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How to Activate and Use Speak Selection on iPad

15th May 2024

Jacob Woolcock


| Accessibility
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In this video, I demonstrate how to use the Speak Selection tool on an iPad, a feature that allows users to highlight text and have it read aloud by Siri or another voice. I guide you through enabling this feature in the Settings app, adjusting additional options like content highlighting and voice selection, and show practical examples of its use in real-world applications like the Pages app.

This tutorial is especially valuable for enhancing accessibility, aiding in proofreading, and supporting language learning, making it an essential tool for both educators and students.

The Speak Selection tool on iPad enables users to highlight any piece of text and use a new “Speak” option on the floating toolbar to have Siri, or another voice, read it aloud to them. To enable this feature, we’re going to jump into the Settings app. Then, on the left-hand side, we’re going to find Accessibility. From here, you’ll find Spoken Content, and tapping on there brings up the option we need. All you really need to do is enable the Speak Selection toggle at the very top of this screen, and that will add that speech option to the floating toolbar whenever you highlight text.

But before we test it out, we can actually make a couple more changes here as well. You can see here we have the option to Highlight Content. This means when it’s being read aloud to you, it will highlight that part of the screen. You can tap onto here and select what colour you want and whether or not you want it to highlight words or whole sentences.

The other option, which I find really useful, is changing the voice. When I tap onto Voices, I can then choose exactly which voice I want to read my content. This can be a different voice for different languages as well, and iPadOS will automatically detect which one to use. I’m going to tap onto the Siri voice, and then from here, I can choose one of the four UK English Siri voices:

“Hi, I’m Siri.”
“Hi, I’m Siri.”
Yep, I like that one, I think. So I’m going to select this option. Now, all I need to do to test this is to jump into an app that’s got some text. For me, I’m going to jump into the Pages app, and I’ve got a document on screen here. All I’m going to do is tap and hold to highlight the first couple of sentences in this paragraph. Now, on that floating toolbar, I can press Speak:

“At the moment there are empty placeholders for each team member on every core value page. It would be fantastic if you could all fill these in this week.”

And just like that, Siri’s reading it out loud to me. This will work with any text in this document. But of course, sometimes you may want to disable this feature as well. Perhaps you’re doing a spelling test and you don’t want the iPad to read out the word in case they spelt it wrong. You can go back into Settings, back into Accessibility, and simply toggle that switch off. Immediately, the Speak option will disappear from any documents and any text you’ve got highlighted.

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