Tag Archives: software

Dictation and Reading Tools – on a Mac

Here are some built in tools that allow the Mac to read aloud and turn our speech into text.

Text to speech (reading) on a Mac

This cool feature is built into the Mac operating system. You may need to activate it. Here’s how:

Quick step-by-step

Open System Preferences > Dictation and Speech

Choose : Text to Speech

Check: Speak selected text when the key is pressed

Current Key: option + esc

Window showing text to speech options
Window showing text to speech options
How does it work?

Select (highlight) the text that you want read to you. Press the option and esc keys together. The text will be read out loud to you.

Part of Mac keyboard: opt and esc keys
Part of a Mac keyboard showing the option and escape keys

If you would like more details, including how to change the voice you can look at this video. The uploader also talks about how this helps with his dyslexia.


Dictation on a Mac

Quick step-by-step

Open Preferences > Dictation and Speech

Choose: Dictation – On Button

Press fn (function key) twice

Dictation Dialogue Window
Activation window showing where to turn dictation on
How does it work?

Open your word processor (e.g. word), click the cursor for where you want to start. Press the fn key twice. Speak normally and the text should begin to appear. You will most likely need to do some editing on the text but it is a good way of getting your ideas written down.

Part of Mac keyboard showing function key
Mac keyboard showing function fn key


Read & Write for Google Chrome and Drive

These settings will not work with Google Chrome or Drive.  Herer are some videos to add an extension that will work with Google.

Here’s a video about how to add the Read & Write for Google – Chrome Extension


Here’s some more info about how to use the Read & Write toolbar


Why I am using Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud storage solution that you can connect to from a range of devices.

Dropbox Icon
Dropbox Icon

I am using Dropbox because:

It works on different devices.

It allows me to store 2gb  or more and I can access it from multiple devices. I am using dropbox on windows laptops at school and at home, an iPad and my android phone.

It is great as a ‘staging post’ for my photos.

Once Dropbox is installed on a device you can set it to automatically upload new photos to Dropbox. This works well when I take a snapshot using my Android phone, or the iPad. The photo is uploaded to Dropbox over wifi and the next time I open Dropbox  on my laptop the photo is available there. I can then sort my photos for publishing, inserting into other documents, back up to an external hard disk or sharing on Facebook etc.

I can upgrade my cloud storage.

If you recommend to a friend (who then installs dropbox) or attach new devices additional storage will be added for free. You can also pay for additional storage. I think it is expensive when you consider free alternatives such as Google Drive or Flickr, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

It will upload from different media.

Once installed on a computer Dropbox will prompt you to upload files when you plug in storage such as flash drives and memory cards, or a camera. You can make this upload automatic, or opt-out.

It will upload different file formats.

Dropbox is not only for photos, you can also upload other documents which you can then share with other users. This includes office documents such as word documents.

You can share files on Dropbox.

Once you have files in Dropbox it is easy to share them with others who have Dropbox or through a link.

Why I am using Google Drive.

Google Drive is a storage and productivity solution from Google that allows creation, storage and collaboration across a range of platforms.

Google Drive Icon
Google Drive Icon

I am using Google Drive because:

It’s cross platform.

I am using google drive because it works across different devices and operating systems. Right now I am using my own windows laptop at home and another one in the office and at school. I am also using an iPad at school and my phone is running android. Oh, and the children in school are using iPads, class laptops and occasionally desktops, both running windows… Using google drive we can all access our work on any device and we can choose to share work too.

It has office docs.

In drive we are able create and edit documents using a word processor (called Document), a spreadsheet, and a presentation. Folders can be created and files created outside of drive can be up loaded and stored. Folders can be shared or individual files can be shared.
The docs that you create in drive do not have all the formatting options or the bells and whistles of a full office suite, but that can be an advantage in school.

It has cloud storage.

Five gigs (5gb) for free. That’s a lot of word processing and spreadsheets. And I can edit a doc from my phone.

It’s great for sharing and collaboration

I know that I mentioned this before, but you can share whole folders and individual files with individuals and groups of people. That’s great for collaboration or just keeping an eye on a child’s work.

It’s not perfect

It is not the best place for storing photos and there are limits to what you can do with images within docs. And of course Google will know even more about you than it does already.