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10.4: Convert any web page to audio via Automator Apps
Tiger only hintThis hint uses Automator to get a URL and convert the text to an audio file, which you can then play on your iPod. This example uses, but the concept will work for any site.

Please note this tip originally appeared on I have modified it to work somewhat better, and to work with

Open a new Automator action. Select the Safari entry in the Library column, and drag the 'Get Specified URLs' Action to the work area. Enter the URL for, and then drag over the 'Get text from Webpage' Action, placing it below the previously-placed action.

Now select System in the Library column, and drag over the 'Text to Audio File' Action, again placing it below the others. Select a voice, enter a name for the new file, and select where to save the file.

Select iTunes in the Library column, drag over the 'Import Audio file' Action, select the import encoding (MP3, AAC, etc.; the original will be an .AIFF). Choose any options you want.

Now save this as a Plugin or an application from the File: Save As menu. In iTunes, make a new Smart Playlist that has "Song Name" and "Contains" as the criteria, and enter the name you gave your file. Now run the Automator plug-in/application you created. The original hint on engadget called for you to "use Add files to playlist" from the iTunes Actions, but I found this just made a new playlist with no file added. Also, the Automator got very,very CPU hungry when trying to get my playlists.

[robg adds: The original engadget hint is well worth reading if you're new to Automator -- it's got a lot of screenshots and walks through each step in great detail. The rest of this hint has a downloadable version of the finished action. I tested this, and it worked as described. I'm not sure macosxhints makes good listening, but the tip does work -- there are obviously more suitable pages for this script, which is the real point of it...]

The second part of this hint is that Automator files are saved as application bundles. Inside the contents (control-click on the bundle and choose Show Package Contents) is a .wflow file, which can be read in a text editor.

So if you want to share a .wflow file (on a web page, for instance), but do not want to do it in binary/bundle form, you can copy the contents of the .wflow file, paste them into a plain text file, and save it as a .wflow file. Double-clicking this file will open it in Automator for editing, and then using Save As to create the plug-in or application. Like this, for example, which is the workflow created above. Copy and paste that text (or download the link), rename it to end in .wflow, and then double-click to open the completed Automator action.
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10.4: Convert any web page to audio via Automator | 3 comments | Create New Account
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10.4: Convert any web page to audio via Automator
Authored by: bigbold on May 12, '05 12:40:42PM

If you use a (free) service like RSS Digest (disclaimer: I own it), you can turn RSS feeds into plain text HTML which you could use with this action. Seems to work good. I got it to read the BBC News feed and all sounds good.

Which brings me to my second point.. it really doesn't sound /that/ good. I can't understand how anyone can listen to these horrible voices for more than a few minutes. It's not so much the sound, but it's very hard to maintain a train of thought when something is read with incorrect pronunciations and very poor intonation. You need to really concentrate to understand more than the odd sentence. It's horrible. I wish they'd focus on improving the voices :-(

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10.4: Convert any web page to audio via Automator
Authored by: mithras on May 12, '05 04:45:57PM

I use the text-to-speech engine to announce phone calls, upcoming appointments, etc., so I went ahead and bought one of the Cepstral Voices for Mac OS X ($30). Especially the David and Diane voices sound much better than the Apple voices.

Now if only Apple would go ahead and buy these voices!

Listen To My iTunes Library (6500+ songs, iTunes 4 required)

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10.4: Convert any web page to audio via Automator
Authored by: bigbold on May 14, '05 06:55:15PM

Oooh, thanks for linking to that. I'm quite impressed, and am downloading the David sample voice pack now :)

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