Text reader extensions are plug-ins for web browsers that allow you to listen to written content instead of reading it. They also go by the name of text to speech (TTS) apps, and there are many of them available. Some speech voice readers are free, while some require a money-based subscription, like Amazon Polly, IBM Watson, and Microsoft’s Azure. Of course, they are immersive readers and offer premium voices.
Although it might seem great that there are more than a few TTS extensions out there, it makes it harder for people to decide which they’ll use. This is why it’s key to inform yourself of their pros and cons before you splash out your hard-earned money. In the following, we’ll go through their ins and out, as well as introduce you to the best of the bunch.
The benefits of using text readers
There are numerous reasons why people use text reader add-ons. The most obvious one is that they allow people with reading difficulties (e.g., dyslexia) to consume written content on web pages. Due to their inability to read properly, dyslexics, people with impaired vision, and those struggling with ADHD need all the help they can get. And with an app that reads aloud to everything they want to read online, they no longer have to rely on other, less effective methods.
On the other hand, the benefits of text readers aren’t just about those with disabilities. Namely, text to speech apps are perfect for students. Various studies suggest that listening to study material is a better way to prepare for tests and exams. The reason is pretty simple. Listening enhances material comprehension, especially if you do it while simultaneously reading. But hold on. That’s not all.
Another benefit of TTS plug-ins is that they allow you to truly multitask. As the app transcribes and reads aloud text, you can go about your other chores. For example, transcribing your favorite e-book allows you to listen to it as you take a long drive. Similarly, you can listen to news, Google Docs documents, Google Translate, and emails while you take a run or walk your dog. In other words, text to speech extensions turn everything into a podcast.
Chrome extensions for text reader apps
Since Google Chrome is the most popular web browser today, it’s only logical that most text reader apps focus on extending it. Of course, there are some that work exclusively on other browsers like Firefox, but we won’t get into them for now.
The way text to speech apps work on Google Chrome is simple. You just go to the Chrome web store and type the name of the app you’re looking for. For example, if you type Speechify, it will pop up in the search bar, and you can add it to your browser.
The way you use the browser extension on Chrome depends on the app itself. Most will have an icon on the browser’s toolbar through which you can activate them. On the other hand, some, unfortunately, require lengthy tutorials and permissions, so they won’t be on our following list.
The best text reader apps for Google Chrome include:
- Speechify — by far the best text to speech Chrome extension;
- Read Aloud — a good open-source option for those on a tight budget;
- NaturalReader — a solid app for those who haven’t used the first option on this list;
- Talkie Text-to-Speech;
As we’ve said, Speechify is the best text reader for Google Chrome. Moreover, it’s the leading text to speech app on other browsers and platforms. The reason for such popularity is its high-quality API and versatility.
Speechify’s software encompasses three main components. These are machine learning, advanced artificial intelligence, and optical character recognition. Combined together, these components turn any digital text into fully audible speech.
When it comes to speech, Speechify supports more than 30 languages and over 130 different natural-sounding voices. Yep! You can choose between male and female voices, different English dialects and accents (e.g., British, Indian, and US English), as well as celebrity-sounding ones too.
Nevertheless, the number of voice options wouldn’t be that fascinating if users couldn’t switch between reading speeds. Luckily, this is possible with Speechify too. Before or during text transcription, you can speed up or slow down the AI narrator to your liking.
Another fascinating feature of Speechify is that you can use a screenshot or snap a photo of handwritten text and turn it into speech as well. This is all thanks to some special OCR magic that you won’t find on other popular apps.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Speechify doesn’t just work on Google Chrome. If you are using Safari on your Mac, you can add the extension there too. Furthermore, it runs as a widget on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, and you can download it from the App Store or Google Play.
Is there an extension that reads aloud?
SpeakIt is a simple TTS tool that reads text aloud with a default voice. Once text highlighting is done, simply click a button in the toolbar, and the app will read the words aloud as playback. For those wondering, SpeakIt can read in more than 50 languages and bookmark passages.
Is there a text reader in Chrome?
To use Google’s Read Aloud, visit the page you want to listen to, right-click on the selected text, and select the Read Aloud option in Chrome’s context menu. You can also use keyboard shortcut hotkeys such as ALT+P, ALT+O, ALT+Comma, and ALT-Period for different functions like Play or Pause, Rewind, and Forward. You can also choose individual passages—you don’t have to listen to everything.
How do I get a PDF to read out loud?
Open the PDF file with Adobe Reader and select view screen. Once you do, scroll down and pick Read Out Loud. If you select Activate Read Out Loud, you can decide whether you want to Read This Page Only or Read To End of Document.