Bypassing upper speech rate limit with OS X voices
I'm sure I heard somewhere that you could tweak the OS X voices so that you could speed them up past their usual tolerance. How does one go about doing this? I'm finding that I could use VoiceOver on my mac faster than it is currently.
This is using Mavericks.
First, get everything in VO set up the way you want. Then, go into VO utility, and cmd-shift-e to export your settings. Export all of them, and save the .voprefs somewhere you'll remember.
Open this .voprefs in textEdit by pressing VO-shift-m, and navigate to Open With > Other... Choose textEdit from the open dialog, and press Return. The .voprefs will open in readable text you can edit.
Search for rate by doing cmd-f, and typing rate and hitting return. Hit escape so you're back in the window and see where you are.
There's a line that says "<real>100</real>"" below that huge key with "rate" in it. Find the "100", or whatever your tts rate is, and change it to something else. You can also do this with volume (some legacy voices like Fred need this to be as loud as the rest of your system).
Note: If you have multiple activities that use different voices and rates, be sure to edit the right one. Do this by searching for the voice name and finding the corresponding rate from there. Legacy voices can go as fast as you want; Vocalizer voices can only go up to 139, and max volume is about 140 or so. Don't push past that, or it'll slow down and the rate will decrease to a painful crawl.
Once that's completed, cmd-s to save, open VO util again and import your settings, or just press return on the .voprefs file.
An audio of this process may be listened to at: http://audioboo.fm/boos/2185098-osx-voiceover-in-mavericks-tts-rate-twe… (slight snark included) :D
edit: Added Vocalizer rate information
Thanks for the detailed howto!
Do you know if this method also works for the speak highlighted text functionality outside of VO?
I tried to do it with my portable preferences, opening the default.plist file in Xcode, and using that. Can't believe I missed this idea!
Thank you, and sorry for my stupidity - I should have thought of exporting.
I believe the speak selected text feature uses the main system voice, not the one defined in VoiceOver, so the method described here won't affect it. There probably is a way to increase the system voice speed as well, most likely by modifying a preference with the defaults command in Terminal, but I don't know what that preference would be.