Dear Alex, You’re Fired

With the release of Leopard, Apple added a great human sounding voice to Mac OS X, Alex. Alex was so much better than every other voice that had ever been on the Mac that it became the only voice I ever used, for years. I use the voice to read back text and, with some Automation, read Instapaper articles to me on my drive.

As great as Alex sounds, I’m really tired of his voice. Lion fixes this. There are several high quality voices for Mac OS X Lion, but you have to go fetch them.

Start out in system preferences and click Speech.

Next, tap the selection arrows next to Alex.

Lion just displays a few voices. The trick is clicking the customize button.

That opens the motherlode. There are a lot of voices to choose from. Scroll through the list and pick your favorites. There is a Play button to preview. The selected voices get downloaded through software update. Be warned, the files are big.

My new favorite is Fiona with her Scottish accent. (Aren’t all Americans secret anglophiles?) I haven’t updated my automator script yet but must admit I’m really looking forward to listening to Fiona read John Siracusa’s Lion review. My only regret is that they didn’t use the dulcet tones of my friend from Liverpool. So Alex, thank you for your loyal service. Now hit the bricks.

MacSparky.com is sponsored by Bee Docs Timeline 3D. Make a timeline presentation with your Mac.

23 Comments Dear Alex, You’re Fired

  1. stevie.rice@googlemail.com

    I'm surprised how happy I am that there's a Scottish voice now. Is it more than just a Shrek impersonation?

    Reply
  2. stevie.rice@googlemail.com

    I'm surprised how happy I am that there's a Scottish voice now. Is it more than just a Shrek impersonation?

    Reply
  3. stevie.rice@googlemail.com

    I'm surprised how happy I am that there's a Scottish voice now. Is it more than just a Shrek impersonation?

    Reply
  4. stevie.rice@googlemail.com

    I'm surprised how happy I am that there's a Scottish voice now. Is it more than just a Shrek impersonation?

    Reply
  5. stevie.rice@googlemail.com

    I'm surprised how happy I am that there's a Scottish voice now. Is it more than just a Shrek impersonation?

    Reply
  6. Eoghan

    Not sure Fiona the Scot would appreciate "anglophile". I understand there is no direct equivalent (caledonophile, etc.) and anglophile can mean all of Britain. All the same, most Scot's wouldn't describe themselves as anglophiles!

    Reply
  7. achirrick@me.com

    I just finished my Lion install, happy to report no problems. I did do a few things to prepare, so maybe that helped.

    My decision to upgrade to Lion was actually hastened by this post because I use the Alex voice to read blog posts too. I've added Fiona to my list of voices, and I really like the sound. I think I'll keep Alex around though..just for variety.

    Thanks David for yet another great idea.

    Reply
  8. achirrick@me.com

    I just finished my Lion install, happy to report no problems. I did do a few things to prepare, so maybe that helped.

    My decision to upgrade to Lion was actually hastened by this post because I use the Alex voice to read blog posts too. I've added Fiona to my list of voices, and I really like the sound. I think I'll keep Alex around though..just for variety.

    Thanks David for yet another great idea.

    Reply
  9. achirrick@me.com

    I just finished my Lion install, happy to report no problems. I did do a few things to prepare, so maybe that helped.

    My decision to upgrade to Lion was actually hastened by this post because I use the Alex voice to read blog posts too. I've added Fiona to my list of voices, and I really like the sound. I think I'll keep Alex around though..just for variety.

    Thanks David for yet another great idea.

    Reply
  10. achirrick@me.com

    I just finished my Lion install, happy to report no problems. I did do a few things to prepare, so maybe that helped.

    My decision to upgrade to Lion was actually hastened by this post because I use the Alex voice to read blog posts too. I've added Fiona to my list of voices, and I really like the sound. I think I'll keep Alex around though..just for variety.

    Thanks David for yet another great idea.

    Reply
  11. achirrick@me.com

    I just finished my Lion install, happy to report no problems. I did do a few things to prepare, so maybe that helped.

    My decision to upgrade to Lion was actually hastened by this post because I use the Alex voice to read blog posts too. I've added Fiona to my list of voices, and I really like the sound. I think I'll keep Alex around though..just for variety.

    Thanks David for yet another great idea.

    Reply
  12. Marek

    I, too, found Fiona to be delicious. But… Choosing Fiona to announce date so far proves to be an ineffable proposition: nothing issues from the speaker. Putting Alex back on the task resulted in same-old albeit reliable clock pronouncements. Fiona works for me as a main system voice to read in Safari, but I suppose, I somehow stumbled on a bug. To be complete, I should mention that I tried to set the Polish voice Agata to announce time before setting Fiona on it, but thought better of it, after the system warned me that she does not speak the language. 🙂 I wonder if this somehow ties in to the Fiona's time-announcing ineffability.

    Reply
  13. comment@samuelwa.de

    Thanks for pointing the new voices out. Ting-Ting (Chinese) sounds great, and Kyoko (Japanese) is OK, apart from some odd artefacts. If you slow them down and have them read text to you as you follow along, they could be quite useful for language study. Unfortunately, though, there doesn't seem to be any language auto-detect, so you have to manually select voices in System Preferences every time you switch.

    Reply
  14. comment@samuelwa.de

    Thanks for pointing the new voices out. Ting-Ting (Chinese) sounds great, and Kyoko (Japanese) is OK, apart from some odd artefacts. If you slow them down and have them read text to you as you follow along, they could be quite useful for language study. Unfortunately, though, there doesn't seem to be any language auto-detect, so you have to manually select voices in System Preferences every time you switch.

    Reply
  15. comment@samuelwa.de

    Thanks for pointing the new voices out. Ting-Ting (Chinese) sounds great, and Kyoko (Japanese) is OK, apart from some odd artefacts. If you slow them down and have them read text to you as you follow along, they could be quite useful for language study. Unfortunately, though, there doesn't seem to be any language auto-detect, so you have to manually select voices in System Preferences every time you switch.

    Reply
  16. comment@samuelwa.de

    Thanks for pointing the new voices out. Ting-Ting (Chinese) sounds great, and Kyoko (Japanese) is OK, apart from some odd artefacts. If you slow them down and have them read text to you as you follow along, they could be quite useful for language study. Unfortunately, though, there doesn't seem to be any language auto-detect, so you have to manually select voices in System Preferences every time you switch.

    Reply
  17. comment@samuelwa.de

    Thanks for pointing the new voices out. Ting-Ting (Chinese) sounds great, and Kyoko (Japanese) is OK, apart from some odd artefacts. If you slow them down and have them read text to you as you follow along, they could be quite useful for language study. Unfortunately, though, there doesn't seem to be any language auto-detect, so you have to manually select voices in System Preferences every time you switch.

    Reply
  18. jim@jimscomputing.com

    Wow, I live in Key West which is closer to Cuba than to the mainland. I put Javier onto some English text and it sounds like the local Cuban transplants here. 🙂

    Alex was an amazing step forward. He even takes a breath once in awhile! Thinking back all I can say is "We've come a long way baby!"

    Reply
  19. jim@jimscomputing.com

    Wow, I live in Key West which is closer to Cuba than to the mainland. I put Javier onto some English text and it sounds like the local Cuban transplants here. 🙂

    Alex was an amazing step forward. He even takes a breath once in awhile! Thinking back all I can say is "We've come a long way baby!"

    Reply
  20. jim@jimscomputing.com

    Wow, I live in Key West which is closer to Cuba than to the mainland. I put Javier onto some English text and it sounds like the local Cuban transplants here. 🙂

    Alex was an amazing step forward. He even takes a breath once in awhile! Thinking back all I can say is "We've come a long way baby!"

    Reply
  21. jim@jimscomputing.com

    Wow, I live in Key West which is closer to Cuba than to the mainland. I put Javier onto some English text and it sounds like the local Cuban transplants here. 🙂

    Alex was an amazing step forward. He even takes a breath once in awhile! Thinking back all I can say is "We've come a long way baby!"

    Reply
  22. jim@jimscomputing.com

    Wow, I live in Key West which is closer to Cuba than to the mainland. I put Javier onto some English text and it sounds like the local Cuban transplants here. 🙂

    Alex was an amazing step forward. He even takes a breath once in awhile! Thinking back all I can say is "We've come a long way baby!"

    Reply
  23. Clyde C. Cambridge

    I decided today to figure out what voice is my favorite after Samantha (American English) drove my dad bonkers, here is what I decided on (you may have a different favorite):

    Daniel (British English) Top favorite, and now system voice.
    Lee (Australian English) 2nd favorite, may use for variation.
    Tessa (South African English) 3rd favorite and favorite female voice.

    The others were fine, those were just my favorites after having all of the new English voices read the same document several times (per voice).

    If any of you guys know who did the English voice for right after the boot up to Lion with "Welcome" floating around in different languages I'd really like to know (he sounds similar to Tom, but seems more like a recording, especially considering that I think I've heard him in Microsoft FSX).

    I too remember when Alex was first available and said, "Hi, I'm a new voice for Leopard." That was when he replaced Victoria as my system voice (he now says, "Most people recognize me by my voice.").

    Nice blog.

    FIAT LUX!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.