If you’re one of those people who likes to…y’know…get things done, you’ll appreciate any tool that makes it easier to multi-task. The optimum way to do this of course is to provide your brain with even more inputs than normal, usually by mixing audio and visual together in some unholy alliance.
Panopreter is a freeware program which gives you the chance to listen to documents and web page text via audio text to speech, leaving your hands and eyes free to complete all manner of important tasks like browsing Reddit or filling in your parole report.
The software uses the default Microsoft text to speech engine, which means you get what tech engineers call ‘natural’ speech and what the rest of us call ‘robotic’. OK so that’s a trifle churlish, but there’s no question that having ‘Anna’ speak a chunk of text to you is not going to be as soothing as hearing a real live speaker, but it’s a good enough approximation if you’re in need.
You do get the option to download additional multilingual speech packs, but in our experience these offer roughly the same level of ‘natural-ness’ as the default, so it’s probably not worth it unless you want to listen to different language texts.
To operate, just fire it up, click the Open button to read a file or the Paste button if you just want to audition a chunk of copy/pasted text and hit the Speak button. You can adjust the speed and volume and you also have an option for the program to play your favorite music track once the text to speech has finished. Nice touch.
There’s a ton of uses for this kind of software, ranging from language learning and education to helping those with hearing difficulties or other disabilities to engage with the digital universe, so we’re going to stop nit-picking and say that this is a great little tool where it’s needed. Fast, flexible and easy to use.