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How can I get Text to Speech going in Office XP?

Posted on 2003-11-13
Last Modified: 2012-08-14

When I got my first PC, back in the early 90s, the first thing I did was to personalise it by having it "Welcome me" on boot up using the text to speech program that came with the SB Pro sound card. OK it sounded like Stephen Hawking, but with a little bit of programming in Autoexec.bat it was fairly reasonable and time specific - Good morning, evening etc(though nothing like the built in Amiga voice.)

Now I've just installed Office XP and notice it has Text to Speech built in.


A) It's not working: In Control Panel the Speech Applet delivers the Error message:

! Speech Properties
The selected voice could not be initialized. You may not be able to play the voice.. Please try slecting a different voice or a different audio output device.

1) Well there are only two voices, Michael and Michelle & the problem is the same with both.

2) I have Creative Labs Vibra 16 Sound Card (CT2960)

3) My system specs are:

PIII 500Mhz
384Mb RAM
1Gb HD free space
Windows 98SE

I've tried reinstalling Office XP, using the "repair corrupted files" option - no change.

I'm NOT interested in VOICE RECOGNITION, the system is absolute minimum for that, I want it to TALK, not hear.

B) ALSO there is no clear menu option to get text read as speech by the computer. How do you do that? All the Help files go on and on about Speech recognition, not Text to Speech.

C) Can Text to Speech be done from Outlook Express, Notepad, etc?

D) And can I get a British English voice for Office XP? Are there a range I can download for Office XP? All the Office Xp Help site also go on about Speech Recognition, not Text to Speech in detail.

all the best,

Question by:danw95
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 9740593
I thought you had to have Windows XP, but looks like 98 is okay.
Perhaps this link will help:

Author Comment

ID: 9740696
Hi Dreamboat,

No M$ has always made clear that Office XP will work fine with Win98 & up, apparently it doen't even need to be SE. Office Setup just loads any extra "core system files" at Installation.

The M$ Help file you linked to is one of the M$ Help files I referred to. It's ALL about speech RECOGNITION, not Text to speech.

LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 9741197
Hi Daniel,

I found this, might be what you're looking for regarding the accented voice.


This has a female British voice. I tested it on their site, sounds fine, but didn't download it.

There IS a toolbar in Excel  XP for Text to Speech. Right click any toolbar, select "Text to Speech". There are options for playing back the cell contents.

Oddly, I didn't see anything in Word XP or Outlook... As for Notepad, I doubt it as it's just a text editor.

Kind of halfway help, I know. DB, no text to speech in Word XP?

Hope this is of some (minor) help...

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LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 9741223

Sure, there's text to speech, but he's saying his problem has nothing to do with text to speech, but actually choosing the voice (character?).

I checked the web for his error message and found ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH, NUTHIN, NADA DAMN THING.
I checked Technet for anything about choosing voices and found ZERO, ZIP, ZILCH, NUTHIN, NADA DAMN THING.

I'm outta clues. Wish I coulda helped.

Author Comment

ID: 9745198
I already have the shareware version of Cool Speech, which is the 3rd Party program on the URL JC2 suggested. It works OK, but is Shareware, and the British voice availble with the Shareware is like a zomby on Valium - the American voices have more life, but with the TV here in Australia non-stop American voices I can't take any more of that! ;-) (Love you guys in the States, just need a holiday from your popular culture)

ANYWAY At least that shows the system I have can support voice. A Vibra 16 card and Logitech speakers aren't the latest tech, but ought to handle the job OK. The CPU and memory hardly break a sweat doing it.

The problem with the Office XP Text to Speech I don't think is "choice of voice" - it just isn't supporting Text to speech at present.

"Right clicking on any toolbar" say in Word, doesn't bring up a Text to Speech option. This is only obtainable through Tools, Speech. Then the damned (very resource hungry) Speech recognition toolbar opens and is very difficult to get rid of.

Maybe I have to go through setting up the Speech Recognition side of things before the Text to Speech will work?

I'll borrow a friend's mike (all mine stopped working when they changed voltages a few years ago) and try that.


Author Comment

ID: 9745213
Oh and I downloaded & installed the Microsoft speech addons from JC2's site as well. No voice from text still.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 9747343
I'm lost here, danw95, I found Text to Speech in Excel easily, but like you, couldn't find it in Word. Maybe because I (and maybe you) are using an OEM version of Office...

I also downloaded CoolSpeech, tried it, and I agree, the British voice does sound pretty lame.

Maybe DB can chime in here... DB?

Regards to all,
LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 9747357
Nope. I can't find the problem, can't reproduce it. (And don't wanna---takes forever to get rid of that feecher when you don't want it anymore, LOL!)
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 9897717
No objections here, PashaMod.

Accepted Solution

YensidMod earned 0 total points
ID: 9923499
I have PAQed the question and refunded you the 250 points.

Experts Exchange Moderator

Author Comment

ID: 9926057
Thankyou Yensid.


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