Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Make any Book into an Audiobook on iOS

One reply I got from my Clean Architecture NYC article was:

Yup, indeed I did listen to the Clean Architecture book, even though there is no audiobook version.

How did I do that??

I used iOS’ screen reader capability to convert any book into an audiobook.

Speech Setup

Here’s step by step instructions on how to enable the feature on iOS 12:

  1. Goto Settings

    Step 1 - Settings

  2. In General, select Accessibility

    Step 2 - Accessibility

  3. In Accessibility, select Speech

    Step 3 - Speech

  4. In Speech, turn on the “Speak Screen” option

    Step 4 - Configure

At this point, just use two fingers to swipe down from the top of the screen and the screen reader will read the screen text to you.

Test Run

For example: to have Clean Architecture read to you, open the PDF in iBooks:

Open Book

Two finger swipe down from the top and then voila:

Book Reading

The controls pop up and the book is audible through speaker or headphones.

Speech Controls

There are the controls, from left to right, top to bottom:



  • < shrinks the control to one side
  • x stops reading the screen


  • turtle slows down the speech
  • rewind moves back to the last section header
  • forward moves to the next section header
  • rabbit speeds up the speech

I prefer to have my audiobooks at a faster rate, so I am glad to see speed controls.

Turn off the screen and the screen reader will keep reading, just like an audiobook!

Also, for books, the screen reader will just do the right thing and turn to the next page when reaching the end of the page. Isn’t that awesome??

Screen setup

One thing I noticed: the screen setup is important as the screen reader will read all text on the screen, so if there are headers on each page, such as the chapter heading like so:

Bad Setup

The screen reader reads: “Clean Architecture: A Robert C. Martin Series)” every single page. So, set up the book app to be how you want the screen reader to read to you, such that there are only icons that are never read.

Good Setup


There you have it, a way to instantly make an audiobook from a PDF, or anything else you have on the screen. The screen reader handles books properly, which is a benefit when the screen reader is at a faster pace than normal.