How to Get Siri to Read Text on iOS and macOS

Make Siri read text on screen on iPhone and Mac so you can go hands-free

What to Know

  • On an iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content to enable Speak Selection and Speak Screen.
  • On a Mac, go to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Accessibility > Spoken Content to enable Speak selection.
  • Say Speak screen on an iPhone and use the Option + Esc keys to make macOS read the selected text.

Text to speech on the iPhone and the Mac is an accessibility feature for the visually challenged. They also can be productivity boosters if you prefer listening over reading. This article explains how to make Siri read text on your iPhone and Mac.

How to Make Siri Read Text on iPhone

Siri can read most text on the screen. The personal voice assistant works on almost all apps while your free hands can work on other things. To make the iPhone read text, go into the Accessibility settings and set up the feature first. 

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content.

  2. Enable Speak Selection to display a Speak button on top of any selected text. 

  3. Enable Speak Screen to hear the entire screen with a two-finger swipe from the top to the bottom of the screen.

    An iOS user accesses the Spoken Content settings
  4. Select Speech Controller and enable the Show Controller toggle button. The Speak Controller gives you quick access to the Speak Screen and Speak on Touch features with the help of an overlay on the screen. 

    Spoken content settings in iOS
  5. The other settings on the Spoken Content screen allow you to select Voices and adjust the Speaking Rate. Use Pronunciations to add difficult words to a list and have them voiced precisely. Typing Feedback is another accessibility feature that provides voice feedback as it spells each character, entire words, auto-corrections, auto-capitalizations, and typing predictions. Enable this only if necessary. 

  6. To use Siri, long-press the button on the right side or trigger it with the “Hey Siri” voice command. Say something like “Speak screen” to make Siri read text on the screen. Alternatively, select the text you want Siri to read and then tap Speak.

Enabling Highlight Content in the Spoken Content settings helps you follow the words as Siri read them. Change the highlight colors if you don’t like the default blue. It’s a handy feature for reviewing documents on the phone.  

How to Make Siri Read Text on macOS

Spoken content works a bit differently on macOS. It's again an accessibility feature that uses text to speech to read what’s on the screen. On the macOS, it's activated by a keyboard shortcut instead of a direct Siri command. 

  1. Select Apple menu > System Preferences.

    A Mac desktop with System Preferences displayed on a menu
  2. Select Accessibility > Spoken Content. Check the Speak selection box.

    Mac accessibility settings with the Spoken Content option highlighted
  3. Select Options to change the keyboard shortcut if required. 

    macOS Accessibility Options
  4. Leave the other options to their defaults or change them to have words, sentences, or both highlighted as your Mac speaks. Underlined or highlighted sentences mark the spoken sentences to help your eyes track them. Select the pop-up menu for Highlight content and choose Never to disable highlighted text. 

    The Highlight Content options in Mac with "Never" highlighted
  5. Select the Show controller pop-up menu to choose the behavior of the controller. By default, the controller will appear with the spoken content and allow you to set the speed. Use the buttons to play, pause, skip ahead or back, or stop the narration. The turtle icon on the left slows down the speaking rate while the rabbit boosts it. 

    Mac Show Controller menu options with 'Automatically' highlighted
  6. Use the keyboard shortcut Option + Esc to make macOS read the selected text. 

macOS can read anything on the screen without a selection. But you can make the experience better by selecting the text you want the voice to read aloud. Also, to make your reading more productive with Siri, use the Reader View in browsers like Safari and Firefox to clear the clutter before you hit the keyboard shortcut for Spoken Content. On Chrome, macOS won't be able to read text unless you select it. 

  • How do I get Siri to read my text messages?

    To have Siri read your text messages out loud for you, activate Siri by pressing the Home button (if your iPhone has one) or by holding down the Side button (for devices with Face ID and no Home button). Say something like, "Check my messages," "Do I have any messages?" or "Read my messages." You can also say, "Read my latest message" to hear your most recent message.

  • How do I get Siri to read my text messages automatically as I receive them?

    To have Siri read your text messages automatically, you'll need to be wearing second-generation AirPods, AirPods Pro, Powerbeats Pro, or Beats Solo Pro headphones. To set up the feature, go to your iPhone's Settings, then tap Notifications and toggle on Announce Messages with Siri. When you get a new message, Siri will make a sound, then read who the message is from and the message's contents.

Was this page helpful?