oTranscribe: A hassle-free transcribing tool I love

by Rachel Smith
29 July 2016

Like any freelancer, there are times when I have to pull my belt in. All those little luxuries I allow myself when the bucks are flowing (like outsourcing my transcribing so I don’t have to do it) are rapidly reined in when I need to save money.

Which means, dammit, I have to do it myself.

Regular readers will know I am always looking for ways to make the process less painful and you know what – I think I might have found it.

I’ve been transcribing for a month now using the oTranscribe tool (which I heard about through Kate Toon’s Clever Copywriting School) and it is pretty darn amazing.

Usually, I use Quicktime and Word and try to get them both on the same screen so I don’t have to swap every time I miss a word or a sentence, but I still have to go to the mouse multiple times to stop, pause the recording, write the bit in I missed and… let’s just say every time I transcribe this way I go slowly and steadily bonkers.

oTranscribe is different. Firstly, this open-source web app is free to use and it’s easy to upload your .wav or .mp3 recording. The inbuilt word processor has no bells or whistles to distract you, and everything you type is saved automatically to your browser’s cache.

Best of all, you don’t have to even touch your mouse –  because the whole thing works entirely through your keyboard. Simply learn a few keyboard shortcuts to stop, rewind, fast forward, insert timestamps and so on, and you can get a transcript done much, much faster than any other method.

I loved that it rewound a few sections of the recording if I paused, and also that when I returned to the app after a week it had retained my last transcript on the screen.

The only downside is you need an internet connection to use it, which – if you were out – would mean using a hotspot and draining your phone’s data, but that’s a minor downside to an otherwise fantastic productivity tool.

What do you use for transcribing?

Rachel Smith

9 responses on "oTranscribe: A hassle-free transcribing tool I love"

  1. I use VLC media player (great for slowing playback speed among other features) and type into Word, but I agree the mouse / keyboard tango is frustrating. I love the sound of this tool and will investigate. Cheers.

    1. Rachel Smith says:

      You will love it, Angela – let me know what you think!

      1. Used it today. Fantastic. Much faster. Particularly liked the slight rewind before restarting after a pause. And the time stamp feature is the bomb. Limitations on export of final doc (Google Drive only) make final filing a bit clunky, but that’s a small price to pay for a much faster transcription process. And you can always just copy and paste into Word doc and save it that way. Thanks for the referral. Love it and will be spreading the word.

        1. Rachel Smith says:

          Good one! And yes – forgot to mention that in the review, actually, the download options are limited. I copy and paste the final transcript into Word as well.

  2. I use NCH’s Express Scribe and have been for 15-16 years. Works offline and has all the usual transcriber controls driven either by the function keys on the keyboard or by a foot pedal. There’s a free demo and it costs $39.95 for the full version.

    1. Rachel Smith says:

      Ooh, will have to check it out Darren, thanks for the tip. Anything that makes transcribing easier gets a vote from me…

  3. Kate says:

    The app TapeACall has the ability to transcribe your call and while it doesn’t always guess the right words, it’s a start and has time stamps throughout so you can update missing bits. I’d love to know if anyone knows of a better app that’s more accurate.

    1. Rachel Smith says:

      Hi Kate, have you tried Otter.ai? You can set it to record your call (if you put your phone on speaker next to your phone and set up a ‘Record’ page on Otter.ai. It then transcribes as you do the interview. It’s quite cool and it gets more accurate the more you use it, I’ve found. So that’s definitely something to consider!

  4. Thank you for this reminder! I have used oTranscribe in the past and somehow forgot about it. JUST what I needed for two tricky transcriptions that I’ve been procrastinating doing. One is half finished already!

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