Get Mac OS X Talking
Speakable Items in Mac OS X can make you feel like your a Sci-Fi movie hero able to talk to your super computer. Even Michael Knight got to talk to his car KITT! So why shouldn’t you be able to talk to your Mac. Well you can, introduced in OS 9 in 1993 Apple’s Speech was ahead of its time. It went missing during the early OS X years and reemerged in Jaguar Mac OS X 10.2.
This great tool is located in your System Preferences under System > Speech. Simply activate it by turning “ON” Speakable Items and you can give up typing, get rid of your mouse, yell at you computer as much as you want and still have it talk to you.
Speech is built-in right at the core of Mac OS X, there is no need to install a special application or devices to make it work. The following are some tips to help you get started using Speakable Items.
Speech Commands Window
Once launched the Speakable Items, a small round window with a microphone image, will appear hovering over your desktop. Click the triangle at the bottom of the window and choose “Open Speech Commands window.” You can also press or speak the listening key, ESC by default, and speak the command “Open Speech Commands window” or “Show me what to say.”
Adding Applications and Troubleshooting
If you want to add applications all you have to do is launch the application with Speakable Items enabled and it will create a folder inside the Speakable Items folder in your user directory under Library/Speech/Speakable. You can add commands to an application by opening the Speakable Items folder and drag items or an alias into the folder. The filename of the item is the command you say to open it, but be sure to follow the guidelines for naming speech commands.
If you have reinstalled an application and it is not responding to your commands you may need to recreate a Speakable Items folder for that application. To do this simply:
- 1. Close the application and open the Library/Speech/Speakable Items folder in your home folder.
- 2. If you have reinstalled the application drag the application’s folder from the Speakable Items folder to your desktop.
- 3. Open the application again (this creates a new folder for it inside the Speakable Items folder).
- 4. Drag the spoken commands out of the old application folder on your desktop and into into the new folder inside the Speakable Items folder.
After you add a command to an application’s Speakable Items folder, wait about 20 seconds before using the command. Make sure the name you give your command is different from any other command in that application’s Speakable Items folder.
To create a Speakable Item AppleScript command for an application open the application that you want to create an AppleScript for. Make sure the application window is at the front of all other windows on your screen. Tip: It is better to close all open applications and just work with the one that you are working in AppleScript with. With AppleScript open follow these steps to create the Speakable Item command:
- 1. Click on Record in AppleScript.
- 2. Launch the Application, a folder is created for it inside the Library/Speech/Speakable Items folder in your home folder, if not already present.
- 3. The ‘tell application’ part of the scrip should have been written. Next perform the actions you’d like to do in the application you opened, and then save it as a compiled script.
- 4. The filename you give the script will be the command you’ll speak to use it. (Remember to follow the recommended guidelines for naming spoken commands.)