Select some text in a document or a browser page, right click, select Speech from the pop-up menu, and click Start Speaking. The Mac reads the text in any one of a number of very good voices. Add the Read4Me app to your Mac and get even more functionality, including an option to record the audio from whatever OS X’s voice reads.
Read4Me uses the Mac’s built-in speech function to read text in a few dozen languages and many different voices. It works in most of Apple’s apps, but also Microsoft Word, plain text apps, Open Office, and text from other applications.
There is also a built-in text editor which you can use to check spelling, print the dialog, save as RTF or other file formats. What makes Read4Me unique is the Voice Coach, a hand feature which lets you change pitch and reading rate, embed pauses, and help the Mac pronounce words properly.
The default settings in System Preferences > Dictation & Speech give you access to three male voices and three female voices. The Alex voice is good, but the others are anemic. Fortunately, Apple lets you select and download even more voices, including Samantha, which is the closest voice to Siri on a Mac. Others include various languages, and multiple gender voices for other languages. I love Fiona (the Scottish standard English).
Read4Me’s best function is the ability to record the voice as an audio file which can then saved and played back later. That makes this cleverly designed little app perfect for dramatic readings, poetry readings, or to be used as an AudioBook.
Please note that downloading additional voice files takes awhile and can suck up plenty of space on your Mac’s storage.