Linux Windows

Give Your Computer A Voice With eSpeak [Windows & Linux]

Justin Pot 05-11-2011

Let your computer do the talking. Install eSpeak and you can make your computer say anything, in a wide variety of languages.


Looking for a lightweight text to speech program? Whether you want to listen to your favorite blog while doing the dishes, or just make your computer say naughty words to your friends so you can giggle like schoolchildren, eSpeak is a great tool for the job. It’s “a compact open source software speech synthesizer for English and other languages” according to its website. You can use official versions of eSpeak on Linux and Windows.

Using eSpeak

In Linux, eSpeak features a delightfully minimalist user interface:

computer voice generator

Enter some text, pick a language and hit play; the text is spoken and the words being read are highlighted in real time. You can then pause or stop the talking at any time by pressing the appropriate buttons. It’s just that simple.

Need to listen to text not in English? There’s a good chance eSpeak can speak your language.


computer voice

Most major European languages are supported; check out the official list of languages supported by eSpeak, if you’re curious. There are also various English accents, but I couldn’t really hear much difference. Can you?

The Windows interface is a bit more complex, giving you the ability to open .TXT files and controls over speed and more.

computer voice


Those creepy lips move while eSpeak talks, which I could do without. You can save any particular string of speak to a .WAV file, perfect for dubbing over creepy footage for anonymous revolutions.

Similar to the say command for Macs 5 Fun & Useful Terminal Commands You Can Use More Than Once [Mac & Linux] There is a ton of information on the Internet about various Terminal commands and ways to customise your Mac or Linux machine with the Terminal. Here are some commands which are really useful and can... Read More , you can use eSpeak from the command line in Linux. This is a great way to open entire .TXT files:

computer voice generator

You can also use the command interface to pipe in the results from other command line programs. For example,


will read a bunch of random trivia about today to you.

Learn more about using eSpeak with other commands by watching this video:

Not sure where to find that pesky “|”? It’s the shift option on your backslash key, which is probably just above your enter key.

Potential Uses

Like the idea, but not sure what you’d use it for? Well, you could listen to articles while doing other things. Doing the dishes is way better when you’re listening to MakeUseOf. It could also be perfect if you’re editing something you’ve written. Hearing your work read out loud, even by a machine, can sometimes make grammatical problems obvious. Try it out next time you are writing something.


The command line interface provides anyone with some computer skills to make a custom startup sound that reads the weather or recites random poetry. Let us know if you come up with anything in the comments below. For most people, though, this software is simply a great source for creepy robot voices. Use them to surprise your friends.

Installing eSpeak

Ready to install eSpeak? Find the download here.

Linux users should check their package manager before downloading any files; eSpeak is almost certainly in there. Ubuntu users can simply click here to install eSpeak.

This software can be amusing at first, but the real challenge is thinking of uses for it. Can you guys think of any? Let us know in the comments below.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Juha
    December 30, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    I'm planning to use espeak when I teach soroban/abacus at the grade 1 math club of my daughter.

    Looks like i managed to create an Excel worksheet and a couple of .BATs that I can use to create a bunch of calculation exercises as numbers (ie. 3 + 2 + 4 - 5 - 1 = 3 to be cut and pasted into .PPT slides) and audio files (fast and slow versions to be embedded into slides ): "attention attention. new calculation coming. add three. add two. add four. subtract five. subtract one. check result. three".

    Should be useful
    - robot dictates flawlessly
    - robot can't be distracted
    - teacher can focus on seeing how the kids are performing

    - audio can be used at least in three ways
    --- play audio and the teacher shows how the calculations are made
    --- play audio and the kids do the calculations with their own sorobans
    --- play audio and the kids do the calculations without the soroban by mentally visualizing the moves

  2. yunatan
    February 21, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    blind people are attending high studies much more independently with the help of such soft-wares. also many people can use this for learning a foreign language again more independently. i have some of my long news articles of choice read by it every day, while become less tired at the end and can continue with reading books and other useful things.

    • Justin Pot
      February 21, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Yeah, there are a lot of great uses for software like this. Thanks for leaving a comment, hope you stop by again.

  3. David Deley
    November 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Dyslexic people find text-to-speech programs very helpful.

  4. Voices Carry
    November 11, 2011 at 2:12 am

    I can see this used for transcoding ebooks to text files and making your own poor man's audiobooks.

    I'm a creative writer, and sometimes I use text-to-speech to literally give my characters a "voice." It helps a lot hearing the people talk back and forth; if I'm writing in third person I can use a separate "voice" to narrate the story. (If only someone would synthesize Morgan Freeman I know a lot of people who'd be happy. As though they'd just gotten a treat, a reward of some sort. Like a Twinkie, like a Twinkie...) XD

    A few Q's:
    1) Is it possible to listen to the voices on the software's website? Or does it not come prepackaged with voices, but uses the preinstalled ones already on your computer (i.e. "Microsoft Sam"?

    2) Where, if anywhere, can you download additional voices?

    3) if, say, you want something read in English but with a foreign accent, how good are the foreign voices for that?

    • jhpot
      November 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      1. There's no way to test the voices offline; you need to install the program first. It doesn't use the built-in voices, either; there is a male and a female voice in many languages and accents.

      2. I don't think there are additional voices for the program, because eSpeak doesn't have voice files: it creates the voice on its own as it goes.

      3. Give the foreign languages English text to read an the result is pretty hard to understand, and not what I'd describe as an accent.

      Having said this, give eSpeak a shot. You might like it!

      • Morgan
        November 13, 2011 at 2:32 am

        Actually you can add or change voices and it does use voice files.  If you go to the website where you are downloading it, click on the link at the top to go to the home page. then click on Languages on the left side. Scroll down and you will see a link for voices.  That is where it explains how to change them voice files etc.

  5. Blah
    November 9, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I use espeak at the office to:

    - tell me the time at one hour intervals (using crons)
    - speak previously setup reminders (again, using crons)

  6. xo
    November 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    This program is similar to what a relative of mine uses when he needs to speak.  The USEFULNESS and NEED for this type of speech program is more essential than you seem to have given it credit for.

    There are literally MILLIONS of people around the world who cannot speak, due to illness, injury, or tracheostomy. ( )

    While there is an app available for the iPhone and Droid, finding a really good text reading program for the PC that will allow someone who cannot speak to type in what he or she wishes to say and has the computer speak those words, well... that is always a challenge.

    I am forwarding "sharing" this with my loved ones and posting a link on facebook for those who know people who are unable to speak.

    • jhpot
      November 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      You're right: software like this is essential to many people. I wasn't trying to downplay that; I was only trying to find purposes for others. Thanks for making this point, and let me know how your loved ones find eSpeak.

  7. Anonymous
    November 6, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Nice! I like that it includes a command-line tool.

    • jhpot
      November 6, 2011 at 8:12 pm

      It's really nice, particularly when you get used to piping. Lots of things you can do with this!

  8. Cathy
    November 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Hmm perhaps install on laptop and have it read recipe to you when you are cooking...wonder if there is a command to tell it to pause?

    • jhpot
      November 6, 2011 at 6:49 am

      There's a pause button, but I don't know if that's what you're asking for. Is it?