appears, for example, when your printer runs out of paper.) To turn on the Talking Alerts feature, follow these steps.
    1. Open the Apple menu and choose Control Panels.
    2. Open the Speech control panel by double-clicking its icon in the Control Panels window.
    3. Open the Options pop-up menu at the top of the Speech control panel and choose Talking Alerts.
    4. To have your Macintosh speak a phrase like "Alert!" or "Hey!" when an alert appears, click the "Speak the phrase" check box to select it, and choose the phrase you want to be spoken from the adjacent popup menu.
    5. To have your Macintosh speak the content of an alert when one appears, click the "Speak the alert text" check box to select it.
    6. To adjust how long your Macintosh waits after an alert appears before speaking the alert text, adjust the slider beneath the "Speak the alert text" check box.
    7. To test how Talking Alerts will behave with your chosen settings, click the speaker icon to the right of the slider.

To interrupt and cancel the computer's speaking, click the mouse or type a key.

Tip: You can edit or add to the phrases spoken when alerts appear. To do this, select "Edit Phrase List in the popup menu adjacent to "Speak the phrase:" And for extra interest, if you select "Next in the list" (in the same popup menu), then each time an alert appears a different phrase from the list will be spoken. You can make sequences of phrases which work together, such as following "It's not my fault" with "It's still not my fault".

How to annotate texts to improve intelligibility or add emotion

You can use punctuation and embedded commands to improve how the synthesizer speaks text. For example, select the following two texts and compare how they are spoken by the "Victoria, high quality" voice. We recommend that you turn up your volume and close your eyes to make this comparison.
    There are big computers that are difficult to use
    there are small computers that are difficult to use
    And then there's Macintosh.

    There are [[emph +]] big computers that are difficult to use,
    there are [[emph +]] small computers that are difficult to use.
    And then [[emph -]] there's: Macintosh!

For more details about how to use these commands, search for "Speech" in Apple Help.

Technical details

The software that enables your computer to speak has these components:
  • Speech Manager, a system extension
  • one or both of these English speech synthesizers, which are system extensions that convert text to speech
    • MacinTalk 3 for standard speech
    • MacinTalk Pro for high-quality speech
  • several voice files, each identified with one particular synthesizer in the Voices folder in the Extensions folder
  • the Speech control panel

The Installer removes older versions of Apple's Text-to-Speech software that won't run properly under this Mac OS release.

Troubleshooting (problems and solutions)

My Macintosh won't speak.
  • Turn up the speaker volume in the Sound control panel.
  • If this doesn't work you may not have enough memory for the voice you have selected. Use the Speech control panel to select "Fred", which is the smallest voice, then click the speaker button. If you hear speech, you did not have enough memory available. Try closing some applications or windows, or selecting a different voice.

The Installer program says there's a problem with the hard disk.
  • Re-install your system software, then try installing the English Text-to-Speech software again.

The Installer program displays other error messages.
  • Make sure you restart the computer with the Mac OS CD as the startup disk.

I had an older version of text-to-speech software, then did a custom installation of the new software, but some of my older voices disappeared.
  • The custom installation erased the older version of the software that uses MacinTalk 2 voices. You can re-install that old software by doing a custom installation from the English Text-to-Speech 1.4.1 installer. You can download the installer from
Published Date: Feb 20, 2012