I have to say that I’ve always grouped speed reading programs and applications up there with late night infomercials and real estate investment scams. So when I came across a free text reading application that touted itself as a “speed reading” application, it caught my interest.
I decided to seek out five of the most legitimate text speed reader apps. The way these work is that the human mind has to work across sentences from side to side. Your brain must focus, process and then comprehend. Then, you move on to the next word or group of words and the process starts all over.
What these special text reader apps promise to do is to remove the “refocus” part of that equation. MakeUseOf has covered a few speed reading apps before. Speed Reader is similar to the apps I’m going to cover, but not quite as advanced. We recently covered Quickreader for the iPhone as well.
Let’s take a look at the five latest speed reading text readers that will have you reading lightning fast.
Two Online Text Readers
The first two tools that I want to cover are actually online, flash-based apps. Theonline application is offered for free by a speed reading website called “Speed Reading is Real.” To test it, I pasted one of Aibek’s latest posts of MUO discoveries.
When you hit “Continue“, the application starts playing out the text in segments. You can adjust the speed (words per minute), the segment size (chunk size) and the font size of the text. Not only is this a great way to start speed reading through text, but it’s also a good tool for people who have a difficult time reading small text on the Internet.
I found that the tool worked really well, and it did actually seem like I was reading a lot faster than I normally would.
The other online app is located at Spreeder. This free offering is an effort by the company to convince you about the effectiveness of this software so that you’ll buy the desktop version.
Just like on Flash-Reader, once you click “spreed!“, the application immediately starts playing out the text in single words. The default speed is 300 words per minute. If you’ve never tried this approach to reading text before, this will look insanely fast.
Believe it or not, you will get to the point where you can read that fast, but to start off I had to scroll the settings down much lower. You can set word count, chunk size in words, the size of the window, font size and even the color scheme.
The advanced settings place this online app at the front of the pack, allowing you to enable advanced variable speed settings where longer phrases receive more screen time, while shorter phrases go faster, as well as slight pauses at the end of sentences. These features make the reading experience feel more natural and intuitive.
Three Desktop Text Readers
As we enter into the realm of desktop speed-reader text apps, I’m going to start with my favorite. Dictator is an advanced text speed-reading app that has most of the features you would expect only the paid applications to have. It lets you view the text in any sized word chuck you like, and at any speed. There are also multiple display modes – full screen or split screen.
You can use the arrow keys to scroll through the text at your own speed, or press the space bar to have the text flow at the average words per minute in the settings. What makes this app stand out is that it naturally performs advanced features like shorter pauses for short phrases and words, and natural pauses where the grammar implies a pause. All of these things make for one of the most natural and smooth flowing reading experiences.
If you really want ultimate focus for the best speed, change to full-screen mode. Give this software a shot. I guarantee that you’ll surprise yourself when you see that you’re flying through text at two to three times your normal speed, with full comprehension.
The next app is simply called Speed-Reader. It seems that it was created for a college project, but the quality and features are advanced and almost as good as Dictator.
Settings are all easily accessed on the main display. You can paste in text or load a text file, and the color scheme and font sizes are fully customizable. This is another fantastic app that works well.
The next app is called RAM 4 (no longer available), written by Claude Pavur of Saint Louis University. He labels it a “Tachistoscope”.
This application takes the same approach as the other apps, except it works by line rather than by word. The timing of each sentence depends on length and word count, but I found that this approach didn’t lead to much better reading time and defeats the purpose of trying to get the mind to focus on one spot. However, if you prefer a text reader that lets you see the context of words within the sentence, then you may choose this one rather than the others.
Have you ever used any of these speed reader apps? What do you think? Do you know of any better free speed reading text apps out there like these? Share your insights in the comments section below.
Image credit: Sanja Gjenero
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