Text to Audio Track

Imagine you're reading an interesting online article when you realize you're late for a meeting across town. You really want to finish the article, but you won't be able to use your laptop during the commute. What to do? Simple, take the article with you on your iPod or iPhone. But not as a text file, as an audio file!

The following workflow demonstrates how to quickly convert any text you've copied to the clipboard, into a high-quality spoken audio file you can place easily on your mobile media device.

Create the Workflow

Launch Automator, and create the following workflow. The first action gets the contents of the clipboard, then passes the results to the next action which renders the passed text to an audio file using the built-in text-to-speech capabilities of Mac OS X. The next two actions in the workflow import the audio file into iTunes and add the newly imported track to a playlist named Spoken Text. The playlist will be created automatically if it doesn't exist.

If you prefer, you can download the completed workflow file.

Save the Workflow

With the completed workflow open in Automator, choose Save as Plug-in... from the File menu. From the sheet, save as a Script Menu plug-in named Save Clipboard as Spoken iTunes Track:

Using the Workflow

Select the following poem and copy it to the clipboard. (It is from the 1964 movie version of Night of the Iguana by Tennesse Williams.)

How calmly does the olive branch observe the sky begin to blanch:
without a cry, without a prayer; with no betrayal of despair.
Sometime while light obscures the tree, the zenith of its life will be: gone, past, forever.
And from thence, a second history will commence:
a chronicle no longer gold, of bargaining with mist and mold;
and finally the broken stem, the plummeting to earth, and then,
an intercourse not well designed for beings of a golden kind,
whose native green must arch above, the Earth’s obscene, corrupting love.
And still the ripe fruit and the branch, observe the sky begin to blanch:
without a cry, without a prayer; with no betrayal of despair.
Oh Courage, could you not as well select a second place to dwell?
Not only in that golden tree, but in the frightened heart of me?

Choose the saved workflow from the Script Menu at the top right menu bar and the workflow will execute and open iTunes with the new track as part of the Spoken Text playlist:

You can rename the track and edit its metadata by selecting it in the playlist and typing Command-I to summon the track infromation window.

Customizing the Voice

Optionally, you can change the voice in Text to Audio File action in the workflow to whatever voice you prefer. There are thrid-party voices of exceptional quality available for purchase and use on Mac OS X. Listen to this example:

      Voice: Peter by Acapela