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Read Aloud isn’t available because something is preventing it from starting in Word


Read Aloud is a built-in feature of the Microsoft Office suite to read some text or a document like an audiobook. Though the feature works fine, sometimes you may face an error while using it or activating it. One such error reported by some users is that Read Aloud isn’t available because something is preventing it from starting in Word. If you also face this error on Windows 11/10, then the options included in this post will come in handy to get rid of this problem.

Read Aloud isn’t available because something is preventing it from starting in Word

How do I get Read Aloud to work in Word?

Read Aloud feature is present in Microsoft Office 365, Office 2019, and Office 2021 only, and it remains enabled by default. To get Read Aloud to work in Microsoft Word to read the entire document or parts of your document or a selected text, access the Review tab, and select the Read Aloud option. Now you can use the Play, Pause, Next, and Previous options to read aloud the text. You can also change Read Aloud settings to adjust the reading speed, change voice, etc.

Why isn’t my Read Aloud working on Microsoft Word?

The reason why Read Aloud is not working on Microsoft Word is the required language pack is not installed or missing on your PC. Even if the language pack is installed and language features like speech recognition, handwriting pack, etc., are not installed, then also Read Aloud won’t work. Another reason for this problem could be conflicting add-ins, an outdated version of Microsoft Word, etc.

Read Aloud isn’t available because something is preventing it from starting in Word

To fix the Read Aloud isn’t available because something is preventing it from starting error in Microsoft Word, the following options will surely be helpful. Before that, close and then re-open Word, update Microsoft Office and see if it helps. If not, use these solutions:

  1. Install the required language along with the language features
  2. Open Microsoft Word in Safe Mode
  3. Identify the Culprit Add-in and remove it
  4. Use the Speak feature
  5. Reset Word to default settings
  6. Repair Office.

Let’s check all these options one by one.

1] Install the required language along with the language features

install language with language features

This is one of the best solutions to solve this Read Aloud isn’t available error for Microsoft Word as it helped some users. To use or get Read Aloud to work successfully in Microsoft Word, you must install a supported language pack along with the necessary language features. Otherwise, you may face issues. Here are the steps to install the language pack and language features on a Windows PC:

  1. Right-click on the Start button
  2. Select the Settings option
  3. In the Settings app, select the Time & language category
  4. Access the Language & region section
  5. Press Add a language button
  6. Look for a supported language (like English (Australia), English (Canada), etc.) and select it
  7. Press the Next button
  8. Now, in the Optional language features section, select Text-to-speech, Handwriting, Enhanced speech recognition, Language pack, and other options
  9. Press the Install button.

Once the installation process for the language pack is completed, open MS Word and check if the Read Aloud feature is working now. This should fix the issue.

In case the required language is already installed on your Windows PC, then first, repeat steps 1 to 4. After that, click on the three horizontal dots icon available for the installed language that you want to use for the Read Aloud feature, and click on the Language options.

install language pack, speech recognition, handwriting

Now, in the Language features section, check if the Language pack, Speech recognition, and Handwriting packs are downloaded and installed. If not, download them and install them. After doing that, your problem should be gone.

Related: How to enable the Read Aloud feature in Outlook and fix it if not working

2] Open Microsoft Word in Safe Mode

open word in safe mode

Use Win+R hotkey to open the Run Command box, type winword /safe, and press the Enter key to open Microsoft Word in Safe Mode. When you launch Word in Safe Mode, it opens with all the third-party add-ins disabled. Now open a document and check if Read Aloud is working fine. If yes, then there must be some add-in(s) that is interfering with Word, because of which the Read Aloud feature is giving this error. You have to identify that add-in(s) and disable or remove them. For this, use the next solution.

3] Identify the Culprit Add-in and remove it

identify the culprit add-in

If some third-party add-in installed in MS Word is causing the Read Aloud isn’t available because something is preventing it from starting error, then identify the culprit add-in using the following steps:

  1. Launch Microsoft Word in normal mode
  2. Access the File menu
  3. Select Options
  4. In the Word Options box, select the Add-Ins category from the left section
  5. Select the COM Add-ins option from the drop-down menu available for Manage (on the bottom part)
  6. Press the Go button and a COM Add-Ins box will open
  7. Now uncheck all the add-ins
  8. Press the OK button
  9. Relaunch MS Word, enable add-ins one by one and see if the Read Aloud feature works.

If the Read Aloud feature gives the same error after enabling an add-in, then that is the culprit add-in causing this problem. Once the culprit add-in is found, keep it disabled or simply uninstall or remove it from Microsoft Word.

Read: Microsoft Word won’t open on Windows PC

4] Use the Speak feature

use speak feature microsoft word

Like Read Aloud, Microsoft Word also comes with a Speak feature that can be used in case the Read Aloud feature is not working (for the time being or as an alternative to it). Though the Speak feature is not as advanced as the Read Aloud feature, it is helpful enough to read aloud the selected text. You can also select the entire document and use the Speak feature to listen to your document.

Speak feature can be accessed from the Quick Access Toolbar of Microsoft Word. In case you don’t see that feature there, you need to add Speak feature to Quick Access Toolbar first. Once done, select some text or the document in MS Word, and click on the Speak selected text icon available in the Quick Access Toolbar. It will start reading the selected text for you.

Use the same Speak selected text icon when you want to stop the reading.

5] Reset Word to default settings

Reset Word to default settings via Registry Editor

Incorrect settings can also cause problems when using Microsoft Word or any other application. So, this can be the reason that Read Aloud isn’t working on Microsoft Word, and this error appears instead. If this is the case and you have no idea which setting is causing the problem, you should reset Microsoft Word to default settings.

6] Repair Office

how to repair office programs

If your Microsoft Office suite is corrupted, then it can lead to various issues. You may not be able to use Office applications or features/options (including Read Aloud, Speak, etc.) present in those applications. In that case, you may need to repair Microsoft Office.

You can either perform a Quick Repair or Online Repair (if the Quick Repair option doesn’t help to solve the issue) for your Microsoft Office suite. Online Repair downloads files to repair the Microsoft Office installation, which may take time, but it would be worth trying. After that, restart your Windows PC, and see if your problem is gone.

If nothing works, then may need to completely uninstall Microsoft Office from your computer and then reinstall it.

I hope these options will help solve this problem.

Read next: Fix Microsoft Word is not responding error.

Read Aloud isn’t available because something is preventing it from starting in Word

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