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Kurzweil 3000 User Guide - Kurzweil 3000 @ MIT

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Getting Started

MIT has a site license for Kurzweil 3000, a text-to-speech application that provides reading comprehension and literacy support. This guide is intended to provide information to get you started using Kurzweil 3000. For additional support, or to learn more about assistive technology at MIT, contact ATIC at or 617-253-7808. 

Registering for a Kurzweil 3000 username and password

While you are able to download and install Kurzweil 3000 without these credentials, you will need a username and password in order to launch the Kurzweil 3000 desktop application or to access Firefly, the web-based version. To register, visit Kurzweil User Signup.

  1. Enter your first and last name.
  2. Enter your MIT email address.
  3. Select “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” from the School/Org dropdown menu.
  4. Click the Add New button (There is no need to fill in anything under the External ID or School/Org Other sections.). You will receive an on-screen success message containing your username and password. Kurzweil will also send you an Account Activated email containing your username, password, and links to download the Kurzweil 3000 desktop application for Windows or Mac.

Downloading and installing Kurzweil 3000

The Kurzweil 3000 desktop application can be downloaded from the following links:

Please be sure to select the Version 15 web license, not the standalone or network licenses. Your credentials will not allow you to log in to the standalone or network applications. You can also use the links above to download additional voices if desired.

Using Firefly, the web-based version of Kurzweil 3000

Firefly is essentially Kurzweil’s web-based companion. To access Firefly, click here and log in with your username and password. Here you can upload files to your private user folder to take advantage of cloud-based conversion to text format as well as text-to-speech functionality. Several of Kurzweil 3000’s tools such as highlighting, foreign language conversion, and mind mapping are also available in Firefly. While it is possible to use Firefly exclusively, we recommend downloading the desktop application for full functionality.

Formats supported by Kurzweil 3000

Kurzweil 3000 and Firefly support the following file formats: KES (Kurzweil Education Systems files), PDF, TXT, DOC, DOCX, EPUB, RTF, BKS, JPG, JPEG, and PNG.

Helpful features

Basic functionality and tools

Kurzweil 3000 is a text-to-speech application, which means it presents the text in auditory format as well as visually. Kurzweil highlights the text as it reads in order to enhance understanding and retention. In the Audio Options menu you can select your preferred voice, reading speed, and choose from other customizations.

The menu bar on the left supplies helpful tools such as highlighters, a dictionary, voice notes, spell check, and more.

Using the Universal Library

In Firefly, you can access a collection of public domain materials catalogued under Classic Literature.  You can also upload files to the library for use at a later date.

Reading the web

You can install Kurzweil 3000 as a browser extension and use it to read the web. Unlike Firefly, these extensions will not convert pages to text, but will read portions of web pages that already exist in text format, such as the bodies of articles. The Read the Web function is available at no charge in Firefox and Chrome for both Windows and Mac.

  • Read the Web in Firefox

Install the Firefox add-on at this address.

Click Allow, then Install to complete the setup. A Kurzweil Read the Web icon will now appear in the upper right corner of your Firefox window. You will be prompted to log in with your username and password, then you can use the text-to-speech menu within Firefox.

Firefox addon menu bar

  • Read the Web in Chrome

Enable Kurzweil Read the Web in the Google Chrome Web Store. A basic text-to-speech menu will be available in the upper right corner of your Chrome window. You will be required to log in with your username and password.

Mind mapping

Both Kurzweil 3000 and Firefly include a mind mapping tool. You can use it to outline essays and help organize your thoughts in order to ease the writing process.

Common problems and fixes

  1. Uploading particularly large files (such as entire books) to the Kurzweil 3000 desktop application or Firefly can cause them to crash. Try to upload individual articles or book chapters whenever possible to avoid this problem.
  2. If you have installed the standalone or network license of Kurzweil 3000, your credentials will not allow you access. Uninstall the application from your computer, then install the web license.

Getting help

  • ATIC is pleased to assist you with problems you encounter while using Kurzweil 3000. Feel free to reach out to us by email ( or phone (617-253-7808).
  • If your issue appears to be with the software itself, we suggest contacting Kurzweil’s support team. Information about them can be found here.
  • Answers to frequently asked questions regarding Kurzweil 3000 and Firefly can be found here.
  • If you are a student with a print disability and would like assistance acquiring your reading materials in electronic format, please reach out to Disability and Access Services to arrange accommodations. They can be reached by email ( and phone (617-253-1674).
  • For technical support for your computer, contact the IS&T Service Desk at or 617-253-1101.


Documentation and information provided by the MIT Community

Last Modified:

February 13, 2023

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