Speech Central Help

This article covers Speech Central for Windows 10. As a universal app it works the same on the PC, phone and Xbox.

Content

How to add an item or create an MP3 file?

Add an item by sharing from another app

Many apps on Windows (mostly those found on the Windows Store) support sharing. Apps can request sharing in different ways, but usually there is some button for that. We’ll give you step by step description for two apps – Microsoft Edge and File explorer.

Microsoft Edge is the only major browser that currently supports sharing and you can share following these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.
  2. Open any article page in Microsoft Edge (e.g. you can open this page). If you are already reading this in Microsoft Edge, you can skip steps 1 and 2.
  3. Click on the Share button (the most right button on the toolbar on the desktop, on the phone you have to press the three dots at the bottom right of the screen to see it). It will invoke the flyout on the right edge of the screen.
  4. Among the listed apps find Speech Central and click on it. There are four possible methods of sharing a web link that will appear, click on any of them to initiate their command:
    1. Speak now – adds the web page as an item on the end of the Articles & books list and starts reading it aloud.
    2. Add to Articles – adds the web page as an item on the end of the Articles & books list.
    3. Create MP3 (not available on Windows 10 Mobile) – adds the web page as an item on the MP3 list and creates an MP3 file.
    4. Add to Headlines – adds the web page as a source of headlines. This usually makes sense for home pages and section pages in the site.
    5. Share to a remote device – adds the web page on the remote device.

If you are using the PC after step 3, you may also notice that there may appear direct shortcuts (they may not appear immediately if you frequently share to other apps) to some of the four possible methods of sharing. Click on them to skip the step 4 and directly initiate the sharing.

You can share from File explorer following these steps:

  1. Open File explorer.
  2. Select any supported file in the File explorer.
  3. If you are using PC click on the Share ribbon, and then on the Share button. If you are using the phone click on the share button on the bottom of the screen.
  4. Among the listed apps find Speech Central and click on it. There are three possible methods of sharing the files that will appear, click on any of them to initiate their command:
    1. Speak now – adds the document as an item on the end of the Articles & books list and starts reading it aloud.
    2. Add to Now Speaking – adds the document as an item on the end of the Articles & books list.
    3. Create MP3 – adds the document as an item on the MP3 list and creates an MP3 file.

Open a document from the app

You can open any of the supported document formats from the app.

  1. If you want to create an MP3 file open the MP3 list by clicking the Navigation pane/MP3, otherwise open the Articles & books list by clicking Navigation pane/Articles & books.
  2. Click on the ‘+’ (New item) button in the header of the list.
  3. Click ‘Open’ and choose the document using the file open dialog.

Paste text or link from the clipboard to the app

You can paste text, link or html document to the app.

  1. If you want to create an MP3 file open the MP3 list by clicking the Navigation pane/MP3, otherwise open the Now speaking list by clicking Navigation pane/Articles & books.
  2. Click on the ‘+’ (New item) button in the header of the list.
  3. Click ‘Paste’.

Type a text or web link

To type the text or web link to be read aloud (or to paste the text and edit it before being aloud), follow these instructions:

  1. If you want to create an MP3 file open the MP3 list by clicking the Navigation pane/MP3, otherwise open the Now speaking list by clicking Navigation pane/Articles & books.
  2. Click on the ‘+’ (New item) button in the header of the list.
  3. Click ‘Type’.

Scan a document

To scan a document to be read aloud follow these instructions (available only on the PC version):

  1. If you want to create an MP3 file open the MP3 list by clicking the Navigation pane/MP3, otherwise open the Now speaking list by clicking Navigation pane/Articles & books.
  2. Click on the ‘+’ (New item) button in the header of the list.
  3. Click ‘Scan’.

Get a document via the camera

To get a document to be read aloud via the camera follow these instructions:

  1. If you want to create an MP3 file open the MP3 list by clicking the Navigation pane/MP3, otherwise open the Now speaking list by clicking Navigation pane/Articles & books.
  2. Click on the ‘+’ (New item) button in the header of the list.
  3. Click ‘Camera’.

Note that this process is prone to errors, so ensure that your camera is of good enough quality, that there is a good source of light (but avoid using of a flash), that the document covers as big part of the screen as possible

Drag a document or text

You can add a document or text to be read aloud by dragging it to the window (available only on the PC version):

  1. If you want to create an MP3 file open the MP3 list by clicking the Navigation pane/MP3, otherwise open the Now speaking list by clicking Navigation pane/Articles & books.
  2. Open the application from which the document is to be dragged (e.g it could be File explorer).
  3. Find the document in the application.
  4. Drag the document from the application and drop it to Speech Central window:
    • If you drop it on the Now speaking button available on the left edge of the screen, the new item will appear at the the end of the Now speaking list.
    • If you drop it on the MP3 button available on the left edge of the screen, the new item will appear at the the end of the MP3 list and an MP3 file will be created in the folder specified on the Setting page.
    • If the Articles & books list is opened and you drop the document on it, it will have the same effect like dropping on the Articles & books button.
    • If the MP3 list is opened and you drop the document on it, it will have the same effect like dropping on the MP3 button.

How to browse the web site under the lock screen?

  1. Add any web sites that you follow to the Headlines section. You can do that by:
    • opening the app in the Headlines section, clicking the ‘+’ button and then ‘Popular sites’ and then checking all the listed sites that you would like to follow
    • opening their home page in Microsoft Edge, clicking on the Share button in it, choosing Speech Central and then choosing ‘Add to Headlines’.
    • copying the address of the home page of the web site (or its RSS feed) to the clipboard, opening the app in the Headlines section, clicking the ‘+’ button and then clicking on ‘Paste’
    • opening the app in the Headlines section, clicking the ‘+’ button and then ‘Open’ to import .opml file that contains a definition of RSS feeds that you have exported from another app or service.
  2. Press on some item in the Headlines section to start the reading of the headlines. If you want to play multiple sites one after another select them and choose ‘Speak now’ in the toolbar. Also you can click on the reload button next to Headlines title in the main panel of the app to start reproduction of all headlines one after another.
  3. After the screen is locked and headlines are being read press the next button to add the article linked to the currently read headline to the Now speaking list. The next button is available on many devices that can still work while the screen is locked like on the keyboard, headphones with remote controls, Bluetooth hands-free, remote control, etc. All added articles this way will be read after all the headlines are read.
  4. If you want to skip the reading of the rest of the headlines in the source, press the previous button as the next button is used to add the articles.

Use Speech Central to open a document

Apps like File explorer allow you to open the documents with default apps or to choose with what app the document will be opened.

If Speech Central is set to be the default app from some of the supported file formats you will notice that File explorer shows its icon on those documents. Opening of such documents from File explorer results in adding of their items to the end of the Now speaking list.

If Speech Central is not the default app, you can use ‘Open with’ command (on the desktop File explorer it is available from the context menu of the document) and choose Speech Central. Speech Central might not be available in the first submenu and then you need to click ‘Choose another app’ and ‘More apps’ and choose it from that panel. Item (or multiple items if you have selected them in the File explorer) will appear at the end of the Now speaking list.

What are supported file formats?

You can import any of those file formats:

  • Epub book (.epub),
  • FB2 book (.fb2)
  • PDF document (.pdf) NOTE: format is supported by OCR (Optical character recognition). Some specific layouts and color combinations may not be always recognized properly.
  • Microsoft Word document (.docx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint document (.pptx)
  • Open Document Text (.odt)
  • Open Document Presentation (.odp)
  • Rich Text File (.rtf)
  • HTML file (.htm, .html)
  • Text file (.txt)

How to change the speed of reproduction?

Button for changing the speed of the reproduction is placed in the player section, after the ‘Next’ button. When you click it you can choose desired speed from menu (1x is the normal speed).

How to add the support for more languages?

The support for more languages is added by using the system Settings app.

On the PC go to Time & language > Region & language. If the language you want to use is not listed, click on the ‘Add a language’ button to add it to the list. After the language is listed, click on it and then on the button ‘Options’. On the next page click on the ‘Download’ button below the ‘Speech’ (it won’t appear if the language is not supported for text to speech on Windows).

On the mobile go to Time & language > Speech. Click on the ‘Add a language’ button and choose the language that you want to use.

How to change the voice?

Open the Setting page by clicking the Settings button on the left edge of the window. Under ‘Preferred voice gender’ select ‘Male’, ‘Female’ or ‘Random’, and below select option. Some languages may not have both male and female voices.

Can I use Cortana voice?

Using Cortana as text to speech voice is not supported by Microsoft. Some users have achieved that by following the steps described here: https://superuser.com/questions/1141840/how-to-enable-microsoft-eva-cortanas-voice-on-windows-10. Use it at your own risk, as this is not a documented procedure and it may lead to the problems in the next versions of Windows, and note that tools used in that documents may damage your system if not used in a proper way.

How to switch between the chapters of the book?

Click on the ‘More’ (‘…’) button in the top right corner of the screen. It will open the toolbar. Press the ‘Navigation’ button. It will open panel to navigate through the text with several tabs for different modes of navigation. Click on the tab ‘Chapters’ and then you will see the list of chapters. Click on the chapter you want to listen to.

How to access the previously read articles?

Read articles are moved to the Old Articles after 15 minutes. The icon for accessing the Old Articles is available on the panel on the left side of the screen (you can expand that panel to see the titles of the icons when they are not visible with the top-left Menu button (“hamburger” icon)).

A click on the item in the Archive starts the speech of that item.

When the items from the Old Articles are shown, the filter icon becomes available in the toolbar above the items. Options available for filtering the items are:

  • Show only items marked as ‘favorite’
  • Show only items that have bookmarks inside them
  • Show only items that have just one chapter or that have multiple chapters
  • Show only items that came from the certain source (web, file, other)

Those filters aren’t mutually exclusive, you can combine multiple options.

How to mark important paragraphs to find them later?

Use the Bookmarks feature to mark important paragraphs. You can bookmark the paragraph in multiple ways:

  • while the text is speaking, click on the More button (three dots) at the top right of the window and then on the Bookmarks button. From the menu that appears choose ‘Toggle bookmark’
  • right click with a mouse on the paragraph
  • hold finger over the paragraph
  • write letter ‘K’ over the paragraph with a pen.

To navigate to the previous or next bookmark you can use the menu that can be activated while the text is speaking, click on the More button (three dots) at the top right of the window and then on the Navigation button and then click on the ‘Bookmarks’ tab.

What is SSML?

SSML is an XML based language that uses tags to give instructions for the speech. You can tag parts of the text to change the pace, pitch or gender of the voice, or to indicate that there are multiple languages in the text. You can read more about available tags on MSDN. You can apply SSML to any item by selecting it, clicking on the “More” icon in the toolbar below the items, choosing ‘Edit’ and then clicking on the ‘SSML’ icon in the toolbar in the header of the page that opens for editing.

How to backup and restore data?

Open the About page from the panel on the left side of the window. Click on the “App data folder” button which will open the app data folder in Windows File explorer. All data are stored there and you can backup its contents by simply coping everything to some other folder. To restore the data copy back everything into the app data folder, just remember to close the app before copying as it may overwrite your backup with its current data if it is open.

Keyboard shortcuts

Speech player controls:

  • Ctrl+P – Play or Pause
  • Ctrl+F – Next
  • Ctrl+B – Previous
  • Ctrl+C – Next chapter
  • Ctrl+Shift+C – Previous chapter
  • Ctrl+Shift+F – Next paragraph
  • Ctrl+Shift+B – Previous paragraph
  • Ctrl+’+’ – Speak quicker
  • Ctrl+’-‘ – Speak slower

Navigation:

  • Ctrl+1 – Show the Headlines
  • Ctrl+2 – Show the Articles & books
  • Ctrl+3 – Show the MP3
  • Ctrl+4 – Show the Old articles
  • Ctrl+5 – Show the Recycle bin
  • F11 – Cinema mode on/off
  • F1 – Help

Commands on the items list page:

  • Ctrl+O – Open a document or book
  • Ctrl+V – Paste
  • Ctrl+T – Type
  • Ctrl+A – Select all
  • Space – Select
  • Ctrl+E or F3 – Search

Commands that apply to the selected item or the Now speaking item if nothing is selected:

  • Ctrl+D or Del – Delete
  • Ctrl+H – Share
  • Ctrl+K – Favorite
  • Ctrl+R – Open Original

Now speaking page specific shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+K – Bookmark

Share interface keyboard shortcuts:

  • S – Speak now
  • A – Add to Now speaking
  • C – Create MP3
  • B – Add to Broadcasts

What are ink shortcuts?

Ink shortcuts mean that you use a pen to write a letter or number from a keyboard shortcut over the item in order to perform the command related to that keyboard shortcut.

Additionally, you can delete items by using clicking on them with the eraser button of the pen. And you can select multiple items by drawing line over them.

Here is the list of the ink shortcuts for items:

  • D – Delete
  • K – Favorite
  • H – Share
  • R – Open original

Here is the list of the ink shortcuts available on item panel:

  • O – Open a document or book
  • V – Paste
  • T – Type
  • A – Select all

Here is the list of the ink shortcuts for the now speaking page:

  • K – Toggle Bookmark for the paragraph over which the shortcut is written
  • D – Delete the now speaking item
  • H – Share the now speaking item
  • R – Open original the now speaking item

Do you like ink shortcuts? Then you will like Labsii’s other app, File Cards!

How to install OCR package on Windows?

To check whether the package is installed, open the system Settings and search for ‘Manage optional features’ and pick that option. On the ‘Optional features’ page see if you have something like ‘English (US) optical character recognition’. If it is not, you need to reopen the Settings app, go to ‘Time & Language’, and then pick ‘Language’ from the sidebar. There you can add the new language or select existing language and ensure that all its packages are installed (as there is no particular ‘OCR’ option but it is rather installed as the part of some other package). For existing languages click on them and then pick ‘Modify’ and ensure that all optional packages are installed.