How to Get Google Docs, and Other Apps, to Read to You


Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks

In today’s mobile world, having a document read to you, say when you’re driving or working out, is helpful, if not essential. Google Docs, like Microsoft Word, has an Accessibility feature set that helps people who prefer or need to have webpages or documents read to them.

The best app I tested for this purpose was a Chrome browser extension called Read&Write from If you follow this link from within Chrome, it will ask you if you want to “Add to Chrome” (below it says “Added to Chrome” because I completed the task before I wrote this post).

The extension then places a small icon (#1 below) (their logo, actually) in the top upper right of your browser window that serves as a toggle switch that enables you to turn the app on or off as you need it.

The application only works with Google Docs in its free version, but it comes with a 30-day premium version when you install it. The premium version allows you to read web pages, PDFs, and other documents by simply highlighting the text you want read to you, or you can tell it to read everything, which can be a bit tedious as it reads all the navigation items, the social media icons, and so forth.

Here’s how it looks in action:

I was reading the CNN page (above) and I opened the Read&Write extension to read the highlighted (in blue) section to me while I was doing something else. Nifty.

First, I clicked the little purple toggle logo button (1), which opens the music player-like ribbon. Next, I highlighted text I wanted it read to me (2), and clicked the play button (3).

When it didn’t read as fast as I wanted, I clicked the gear icon to see I could speed it up and, indeed, you can. You can also change voice accents and more.

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