Monday, October 28, 2019

Transcribing Voice Memos Painlessly

Do you have voice memos on your phone that you never get around to transcribing?

Here's what you do: Sign up for a free account at Then either download their mobile app, and use it for voice recordings, or else configure your current voice memo app to save files to DropBox (I use - and very strongly recommend, Recup, which I first mentioned in "My Favorite iPhone Apps":
Brilliant. Hit the big red button, it records. Hit the button again to stop, and it auto-saves the sound file to DropBox. Done. I use IFTTT to notify me via email of new sound clips awaiting, so I remember to transcribe when I'm back home....using this Transcription app on my Mac (which I've set up with lots of custom keyboard shortcuts to help me pause, fast forward, etc. without reaching for the mouse).
The utter simplicity of Recup - and the un-missability of its big red button - allow me to use this safely while, say, driving.

Even with this streamlined workflow, the actual transcription part is a pain. That's where comes in. You can work directly in their app, or else use your own voice memo recorder, send files to DropBox, and then drag the files into the "import audio/video" section on Otter's web site. Process as many as you'd like all at once, wait a couple minutes, and Otter produces half-decent transcriptions for each file, with every line keyed to its time stamp. You can play the original audio, which Otter saves and stores, to double check the transcription. Otter synchs both audio and transcripts automatically to any devices with the app.

It's 8000 times easier to correct a decent transcription than to transcribe from scratch. Here's how I do the correction: I copy/paste Otter's transcript into either the Transcription app linked above (which makes it easy to rewind/pause the audio), or else I just paste the transcription into a word processor and correct there while playing the audio in Quicktime (it won't require, like, a ton of correction).

Otter's free/basic account gives you 600 minutes/month for free (and lets you play your audio at 1/2x, 1x, or 2x speed, and also differentiates between parties in recorded conversation). If you need more, upgrade for $9.99/month, which also lets you integrate directly with DropBox. I don't need that, because I don't need everything auto-transcribed in a hurry. I can run the transcription later, at home, by manually processing the audio files through Otter's web site.

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