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Use AudioDocs to hear the text from your Word docs

If you're looking for an incredibly easy way to get text to speech from your Microsoft Word 2007/2010 documents, check out the free AudioDocs open source software.

Text to speech products are supposed to help you be more efficient, yet oftentimes, getting these products to work can be a frustrating and and time-consuming experience. You either have to hunt down the correct speech synthesizer, or the program becomes too cumbersome to be useful.

One open source application that makes this process incredibly easy is AudioDocs. The free app does an outstanding job of bringing Microsoft Word documents to life. With little to no hassle, you can have those .doc and .txt files read aloud.

Features

  • Supports the 64-bit versions of Windows 7/8
  • Works with docs from Word 2007 or 2010
  • Offers an easy to use interface
  • Changes speaking rate
  • Changes volume
  • Works with the Windows built-in TTS Voice synthesizer
  • Saves in .wav files

Installing AudioDocs

  1. Download the compressed file.
  2. Extract the compressed file.
  3. Change into the newly created audiodocs-XXX folder (XXX is the release number).
  4. Double-click the setup.exe file to start the installation.
  5. Walk through the installation wizard.

After the wizard completes, you should find an AudioDocs entry in the All Programs section of the Start Menu.

One nice thing about the AudioDocs installation is the .NET 4 dependency is included, so you don't have to download or update prior to this step.

Using AudioDocs

When you fire up the tool, you will be greeted by the main window (Figure A). There are no settings icons or menus -- the only settings come into play when you click the MS Word To AudioDoc button. Figure A

The AudioDocs main window's simple interface. (Click the image to enlarge.)
In the new window that opens, you can set the minimal options (Figure B), which include:
  • TTS Voices: This will depend on what TTS voices you have installed on your computer.
  • Speaking Rate: The pace of the spoken audio.
  • Volume: The volume of the spoken audio.

When you click the drop-down for the output voice selection, you'll see there is only one option available: Microsoft Anna. If you have installed other sapi files on your computer (many times they will be installed along with third-party applications), they should be available from this drop-down list.

You also need to select the source file. To do that, click the Browse button, locate the file, and click Open.

After you set the options, click the Create AudioDoc button. This process can take awhile -- it depends on the length of the source file. After the process completes, you should have a .wav file of the same name in the same directory as the source file. Open that file with your favorite .wav player (I like VLC) and listen away.

Figure B

Most likely, you will need to adjust the speaking rate, the volume, or both to get the spoken voice so you can best understand it. I found the default settings to be pretty good. If you find it hard to understand Anna well enough, slow her down a bit.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

4 comments
2bczar4u
2bczar4u

Ok, I guess you get what you pay for. Certainly simple enough to use but doesn't provide for any 'as you go' stats - it just sits there and none of the buttons work so you have to assume it is doing something. I took an extremely small file and it was about 15 mb after conversion. When I listened to it, there were no pauses between sentence or very little. Can't edit after the fact. I don't think I will be using this a whole lot. Oh and had to reboot after because I couldn't get some programs to work.

Treeant34
Treeant34

Great article, any chance of making it printable via PDF? There used to be an option to print these articles but it has disappeared... Whut up wif dat?

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

What Browser are you using here? It's working in FF. I just tried IE10 and it's also working in that Browser even if I am unable to log into TR with it. Seems that IE10 has enough issues but this isn't one of them. ;) Though depending on the time you hit Source Forge they may have been undergoing maintainace and been temporarily unavailable. Col

Sarel Theron
Sarel Theron

When I click on download ... new tab opens ... server not found at forge