“What’s the difference between hearing and listening?”
That was one of the most common questions students asked during my tenure as an English teacher.
Today, when I edit and proofread blog posts, I’m reminded of the answer I used to give them – listening is paying attention to what you're hearing.
When I read my writing aloud, I often read over spelling mistakes, read over duplicate words, read over wrong words and read over syntax errors. I’m hearing myself, but not listening carefully. So, how do I fix that? I have my devices read my posts to me.
In this post, I’m going to share the hack that I use to edit and proofread blog posts – Text to Speech and Speak Selection.
Text to Speech (macOS)
Text to Speech (TTS) on macOS and Speak Selection on iOS enables your devices to read highlighted text – in apps and websites. Unlike VoiceOver, which speaks everything on the screen, Text to Speech and Speak Selection only reads what has been selected. You wouldn’t want to create an audiobook with the result, but for editing and proofreading blog posts it’s incredibly useful. I use it for all of my writing.
Text to Speech should be enabled by default on macOS. Just launch your writing app > Highlight some text > Right-click > Hover over Speech > Click Start Speaking (see screenshot above).
To enable the Text to Speech shortcut (recommended), do the following:
1. Click the Apple menu > System Preferences
2. Click Accessibility
3. Click Speech
4. Check Speak selected text when the key is pressed
Now, whenever you highlight text and click “Option+Esc” macOS will read aloud the highlighted text. I love this shortcut because it makes it so much faster to hear what you’ve written. To stop speaking, enter the shortcut again.
The reading voice and speaking rate can be switched in System Preferences > Accessibility > Spoken Content. Alex is the default reading voice on macOS in the US, but there are other male and female voices that can be downloaded for different countries and regions. These voices can be large files, though. For example, Karen, the Australian English voice is 2 gigabytes.
Speak Selection (iOS, iPadOS)
I use Speak Selection on iOS more than Text to Speech on macOS because I do most of my initial typing and dictating on mobile. With iOS13’s Neural text to speech, Siri now sounds much more natural which makes Speak Selection even better. While it's not enabled by default on iOS, it’s easy to set up (see images).
- Tap Settings
- Tap Accessibility
- Tap Spoken Content
- Enable Speak Selection and Speak Screen. When Speak Screen is enabled, instead of highlighting text, just swipe down with 2 fingers from the top of the screen to activate speaking.
Next, launch your writing app > Highlight some text. In the Edit Menu, tap Speak. You're now ready to edit and proofread on mobile!
You just learned the hack that I use all the time to edit and proofread blog posts with Text to Speech (macOS) and Speak Selection (iOS). Try having your devices read your writing to you! If you're in an environment where you can’t listen, use a pair of earphones.
Use This Hack to Edit and Proofread Blog Posts [macOS, iOS, iPadOS] first appeared on the Bento Sites Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.