Folks love bookmarks and links. They are thrilled with buttons and actions. But the one feature of Acrobat itself that no one is quite prepared for is that PDF files that containing live text (not images of scanned text) can be read to them out loud. Unlike Web sites, no additional screen reading software is required to hear your PDF file. Acrobat has its own voice--well, actually it's your operating system's voice. To hear Acrobat read your document out loud to you, first 'turn on the main power switch.' Choose View > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud.
Once activated, you will tell Acrobat exactly what portion of your document is to be read. The presented choices are Read This Page Only and Read to End of Document. If, however, you take your select tool and drag to highlight a block of text, Acrobat will read the selected text to you. The robot-like voice is your operating system's default voice. In the case of Windows, you'll think you're standing in a 1980s video arcade. You can go to Acrobat's Preferences and select Reading to edit the voice settings. There are plenty of 3rd party vendors that sell amazingly realistic computer synthesized voices such as NeoSpeech.
Two final points... and you may thank me for this if you choose to try this cool Acrobat feature:
- No matter how hard you press the Escape key to stop the reading, it won't work. You must use the View > Read Out Loud > Stop command.
- Remember that 'main power' switch I talked about? Turn it off when you're done! If you don't, you'll select some text a few hours later and Acrobat will send you through the ceiling when it begins to read out loud to you, and you're not expecting it! To turn off the Read Out Loud command, choose View > Read Out Loud > Deactivate Read Out Loud.