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Windows Narrator is a screen reader and text-to-speak tool that allows you to hear text and screen elements read aloud. Here's how to use and customize this accessibility feature.

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Windows has long offered a screen reader and text-to-speech feature called Narrator. This tool can read web pages, text documents, and other files aloud, as well as speak every action you take in Windows. Narrator is specifically designed for the visually impaired, but it can be used by anyone. Let's see how it works in Windows 10.

Read Aloud is a free text to speech software that reads aloud text from various sources. Read Aloud provides Web page text reader, which no other text to speech software provides (for free).

Turn on Narrator

If you want to use Narrator, the feature must first be turned on. Click the Start button and open Settings > Ease of Access > Narrator to view the Narrator pane. Turn on the Narrator button and a message may appear explaining how the Narrator keyboard layout has been updated to more closely match your experience with other screen readers.

Click OK to dispense with this message, and check the box next to “Don’t show again” if you don’t want to see this message each time Narrator starts.

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How to Use Narrator

Now, if you want to use Narrator as a helpful text-to-speech reader, you’re ready to go. You just have to turn on the functionality when inside a web page, document, or file. Move your cursor to the area of text you want Narrator to start reading. Press Caps Lock + R and Narrator starts reading the text on the page to you. Stop Narrator from speaking by pressing the Ctrl key.

Change Narrator Settings

First, let's look at the differentNarrator settings available as you scroll down the screen.

Read text aloud
  • Open Narrator Home. This opens a 'Welcometo Narrator' screen where you can learn how to use and customize the tool andfind out about new features.
  • View the complete guide to Narrator online.This takes you a web page that offers complete information on using Narratorwith a table of contents and a description of new features.

Start-Up Options

  • Allow the shortcut key to start Narrator.If this box is checked, you can use the keystroke Win key+Ctrl+Enter to turnNarrator on and off.
  • Start Narrator after sign-in for me. Thisstarts Narrator after you sign into Windows with your account.
  • Show Narrator Home when Narrator starts.This automatically takes you to the Welcome to Narrator screen when the toolstarts.
  • Minimize Narrator Home to the system tray.This minimizes the 'Welcome to Narrator' screen to the taskbar.

Personalize Narrator’s Voice

You can change the Narrator’s voice a number of different ways. From the Narrator settings screen, use the drop-down menu to choose which voice you want to use for Narrator.

You can also change the speed, pitch, and volume of your chosen voice through the sliders on the settings screen. Certain keystrokes can also be used to change these elements.

Additional voices can be added to Windows, including those for other languages, by navigating to Settings > Time & Language > Language. Click the “Add more voices” link, and on the next screen, click the Add voices button. Choose the language you wish to add and click Add.

Change What You Hear

By default, Narrator will speak aloud any buttons, screens, or windows you hover over or select, as well as any text on those screens. If you want to change this level, click the drop-down menu next to “Change the level of detail Narrator provides about text and controls.” For example, to hear only text and not controls narrated, select the option for Text only or Some text details.

Below the drop-down menu are additional options to check that will have Narrator emphasize formatted text, read aloud by character, use punctuation to determine pauses, and speak advanced details, like help text, on buttons and other controls.

The second drop-down menu in this section allows you to set the level of context that Narrator provides for buttons and other controls. You may want to first try the highest option, “Full context of old and new controls,” and then lower the level if you wish to hear less context. You can then set when Narrator provides details about buttons, either before or after you activate them. Next, you can try the otherthree options for this section: Hear hints on how to interact with buttons andother controls; Hear Narrator announce why an action can’t be performed; andHear audio cues when you perform actions.

Under the “Change what you hear when typing” section, you can determine whether you want to hear letters, numbers, words, function keys, navigation keys, toggle keys, and modifier keys as you type them.

Additional Settings to Change

Under the “Choose keyboard settings” section, you can select your keyboard layout and pick the Narrator modified key. Click the link for “Create your own keyboard commands,” and you can choose from a variety of commands to use with Narrator.

In the “Use Narrator cursor” section, you can determine how and where the Narrator cursor works and how you can control it with your mouse or keyboard. Under the “Use braille” section, you can install and set up braille software to use a braille display with Windows.

Under the “Sync my settings” section, click the “Use current settings before sign-in” button to save any changes you made to Narrator settings so they automatically apply to anyone else who uses Windows on this computer.

Further Reading

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Apr 16,2020 • Filed to: PDF Reader

Many of us might not be familiar with PDF Audio Reader. It is a text to audio program that allows you to read your PDF text out load. In this article, we will introduce several popular PDF audio reader tools for Mac, Windows, iPhone/iPad and Android, which will help you learn how to choose the best PDF file audio reader for your needs. If you need one PDF editor to edit PDF, convert PDF to excel, word, ppt etc, PDFelement Pro is robust solution for PDF. Here is free trial version, you can download it to test.

Part 1: What is PDF Audio Reader?

A PDF Audio Reader, on the other hand, is a text to speech software (TTS). Its primary purpose is to convert text into audio. In other words, it reads text out loud. Most PDF Audio Readers have the capability to read not just PDF files but also Word and web (HTML), Kindle and other text file formats. Initially the software was created to assist the visually impaired, but now all users can take advantage of the software. Many are trying to avoid eyestrain like in the case of writers proofreading their own work. They use TTS software to read their work back to them so they can take a little break from staring at the computer screen. In other applications, usually in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, TTS Apps are used to convert important text messages and/or emails to speech when the user is doing something that occupies their hands and eyes, like driving for example. Others simply like to relax and listen to the audio conversion of an e-book or long article instead of actually reading the text.

Part 2: PDF Audio Reader for Computer Users or Mobile Users

#1: Text2Speech (Mac)

Text2Speech is one of the best PDF Audio Reader that can be used with Mac. It is downloadable from the (Apple) App Store and for additional features you can purchase or upgrade to the paid version Text2Speech Pro. This TTS comes with 10 voices, but if you are running OS X Lion 10.7, it gives you the option of downloading additional voices from iTunes. Mac devices running OS X Lion can also download upgrades to support 26 additional languages. Text2Speech also has a Windows version.

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#2: GhostReader (Mac)

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GhostReader is the Mac version of the PDF Sound Reader. It has almost the same features as its Windows counterpart, but includes the ability to bookmark audiobooks from your converted PDF e-books, a feature not found on the converted files of other converters. The downside of this software is that it can be a bit expensive, but you can add additional voices. A newly purchased Ghost reader can have as much as 20 license credits to purchase additional voices.

#3: Natural Reader (Windows, Mac and Online)

The Natural Reader is a download Text to Speech software available in Windows and Mac and also offers a paid version with additional features. It is also a pdf voice reader online. This software allows you to control the reading speed and lets you customize the voices. This version only has one female voice; the paid version has more voice choices and the option of saving the converted text as MP3, WAV, WMA and other audio file types. Natural Reader can open and convert Word, PDF, PowerPoint, and more and if the file is in an unsupported format you can always copy and paste the text onto the text area and the software can convert it from there. However, it does converts text in segments and during the transition between segments the words tend to get either mumbled or skipped.

Software That Reads Text Aloud Machines

#4: Balabolka (Windows)

Balabolka is a Windows-based free PDF voice reader, and since it utilizes Windows components, is not designed to work on a Mac. It utilizes Microsoft Speech API4 files to synthesize speech. Microsoft SAPI is usually bundled with Windows but if not it can easily be downloaded. Balabolka is capable of reading PDF, DOC, RTF, HTML and more. For unsupported formats, you can still copy and paste the text directly on the Balabolka window. It saves the converted file in a variety of formats including MP3, WAV, WMA and others. Balabolka is also highly customizable. You can change skins and it has the ability to download more voices online.

#5: Dspeech (Windows)

Dspeech is also a PDF audio reader for pc that has all the standard reading and saving capabilities of top Text to Speech converters and more. Its support goes all the way to providing links where you can download or purchase additional voices. Dspeech also utilizes SAPI and other Windows components so it is light to download. What makes this unique is that it has the capability to reverse the process; it has a voice recognition function where it can convert the user’s captured voice into text. Dspeech also has an open source Multilanguage upgrade where you can download additional code to enable it to properly read other languages including German, French, Japanese and Chinese among others, You can visit their website for the complete list. The only issue with Dspeech is that it has conversion speed issues and it sometimes cannot pick up on context.

#6: SVOX Pico (Android)

SVOX Pico is a version of SVOX and is often bundled in with the purchase of an Android device. The TTS is pretty functional but it has one of the most robotic sounding voices. A user needs to upgrade to SVOX classic to access additional paid voices.

#7: Voice Dream (Mac)

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Voice Dream is a lighter version of audible PDF reader for Mac. Despite being light it is still packed full of features and still boasts the same clean and easy to use interface. Some of its notable features include bookmarking for long documents and note taking capabilities. Unlike the Mac version though, it does not have the copy/paste option (Clipboard read) for unsupported formats. Voice Dream is optimized for both the iPhone and the iPad.

#8: Web Reader (Extension for Web)

The Web Reader app is an iPhone TTS app optimized for reading web content like web pages, emails, blog and social network posts, and similar text files online. Standout features of Web Reader include its image-blocking feature to allow written content to load faster and auto speaking from background when multitasking. Web reader also works well with local sync apps like Dropbox. The downside with this App is that it is an iPhone only app and its features are more focused on online than offline functions.

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Part 3: The Best PDF Solution Software - PDFelement Pro

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Apart from PDF text to audio, you may have a lot of requirements such as to edit PDF, convert PDF to Excel, Word, PPT etc. PDFelement Pro is an all-in-one PDF solution and can edit PDF as word. It is a great Adobe Acrobat alternative. It has free trial version, you can download PDFelement free trial version to test.

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