How to Turn a Text File Into an AudioBook on a Mac

By Alexia Petrakos

The Macintosh Operating System has almost always had a built-in Text to Speech converter. One use of the Text to Speech feature is as a screen reader for those whose vision is impaired, but the speech program can also create audiobooks from any text file. You could convert a presentation to an audio file and listen to it on the way, in order to prepare for the speech. There are many public domain books out on the Internet, and if you have ebooks you'd rather listen to instead of read, converting those to audiobooks is a cinch. Using Automator, a powerful and simple scripting tool in the Mac OS, you'll be able to create a "plug-in" that will create an audio file in "aiff" format that you can play on an iPod or most other media players.

Things You'll Need

  • Mac running OSX
  • Computer running Mac OSX
  • TextEdit document

How to Create the Text to AudioBook Plug-in

Step 1

Launch Automator. You can find it in the Applications folder on Mac OS X.

Step 2

Select "Text" as the starting point in the "Select a starting point to open a new workflow" window.

Step 3

Select "TextEdit" from the "Get Content From" drop-down box.

Step 4

Make sure "Use text of open TextEdit document" is selected in the second drop-down box.

Step 5

Click the "Choose" button.

Step 6

Select "Text" from the "Library" list on the far left.

Step 7

Double-click "Text to Audio File." You can also click-drag "Text to Audio File" on to the workflow area.

Step 8

Set the "System Voice" to "Alex" if you're using Mac OS X Leopard, and "Bruce" if you're using Mac OS X Tiger.

Step 9

Type "Audiobook" into the "Save As" text area.

Step 10

Select where you'd like the audiobook saved on your computer. By default it saves to the Desktop.

Step 11

Click on "File" > "Save As Plug-In" (or use the keyboard shortcut Option-Command-S).

Step 12

Type "AudioBook" in the "Save Plug-in As" text box. You can name this however you please, but make sure it's descriptive.

Step 13

Select "Finder" in the "Plug-in for" drop-down.

Step 14

Click "Save."

How to Make an AudioBook from a TextEdit Document

Step 1

Navigate to your text file in the Finder. If you don't have a TextEdit document, copy and paste your text into the TextEdit program in Mac OSX (found in the Applications folder), save it and navigate to this file. Make sure this text file is open as well.

Step 2

Right-click or command-click the text file in the Finder. Select "More" > "Automator" > "AudioBook".

Step 3

Go to your Desktop and find the file named "AudioBook.aiff."

Step 4

Double-click on "AudioBook.aiff" and it should begin playing in iTunes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Saving the workflow as a plug-in will add the action to the menu that pops up when you right-click or control-click on an item.
  • If you don't want to go through creating the Automator workflow, you can download it from the Resources section (see below). You'll still have to go through steps 10 to 13, but the basic workflow is already done for you.
  • This works best with TextEdit files. Make sure that the file you want to convert to audio is open at the time you're performing the conversion.
  • If the TextEdit document is long, it may take some time for your computer to create the audio file.
  • You can add this file to your iPod and listen to it on the go.