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How to Make Your iPad or iPhone Read eBooks Aloud

Audiobooks are fun to listen to during a commute, or a jog, or any time your hands are busy, but they often cost a lot and you can’t always find an audiobook edition for your current book. Fortunately, there’s a way to get your iPad or iPhone to read any ebook to you in just a few steps.

Step One: Activate the Screen Reader

Go into the Settings menu, and navigate to General > Accessibility > Speech. Toggle "Speak Screen" on.

This is really the only step you have to take; you can have Siri read an ebook aloud by swiping down with two fingers from the top of the screen the next time you have one open.

I think it’s worth the few extra seconds to customize the experience, however.

Step two: Choose a Voice

While in the Speech menu, select the Voices option. Find and select your language in the Voices menu, and then pick the voice you want to hear.

There are a couple dozen voices to choose from in English alone, and many more for other languages.

Step Three: Decide Whether You Want to Highlight Content

There’s going to come a point where you will wonder, "Wait, did they really say that?" This will be when you be glad that you found the Highlight option in the Speech menu, and told your iDevice to highlight the words it is reading.

You have 3 options: words, sentences, or both. (I went for just words.)

Step four:

You don’t want your iDevice to go to sleep mid-sentence, so your final step will be to turn off Auto-Lock.

Find the Auto-Lock option under the Display and Brightness menu, and set it to Never. This will keep your iDevice from going to sleep and interrupting the ebo0k you’re listening to.

And that’s it!

The next time you are reading an ebook, use two fingers to swipe down from the top of the screen, and Siri will start reading the ebook to you.

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Tom S March 13, 2019 um 3:32 am

It is worth noting that many reading apps do not work properly with Speak Screen. Apple Books does, certainly. Kindle does as well, though it does not highlight words/sentences, and Speak Screen is not available in Scrolling mode.

With Google Play Books, Speak Screen reads one page and stops (in fact one cannot even turn page manually).

Nate Hoffelder March 13, 2019 um 7:41 am

Thanks! I should have tested more settings before posting.

Doris March 13, 2019 um 11:18 am

Hello Nate,
does it work for a Mac Airbook too?
I can’t find: General > Accessibility > Speech. Toggle "Speak Screen"

Is feedback *really* all that scary? | P.A. Mason – Writer May 12, 2019 um 3:41 am

[…] – Going through each paragraph using the speech function on iOS. I can’t begin to describe how helpful this was. I made a lot of changes in punctuation which I don’t think I would have picked up by eye. If you don’t know how to set this up, you can find out here. […]

Debra July 24, 2019 um 3:56 am

This feature does not work with textbooks. Swipe down and you get "No speakable content can be found on screen" I called Apple support and went through all the steps to make sure my Ipad was set up correctly and he remoted in and got the same message. Then we tried a regular book – the feature worked just fine. The support tech then tried the same thing on his own phone using a regular book, then tried a textbook he had and he got the same error message. I called Amazon and it appears that not all books can be read aloud this way on the kindle APP, if I wanted to use this type of feature I would have to buy a Kindle DEVICE! Nice!!!! He could not explain to me why it will not work on the Kindle app but it will work if I paid for a Kindle device and who made this restriction. Beyond frustrated, no matter what the application I have already purchased the book there should not be any restrictions on how I read or listen to it.

Fran December 26, 2020 um 11:49 am

Deb… kindle is free for all devices. You don’t need a separate machine

WILLIAM Atkins February 17, 2020 um 8:09 am


Martina September 16, 2022 um 4:34 am

I have a program from my local library called “Libby” and while I have a book checked out, it is downloaded on my iPad. I was in northern New Mexico where there was no internet service and I didn’t even see a picnic table for over 100 miles and I was able to read a book. Libby also offers audio books, but I have never checked out an audio book, and didn’t have one on that trip.

Desiree April 18, 2020 um 6:11 pm

i followed your instructions and swiping with two fingers down the content of my kindle book did nothing. What am i missing?

Kirsten November 17, 2021 um 4:45 pm

This does not work with the Libby app.

Pam March 20, 2022 um 7:32 pm

No it does not. I rented a book and put it on Kindle and it just keeps saying “No speakable content.”

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