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How to fix PDF Read Aloud not working

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Accessibility is more important than ever in today’s increasingly digital landscape. We've all been there: settling down with a cup of coffee, ready to...

Accessibility is more important than ever in today’s increasingly digital landscape. We've all been there: settling down with a cup of coffee, ready to dive into a PDF, only to find the 'read aloud' feature isn't working. It's frustrating, especially when you rely on it for better comprehension or due to visual impairments. If you've ever thought, "Why is my PDF read aloud not working?", you're not alone. In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of the read aloud feature, its importance, and what to do when it doesn't function as expected.

Understanding what the Read Aloud feature is

The PDF Read Aloud feature is an accessibility feature that’s designed to help people with reading difficulties, like those with visual impairments, dyslexia, or other reading disabilities. The feature allows text to be read out loud by a synthetic voice, which helps people comprehend and engage with the content more easily. The Read Aloud feature can be found in various devices and software, including browsers, e-reader applications, and office software. When the read-aloud function is activated, the text on a page is highlighted as it is being read, allowing the listener to follow along and identify the words as they are spoken. Some implementations include options to adjust the speed and volume of the voice, as well as to pause, skip, or rewind the reading. The Read Aloud feature can be a valuable tool for people with reading difficulties, because it can help to improve reading comprehension and reduce the strain on the eyes and other sensory systems. It can also be useful for people who are learning a new language, as the voice can help with pronunciation and comprehension.

The importance of PDF Read Aloud

PDF read aloud is a crucial feature for individuals with visual impairments. It promotes accessibility and inclusivity, allowing everyone to independently access and consume information. It also benefits those with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, who may struggle with reading or comprehending written text. By utilizing this feature, individuals can absorb information in a way that suits their specific needs. For individuals with visual impairments, the PDF read aloud feature opens up a world of possibilities. It allows them to access a wide range of documents, including textbooks, research papers, and articles, without relying on sighted assistance. This independence empowers individuals to pursue their education, career goals, and personal interests without limitations. Similarly, individuals with learning disabilities can greatly benefit from the PDF read aloud feature. Reading and comprehending written text can be a challenging task for those with dyslexia or other learning difficulties. The ability to listen to the text being read aloud can enhance their understanding and retention of information. It provides an alternative way of accessing content, reducing frustration and increasing engagement.

Different reasons why your PDF may not be not reading aloud

If a PDF is not being read aloud, there are several reasons why this may be the case:

  1. The PDF document may not be designed for accessibility: Some PDFs are not designed for accessibility and do not include any text or tags that can be read by a screen reader.
  2. The screen reader may not be compatible with the PDF: Some screen readers may not be able to read certain types of PDFs, such as those that contain scanned images or handwritten text.
  3. The PDF may be encrypted: If a PDF is encrypted, the text may not be able to be read by a screen reader.
  4. The PDF reader may not support Read Aloud: Some PDF readers do not have a built-in Read Aloud feature or may have limited support for it.

If you are having trouble getting a PDF to be read aloud, you can try using a different PDF reader that supports accessibility, such as Adobe Acrobat or Foxit Reader. You can also try converting the PDF to a more accessible format, such as HTML or RTF, using a tool like Adobe Acrobat or an online conversion service.

What to do if PDF read-aloud is not working

If the Read Aloud feature is not working in Microsoft Edge, you can try the following steps to resolve the issue:

  1. Update Microsoft Edge: Check for updates for Microsoft Edge and make sure you are running the latest version.
  2. Restart the browser: Sometimes, simply restarting the browser can solve the issue.
  3. Clear cache and cookies: Clearing the cache and cookies can resolve these issues with the browser.
  4. Disable extensions: Some extensions can interfere with the Read Aloud feature. Try disabling all extensions and then re-enabling them one by one to determine if any of them are causing the issue.
  5. Check settings: Go to Settings > Privacy & Services > Services, and ensure that the Narrator and other accessibility features are turned on.
  6. Try a different web page: If the Read Aloud feature is not working on a particular web page, try a different page to see if the issue is with the page or the browser.

If none of these steps resolve the issue, you can try uninstalling and reinstalling Microsoft Edge or seek further assistance from Microsoft support.

How to enable the read-aloud feature on your device

The process to enable the Read Aloud feature depends on the device and the software you are using. Here are the steps to enable the Read Aloud feature in some common devices and software:

  1. Microsoft Edge: In Microsoft Edge, the Read Aloud feature can be enabled by going to the three dots (…) in the upper right-hand corner, and right-click on “Settings,” then “Privacy & Services,” and finally “Services.” From there, toggle on “Narrator.”
  2. Google Chrome: In Google Chrome, you can use the Read&Write for Google Chrome extension to enable the Read Aloud feature. Simply add the extension to your browser and activate it on any webpage you want to have read aloud.
  3. Apple devices: On Apple devices, you can enable the Read Aloud feature by going to “Settings,” then “General,” and finally “Accessibility.” From there, toggle on “Speak Selection.” You can then select any text and tap the “Speak” button to have it read aloud.
  4. Adobe Acrobat: In Adobe Acrobat, the Read Aloud feature can be enabled by going to the “View” menu, then “Read Out Loud,” and finally “Activate Read Out Loud.” You can then use the toolbar buttons or keyboard shortcuts to control the reading.

Note that the exact steps for enabling the Read Aloud feature changes depending on the device and software you are using. If you are having trouble finding the option to enable the Read Aloud feature, you can review the software’s documentation or get assistance from an online forum.

4 PDF Reader Alternatives to Read Aloud


Speechify is a text-to-speech app specifically designed for students and people with dyslexia. It uses advanced speech recognition technology to help people focus, comprehend, and retain information more effectively. Our app provides a suite of tools designed to support reading, including a text-to-speech feature that can read PDFs out loud in different voices. Our app also offers options to change the default voice to a different language, adjust the speed, volume, and pitch of the voice, and highlights the text as it is being read. Speechify also integrates with many operating systems like Android and iOS and can be used with different apps like Microsoft word and Google Docs.


NaturalReader is a text-to-speech software that can be used to convert any written text, including PDFs, into spoken words. The software features a range of voices in different languages and includes options to adjust the speed, volume, and pitch of the voice. With NaturalReader, users can listen to their PDFs on the go, without having to read them manually. The software also includes a feature that allows users to create audio files from the text, which can be saved for later use or shared with others.

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a widely used PDF reader for pdf files that includes a built-in TTS feature called “Read Out Loud.” The feature allows listeners to have the text in a PDF document read out loud by a synthetic voice, with the option to pause, skip, or rewind the reading in different Windows, Macs or Android devices.

Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader: Foxit Reader is a free PDF reader that includes a TTS feature called “Foxit PhantomPDF Speak.” The feature allows users to have the text in a PDF document read out loud, with options to adjust the speed, volume, and pitch of the voice as well.

Speechify – the top alternative to use when Read Aloud is not working

Using Speechify as an option to Read Aloud is a great solution because of the versatile features Speechify offers. From highlighting text in your PDF documents to using premium voices for an enjoyable listening experience. Speechify also offers a playback read-out-loud feature that gives you the flexibility to listen to your PDF documents offline and online. So whenever your Read Aloud tool stops working, you can count on Speechify to give you a full-service text-to-speech experience. Try using Speechify to read your pdf doc right now here.


How do I activate the "read aloud" feature in Adobe Reader using keyboard shortcuts?

In Adobe Reader, you can quickly activate the "read aloud" feature by pressing the "Ctrl + Shift + Y" keys simultaneously. Once activated, the software will start reading the PDF aloud from the current cursor position. To move to the end of the document or a specific bookmark, navigate using the standard Adobe Reader controls.

I noticed the "read aloud" icon in the Edge browser. How does it differ from the feature in Adobe Reader?

The "read aloud" icon in the Edge browser is a built-in tool that allows users to have web content, including PDFs opened in the browser, read out loud. While Adobe Reader's "read aloud" feature is specifically designed for PDF documents and offers functionalities like reading from bookmarks, the Edge browser's tool provides a more general reading experience for various web content. Both tools aim to enhance accessibility and user experience.

Can I interact with ChatGPT while using the "read aloud" feature in my PDF reader?

Yes, you can interact with ChatGPT simultaneously while using the "read aloud" feature in your PDF reader. However, ensure that the audio from the "read aloud" feature doesn't interfere with any voice commands or inputs you might be using with ChatGPT. If you're reading a long document and want to pause quickly, remember shortcuts like "Ctrl" in Adobe Reader or locating the "read aloud" icon in your software for easy access.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.