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I have a Nokia Lumia 520 with WP8.1.

I have tried all kind of combinations in Settings->Speech and also in Cortana but I have not been able to determine my phone to read aloud a certain TEXT message that I select from the list of received SMSs.

I do not need speech recognition and other complications. I just want to activate somehow a simple Text to Speech application that can read SMSs without internet access, because it can happen many times that I do not have the glasses with me and in consequence I am unable to read the messages I receive.

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    This definitely exists/did exist, but I can't be sure of the version that it was in - it would only happen if you had a headset plugged in (or a paired Bluetooth one in range) - if you were listening to music, it would interrupt, and announce the SMS, and Cortana would ask if you wanted her to read it. I disabled it :) It might require Windows 10 Mobile; it may also have been since removed, so I'll see if I can check for references, but you might want to try with a headset to see if that works – Rowland Shaw Nov 13 '17 at 14:05
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The feature for reading items on the screen on demand is called Narrator, and is an accessibility setting; you should be able to find it in the relevant section of the settings hub (sorry, I no longer have any WP8.1 devices to tell you the exact steps). You probably don't want it on all the time - it's designed for blind people, so it reads stuff like what buttons are available on the screen as well - but it can be used to read messages.

If you're looking for something that just reads messages the way Cortana can do when they arrive... sorry, as far as I know that can't be triggered for arbitrary messages.

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