Make Your Mac Speak with Siri’s Voice – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 4Make Your Mac Speak with Siri’s Voice

At the time of this writing, the iPhone tool Siri hasn’t yet been integrated with OS X (although OS X has a dictation tool that you can activate via the Dictation & Speech component of System Preferences). However, you can install Siri’s voice files to OS X Mountain Lion and use its built-in speech tools to have the Siri voice talk to you upon request, such as reading aloud highlighted text.

Activating the Siri Voice Files

Here are the steps needed to switch to the Siri voice files:

  1. Open System Preferences (Apple menuSystem Preferences), and click the Dictation & Speech icon.

  2. When the Dictation & Speech pane appears, click the Text to Speech tab.

  3. Click the System Voice drop-down list, and select Customize.

  4. In the drop-down dialog box, scroll down and select Samantha, which will be under the English (United States) heading. Then click OK. (If you’re British, you might want to select the Daniel voice under the English [United Kingdom] heading to get the default British Siri voice; Australian users should select Karen under the English [Australia] heading.)

  5. You’ll be asked if you want to download and install a new voice. Agree to do so.

  6. The voice will now be downloaded and installed, although be aware that it’s almost half a gigabyte in size so might take some time to come down the line. Once it’s finished, select it within the System Voice drop-down list within System Preferences.

Testing the New Voice

You can test the new voice within Safari or TextEdit by highlighting a paragraph of text and then clicking EditSpeechStart Speaking. Note that it takes a few seconds for Speech to start the first time you use it, and you might have to quit and restart the app in question for the new voice to start working. See also Tip 290, Make Your Mac Speak.

Under the Dictation & Speech heading of System Preferences, you can activate other spoken helpers, such as speaking dialog boxes when they appear. These are primarily designed to help the partially sighted or blind, but they can be fun to play around with!

If you get tired of the Siri voice, you can switch to any of the other voices using the System Voice drop-down list, as described earlier. The default voice is Alex.