Transcribing exisiting recording with app or software
May 3, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to use Google Voice, Evernote, or other free (or cheap) software to transcribe a 30 minute audio recording?

Voice messages left through Google Voice are auto-transcribed. And Evernote now allows the option to auto-transcribe short voice notes. But is it possible to use this same or similar apps or software to take an existing recording and have it transcribed?
posted by Unsomnambulist to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1. Make a video that uses your recording as the audio track (with a still image or whatever) and upload it to YouTube -- you need an "approved" account to upload anything longer than 15 minutes, so if you don't have one you'd need to do it separately with each half

2. Use the YouTube caption service to transcribe your audio (click the CC button on the video while it's playing, select "Transcribe Audio"). This uses the same software as Google Voice.

3. Go to, where XXX is the video ID (the 11-character thing after v= in the URL of your YouTube video). You can download the transcription as a .sbv from here, which is just a formatted plaintext file you can open in Wordpad or whatever.

As far as I know that's the easiest backdoor into Google's voice transcription software.
posted by theodolite at 12:17 PM on May 3, 2012 [17 favorites]

As a frequent user of YouTube captions, it will be a crappy transcription unless your speaker sounds like a midwestern news anchor.
posted by desjardins at 1:34 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, is this a one time thing, or do you expect to be needing to do this repeatedly? And do you need it perfect or just okay-ish? B/c it should take about two hours to transcribe this straight, just you and the word processor. And it's probably going to take an hour and a half to do run it through a program like this and then proofread it for all the tiny fuck-ups the machine will make. I mean, you mileage will very much vary based on you typing speed and the quality of your audio, but if the latter is bad it's also going to affect the error rate of any machine transcription.
posted by Diablevert at 2:20 PM on May 3, 2012

Response by poster: theodolite: Thanks. So far the captioning hasn't made itself an option... not sure if there's a processing delay, or if it had to do with the quality of the interview. Still, good to know.

Diablevert: I'd love to do this repeatedly. As a chronic procrastinator, the biggest hurdle is having to listen through an interview again. I tend to take notes anyway during an interview, so I get most of the good soundbytes, but even a crappy transcription can help me remember and find other gems.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 2:50 PM on May 3, 2012

My company uses a service called YouMail. Its meant for transcribing voicemail, but you can email in audio files as well. We have an account that covers 50 "voicemails" up to 5 minutes each (for $18/month I think). I've had a few customer service issues, but the transcriptions are pretty decent quality. They have a free trial you could test out too.
posted by JannaK at 9:11 PM on May 4, 2012

I was very satisfied with the free version of Express Scribe, and didn't need to go for the (paid) pro version.
posted by aqsakal at 5:38 AM on May 5, 2012

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