Automator script to send text to iTunes as speech

I’ve been busy lately, and as with many of you I’m sure, being busy usually involves long hours staring at a computer screen. This isn’t so bad really—I like sitting in front of a computer. My eyes disagree though: I’m constantly fighting eye strain & one of the biggest losers in this battle is my ability to read for fun, especially if it involves reading on a screen. This is one of the reasons I’ve been so big on podcasts & audiobooks lately: they allow me to give my eyes a break.

Last night I had an idea though: what if I could easily turn all of those long blog posts & articles I’ve been meaning to read into audio files I could listen to like podcasts? Sure, the Text-to-Speech results aren’t perfect yet, but I’ve found it’s actually perfectly listenable once you get used to it.

Sure enough, it’s very easy to write an Automator workflow that will take your clipboard contents, convert them to speech and then send them to iTunes, ready to be transferred to your iPod. ((Before finding this, I actually tried several shell scripts using the Mac’s say and afconvert commands with ThisService but the Automator solution is much easier, though I have to say it did feel like giving up a little bit.))

Anyway, here’s the workflow I ended up with:

Automator Workflow to Send Text to iTunes as Speech

Just save that as an application, copy the text you want converted and run the application.

This still isn’t perfect. I can picture a very cool application that subscribes to RSS feeds and automatically creates podcasts out of each item in each feed. There are services kind of like this for content producers (Odiogo, for ex), but I’m not aware of anything like this for content consumers.