VoiceOver is a high-quality screen reader, but some prefer not to use it. Read on to learn about the program’s alternatives.
Individuals with learning difficulties or vision impairment often struggle with everyday tasks, one of them being reading. Fortunately, technology has enabled these individuals to use different apps and programs for reading.
Thanks to text to speech technology, people can convert virtually any text to spoken language and ensure reading is never an obstacle to learning.
This technology helps individuals develop reading and listening skills, improve fluency, and expand vocabulary. Not to mention the technology is convenient, can be used anywhere, and enhances accessibility. Apple’s VoiceOver is an excellent example of the text to speech technology.
In this article, we’ll discuss VoiceOver, cover its key features, and suggest a few alternatives to voiceover on MacOS & Apple..
What is the VoiceOver utility?
VoiceOver is a built-in screen-reading program available on Mac OS X operating system. This program is only one of the accessibility options Mac products offer its users.
The program reads aloud whatever appears on your computer screen. Thanks to this, individuals with low vision can use their Apple devices without difficulty.
VoiceOver is compatible with refreshable braille displays. When you connect a braille display to your computer, Voiceover will detect it and send information about what’s on the screen using uncontracted or contracted braille.
Moreover, VoiceOver can be used with a multi-touch trackpad, allowing you to effortlessly navigate a full-screen web page, document, or application with different VoiceOver gestures.
Thanks to the VoiceOver cursor, you can easily navigate any page, heading, browser tab, or document. The cursor is the large dark rectangle appearing in the area where VoiceOver is focused.
Another perk of the VoiceOver program is its simple interface. When you launch the program for the first time, you can view a quick tutorial or enjoy a longer interactive tour that covers the main features. Even without these, the program is very intuitive and simple to use.
Many people like VoiceOver because of its customization options. Users can customize the keyboard shortcuts and gestures that trigger different VoiceOver commands. When creating keystroke combinations, users should use one modifier key and one key of their choice.
The platform can be used with Siri. If you want to launch VoiceOver using Siri, say, “Siri, turn VoiceOver on.”
You can also enable this feature by going to the Apple Menu and selecting System Preferences. This is where you can find the Dictation option and browse other accessibility features.
Here are a few basic keyboard commands new VoiceOver users should learn:
- Option-Command-F5 – Turn VoiceOver on or off using the Accessibility Shortcuts panel
- Command key + pressing Touch ID three times – Enable VoiceOver
- VO-F8 – Launch VoiceOver Utility
- VO-K – Start keyboard help
- Tab-Arrow keys – Navigate the screen in the desired direction
- VO-Space bar – Select or deselect a check box
When VoiceOver is enabled, users will hear their notifications. It’s important to mention that the app functions well with the screen curtain option, so you can be sure your privacy isn’t jeopardized.
The VoiceOver alternatives
VoiceOver is an excellent screen reader for those with learning disabilities or low vision. Thanks to numerous VoiceOver options, such individuals have no difficulty reading different content.
Still, some people prefer not to use it. Here are a few VoiceOver alternatives you may find interesting.
Voice Dream Reader
Voice Dream Reader is a reading tool for mobile devices and tablets. This app features text to speech and turns your texts into spoken language.
Voice Dream Reader features a dyslexia-friendly font, so it’s no surprise many individuals with this learning difficulty use the program.
One reason Voice Dream Reader is so popular is that it supports numerous file types, from PDF and Microsoft Word to DAISY 3.0 text-only and DRM-free EPUB.
The tool can load files from iTunes, Google Drive, Dropbox (and numerous other apps), word processors, and programs.
Text to Speech!
Text to Speech! is an excellent app that can convert any text to spoken language. The app offers 95 voices users can choose from. Moreover, users can select the desired playback speed and pitch.
Users who want to convert a specific text to speech need to enter it in the designated text field within the app. The conversion process is easy and quick. Best of all, using this app doesn’t require an internet connection, so users can convert text to speech even when they’re offline.
NaturalReader is another text to speech tool that reads web pages, e-books, PDFs, RTF, TXT, and other file formats.
This app offers numerous valuable options to its users, from adjusting the speaker’s speed to changing the background color.
One of the best features of this app is that it allows users to enjoy natural-sounding voices. Besides sounding incredible, such voices help users improve their fluency and learn correct pronunciation.
Capti Voice is one of the most popular text to speech apps. It allows users to listen to books, articles, documents, homework, and much more.
Users can connect the app to Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox. They can save the text they convert to speech, use bookmarking and highlighting tools, or translate specific portions.
The app allows users to customize their experience.
One of the many benefits of Speechify is that it features natural-sounding voices. Another benefit is the personalized experience every user can enjoy.
The platform lets users choose the desired language, voice, accent, and playback speed. More than 20 languages and 30 voices are available so that everyone can find one that suits them.
The most significant advantage of Speechify is that it can turn any written text to speech. This not only applies to documents, social media posts, web pages, and more. With Speechify, you can scan a hard copy of a document and convert it to spoken language in only a few clicks.
Comparing VoiceOver alternatives
When you’re thinking about other options besides VoiceOver, there are three main things to look at: how easy they are to use, what features they have, and if they work well with Apple devices and macOS. Let’s dive into these areas to help you pick the best one for you.
How easy are they to use?
VoiceOver is popular because it’s easy to use with simple hand movements called gestures. But other options might work differently. It’s like learning to ride a new bike; you want to pick one that feels right for you.
For example, there’s NVDA, which stands for NonVisual Desktop Access. It’s a free program mainly for Windows computers. Instead of gestures, NVDA uses keyboard buttons to help you move around. It’s like using shortcuts on a computer game. And the cool thing is, there’s a big online group of NVDA users who help each other out. So, if you get stuck, there’s always someone to ask.
Then there’s JAWS, short for Job Access With Speech. It’s another program for Windows. JAWS gives you lots of ways to use it. You can use keyboard shortcuts, touch the screen in special ways, or even use a braille display. It’s like having a Swiss Army knife for reading; there’s a tool for everyone.
What features do they offer?
Different programs have different cool things they can do. It’s like picking a superhero; you want to choose one with the powers that help you the most.
NVDA is like a friendly robot that can talk to many computer programs and websites. It can read out loud from web browsers, email apps, and even tools like Microsoft Word. So, no matter where you are on your computer, NVDA has got your back.
JAWS is a bit special when it comes to braille. If you use braille to read, JAWS lets you change how the braille looks and feels to make it just right for you. It’s like adjusting the seat and handlebars on a bike until it’s perfect.
Do they work well with Apple devices?
If you’re a big fan of Apple, you’ll want a program that works well with your Apple computer or device. Some programs might need extra stuff to work on Apple, while others fit right in.
VoiceOver Utility is like the home team player for Apple. It’s already on every Apple computer, ready to help. It’s designed just for Apple, so it works really smoothly.
But if you use different types of computers, like Apple and Linux, you might like Orca. Orca is a program that can read out loud on both Apple and Linux computers. It’s flexible and can be adjusted to fit your style. It’s like having a pair of shoes that’s comfy both for running and for a fancy party.
Speechify – the VoiceOver alternative for Apple and Android
Speechify is one of the best VoiceOver alternatives. The platform is available on Apple and Android devices and Windows and Mac computers. Moreover, you can use it as a browser extension. Designed with user accessibility in mind, Speechify ensures a seamless experience across multiple platforms.
Its versatility makes it a top choice for those seeking an efficient text-to-speech solution. Whether you’re on the go or at your desk, Speechify is ready to assist. With an intuitive interface and customizable settings, users can tailor the experience to their preferences. The platform’s commitment to improving accessibility is evident in its robust features and user-friendly design.
Speechify features free and paid subscription plans. Try either for free and discover the platform’s many benefits.
1. How do I quickly turn on VoiceOver using the press command on my Apple device?
If you want to turn on VoiceOver fast on your Apple device, you can use special shortcuts called press commands. For example, if you press Option-Command-F5 together, it will turn VoiceOver on or off. If your Mac has a Touch ID button, pressing the Command key and touching the Touch ID button three times will also turn on VoiceOver. These shortcuts are like quick tricks to help you use VoiceOver without going through lots of steps.
2. Can I use VoiceOver or other similar tools to help me with podcasts?
Yes, you can! VoiceOver and tools like Speechify can read out loud any words on your screen. So, if you have written details or transcripts for podcasts, these tools can read them to you. Even though podcasts are already in a voice format, these tools can make it easier to understand any extra written information about the podcast. Plus, using VoiceOver can help you move around podcast apps and pick the episodes you want to listen to.
3. Do VoiceOver or its other versions have a zoom feature to make things look bigger?
VoiceOver mainly reads out things for you, but macOS, which is the system on Apple computers, has a Zoom feature. This Zoom feature lets you make parts of your screen bigger, so it’s easier to see. Some tools similar to VoiceOver might also work well with other apps that make things look bigger on the screen. It’s a good idea to check the settings of each tool to see how they work with zooming. This way, you can both hear and see things clearly if you need to.