I have a friend with vision problems who can’t read his emails. Thankfully, Siri can do it for him.
Following are the steps to get Apple’s personal digital assistant to read your unread emails on an iOS device.
To get Siri to start speaking to you on iOS, you need to enable an Accessibility feature. Go to Settings → General → Accessibility → Speech section. You’ll see two options: Speak Selection and Speak Screen. Enabling the first allows you to select a group of text and have Siri read that specific group back to you. Selecting the second allows you have Siri read everything that is visible on your screen.
Now you can press and hold the Home button on your iPhone or iPad or say “Hey, Siri” to activate Siri.
Ask Siri to “Read my unread emails.” Apple’s personal digital assistant now checks for new emails and gives you a brief audio overview of them.
Tap on any email in order to view it directly in the Mail app.
If you ask Siri “read me my emails,” you’ll hear your first 25 email subjects and senders. To get the full text of the email you need to ask “read my last email.”
However, you’ll have to repeatedly push the listen button and ask for emails to be read out one at a time (“read my first email,” “read my second email,” etc.). As far as I know, there’s no way to have Siri speak emails continuously or read the next email or to interact in the context of the current email.
Following are the steps to get Apple’s personal digital assistant to read your unread emails on a Mac.
Open System Preferences and go to Accessibility → Speech. Enable “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.” By default, the key is Option-Esc, but you can change the key combo to another if you wish.
Then you can select text in an email to have it read to you. Alas, that doesn’t help my friend, who can’t see the text to select it, so going the iOS route will probably work better for him.
If you have other suggestions for my friend, send ‘em to me at email@example.com, and I’ll feature ‘em in a follow-up article.