How to Use Speak, the Text-to-Speech Feature for Outlook

Office 365 has a built-in text-to-speech (TTS) feature called Speak. This means that on top of hearing text aloud in your Outlook, you can also do it in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.


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The Benefits of Text-to-Speech

TTS is an obvious benefit for people with impaired vision. However, they’re not the only ones who can find value in this feature.

15-20% of the US population has a language-based learning disability, and a feature like Speak can provide access to a deeper understanding of written content. This can even extend to people who are auditory learners.

Many companies have gone paperless and instead of sending documents via the post, they now send them via email. TTS would be ideal for the elderly population as it can make their digital experiences easier.

Speaking of easier experiences, sometimes you’re just tired of looking at your screen, so why not just hear your email text instead of read it?


Adding the Speak Button to Quick Access Toolbar

To apply this feature, you first have to add the Speak button to the Quick Access Toolbar. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Click Customize Quick Access Toolbar, which you can find next to the Quick Access Toolbar.

Step 2: Click More Commands.

Step 3: Pick All Commands from the Choose commands from list.

Step 4: Scroll until you find the Speak command, select, and click Add.

Step 5: Hit OK!

Once you’ve followed these steps, you’ll be able to use the Speak feature to hear chunks of text read aloud. To do this, simply highlight the text you want to hear and then click the Speak button on your toolbar.

Multilingual Text-to-Speech

An estimated 43% of the worldwide population speaks a second language. If you’re someone who makes up part of this percentage, you’ll probably be thrilled to discover multilingual text-to-speech.

There are two things you need to hear the text in another language:

  1. The right speech platform for your computer
  2. Downloaded TTS engines for other languages

To hear the text in another language, you have to first download the Microsoft Speech Platform (or whichever speech platform is suitable):

  • Head to the Microsoft Download Center and down the Microsoft Speech Platform for the operating system platform you have.
  • Install the speech platform in accordance to the instructions that pop up.

Then, you have to download additional TTS language engines:

  • Choose your desired TTS language from this list and follow the installation instructions accordingly.
  • Restart your computer to ensure the changes appear.

Date: 30. Jul 2019
Author: Dinnie Muslihat
Tags: Features Microsoft Office Microsoft Outlook

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