How To Convert Text To Audio Using Automator On OS X

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’d know we’re big fans using tools that’ll save us time or effort, however small it may be. After all, computers are the best at doing manual, repetitive work and doing it much better than humans would do.

OS X has a lot of little tools and utilities to help us save time and one of my favorite tools for automating any kind of workflow is Automator. We’ve written about this earlier and we’re back with another nifty trick up Automator’s sleeves.

Have you ever wanted to, say, create an audiobook out of a PDF ? Or maybe just have some text converted into an audio file that you can then listen to leisurely during your morning walk ? If the answer is yes, read on!

The first step is to launch Automator. It’s usually present in the Applications folder but I prefer launching it using spotlight so I don’t have to bother with mundane details like the location of the application. How 80’s is that?

When you launch Automator, you’ll be presented with a dialogue box where you have to select the type of Automator workflow you want create. For our purpose, select Service and click on Choose to proceed.

Automator

The next window is where you define your actual workflow.

Automator comes bundled with a lot of actions out of the box that can be used in your workflow. Take a look at the left sidebar. For this tutorial, we need to use the Text to Audio File action. Search for it using the search bar.

Automator Audio

Now drag and drop the action to the workflow window on the right. Also, make sure the workflow’s input section says “Service receives selected text in any application”. The two drop-downs should have “text” and “any application” selected. This will make sure our service works in any application where text can be selected.

The default values of the action should be fine for you but you can change the voice that OS X will use to narrate the text and the place where the audio files are stored by default. I personally like the defaults.

automator workflow

That’s it!

Save the action and give it a nice descriptive name that you can identify later. Something like “Convert Text to Audio” should be good.

Now, open the file that has the text that you want to convert and select the text. Click on the Application menu and from the Services sub menu select the service that you just created.

automator service

OS X will now create a file named audio text.aiff in the directory that you’d chosen earlier.

Go ahead, make your own Audiobook now and let us know how it goes.