There are plenty of PDF reader tools available across all major OS platforms that offer extraordinary capabilities, so the question of the ‘best' is purely subjective. With that disclaimer out of the way, it's still possible to find one that ticks the most number of boxes on an average evaluation checklist. However, there's also an added element of surprise - finding apps that read PDFs to you; in other words, a text to speech solution that can respond to a request to "read a PDF to me."
Of the tools supporting TTS or Text to Speech technology, there are some great online as well as offline solutions. What's more, if all you need is an enhanced PDF reading experience so you can read a PDF like a book, there's a tool for that also. Let's look at the best utility across all three categories.
How to Get a PDF to Read Aloud
TTS capabilities can be embedded into or integrated with nearly any application that can handle text formats like PDF, DOC, TXT, HTML, etc. Such software would offer a feature for TTS conversion of a part of or the entire document. Alternatively, it can also be offered as a standalone service, where you upload your content and download an audio version. Let's first look at the best app to read online text or content from a PDF file.
Section 1: Online solution - TTSReader
Whether you have a random selection of text to paste or an entire eBook to upload, TTSReader is the first go-to destination for text to speech conversion. The interface is extremely simple but offers a large range of natural-sounding reading voices and several reading speed options. If you want any bit of online text or copied text to be read out loud to you, this is the most convenient first stop.
How to Use TTSReader to Read a PDF Like a Book
Step 1 Copy-paste your text selection on the TTSReader URL or upload a file to the site
Step 2 After adding the file, it will be compressed automatically to a default level, and the compression percentage will be displayed in the middle of the image thumbnail
Step 3 Click Play to have the text read out loud to you - make sure you have an external audio output device like a pair of headphones or speakers
Convenient online access from anywhere
Mobile apps, Chrome extension, etc. - cross-platform experience
Affordable to upgrade and use for YouTube video descriptions, etc.
Not many settings options
Not as powerful as an app for reading PDF books
Section 2: Desktop Solution - Adobe Acrobat Reader
If you're on a desktop, it's often better to use a standalone software application rather than risk having any sensitive or confidential text leaked to other servers. Security aside, using a desktop application allows you to leverage the full capacity of your computer's hardware, possibly making it faster and more efficient than doing the same thing online. Adobe Reader has a ‘Read Out Loud' feature that uses any installed TTS application to convert printed PDF text to voice. It doesn't come with a TTS engine of its own, which is a major downside.
How to Have a PDF Read Aloud with Adobe Acrobat Reader
Step 1 Open a PDF in Adobe Reader and navigate to the appropriate page
Step 2 Under the View menu, you'll need to click Read Out Loud to activate it
Step 3 Click Read Out Loud again and choose a reading option to start the voice reading
Step 4 You can pause or stop the reading using the Read Out Loud dropdown
Robust application with several rich PDF reading features
Secure environment when working with private information
Requires a preinstalled TTS engine
Settings are a little difficult to navigate to
Part 2: How to Read PDF like a book using Wondershare PDFelement
By far the best app for reading PDF books comes from Wondershare in the form of Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor. This robust PDF editor and PDF reader offers a premium range of user-friendly PDF reading features that truly bring out the ‘book' experience when reading large PDF documents.
There are versions for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, not to mention a Document Cloud service for secure PDF storage and electronic signature workloads. The integrations between the desktop apps and Document Cloud also make it simple to upload files and then work on them from elsewhere on a system of your choosing. A truly collaborative set of utilities from the house of Wondershare.
What PDF Reading Features Does PDFelement Offer?
Multiple Reading Modes: View documents as scrollable text, choose between single and two-page layout options, and other options to make PDF reading easy and flexible
Tiled View: The tiling option allows you to have two documents side by side when reading, which can be used to access additional reference material when reading a PDF document.
Compare PDFs: Two similar PDFs can be automatically marked up with their differences highlighted. The comparisons are made easy, letting you see right away what was added, removed, or modified between two versions of a document.
Annotations and Commenting: Easily add notes to PDF, add a comment for yourself or a collaborator, highlight text and visual elements with shapes, add stamps, and even add a digital or electronic signature to PDF files.
Add Bookmarks: Mark important sections of your eBook, college textbook, or favorite PDF novel by adding and editing bookmarks. Easy accessibility from the Bookmarks tab.
Cross-platform product line - Win, macOS, iOS/iPadOS, Android, and Cloud
User-friendly UIs across all platforms
Natural reading experience when handling large PDF files
No TTS capability
If you want a lighter and faster PDF reader to simplify your reading experience, Wondershare PDF Reader can be a great choice. It's totally free and also developed by Wondershare PDFelement team with 10+ years PDF experiences! You can enjoy the ultimate 3D view reading experience that PDFelement doesn't have.
One of the most basic requirements of a robust PDF reader is the ability to deliver a real-life reading experience the way you enjoy with a physical book. Perks such as TTS are certainly useful in accessibility situations or where reading could be dangerous (while driving, for instance) or simply boring.
The real test of a PDF reader is in its ability to offer the right tools at the right time - annotation tools when you need them, cloud access so you can continue working on a different system somewhere else or on the go, multiple reading modes and layouts to make it more customizable, and overall a more natural reading experience when perusing large documents, books, and other text-heavy files.