Firefox is one of the most popular free web browsers out there. It was launched in 2004 and developed by the famous American software company Mozilla Corporation. Its open sources make it so transparent and liable that literally anyone can use and modify its code in whatever way they see suitable.

Currently, with over 362 million active worldwide, Firefox offers a secure and fast browsing experience with a whole set of built-in privacy and customisation features, i.e. extensions like text-to-speech.

Ever since it saw the light, Firefox has been on a growth journey with a new release with new major updates coming out roughly every four weeks—minor updates are released at shorter intervals. As of August 2023, a total of 116 primary releases of the browser were launched. Yet, many of these comprise some secondary segments. For instance, the latest browser version, launched on 16 August 2023, is 116.0.3.

This continuous development of the browser has qualified it to become one of the most popular and widely used ones. In fact, Firefox now ties in with Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Opera, all of which create a great browsing experience for users. An important and indispensable part of this development was the introduction of extensions, including speech-to-text ones.

Firefox Extensions

Pretty much like appetisers that we eat to stimulate our appetite, browser extensions are small pieces of software that web developers build so we, the users, can install them into our browsers to increase their functionality, customise them to our preference, and generally have a faster and more efficient browsing experience.

text-to-speech firefox extensions

Now, the first browser to ever support extensions was Internet Explorer in 1999, with the browser’s fourth release. Firefox was launched in 2004, and it introduced extensions in the very same year.

More commonly known as add-ons for this particular browser, Firefox extensions bring a whole new level of functionality to make the user’s experience a lot easier and faster when browsing the Internet. There are currently over 30,000 extensions which offer a wide range of features and functionalities. All those extensions are available for free on the Firefox Browser Add-ons website.

Do you want to record your screen, save your usernames and passwords, modify your browser interface and change where the search bar is, or Manage cookies? Whatever you want to do, there is no need to access a website or download an app, for there probably is an extension residing somewhere in the Firefox Add-ons store that can do this for you.

Using Firefox Extensions Safely

Like extensions on all other browsers, hundreds of Firefox extensions are created by third-party developers, which might bring about some teeny-tiny, trust-related concerns, and the question becomes, how could you make sure the extension you are using is safe and reliable? Well, all Firefox extensions are generally safe to use. Yet, it is still your responsibility to take some extra precautions to double-check this security factor.

First of all, it is always best to check which extensions are recommended and which are more popular to use. The most popular ones are usually subject to safety checks before Firefox accepts any of their new versions. You should also visit the developer’s website, which is typically displayed on the extension’s page and see if it is legitimate. 

In addition, you must go through the reviews written by the people who have tested out the extensions before you. Their genuine experiences can highly influence your decision of which extension to install. If an extension’s reviews do not generally recommend it, it is better to avoid it altogether.

5 Text-to-Speech Extensions

Now that we know enough about extensions in general and Firefox extensions in particular, let’s move on to one of the most useful and highly needed extensions out there: text-to-speech extensions.

So, why use a text-to-speech extension? Let’s face it. Reading while browsing has grown tiring for most of us. Such an action is even more demanding now, given that we almost entirely multitask while we are browsing any webpage. It was also found that it is easier to process information when someone else is talking to you about it.

Using a text to speech extension can help you better comprehend the content you come across, as your entire focus is dedicated to what you are listening to instead of being distributed over reading and understanding what you read. That is why text-to-speech extensions are especially helpful for kids with dyslexia or anyone generally struggling with reading for whatever other reason.

Text-to-speech extensions are also super helpful for people with low literacy or anyone having a visual impairment. They also save time. Besides, they can save you, sometimes. Say, for instance, you have a seminar in which you need to present some information from a PowerPoint, but you do not really want to talk. You can then use a text-to-speech extension to read the PowerPoint on behalf of you.

All in all, text-to-speech extensions are highly recommended to use. So, here are some of the best text-to-speech extensions that you can install on your Firefox browser.

1. Read Aloud

The first suggestion we have here is Read Aloud, which is by far one of the most popular text-to-speech extensions out there. It supports more than 40 languages and has over a hundred million users on Firefox. Although the extension’s interface does not look as lavish, Read Aloud does have high functionality, which is precisely what anyone is looking for when they want to install an extension.

Once you install the extension to your Firefox browser, pin it so you can see it in the upper toolbar. If you simply click on that Read Aloud icon, it will automatically read out whatever page you are on. If you go to another tab, the extension is going to keep on reading until you manually pause or stop it. You can click on the icon again to pause or stop the reading.

To access the options page, just click the gear icon. There is a great number of different voices to choose from. Read Aloud even gives you options to adjust the voices and tweak the pitch.

Interestingly, you can find a Recommended badge on the extension’s page. Firefox usually uses such badges to distinguish the extensions that meet their security and performance standards, which can help you a lot to know which extensions to use. On that page, too, you can find the extension’s rating and user reviews.

Read Aloud is constantly being updated, and you can see which version the one you are using and when it came out on the same page. As of 26 August 2023, the extension was last updated on 2 August 2023. It also has some patch notes that tell you what the changes they have made are.

Read Aloud was built by LSD Software. They made another extension, Side Chatter chatroom, which you can find linked to Read Aloud’s page. Now, it is straightforward to actually add Read Aloud to your Firefox browser. Just click Add to Firefox, and it will be installed in a matter of minutes. As we mentioned earlier, make sure you pin the add-on to your toolbar to easily use it.

2. Talkie

Our next Firefox text-to-speech extension recommendation is called Talkie. This is a great, unobstructed and easy-to-use add-on. It is one of Firefox’s native features, which means it was originally integrated into the browser.

Although it has not been downloaded as many times as Read Aloud, Talkie is one of the best text-to-speech extensions out there. All you need to do is highlight some text to read it out for you. So, it just works the same way as Read Aloud.

Talkie does have some good options, however. For instance, you can have some customisation, as in, you can add extra voices to it, though it requires you to ensure that they are installed onto your system as opposed to getting them from an online database.

You can also adjust any of Talkie’s talking voice’s speed and pitch. But the catch to this is that you can only do that within the premium version. So, if you want to choose your own default voice for each language, this is how you can go ahead and unlock that feature. The premium version also allows you to install additional voices.

As of 26 August 2023, Talkie has been downloaded over 4,500 times and has a 3.6 out of 5 rating. The last time it was updated was on 31 December 2021.

3. Text to Speech (TTS) by Brian

Yes, the following add-on we have here is called Text to Speech or TTS, which is exactly like when someone gets a cat, and they call it Cat. No judgement, however. Yet, you need to pay close attention, for there are other extensions called Text to Speech as well. The one we are referring to here was created by a developer named Brian.

To use TTS by Brian, all you would need to do is highlight some text. So, instead of clicking the extension button from the add-on bar or accessing a right-click menu, TTS by Brian puts a small blue speaker button above your highlighted text. This means that you can click the button, and it will automatically read out the text for you.

Using this extension is especially significant if you are looking for a specific piece of text you want to read from outside of your browser. You can pretty much just paste it into the add-on directly by clicking on the add-on toolbar.

This extension is also great for programs that do not support text-to-speech or do not have features like PowerPoint Speak to read the text out loud. So, that is one of the reasons why you should go ahead and download TTS by Brian.

TTS by Brian supports some cool actions. For example, you can pause and resume the speech and skip to the next section. You can also repeat the current section or move to the previous section. In addition, it gives you options to adjust the speech’s pitch, speed, and volume.

On the extension’s page, there are also a few screenshots to show you what TTS’s interface looks like. This extension was last updated about four years ago, precisely on 23 October 2019.

4. Text to Speech (TTS) by Morni

There are also other versions of TTS that were built by other developers. There is this one created by Morni, which is reportedly more popular than Brian’s, given that it was downloaded over 3,000 times and has a 2.3 out of 5 rating.

That said, TTS by Morni is still a great add-on to use, for it does have some interesting features. For instance, once you install the extension, a little Play icon will appear on your web pages. All you need to do is highlight the section you want it to read and just hit play.

TTS by Morni detects the language of the text automatically. That means you do not really need to change the input language in case you use the extension for different texts. You can also highlight another section of the text while TTS is reading another without it getting paused.

The extension allows users to report bugs by filling in a bug form on the extension’s homepage. Such a thing is really highly important for users to do, for it helps developers highlight and fix any issues with their extensions. So thanks, Morni. You can also see the extension’s review on YouTube to learn more about it.

5. Text to Speech That Brings Productivity

Our next and final text-to-speech extension recommendation for today is called Text to Speech That Brings Productivity. It is quite an informative name, as you can see, and one that tells you the direct value you will get from using it, which is pretty smart if you think about it.

Now, this Text to Speech That Brings Productivity, which we will call TTSTBP for short, is an extension that has a really good-looking interface, as compared to the other four we demonstrated earlier. It was created by a developer called Intelligent Speaker. This extension was downloaded over 2,800 times and has a 3.7 out of 5 rating.

The cool thing about TTSTBP is that it allows you to save or add articles, files, and webpages to its list for you to listen to later. This is one thing that makes this extension different from the other ones we presented above. You can also use it offline.

TTSTBP offers loads of customisability as well, as you can choose from different human-like voices. The extension supports at least 18 languages, and it does have smart text detection. It also supports Google Drive and allows speed change. It was updated on 25 May 2022. Interestingly, TTSTBP is not just a Firefox extension, but you can use it for iOS as well.

Feature/Extension Read Aloud Speechify Voice Reader Natural Reader Balabolka TTSFox ImTranslator Talkie
Voice Quality Good High Versatile Natural Extensive Good Good Basic
Languages Multiple Diverse Multiple Multiple Multiple Limited Multilingual Limited
Customization High Moderate High Advanced Advanced Low Moderate Low
Unique Features User-friendly, Accessibility Real-time Conversion, Paid Text Highlighting, PDF/EPUB support Fine-grained Control Open-source, Spell-checking Pop-out Window Translation Integration Native Integration
Price Free Paid Free Free/Paid Free Free Free Free

Accessibility Focus

  • Read Aloud and Voice Reader offer great tools for users with dyslexia or visual impairments, with features like text highlighting and customizable reading speeds.
  • Natural Reader’s natural-sounding voices are particularly helpful for users requiring clear, easy-to-understand speech output.

Technical Insights

  • Balabolka’s open-source nature allows tech-savvy users to customize it extensively, but this might require more technical knowledge.
  • Speechify and Natural Reader may have more demanding system requirements due to their high-quality voices.

Alternative Platforms

  • Read Aloud, Speechify, and Voice Reader are also available on other browsers, offering similar functionalities with minor variations.
  • Balabolka, being open-source, has broader compatibility across different platforms.

This approach aims to provide a comprehensive view, helping users choose the right extension based on their specific needs and technical capabilities.

Text-to-speech extensions on Firefox can tremendously transform your browsing experience and help you read and comprehend texts without stressing over getting distracted or bored. They save you tons of time as well.

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