Text to speech on Google Chromebooks

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Let's explore how text to speech features work on Chromebooks.

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Text to speech on Google Chromebooks

A Chromebook is a detachable tablet or computer operating on the unique Chrome OS. This operating system is based on Linux’s open-source software and offers impressive speed and security. Many Chromebooks have touchscreen availability, which is why the products remind some users of Android mobile devices. While Chromebooks operate similarly to an Android OS system, the two differ in several ways. Most notably, Google has implemented text to speech (TTS) functionalities into its products, ensuring they meet different users’ learning and reading needs.

Let’s explore how TTS features work on Chromebooks.

What is text to speech?

Modern devices make life easier, but they can be hard to use for people with special needs. For this reason, large corporations like Microsoft have made accessibility a top priority.

Assistive technology like text to speech tools has simplified managing apps and devices for users with learning difficulties like ADHD and dyslexia.

Text to speech apps read content from web pages, Google docs, PDF files, and emails aloud.

With a few simple clicks, the software analyzes the content on a computer and converts it into an audio file. Thus, when it comes to accessibility, no other technology comes close to TTS resources.

While TTS is invaluable for children and adults who are struggling readers, it also improves writing and editing skills as well as productivity.

How does TTS work?

The technology uses AI-generated voices and allows users to customize the reading pace.

Many apps combine listening and reading. As the program reads an entire page, it highlights the appropriate sections, allowing you to follow along.

In recent years, special needs teachers have praised TTS tools for bringing more accessibility into the classroom. For example. print materials like assigned reading aren’t always available as audio files. However, with text to speech tools, children with learning disabilities can access quality education.

The two default TTS options on Chromebook

Chromebooks have two built-in TTS functionalities – ChromeVox and Select-to-Speak.

ChromeVox is the native screen reader on all Chromebook products. It processes the content of an entire web page and reads the text to users.

Activating this accessibility feature is relatively straightforward. Here’s what you need to do on a computer:

  1. Hold “Alt + Shift + s” and choose “Settings.”

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap “Advanced.”

  3. Navigate to the “Accessibility” section and press “Manage Accessibility Features.”

  4. Head to the “text to speech” section and select “Enable ChromeVox (spoken feedback).”

If you want quick access to this functionality, use the “Ctrl + Alt + z” keyboard shortcut. You can use the same shortcut to disable the feature.

If you’re using a tablet, follow the steps below:

  1. Navigate to the appropriate website.

  2. Long-press the “Volume up” and “Volume down” buttons.

A sound alert will notify you the action has been successful.

The Select-to-Speak function is handy when you only want to listen to a specific part of a text.

Follow the below instructions to activate Select-to-Speak on your Chromebook:

  1. Tap “Alt + Shift + s.”

  2. Press the “Settings” option and choose “Advanced” at the bottom of the screen.

  3. Find the “Accessibility” section and choose “Manage Accessibility Features.”

  4. Click on “Enable Select-to-Speak” under “text to speech.”

After enabling the feature, it’s time to listen to the text. There are three ways you can do so:

  • Long-hold the Launcher or Search key and drag the cursor over a specific paragraph.

  • Highlight a particular paragraph and hold “Launcher key + s.”

  • Press “Select-to-Speak” at the bottom right of the screen and drag the cursor over part of the text.

Your Chromebook should soon start to read the selected text aloud.

When you want to end a listening session, tap the Search key or “Ctrl.” Alternatively, press the “Stop” button. Both actions will stop Select-to-Speak.

The text to speech alternatives for Chromebook

While the two built-in screen readers have impressive features, they may not meet all your reading needs. The following TTS alternatives for Chromebooks may offer functionalities that better match your personal preference.

Read Aloud

Read Aloud is a TTS extension available in the Google Chrome Web Store. It works well with different web pages, including blogs, news sites, and online course materials.

Users can choose from different voices. Although the app has its own selection, it provides users with access to narrators from other services like Amazon Polly, Microsoft, and IBM Watson.

The extension provides a simple interface, and you can adjust playback settings using keyboard shortcuts.

Since the app is open-source, the developers encourage users to suggest possible improvements and bug fixes.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AI Services (Amazon Polly, Rekognition, and Translate) can turn your browser into a robust TTS and translation tool.

Some of the most notable features the app bundle provides include:

  • Listening to the selected text using Amazon Polly

  • Translating the selected text to a different language (English, Italiano, Türkçe, and more) with Amazon Translate

  • Identifying text in images with Amazon Rekognition

Users can find all the commands in the context menu.


Speechify is a TTS tool compatible with multiple platforms. You can use it on your iOS and Android mobile device or download the Chrome extension platforms.

The following features make this program one of the most advanced TTS apps on the market:

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to turn images of text into audio files

  • Customizable playback controls

  • A catalog of over 30 voices

  • TTS services in over 14 languages

Speechify – the perfect TTS app for your Chromebook

If you’re looking for the ideal TTS app to upgrade your Chromebook, Speechify ticks all the boxes. It’s beginner-friendly and suitable for people with learning difficulties. Moreover, it’s the go-to choice for dyslexic adults who want to improve their reading skills. Try it for free today to make any web page, PDF file, or Microsoft Word doc more accessible.


Does a Chromebook have text to speech?

Chromebooks have Select-to-Speak and ChromeVox, two built-in screen readers. You can also install additional TTS extensions like Speechify for a stress-free listening experience.

What are the benefits of owning a Chromebook?

The most notable benefits of owning a Chromebook include automatic updates, high processing speeds, and long battery life. In Addition, Chromebooks have a minimalistic interface, and you can access all your apps using one button.

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