Live speech output: Use the new text-to-speech on iPhone and Mac

With “Live Speech Output”, Apple has implemented a new function for some devices, thanks to which entered text is quickly and easily converted into spoken words. It's off on the iPhone iOS 17 possible on the Mac macOS 14 Sonoma. If you want to use live voice output on the iPad, iPadOS 17 is required. On the Apple Watch you need at least watchOS 10. In addition to the system's computer voices and the four Siri voices, the own voice be used. In addition to your own speakers, typed text also plays during calls and FaceTime conversations on the devices of the people you're connected to.

Update: This post has been adjusted here and there since publication to make the described function easier to understand. Apparently the original version didn't make it clear enough that the reference to phone calls and FaceTime calls means that the connected contacts can hear the text input being played back.

With Live Speech you can use a new, simple text-to-speech on Apple devices. Here you will find the instructions for iPhone and Mac, each accompanied by screenshots.
With Live Speech you can use a new, simple text-to-speech on Apple devices. Here you will find the instructions for iPhone and Mac, each accompanied by screenshots.

Live voice output / Live Speech can be used with these devices

  • iPhone XS or newer
  • iPad Air (5th generation) or newer
  • iPad Pro (11″, 3rd generation) or newer
  • iPad Pro (12,9″, 5rd generation) or newer
  • Mac computer with Apple chip
  • Apple Watch Series 3 or newer

Live Speech: Set up and use live speech output on the iPhone

In order to use the computer speech output on the Apple iPhone with iOS 17 or newer, we take another trip to the settings. Not only can you activate the function, you can also set the voice to be used and frequently used phrases for quick selection. You can then write text in an input field, press send, and play it over the speakers, in a phone call, or in FaceTime - on the devices of the contacts you're talking to so they can hear what you've written.

That's how it works:

  1. Opens the Settings on your iPhone / iPad
  2. Type the point in it Accessibility an
  3. In the “Voice output” area, select the Live voiceover from
  4. Activates the Switch next to “Live voiceover”
  5. Press the Side button three times to bring up the text field

Note: If you have assigned another function to pressing the side button three times, a selection of the available options will first appear. For me, for example, E.g. AssistiveTouch from the “Virtual Home Button” instructions set. That's why pressing the side button three times leads to the following overview, from which I then have to select the live speech output:

Save favorite phrases for live speech

Once you have typed a text into the input field, you can have it played back using the “Send” button at the bottom right. Having to type out every single reaction in a conversation or every sentence in a presentation live is tiring in the long run. For common phrases, certain phrases or a lecture, individual sections of text can be saved and selected if necessary.

And that goes like this:

  1. Calls again Settings -> Accessibility -> Live voiceover on
  2. Now type the point in it Favorite phrases an
  3. Select that at the top right Plus symbol (+) off
  4. Enter a text next to “Phrase” and tap at the top right Easily secure
  5. In the live voice output you now type in the top left Bookmarks and then select the phrase to speak

Live Speech: Set up and use live speech output on the Mac

In order to use the computer voice output on the Apple Mac, iMac, MacBook and the like with an Apple chip (M1, M2, etc.) from macOS Sonoma onwards via the computer's speakers or audibly for all participants in a telephone call or FaceTime call, This also goes into the system settings. Here you can also make some settings and store frequently used phrases for later use.

That's how it works:

  1. Click this in the top left of the menu bar Apple logo  on
  2. Choose from its menu System settings ... from
  3. Navigate to the left sidebar Accessibility
  4. Select the “Speak” section on the right Live voiceover from
  5. Activates the Switch next to “Live voice output” and an input field appears on the screen

The input field, which appears at the top center of the screen, can be activated and deactivated using the associated menu bar symbol. This means you don't always have to go to the settings to open and close Live Speech. Answering spontaneous calls or unexpected FaceTime interactions is possible without having to search for the voice option. 

Using the function settings, you can also set common phrases on the Mac, similar to what was explained above for the iPhone. Here the whole thing is called “Secured Texts”. In my little test, the phrases stored here were not automatically synchronized with the iPhone. And the sentences saved on the iPhone were not sent to the Mac. Hopefully this exchange will be added later - at least as an optionally usable feature.

To have the saved texts spoken over the loudspeakers, in phone calls or for the connected contacts to be heard audibly in a FaceTime phone call, click on the bookmark symbol in the Live Speech input field on the right. Then select the sentence you want and click Play / Enter. If you want to add something to the selected text, that is possible. Click on it, type in the addition, and then select the play symbol. Instead of this, you can also press the Enter key here.

Live voice output Move input field on Mac: Here's how!

While researching for this article, I read and saw screenshots that you can move the input field on the Mac - to a different location on the display or to a different monitor. I was very clumsy and didn't get it right straight away.

But through trial and error, I found the trick for moving it: don't hold and drag the input field in the text area (with the left mouse button), but rather to the right of it or in the area of ​​the play button and the bookmark. The area you can hold to drag is also larger when text has been entered.

In addition, the input field can be made wider if you hold the mouse pointer on the left or right side and then drag it in the corresponding direction. The width can then be reduced again. So if you use a lot of text or longer preset paragraphs, these can be displayed more clearly in a wider text field.

Problem on Mac: Selected voice was not adopted

One problem that I haven't been able to solve either through trial and error or by restarting is setting the voice. Although I set different Siri variants and other voices instead of the system voice, only the system voice was always used for speech output. Either this is a bug that will be fixed with a macOS 14 system update, or I missed something here.

Apple instructions and support documents

If you use a compatible device and a current operating system from Apple, then the instructions here for live voice output will hopefully have helped you set up and use the function. If there are still a few points that are still open and you have any questions about the topic, then I would like to point you to the official instructions and support documents from Apple. If these don't help you, please leave a comment. Then let's see if we can find a solution.

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7 comments on “Live speech output: Use the new text-to-speech on iPhone and Mac”

  1. Hello, first of all, of course, thank you for the note and explanation.

    Having said this: the people in Cupertino must really be extremely bored to litter their devices with such nonsense:
    So you can write text with a keyboard and then have it read out? So it's not text from somewhere external, but rather text you entered yourself?
    At first I thought that I hadn't understood it correctly and went through it twice until I was reasonably sure that it was really as described :-(
    You won't believe it...

    1. Hello Falk,

      I honestly don't understand the problem.

      Firstly, you can use external text via copy and paste, and secondly, it is certainly a useful tool for people who are mute, mute or temporarily unable to speak due to illness to take part in telephone calls, FaceTime calls and the like. In addition, there is the opportunity to hold presentations on site, answer questions, generally participate in conversations and much more. I don't understand why this is nonsense.

      And if you're looking for tools that read texts or websites to you, you'll find them elsewhere. Just because a tool doesn't meet your expectations doesn't mean it's useless. Maybe you just need to find the right tool for the job you need to do.

      Best regards
      John

      1. “I honestly don’t understand the problem.”

        You notice that very clearly. Any why is this the case? That's why I want to respond here in much more detail than your reaction to my comment actually deserves:

        First of all: only in a linked text, and not in your article itself, does it say “When you are on a FaceTime or phone call, what you write will be read to the other participants via the speakers or headphones of their device”.
        If I take your article, it initially seems (at least to me) as if I can only achieve voice output on my own Mac/iPhone. That would be really absurd (to avoid the word “stupid”, which you don’t like), and in this respect I now criticize the fact that you haven’t mentioned it anywhere.

        It continues: If you write “There is also the possibility of holding presentations on site”, then it is particularly true that you would normally want to have a text read out, and not EXCLUSIVELY just what you have just typed has.

        I didn't follow your link, but “And if you're looking for tools that read texts or websites to you, then you can find them elsewhere” then why is the Apple tool so relevant? Because you can have what you just laboriously strummed on the keyboard read out loud? Then you could also use the tools you mentioned to write text that could be output as speech.

        “Just because a tool doesn't meet your expectations doesn't mean it's useless. Maybe you just need to find the right tool for the job you need to do.”

        I have no expectations whatsoever of a tool like this because I simply don't need it.

        My comment was politely worded. Of course not to the Apple people, but they probably couldn't be offended anyway because, in my opinion, they don't even notice what a commenter is saying about them.

        But either you were in a very bad mood for whatever reason, or you saw my comment as directly related to your article. Which in the end, at least indirectly, he was. And that apparently offended you so much that you - well, how do I put it best? – you didn’t write a 100,0% perfect answer.

        “Six, sit,” my teacher would have said back then. But for the sake of politeness, I'd better not disclose that now...

        1. Did your teacher give you a six in reading comprehension back then? Or was it just about the behavior grade? 🤣

          And Johannes: Even before the changes, it was clear that what was written could be heard in phone calls and on Facetime. That's exactly how you described it in various places in the text.

  2. "Don't feed the trolls;)"

    Not a particularly constructive reaction (especially for a blog owner!) to my detailed feedback on your IMHO weak article AND your weak reaction, which I humorously qualified in the final sentence so that everyone can understand it.

    “And Johannes: Even before the changes it was clear that…”
    So I subsequently changed it in such a way that my criticism appears to be wrong. Great.

    But if you think: Let's agree to disagree…

    1. The post has not been adjusted to make your reaction look wrong, but rather to increase clarity. This is clearly stated in the update note after the introduction, which is at least there to ensure the transparency of the measure. But if you don't even look or ask what the changes are, but just keep ranting, then you'll be perceived as a troll. You really don't seem to care about the content. And that's a shame, but now it's also the reason why the discussion here is finally over for me.

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