So far in this chapter, you've read about the Mac's listening ability. But the conversation doesn't have to be one-way; it's even easier to make the Mac talk.
Some Mac OS X programs come with their own built-in speaking features.For example, Mail can read your messages a loud; just Control-click (or right-click) inside a message window and, from the pop-up menu, choose Speech→Start Speaking. Most Cocoa programs can speak when you use the Start Speaking Text command in the Services menu. You can add a Speak command in FileMaker Pro scripts. Mac OS X's Chess and Calculator programs can talk back, too.
But that's kid stuff. Truth is, the Mac can read almost anything you like: text that you pass your cursor over, alert messages, menus, and any text document in any program. It can speak in your choice of 24 synthesizer voices, ages 8 to 50. The Mac's voice comes out of its speakers. Most read with a twangy, charmingly Norwegian accent— all but Alex, who makes his debut in Leopard and sounds scarily like a professional human voice-over artist.
This reading-text business is not the same thing as the Mac's VoiceOver feature. VoiceOver is designed to read everything on the screen, including pop-up menus, buttons, and other controls, to visually impaired Mac fans (and to permit complete control, mouse-free, of everything). Details begin on Speak selected text when the key is pressed.
To configure the way the Mac talks, revisit the Speech pane ...