Leopard and new text-to-speech voices

2007-11-04 10:49:00

A small forum discussion at Ars Technica alerted me to one of the new features in OS X Leopard. Apple'd been working on a more lifelike voice-over, which resulted in the voice Alex. I have to say that it's pretty damn impressive, the way they make Alex sound rather lifelike.

What's even scarier is the fact that somehow Apple worked in little breathing-effects as well. There's something weird about hearing your computer draw breath before it starts to speak a sentence.


You can use the voice-over utilities to create audio files as well. Cheap audio-books anyone? Of course, Alex doesn't speak as vividly as any other narrator, but still.

Here's how to do it:

1. Open Terminal.app to get to the command line.

2. Type "say -f ".

3. Drag a plain text file from Finder into the Terminal window.

4. Type " -o ~/Desktop/Spoken.aiff"

5. Press enter.

The say command will read the text input file (-f flag stands for "file") and will output the audio as .AIFF file (-o stands for "output"). The resulting file will appear on your desktop. Once it's done you can convert the .AIFF file to .MP3 using Amadeus.


Of course, another neat use for this command is to tell you when a huge task is done. For example, I run the "TEC-analysis.sh" script from the command line to analyse a weeks worth of Tivoli alarms. It'd be very easy to do the following:

$ ./TEC-analysis.sh; say TEC Analysis complete!

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