Like most Mac users, I’m a reader. I have hundreds of books. I have hundreds of RSS links to web pages I read regularly.
In the quest for a more efficient use of my ever dwindling time, wouldn’t it be great to have technology help me read more in less time, yet increase my comprehension.
Mac users rejoice. iReadFast might be your reading doldrums panacea. Or, not. Read on.
iReadFast is a Mac utility which helps (or hopes) to improve your reading skills—specifically on electronic text via your Mac’s screen. Improve? Comprehension and reading speed.
How? Lots of practice, apparently. Practice? Don’t we get enough practice reading already? There’s email, documents, web pages, reports, presentations, eBooks.
Surely we have plenty to read so who needs to practice?
iReadFast is a relatively simple process to practice. Copy whatever text you want into iReadFast’s screen, which then reproduces the same text word by word but with a user selectable speed.
In other words, you practice reading text faster and faster.
Ostensibly, iReadFast lets us free “our brain from the work of positioning the eyes word by word and keeping track of the point reached, mechanical operations which normally limit our reading speed.”
Oh, really? Apparently the problem in speed reading is the age old problem of scanning words, scanning sentences, looking at punctuation, and so on. iReadFast condenses the reading effort to a simple focus on words.
It seems that “our brain can focus on the text comprehension because scanning the words is now work of the program (no more need to move the eyes).” So, by keeping our eyes focused in one spot we can learn to read faster?
iReadFast is a simple, intuitive utility. Copy whatever text you want an paste it into iReadFast’s window. Set the WPM (Word Per Minute) to something less than the default 250 WPM. Trust me.
Click the Play button and iReadFast displays your text, white text on black background, one word at a time. Quickly. Or, slowly, depending on the WPM setting.
A slider bar on the bottom of the window displays reading progress. If you prefer you can also angle the text with a rotator knob next to the progress bar.
Preferences allows you to change the text and background color of what you read, and change the size of the text. Other settings let you slow down longer words, or accelerate words.
To restart the reading process, drag the slider bar to the left.
iReadFast is not without a few quirks. Two buttons on the lower right, ‘F’ and ‘AT’ can be toggled but don’t appear to have a function.
If you copy in lots of text then your Mac has to work much harder. It shouldn’t matter, because iReadFast is a training exercise utility which is designed to let your mind and eyes focus on one word at a time.
Therein lies the rub. Is that the best way to increase reading speed and comprehension? I can force myself to read faster. That’s easy. However, the penalty is a loss of comprehension. It becomes reading without benefit.
iReadFast desires to train the reader to focus a word at a time. I’ve been reading for a few years now and I’ve noticed that I tend to read in chunks, my eyes constantly scanning ahead for meaning, phrases, punctuation.
Still, I tried iReadFast a number of times on different text. It is definitely an exercise, and takes practice to get used to. In the end I cannot tell if I can really read text faster than before.
A future feature is planned for iReadFast which presents multiple words on screen at one time, instead of the default of one word at a time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I read one word at a time.
My effort is more of an eye toward word collections and phrases from which I draw meaning, as opposed to just reading words. Perhaps iReadFast would be good for those attempting to learn a new language.
Whatever the science behind utilities which claim to improve reading skills, you can’t beat the price. iReadFast is donationware.