Help me be a more efficient transcriber
November 1, 2010 1:34 AM   Subscribe

I've started offering transcription services as part of my business, but at the moment I'm using Windows Media Player next to a Word document, switching to the player to press pause and play each time I want to stop and start. Not ideal. I learnt to audio type using a foot pedal and I'd like to do that again, so, transcribers and secretaries/PAs, please recommend! I'm in the UK and would prefer to buy something available (online is fine) within the UK. If it works with Windows Media Player, fine; if not, please recommend (inexpensive) software I could use. If you need more info, let me know!
posted by LyzzyBee to Technology (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are you completely wedded to the idea of a foot pedal? I used to do transcriptions on the side and used inqscribe software. You control the video using keyboard commands, which are fast to pick up and didn't really slow my typing workflow at all. I liked it because it was portable--I could do it anywhere and not worry about hauling around a pedal. My husband was a student so we got it for the student rate, which was very reasonable, but I would have thought it was worth it to pay full price. I do remember having one minor nitpick about they way they set up their automatic timestamps (it's been able a year since I transcribed so I'm a bit fuzzy on details--sorry) but I got around that by manually entering timestamps. There's a free trial so you can try it out if you're interested.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 1:39 AM on November 1, 2010

Transana ( does video too, via keyboard without footpedal and does timestamp. I like it and it's good for academics.
posted by b33j at 2:17 AM on November 1, 2010

I wonder if it would be possible for you to feed the Windows Media input directly into something like Dragon Voice or similar, get a rough representation of the document and then go through it cleaning it up? Just an idea, don't have any clue if it would work.
posted by gadha at 3:19 AM on November 1, 2010

Best answer: You'll get more mileage out of switching to transcription software rather than Windows Media Player--which can then be easily integrated with any footpedal. ExpressScribe is free and functions well so long as you don't need to do video. Even if you don't get a foot pedal (I've got no recommendations on that end of things), it will speed up your work flow immeasurably.

I don't believe you can use a foot pedal to do what you want to do with Windows Media Player, but fortunately, there's no need to.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 3:28 AM on November 1, 2010

Best answer: Seconding ExpressScribe. It's free and dead easy to use. I don't use a foot pedal and I think my time is pretty comparable to those who do (from what I've heard on transcription discussion boards and the like). I've just got hot keys set up for starting, stopping, etc.
posted by frobozz at 5:08 AM on November 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I had found ExpressScribe but then also a bewildering array of other stuff and pedals etc so it's useful to hear from people's experience, and that using keyboard shortcuts works OK when transcribing. My chair is quite high at my desk so I'll try without the pedal to start off with!
posted by LyzzyBee at 7:19 AM on November 1, 2010

Best answer: If you are set on a foot pedal, I really like the Sony FS-85USB. It comes with software and you can slow down or speed up the player. The pedal is very basic. Stop, go and reverse. I've been using it for a couple of years and have been happy. The software will play just about any type audio file. The only thing I don't like is that some of my macros in Word will activate the software. I just changed the keystroke commands. ExpressScribe does sound interesting so I'll give it a try.
posted by iscavenger at 10:10 AM on November 1, 2010

Olympus also makes a foot pedal. I don't know if it works with windows media player, though, as we use little olympus digital recorders to record dictation when then gets played back in the olympus software on the secretary's computer. TBH, I don't even know what the olympus software will play back beyond wav files and whatever format the olympus recorders use.
posted by wierdo at 10:28 AM on November 1, 2010

Best answer: The biggest advantage to going with transcription software vs WMP is that with most packages, you can set it (or it is set by default) that when you stop and then continue via the foot pedal, rather than resuming immediately where you left off, it backs up just a few seconds and plays from there, so you can be sure you didn't miss anything. Similar to how most cassette transcribers worked.

iscavenger already suggested the Sony FS-85USB, which would have been my suggestion. I work at an office supply retailer, and we have sold several units of this model, with good feedback.
posted by xedrik at 11:18 PM on November 1, 2010

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