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Page history last edited by Mallory Burton 12 years, 7 months ago

About NaturalReader


NaturalReader is a text-to-speech program that will read a large variety of documents, including the web.  There are several versions available at different price points and with different feature sets.  The free version of NaturalReader:

  • can read text in many different environments including .txt, Word, Excel, Outlook, Open Office, .pdf, and web
  • can adjust voice and reading speed 
  • can change the font, font style, and font size in the main reading window
  • can import text to a special reading window or be used with a floating toolbar right in the document 


Installing and Launching NaturalReader



Downloading and Installing NaturalReader

To download NaturalReader, go to their homepage and click the Download link.  The download and automatic install took less than 1 minute on my home computer.


Launching the Demo and the Program

The install places shortcuts to launch the program and demo on your desktop.  Some of the features described in the demo are not available in the free version.

Launching the program takes you to a full reading screen where you can try out some of the features of the program and open additional documents to read. 


 Using NaturalReader



Reading in the Main Window

Launch NaturalReader by clicking the desktop shortcut or from the Programs Menu.  On the main NaturalReader screen, choose Open and double-click any file to read.  The file immediately appears in the reading window.  

I was able to open a .txt file but was not able to see .doc or .pdf files by using the Open command.  To read Word, .pdf, and internet files, I used New to open a blank file and then copied and pasted the text in or I used the Floating Toolbar described below.  However, this is a bit cumbersome so it's easier to use the Floating Toolbar (see below).


Using the Reading Controls

Use the Play and Stop controls to start and stop reading.  The Back and Forward controls advance by one sentence back or forward.  (You don't need to select the text.)


Changing the Settings

Click the Settings Icon (looks like a cog) to change all of the settings for NaturalReader.  In the free version, you can change the speaker and reading speed, the font size, and the hotkeys for reading. 

When you change the font size in Settings, it affects the size of the font in the main reading screen.  When I changed the font size to Arial 36 it was very large and smooth.  This feature could be very useful for improving the visual readability of .txt files which are usually printed in very jagged fonts.


Launching the Floating Toolbar

To use NaturalReader in a different way, click the Floating Bar button in the lower right hand corner of the main reading screen.  This allows you to stay in the document you want to read and access the reading and setting controls with a Floating Toolbar instead of importing the document to the reading window.  Once you launch the Floating Toolbar, NaturalReader remains in this mode unless you click the double windows icon to return to the full reading screen.



Reading with the Floating Toolbar

Once the Floating Toolbar is launched, open any document to read.  Select the text you want to read and then click the play button on the Floating Toolbar.  Click the Stop button to quit reading otherwise Natural Reader will reread the same passage instead of the newly selected text. 

I found that, in some documents, when I clicked on the play button, the selected text was not highlighted but when I used the hot key Ctrl+F9 to read, the selection was highlighted.  The Floating Toolbar worked well for reading .txt, .pdf, Word, and internet documents.


Using NaturalReader on Websites


Some students may have difficulty reading online if there are too many sidebars and ads providing distractions.

Applications such as Readability allow you to remove clutter from a web page, reformatting the page for easier reading.  To use Readability, select your settings and bookmark the site.  To simplify a page, select the bookmark.  Press the return icon to revert to the original view. 











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