Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alex Reads Me My PDFs

While on my treadmill, I try to do something productive to keep my mind occupied and less on the exercise.  Lately I've been trying to read some pdfs of books or manuals while walking or cycling in the fitness center.  I really like audio books as they are easier to manipulate, especially on the treadmill.

I have been pursuing the means to have my pdfs or books read to me. I have found that there are a couple of ways to accomplish this feat if you don't mind a robot reading to you.

First Attempt - Using Voice Over with iBooks

First, I tried using the built in "voice over" option on my iPad. This entails enabling "voice over" in the Settings of your iPad. Under General, you will find "accessibility" option> triple click home button> which I set to "voice over."  When you want something read to you on your ipad, you enable the voice over by hitting the home button rapidly in succession three times.  When you do this, the other home gestures get really confusing. Selecting something then requires two clicks of home button instead of one.  This can be frustrating at first.  Usually I only turn this feature on after I have started iBooks.

Once I have iBooks running and have selected a pdf file to have read, I then triple click the home button turning on the voice over (which is a woman's voice).  Then you have to select the first word or sentence (which can be tricky) and using two fingers swipe downward.  The voice will start reading and continue through the article.  It is pretty frustrating at times, but once it is engaged, works for the duration of my workout.

Second Attempt - Audio Created Using Cntl Clicking Selected Text

Today, I decided to try a different method.  The Mac system allows you to select text in a pdf file that you load into Preview, and then to control click the selected text.  You will see an option to send text to iTunes.

You have a choice of voices (I select Alex).  You choose where to put the audio files in iTunes.  I usually just put them in the Music section.  

Generally, I select one chapter or a section of the pdf or book.  I send each to iTunes.  Using command I in iTunes you can enter the author's name, edit the chapter title, add a track number and any other information you wish like Genre: Books to each audio clip.  

When I finish saving each track or chapter to iTunes, I then create a playlist, sorted by track to get them in order.   

 Moving Audio Files to My iPad without Syncing

Next step is to move these files to a folder on your desktop.  Using command-shift N, create a folder on your desktop. Now select all the files in the playlist and drag them to the new folder.

Note: I have set my iTunes preferences> devices> to NOT auto-synch my devices (ipods, ipads, and iphones).  

Run iTunes.  Connect your iPad to your Mac. Your iPad should show up under devices in the left-hand side of the iTunes window. Select Apps tab.  YOU WILL NOT BE SYNCING.
To move the files to your iPad without having to sync your iPad is accomplished by using the File Sharing option available under the Apps tab.  SCROLL DOWN to see this section.

I use the GoodReader app to read pdfs and also to access documents from Google Drive (Google Docs) and to also listen to audio files.  When I scroll down in my Apps Tab, I see a list of apps that allow transfer of files from my Mac to my iPad/iPhone without having to sync my devices.  It is especially nice to use this method to add files to your devices that are on your Mac laptops or other computer than the one you originally used to sync your device.

I select GoodReader from the left hand column and then see the files that are currently stored on my ipad in the right-hand section of the window.  I then select all the files on my desktop in the newly created folder and drag them to this right-hand section.  They are now quickly moved to my iPad. DO NOT click the SYNC button - it is not used to transfer these files!

I then eject my iPad using the small up arrow next to my iPad device name in the far left-hand column (under Devices) and disconnect my iPad.  Whoala!  I now have the audio files in GoodReader My Documents section and I merely click on the audio to listen to the book.  Alex reads to me.

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