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Version 3 history

The development and changes in version 3 are detailed below in reverse order:

What's new in version 3.6.4 - 10 December 2014

This version includes support for AAC format streams in Windows 8 / 8.1. For example, in the Tunein Radio task, high quality audio is available when listening to BBC Radio live streams including high definition audio with BBC Radio 3. This version also includes bug fixes.

What's new in version 3.6.3 - 1 November 2014

This version includes bug fixes and minor improvements.

What's new in Features release 3.6, version 3.6.0, 1 October 2014

This release includes support for the epub books format in the Text Publication plug-in. Reading of epub books is supported by many advanced features.

New features in detail

Support for epub books format

The Text Publications plug-in now supports all relevant features of epub version 3.

The Player using the epub format works generally in the same way as with all other types of media and includes level navigation units.

Specific epub format features include:

What's new in Features release 3.5 - 1 August 2014

SpeakOn still works in the same way but has been modularized further into individual plug-ins which you can add and remove from the Tools sub-menu to suit the media you need.

For users in the UK, NTNM (National Talking Newspapers and Magazines) is now delivered by RNIB. Both NTNM Audio and eText plug-ins were modified and enhanced with advanced features for this service.

New features in detail

Available plug-ins

A plug-in can contain one or more tasks. Most plug-ins contain only one task and this has the same name as the plug-in.

After SpeakOn MediaSuite is installed for the first time on a computer, the following plug-ins are installed by default: CD, Podcast, Music, Tunein Radio, Audio Books, Text Publications, Other Media

The following additional plug-ins can be added in minutes from the SpeakOn server: VI Radio Podcast (contains two tasks: VI Radio and VI Podcast), NTNM Audio, NTNM eText

If a previous version of SpeakOn MediaSuite was installed on the computer, the plug-ins installed by default vary; if you cannot find the media task you need in the Manager, simply add it in minutes from the Tools sub-menu.

Audio Books plug-in

The old Books task was renamed Audio Books and supports as before audio and DAISY formats but not plain text. Otherwise it works in exactly the same way and is packaged in its own plug-in.

Text Publications plug-in

A new Text Publications task, packaged in its own plug-in, was introduced to support plain text format.

NTNM eText plug-in

A new NTNM eText task, packaged in its own plug-in, was developed to support NTNM publications supplied by RNIB. Publications supported are in the epub format with the following features:

The SpeakOn player works generally in the same way as with all other types of media and includes levels navigation units. Specific features include:

NTNM Audio plug-in

The old TNAUK Audio task was renamed NTNM Audio and repackaged in its own plug-in. The functionality of the new task is exactly the same as the old one with the ability to browse the entire NTNM Audio catalogue and save publications to Favourites. Users, as before, have the option to stream a playlist of individual articles or download publications in podcast fashion.

What's new in Features release 3.4 - 5 February 2014

In terms of media capabilities, SpeakOn MediaSuite works exactly as before but under the hood it has undergone major revision, incorporating the latest technology, support of plug-ins, much improved updates and other minor features as explained further below.

Since the last version, SpeakOn has been developed as a general purpose development framework for self-voicing applications in addition to media which was handled so far, and this work is now complete. This means that in principle, SpeakOn should be able to do most tasks that, say, a standard Windows application would do so other types of SpeakOn besides MediaSuite will be available shortly.

As part of this effort, SpeakOn was modularized with the benefit that in most cases, it can be updated in seconds without resorting to a Windows installer. The update is handled as before in the Manager’s Help sub-menu and the system works out automatically if it can update itself or if a new SpeakOn Windows installer is required; in this case it is downloaded ready for installation as before.

SpeakOn now supports plug-ins, each containing one or more tasks. It comes by default with general purpose plug-ins containing tasks that most people probably want. Others that are not used can be installed later at any time. Any existing plug-ins can also be removed so that users just have on their system what they need.

Specifically SpeakOn MediaSuite was split into these plug-ins where all general purpose media tasks installed by default and the LastFM and TNAUK plug-ins can be installed from within SpeakOn itself if required as explained below.

A new Tools sub-menu was created in the Manager menu. Besides the creation of a portable installation (moved there from the Global settings menu), two sub-menus were added: Add Plug-ins and Remove Plug-ins. The operation of these is straight forward; you check the plug-ins you want to add and uncheck the plug-ins you want to remove. Then just select OK from the menu in the usual way; you are informed about the progress of the installation process and if all goes well, you are advised that SpeakOn will shutdown; you start it again and the new plug-ins are installed ready for use.

A new minor feature is a new ‘View quick tips’ sub-menu under the Help sub-menu which allows you to view useful shortcuts; even if you are an experienced SpeakOn MediaSuite user you will probably find there shortcuts which would make using SpeakOn quicker.

What's new in Features release 3.3 - 10 June 2013

The purpose of this version of SpeakOn is to enhance and fix any bugs in the previous version rather than introduce new media capabilities. This does not mean that there are no new features but rather that they are designed to support the media that SpeakOn handles already.

SpeakOn should work pretty much like in previous versions but underneath there have been major changes to update it to recent technology and improve performance. It supports both Java six and seven and was tested with Windows XP and seven in both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. It was only partially tested with Windows eight as the author of SpeakOn don't own this version of Windows yet.

There has been a lot of work done on enhancing SpeakOn speech capabilities with the options currently available being similar to those of a screenreader. These have been based on SpeechHub which is a project where the author is a main developer.

Radio Time is now called Tunein radio and this version reflects this change with a number of enhanced features including the ability to list all available on-demand stations alphabetically like those available with the BBC's iPlayer and others.

For those in the UK who read TNAUK newspapers and magazines using SpeakOn, there have been a number of significant enhancements including the ability to add a publication to the Favourites directory and the ability to search eText publications effectively creating a temporary publication based on the search results.

There have been also minor general and LastFM improvements (See further below for details of the above features).


Before you do anything please remove the old version of SpeakOn if installed already on your machine; the installer of this version (open source) is not compatible with the previous one (commercial).

It is suggested that if you have any meaningful media in the old version of SpeakOn, you should leave the old SpeakOn folders; you will be able to go back to the old one if you are not happy with the new version. This version stores the SpeakOn data in new standard locations outlined further below.

Download this version from: here

Like previous versions of SpeakOn, in Windows Vista, Seven and Eight, to avoid interruptions by the UAC (User Account Control) and to enable correct operation, you need to run SpeakOn in administrator mode.

These notes introduce the new features and changes in this version and it assumes knowledge of SpeakOn operations. For a general introduction and tutorial, use the old version's manual which is mostly still relevant except for the features outlined below. The old (still public) version manual is: here

New features in this version
General features

One of the main features of this version is the enhanced speech capabilities. SpeakOn uses internally components of SpeechHub to provide support for eSpeak, Microsoft speech API version 5 and Microsoft speech platform. In addition, if the SpeechHub server is installed, any extra synthesizers installed with SpeechHub are available. Unlike NVDA there is no need to install an additional add- on to connect to SpeechHub as this capability is built in; if the SpeechHub server is started, SpeakOn just connects to it; otherwise it is started automatically.

In the Manager task’s menu under global settings, instead of the Speech task, there are two new tasks; the Synthesizer and Voice tasks where you select the required synthesizer and voice respectively, very much like NVDA although the order of controls is somewhat different. Another difference compared to previous versions of SpeakOn is that like a screen reader you set the default volume rate and pitch in the Voice task explained above and any changes to the volume and rate set by the SpeakOn keys are valid only until you switch SpeakOn off.

Tunein radio

Press Ctrl + F and type the search term. The results construct effectively a new publication with only the articles that meet the search term. Navigate this virtual publication in the usual way.

Search terms format:

Type in something like:

Manchester football
Searches for articles that contain both the words Manchester and football, both can be anywhere in the article

Manchester | football
Searches for articles that contain either the words Manchester or football, both can be anywhere in the article

“Manchester football”
Searches for articles where these words appear together.

Manchester -football
Searches for articles where the word Manchester appears but not football

-“Manchester football”
Note in the line above that both the words manchester and football are surrounded by double quotes
Searches for articles where both words do not appear together

The Find task allows whole word and case sensitive searches

Folders structure

This version stores itself in the following location:

SpeakOn installation:
C:\Program Files\SpeakOn-MediaSuite
C:\Program Files (x86)\SpeakOn-MediaSuite

User settings:
Windows Vista Seven and Eight
Windows XP
C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\SpeakOn\MediaSuite
User media:
Windows Vista Seven and Eight
Windows XP
(This probably is the only folder you will want to look at and work with from time to time)

What's new in Features release 3.1

The main theme of this release is support for file associations; this facility allows you to use SpeakOn as an audio player launched directly from the File Manager such as Windows Explorer or My Computer as well as Internet browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox.

A minor new feature in this release is the ability to start a media task with the focus on your media.  Minor bugs have been fixed in the RadioTime task.

What's new in the latest version 3.1.2 - (28 August 2010)

This bug fixes release addresses two problems:

A small cosmetic change: in TNAUK publications read in SpeakOn, the titles of newspaper articles are now announced as headlines.

What's new in version 3.1.0 - (10 July 2010)

--Starting a media task with the focus on your own media.

You will be familiar with the usual way of starting a media task with the focus on the Player from the Manager by pressing Enter on the required media in the Manager’s list.  You may know that you can press Ctrl + Enter to start the media task so that the focus is on the media directory in the Library; this version also allows you to press Shift + Enter; the focus is placed on your media (where relevant) in the Library, for example ‘My presets’ in the RadioTime task and My favourites in the Podcast task etc.

--File associations

By default, SpeakOn does not associate itself with any file extensions. The best way for you to try using SpeakOn from your File Manager (Windows Explorer or My Computer) is to locate a supported file extension such as ‘.mp3’.  Then, right click (or press the application key) to bring up the context menu.  Navigate to the ‘Open with’ sub-menu and then select SpeakOn; SpeakOn will start with a short message and the focus is placed on the Player which starts to play.  Operation of the Player is exactly as in previous versions of SpeakOn.      

You can also play a folder by placing the focus in Windows Explorer on a folder,  and from the context menu selecting ‘Play with SpeakOn Media Suite’.  Similarly, you can build a playlist by combining a number of folders by selecting from the menu ‘Add to SpeakOn Media Suite playlist’.

You can also use SpeakOn to play audio streams and files from links in your favourite Internet browser; SpeakOn should appear as one of the options available when clicking a link.

You can save playlists made of local files or internet links to SpeakOn’s Library or the computer’s file system from the Player menu:

File > Save to Library

File > Save to file system

If you like the way SpeakOn plays your audio files or links on the Internet, you can configure SpeakOn to be your default player for specific file extensions and audio formats from within SpeakOn itself easily:

In the Manager, bring up the Main menu:

Global Settings > File Associations

In the File Associations task, go Up and Down the check list and press Enter to select the file extensions you want associated with SpeakOn.  If you wish, you can select ‘check all’ or uncheck all’ from the menu.  Then select OK from the menu – that’s it.  You can check that it works by clicking (pressing Enter) on any file with the extension you selected above in Windows Explorer.

Note that SpeakOn supports most popular common audio file formats ‘out of the box’ and these file extensions are available in the ‘File Associations’ check list as explained above.  SpeakOn can support more file extensions after installing additional plug-ins / applications as explained here:

Once these are installed and enabled as explained in the above link, the additional file extensions are available in the ‘File Associations’ task check list and you can check these file associations if you wish as well.

Further down this page is a list of file extensions that SpeakOn supports.

Internet Explorer - Internet Explorer uses the file associations set in your computer so if you set SpeakOn to play for example ‘.mp3’ files, Internet Explorer will use SpeakOn to open these types of files including mp3 streams used by some radio stations.  Otherwise, any other application such as Windows Media Player configured to use this file extension by default, will be used instead.  Depending on the file type, when you click a link which points to a media file or stream, a dialog pops up asking you if you want to open or save the file.  A check box is available which you can check if you want the application (in this case SpeakOn) to be always used to open the media type.  I suggest that you leave this check box unchecked until you are sure that you want SpeakOn to always open this type of media.  If you select the Open button, SpeakOn will play the media in the usual way.

Firefox - Firefox allows you to choose file associations independently of the one set in Windows.  Usually when you click a link in the browser, the ‘Launch Application’ dialog appears.  A list of possible applications including SpeakOn is usually available.  If you press the character 's' you should get to it quickly.  Press tab; the ‘Remember my choice’ check box is unchecked; leave it unchecked until you are sure that you want SpeakOn to always play this type of media.  Note that if you tick this check box and make a mistake, you will need to reverse your choice from the Firefox preferences.  Tab and select OK; SpeakOn should start to play the media.

The following file extension for media files and playlists are supported ‘out of the box’:

.mp3, .ogg, .wma, .wav, .asx, .m3u, .pls, .wpl, .spx

Note - .m4a is available only in Windows 7.

The following file extensions are available with additional installed programs or applications:

.ram, .rm, .ra, smil, .flac

Note .ogg and .spx are available by default but better navigation is available with additional plug-ins.

SpeakOn supports MIME media types associated with the above file extensions as available in an Internet browser.

What's new in version 3.0.5 - (18 May 2010)

This is an update version with bug fixes only.

-- Navigation units are enabled reliably for stream on demand and streamed podcast.

-- AAC format in the Radio Time task is enabled correctly once installation of the Orban filter is indicated.

-- The menu in the Last FM task for new users is working correctly enabling the user to enter login details.

What's new in version 3.0.0 - (1 March 2010)

-- The Application layer in SpeakOn has been eliminated with the following advantages:

You start a media task in the same way you started an application before; [Enter] will take you to the Player, [Ctrl + Enter] will take you directly to the Library, this time of course to the right media type. Everything works in exactly the same way. You will notice that some messages are not required any more and therefore have been eliminated, resulting in improved clarity for the user.

-- Changing the media order in the Manager

In the Manager, bring up the Main menu, select:

Global Settings > Media Customization

In the 'Available Media' list control you are presented with a list of all media types available in SpeakOn. By default all media are checked; press Enter to Check / Uncheck the media you want.

-- Specifying additional audio formats supported by SpeakOn.

SpeakOn supports some media types 'out of the box'; others can be supported by installing Windows Media Player / Direct Shows plug-in or external applications.

If you are interested in this additional media support and have installed the relevant plug-in / filters / external applications, you need to configure SpeakOn to recognize these.

Real format: You need to install either Media Player classic (alternative) or Real Media (as with previous version of SpeakOn but you need now to specify that you have installed either of these on your computer).

AAC audio format (as used mainly by iTunes): Note that this format is supported by an increasing number of radio stations and enabling this option will automatically enable you to get this format from RadioTime.

Windows 7 supports the AAC format out of the box (with Windows Media Player 12 which is installed in Windows 7 by default) but only for local files, not streaming. If you want to listen to AAC radio stations in Windows 7 or need AAC support in any other version of Windows, you need to install the Orban Windows Media Player plug-in which you can find here:

Note the 'Get it here' link which is located down the page.

Note that once you have installed this plug-in it will put two shortcuts on your desktop; one pointing to a readme file and the other to a website which plays AAC music with an extra toolbar that you are encouraged to download. I have not tried this, and you don't need any of these shortcuts with SpeakOn; they can be deleted.

FLAC, OGG and SPEEX formats: To provide FLAC OGG and SPEEX support install the Xiph direct show filter which you can get directly from:


Note that SpeakOn already supports out of the box the Ogg and Speex formats but with the above filter navigation within a media is also provided.

Windows Video format - audio support: You don't need to install anything to check this option. If you check this option, you will find in the Radio Time task's library another entry called 'TV Shows'. This contains some stations not all of which are reliable. This is a section which is being developed by Radio Time and therefore the support for this in SpeakOn is at this stage experimental.

Note that SpeakOn only plays the audio part of the TV show there is no visual element. Also audio support for video in SpeakOn is not yet fully tested and may cause instability.

If you installed the application / plug-in / filters for any of the media above in the Manager, bring up the Menu and select:

Global Settings > Additional audio formats

Simply select [Enter] the media you want supported (based of course on the software installed). Bring the Menu and select OK to confirm your selection.

-- Additional keystrokes for audio and speech settings.

The F5 - F8 are not that easy to get to especially in netbooks. Therefore the following keystrokes have been provided for this purpose:
[Ctrl + Up] - Audio volume louder
[Ctrl + Down] - Audio volume softer
[Ctrl + Shift + Up] - Audio speed faster
[Ctrl + Shift + Down] - Audio speed slower
[Ctrl + Page Up] - Speech volume louder
[Ctrl + Page Down] - Speech volume softer
[Ctrl + Shift + Page Up] - Speech speed faster
[Ctrl + Shift + Page Down] - Speech speed slower.

Note that with netbooks, the Page Up and Page Down keys are accessed using the function key which is located usually to the right of the left Ctrl key. Holding the function key down results using the same key for speech settings as those used for audio settings which is very convenient and easy to get and remember.

Important - Note that you must either unload your screen reader automatically or manually for these keystrokes to work as screen readers unfortunately intercept these keys.

-- A new Books media type where you can store your books.

A new media type (directory in the Library) has been added called Books where you can store your books in DAISY, compressed (MP3 WMA etc) and Text.

Each of your books should be contained in its own separate folder for DAISY and compressed audio. Books in text format, assuming each book is in a separate file, could be placed in one or more folders. If you copy DAISY books to a folder, make sure that all files are copied not just the MP3 files; all files are important to realize a complete DAISY book.

The arrangement is the same as that for media types such as Music; you have two options:

Place the folders where your books are located in:


or point SpeakOn to a folder location where you store your books on your computer.

For example, you may like to store all your books under a folder called 'My Books' somewhere on your computer with subfolders for different book types like:

C:\My Books\DAISY

C:\My Books\Calibre

C:\My Books\The_Seeing_Ear

etc etc.

To point SpeakOn to these folders, navigate in the menu to:

Settings > Library DAISY - Add or remove folder locations

Add your folder in the example above called 'My Books' (exactly as for media types such as Music); you can add as many folder locations as you like.

In the Library, navigate to the books you want to play; note that similar to the way CDs are played, the actual multiple files which comprise for example a DAISY book are hidden from you and are simply presented with the book name if available; press Enter to start to play it. SpeakOn as usual remembers where you left off for as many books as you read and you can create additional bookmarks as well.

The above modes are a personal choice. To change the DAISY playing mode, go in the menu to:

Settings > Navigate and Play

The default is unchecked; press Enter to check. Your settings are maintained.

-- Creating a portable SpeakOn installation.

To create a portable installation from the Manager menu, bring the menu and select:

Global Settings > Portable Installation

The Open Installation tasks starts. There are four controls in this task. The focus is on the Available Drives list control; select the drive for the new SpeakOn installation. Tab to the next control.

The Copy SpeakOn Installation Files action control copies the SpeakOn files to the drive you selected. Press Select [Enter] to copy the files. Tab to the next control.

The Copy Autorun File action control copies the Autorun file to the new installation drive; use this option to run SpeakOn automatically once you have inserted the portable drive. Select
[Enter] to copy this file. Tab to the next control.

The Copy Java Installation Files action control copies the Java installation to your new installation drive. This feature is optional; most computers these days will have Java 6 installed but if you think that some of the computers you will want to use with your portable drive do not have Java installed, use this option for greater reliability.

You should be able to use this new SpeakOn portable drive (probably a USB memory stick) on all Windows machines provided this feature has not been restricted by the machine administrator. Simply insert the drive. At least with Windows XP, once inserted, you are presented with a list of applications to potentially open the drive with; select the first option (just press Enter) to start SpeakOn. Note that portable drives' memory is sometimes slow and you will have to wait a bit longer for SpeakOn to start especially the first time you use the portable drive (as SpeakOn builds it cache).

-- The ability to launch SpeakOn directly into a particular media type from a shortcut on your desktop.

This option is for advanced users and perhaps there is no need for it with the new arrangement where you can customize the order and visibility of media in the Manager. Here is the way to do this.

-m specifies which media type to load; the media follows after the -m in lower case. (Note also that any spaces in names must be replaced with underlines).

-l specifies whether to load the Player (followed by lower case word 'true' for focus on the Player or followed by 'false' in lower case for focus on the Library). If you don't specify the load parameter at all, the Player is not loaded and focus is on the Library.

The following are the possibilities for the media parameter:












The following are the possibilities for the load parameter:



(Note that without this parameter the default is 'false' meaning that the focus is on the Library).

Here is an example of how the target edit box in the shortcut properties dialog should look:

If you want to start the TNAUK eText task and load publications in the Player:

...\SpeakOn.exe -mtnauk_etext -ltrue

and if you want to start the podcast with the focus on the Library:

...\SpeakOn -mpodcast

-- Improved Help menus and tips.

The Main and Context Control keys menu has been improved for clarity and various minor bugs have been rectified. Tips have been added; for example, when a directory such as Music, Books and More Media are empty. Other tips were added to alert users when they press the wrong keys.

-- Change of media type from Various to Other Media.

If you stored media in previous SpeakOn versions under the Various folder (C:\SpeakOn_User_Content\Various), do the following:

Look at the C:\SpeakOn_Media_Content folder and if you find a 'More Media' folder delete it. Then change the folder named Various to 'More_Media' (note the underline between More and Media). Everything should work as normal. If you added folder locations to the Various folder in previous versions, you will have to add again folder locations to the new 'More Media' directory in the Library; this is done in the usual way as described in the manual.

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