Text to Spoken Word in iTunes

By Richard Mallion
During my day I listen to a lot of podcasts, mainly while I am driving. I also read a lot of technical documents but always struggle to find the time to read them.
One solution I use is an Automator action which converts text to a spoken audio file which I also demonstrated at the Amsys Sys Admins conference in 2009. This audio file is automatically added to my iTunes library allowing me to listen to these documents when I am driving.
The automator action is quite simple to setup and here is how to do it:
1. Launch the Automator application which can be found in the Applications folder.
2. When prompted select “Workflow” as your document type
3.  We will now build the action. First from the library on the left hand side search for the action “Get Contents of TextEdit Document” and drag it into the right hand area. This is defining where the text we want to convert is coming from. There are a number of options for instance there is a action to get the contents of the clipboard or a Word document. I like to cut and paste the document I want to listen to into TextEdit so if required I can chop it around.

4. Next we will add an action to convert the text to an audio file. In the library search for the action “Text to Audio File” and drag it below the previous action you added. With this action you can specify where the audio file gets saved, the default name of the file and the system voice to use. I normally save to my Music folder and name the file “Spoken Word”

5. Next we will encode the audio file that has been created from an AIFF file which is what the previous action created to an AAC file. We will also select the option to delete the original file after conversion. From your library search for the action “Import Audio Files” and drag it below the previous action.

6. Finally we need to add the audio file to iTunes. To do this search for the action “Add songs to playlist” and drag it below the previous action. Here we can specify which playlist in iTunes to save the file to. I have a playlist called “Spoken Word”

7. Now save the work flow and select “Application” as the type.

You now end up with an application for your workflow. So to use now just cut and paste the text you want to convert into a new TextEdit document. Then run this app and pretty quickly the audio file should be in your iTunes library ready to be synced to your iPod/iPhone.