How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (2023)

This guide will go over built-in methods and free third-party apps to turn text into speech on your iPhone and iPad.

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (1)

1. Use Apple’s Speech Selection

All recent iPhones, iPads, and Macs have a built-in accessibility feature that lets you hear selected text. This system-wide setting works in Notes, Safari, Chrome, Pages, Mail, Gmail, Messages, and almost all other apps where you can select text.

Here’s how to use the Speak Selection feature on iPhone and iPad:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Accessibility.
  2. Tap Spoken Content and turn on the switch for Speak Selection.
  3. Now, open Notes, Safari, Mail, or another app and select the text you want your iPhone or iPad to speak.
  4. Finally, tap Speak from the thin menu strip.

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Your device will speak that text. You can use it to hear one word, a paragraph of several sentences, or multiple paragraphs — as long as the text is selected.

If you do not like the voice and the rate at which your iPhone or iPad speaks, head back to the Settings app > Accessibility > Spoken Content. From here, tap Voice to pick another voice. You can also adjust the Speaking Rate and explore other settings to your liking.

2. Use Live Speech on iOS 17 and later

Live Speech is yet another accessibility feature on iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 that allows you to type something and have your iPhone or iPad speak it. What makes it unique is that you can use Live Speech even on a phone call.

In addition to that, you can create your Personal Voice and set that as your Live Speech voice, after which whatever you type will be spoken in YOUR voice! It’s brilliant, and you should learn more about both Live Speech and Personal Voice!

3. Use Safari

Safari has a built-in option that can read web articles to you. So, if you have a lengthy research paper to read, go through a news item, or just want to listen to a tutorial while you follow the steps, your browser can easily handle that.

Here’s how to have web articles read to you in Safari:

  1. Open Safari on your iPhone or iPad and visit the article you want to read.
  2. Tap the AA button in the URL address bar.
  3. Choose Listen to Page, and Safari will start reading the contents of this webpage to you.
  4. You can re-tap the AA icon and pick Listening Controls to pause, skip, change the speaking rate, or end listening.

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (3)

4. Use iOS Shortcuts

You can convert custom text or web articles to speech using free Siri shortcuts. Here are two such options from Apple’s own shortcuts gallery.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app and tap Gallery.
  2. Use the search bar to find Turn Text Into Audio & Speak Body of Article shortcuts and add them.

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  • Now, tap the Turn Text Into Audio shortcut, type or paste the text you want to convert to speech, and tap Done, followed by the play button. This reader shortcut will speak what you entered.

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (5)

  • To use Speak Body of Article, open a web page in Safari or Chrome, tap the Share button, and select Speak Body of Article. The shortcut will read the main content of that web article. However, you won’t see an option to pause it, and the only way to stop it midway is to force close the browser!

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5. Use Google

Google has several handy tricks up its sleeves, and here are two you must know about!

Use it for word pronunciation

While you can’t follow this method to hear long phrases or sentences, you can use it for situations where you want to know the meaning of a word as well as hear how it’s pronounced.

  1. Visit in a web browser like Safari or Chrome.
  2. Type the word and search for it. For some words, you may also have to add ‘meaning.’ For instance, freemium meaning.
  3. Tap the tiny speaker icon to listen to its pronunciation.

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Listen to web articles

Just like Safari, the Google app on iPhone and iPad (not in a web browser) can read articles to you. Here’s how:

  1. Get the Google app and visit the news, tutorial, or other such web page. Make sure the page loads fully.
  2. Tap the three dots menu icon from the top right and choose Read Aloud.
  3. Google will read the article, and you can manage its playback using the on-screen controls. To change the reading speed and voice, tap the three dots icon and customize it accordingly.

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6. Use text-to-speech iOS apps

Finally, we come to free and freemium apps from the iOS App Store that can convert text to speech. You can use them to listen to pronunciations, have them read long PDFs and articles to you, or even export text as audio files.

Text to Speech

  • Simple, quick, free, and ad-free

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (9)

What I love about this app is its simplicity and chat-like interface that makes it effortless to use. Simply type the word or sentence and hit the Speak button. It will convert text to speak. You can further customize the settings by tapping the gear button from the top.

Download Text to Speech

Text to Speech: Voice Reader

  • Export text as an audio file

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (10)

This app is amazing as it does what it advertises. In addition to reading the text you ask it to, the app can also convert those text to audio and allows you to export it as a mp3 file! It is super convenient if you want to use text-to-voice for simple YouTube tutorials and such.

Download Text to Speech: Voice Reader

Text to Speech!

  • Listen to text or export audio

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (11)

Text to Speech iPhone and iPad app by Gwyn Durbridge has a nice clean interface where you can type or paste your text and have it spoken to you as well as export it as an audio file in m4a, mp3, wav, or caf formats. You can also save your text (phrases) for later.

Download Text to Speech!

Text to Speech PDF Reader

  • Have PDFs read out to you

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (12)

You can add a PDF to this app from your iPhone or iPad’s Files app, and TTS PDF will read out the contents of that document. It also gives you the option to change the voice speed, pitch, etc.

Download TTS PDF

Voice Aloud Reader

  • It will read books to you

How to use text-to-speech on iPhone and iPad (13)

Have you downloaded books and documents in epub, pdf, rtf, or such formats? You can add them to the Voice Aloud Reader, and it will read that book to you.

Download Voice Aloud Reader

Other honorable mentions

  • TextToSpeech: It’s yet another clean app with lots of features. One in particular that I like is its ability to save the text of a web article from the browser Share Sheet. You can come back later inside this app to listen to the saved web article.
  • Speechify: It has lots of high-quality voice options, and a subscription unlocks voices like those of Snoop Dogg and Gwyneth Paltrow.
  • Peech: Peech is a well-built iOS app where you can add custom text, files (PDF, Word, etc.), scans, or web URLs and the app will read out the contents.
  • Natural Reader: It has a clean interface, and the voice it reads out to you feels very human-like. It’s worth a try.
  • Text To Speech: Natural Voices: Text to Speech saves your recent text-to-speech phrases and sentences and allows you to replay them in a couple of taps. Handy for listening to long custom text in breaks.
  • AIVoice: AIVoice has the option to generate audio from text and also helps you make a video.
  • TTS: It offers a huge list of voice options with easy controls on the text-to-speech player screen.
  • Speak4me: Finally, we have Speak4me, where you can scan a document with the in-app camera, and it will read out the contents.

Check out next: How to turn a PDF into an audiobook or have your computer read it out

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