While I prefer to exercise reading methods using printed material, there are also a bunch of software and programs to practice online; either paid or free ones. Two days ago I stumbled upon free iRead Fast, which isn’t new at all (2007), but it allows to speed read any electronic text on your Mac and works offline too. A quick mini guide to iRead Fast.
I visited the author’s website to download the program for free. Apple’s download site is another option.
iRead Fast is a speed reading program to read electronic text much faster than normal. In other words, you simply copy and paste text into the content box and the software will run it at a speed you can set.
I iRead a few of my posts using the program and it delivers a similar experience to Spreeder (view website) or Zap Reader, which are online video applications. You may also think of using it for emails or essays. I also use it for practicing reading word groups.
After downloading the program you will see a clean interface consisting of a screen for visualizations, a toolbar at the bottom to set words per minute, to start the program and to set a bookmark. Above the toolbar is a black box to insert your text. It’s all very easy and fast to use.
However, setting the words per minute option will only allow you to read one word at the time. All you see is a flickering of words. To use it for speed reading you want to set words per time.
Click iRead Fast at the top left of the window, then preferences. There are four options, but click on visualizations. Enable multi-word visualizations. The attribute medium text length determines how many words per time will be displayed. I think a value between 20 and 30 is fine to get started.
You may need to adjust the word per minute to keep pace with the visualizations. The display speed doesn’t seem to handle the higher amount of words here. I’m not sure, it’s just a feeling.
Further Reading: Review of Best Speed Reading Programs