Read Aloud in Microsoft Outlook

Oct 19, 2023 | Outlook Hints and Tips

Read aloud is an accessibility feature in Microsoft Outlook.  For individuals with visual impairments this can be a huge benefit but it is also useful when proofreading as you sometimes notice things that are wrong that you miss when skim reading.  It also enables you to be able to multitask by listening to the speech while you are involved with something else.  In addition, you may find you gain a better understanding of the information than you do from just reading the text.

Read Aloud reads the entire document starting from your cursor location like an audiobook.  

Turn on Read Aloud

Read aloud needs to be turned on to be able to use it.

  1. From the File menu select Options then Accessibility
  2. In the Application display option settings section select the Show Read Aloud tick box
Show read aloud tick box image

Using Read Aloud

To use read aloud it needs to be activated.

  1. From the Home tab select Read aloud.  The email you are selected on will start being read.  A shaded grey highlight shows the text that is currently being read so you can follow the words.
Read aloud icon image

2. A floating read aloud toolbar allows the speech to be paused.  The fast forward and rewind icons move forward or backwards by 1 paragraph at a time.

Read aloud toolbar image

3. To stop read aloud use the ‘X’ to close down the Read Aloud toolbar.

Change Settings for Read Aloud

The Settings icon that looks like a cog on the Read aloud toolbar allows the speed of the reading to be speeded up or slowed down and the voice to be either male or female.

Keyboard shortcuts 

Everyone loves a keyboard shortcut and the ones below are specifically for use when working with Read Aloud.  You can easily control Read Aloud using the following keyboard shortcuts in Windows.

CTRL + Alt + Space – Start Read Aloud

CTRL + Space – Play or pause Read Aloud

CTRL + Left Arrow – Skip to start of previous paragraph

CTRL + Right Arrow – Skip forward to start of next paragraph

Alt + Left Arrow – Decrease reading speed

Alt + Right Arrow – Increase reading speed

Using Speak

An alternative to Read Aloud is using Speak.  Unlike Read aloud, speak will only read the text that is highlighted.  To use Speak the icon will first need to be added to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).  Speak is a built-in feature of Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneNote. You can use Speak to have text read aloud in the language of your version of Office.


Adding Speak to the Quick Access Toolbar

  1. Click on the drop down arrow at the end of the QAT
  2. Choose More commands
  3. Change Popular Commands to Commands not in the ribbon
  4. Select Speak and click on Add

To use Speak

  1. Select a word or block of text in your document.
  2. In the Quick Access Toolbar click on the Speak icon
Speak icon image

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading about Read Aloud in Microsoft Outlook, there are some other blogs below that you might find useful:

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