Text to Speech for PDFs


Text to speech (TTS) can be a bit tricky. This tutorial shows how to use Chrome Extension SpeakIt along with Chrome App Chrome Speak to set up functional TTSĀ for PDF documents.

First, you want to go to the Chrome Web store to install SpeakIt. This is a Chrome Extension that allows you to right click on any regular HTML text and play it through your computer’s speakers. You will see a little speaker icon in the upper right of your browser. If you select text you can click on the speaker and have it read out loud, or you can right click it and click “SpeakIt!”. You can modify the settings of SpeakIt by right clicking on the speaker and selecting “Options”.
This works for most websites, but does not do the trick for a PDF file that is open in your browser. To handle that situation, you need to also install Chrome Speak from the Chrome App store. This is an older Chrome App, and for some reason it is difficult to search for in the Chrome Web Store, but it still seems to be working right now.
To see the settings for Chrome Speak, click here. What you need to do is change the Voice option to iSpeech. This voice engine is actually the one that was installed by SpeakIt! That’s right: in order to play TTS for PDF files you need to install both SpeakIt and Chrome Speak, then use the voice engine of SpeakItĀ through Chrome Speak.
Finally, go to your PDF file and select the text that you’d like to play. Right click it and select “Read the selected text”. It should begin speaking the text that you’ve selected.