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Sometimes, it’s more efficient to have something read to you. You might be busy with another admin task, or you’re working with your hands and don’t have the luxury of staring at your screen, or you using your mouse or keypad. When that time arises, you’ll want to be able to use your operating system as a means to an audible end.

It’s a good thing Chrome OS has the feature built-in. But the developers have taken this one step further. Not only can you have an entire document read to you, but you can have selected portions of the document read aloud.

I’m going to show you how to do just that.

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What you’ll need

The only thing you’ll need to make this work is an updated release of Chrome OS. I’ll be demonstrating on Chrome OS 91.0.4472.25 (which is the beta channel).

As long as your version of Chrome OS is up to date, you should be good to go.

How to enable text to speech

The first thing to be done is the enabling of text to speech. To do that, hit Alt+Shift+S and then click the gear icon from the popup menu. Click Advanced | Accessibility | Manage accessibility features. Under Text-to-Speech, enable both ChromeVox and select-to-speak (Figure A).

Figure A

Enabling both text-to-speech and select-to-speak in Chrome OS.

Once you’ve enabled the features, close the settings app.

How to use the select-to-speech option

One of the main reasons you’ll want to use the select-to-speech option is because the straight-up text-to-speech feature will read an entire page to you, which could include all of the site elements (such as menu entries and more). So if you want only the article read to you, go for select-to-speech. Here’s how you use it.

Press and hold the Search key on your keyboard (look for the magnifying glass). If you don’t see a Search key, you might have a Launcher key (which is a circle in a circle). As you hold that key, use the cursor and select the text you want to be read aloud. You should see a fuchsia highlight around the text you’ve selected (Figure B).

Figure B

Text from a TechRepublic article highlighted for select-to-speech.

Below the highlighted text you’ll see a menu bar, where you can control the playback of the selection. With this bar you can:

  • Pause
  • Play
  • Go to the next sentence
  • Go to the next paragraph
  • Speed up or slow down the rate of speech

Once you’re done listening to the section, click the X and the select-to-speech feature will close.

That’s all there is to using the new Chrome OS select-to-speech feature. If you’re an incredibly busy, on-the-go professional, this feature might become your go-to for consuming written content, as you multi-task your day away.