Tech for Writers: iOS “Speak Screen”

16 Jun

Do you retain more information when you hear it rather than only reading it on a page?
I know I do. I’m a pretty avid note taker. In college and graduate school, I developed the ability to nearly create a thought-for-thought transcription of a professor’s lectures. That trait also has proven invaluable when I brainstorm my stories.

But sometimes, my brainstorming notes can get quite lengthy and I forget some aspects of the story. Or, perhaps, when I’ve come to a certain scene on a particular writing day, I’ll review the notes I took for that scene before putting prose to pixels.

But wouldn’t it be neat to have someone read my notes to me? (Yeah, I can, and do, read them aloud to myself, but having an external source read the notes allows me time to go deeper into the story.)

Enter the Speak Screen command on the iPhone. I’ve had my iPhone SE just over a month now and I’m still learning what it can do. One feature that is invaluable for folks like me is Speak Screen. It does exactly what you think it does: it reads whatever text is on the screen at the time.

The action is triggered by sliding two fingers from the top of the screen to the bottom. You’ll get a new toolbar that looks like this.

Here you can control the tempo, pause, play, or stop the app from running. The “Simplenote” up there is just the app I was using. It’ll be whatever app you have open. 

You activate it here: Settings>General>Accessibility>Speech>Speak Screen. You can also select the language and voice you want. I stay with Siri Female (enhanced) since that voice speaks all the weird words better.

And, best yet: naturally, it’ll read your actual prose back to you so you can hear your story while you follow along, making notes.


It’s a great feature for iOS devices. Writers, y’all should really try it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.