Is there any software that supports you to manually transcribe content from audio files (like ogg, mp3) to text?

11 Answers 11


When you have to transcribe, i.e. type, content that comes from an audio file, you want to

  • be able to control audio (stop, pause, play) via the keyboard while typing the text (so you do not have to leave the text editor and switch to an audio application to do just that).
  • You might also want to adjust the audio speed (to speed up slow speech and slow down too fast speech).
  • You want the audio position to be a little bit rewinded when you continue audio playback, just to be sure you didn't miss anything.

I found that a software called transcribe (launchpad) provides the solution I was looking for.

You type the text in a text editor while transcribe plays the audio file in another window. To pause or continue audio playback, you use any keyboard shortcut that you configured system-wide for audio in the system settings. I use F7 to pause, F8 to continue.

*transcribe* playing back audio while *gedit* is used to transcribe speech to text

To install transcribe:

First, you have to add a PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:frederik-elwert/transcribe
sudo apt-get update

Then you can install it:

sudo apt-get install transcribe
  • 1
    Failed to fetch http://ppa.launchpad.net/frederik-elwert/transcribe/ubuntu/dists/wily/main/binary-amd64/Packages ... Feb 22, 2016 at 9:38
  • Transcribe is no longer maintained - see instead ParlaType. Install with sudo apt install parlatype
    – Cyrille
    Oct 5, 2020 at 7:20

I needed a cross-platform solution to use in my laptop (linux) and in my office pc (win xp) and decided to make my own:

It's called "Poor Man's Translator" and can be found here.

  • Please include the gist of the solution here.
    – jobin
    Nov 15, 2013 at 18:31
  • The software is now hosted at codeplex and was renamed to Poor's Man Transcriber (pmTrans): pmtrans.codeplex.com
    – erik
    Jun 25, 2015 at 13:47

List of transcription programs

There is this comprehensive list of transcription software:

Name              Main category Second category Platform              License form
Anvil             Transcription                 Linux, Mac            Open Source
casualtranscriber Transcription                 Mac                   Freeware
EasyTranscript    Transcription                 Linux, Mac, Win       Open Source
ELAN              Transcription                 Linux, Mac, Win       Open Source
EXMARaLDA         Transcription                 Linux, Mac, Win       Open Source
Express Scribe    Transcription                 Mac                   Commercial
F4/F5             Transcription                 Mac, Win              Commercial
f4analyse         QDA           Transcription   Linux, Mac, Win       Commercial
Feldpartitur      Transcription QDA             Web                   Commercial
Folker            Transcription                 Win                   Free
HyperTranscribe   Transcription                 Mac                   Commercial
inqscribe         Transcription                 Mac, Win              Commercial
MEPA              QDA           Transcription   Win                   Freeware
Multitool         Transcription                 Mac, Win              Open Source
pmTrans           Transcription                 Linux, Mac, Win       Open Source
Praat             Transcription                 Linux, Mac, Unix, Win Open Source
Sonal             QDA           Transcription   Win                   Freeware
SoundScriber      Transcription                 Win                   Open Source
Transana          QDA           Transcription   Mac, Win              Commercial
Transcribe        Transcription                 Linux                 Open Source
TranscriberAG     Transcription                 Linux, Mac, Win       Open Source
Transcriva        Transcription                 Mac                   Commercial
trAVis            Transcription                 Web                   Free
xtrans            Transcription                 Linux, Win            Open Source

And another list on the German Ubuntu wiki with instructions on how to use Audacious and VLC with global hotkeys together with a text editor of your choice.

Personally I use smplayer (a graphical front-end for mplayer), where you can press a keyboard key to change the speed of playback, move back and forward easily in three different steps (default is 10 seconds, 1 minute and 10 minutes I think, which could be easily changed to e.g. 2 sec, 5 sec and 30 sec).

The player is cross-plattform and free software (GPL).

As editor I use vim with spellchecking.


Playitslowly Install playitslowly

This nice and lightweight software aims at changing playback speed of recorded files but also has nice features useful for transcription. For more details and a screenshot see:


Try TranscriberAG. It needs compiling and the process may not be easy, but you can try with this non official version or post a message to the project mailing list to get help.

As already mentioned, a second option is Evidence Bucket, with less features but very easy to start (it's written in Java). It can be used with an external word processor too, because it has global keyboard shortcuts.

A third option could be to install Wine and, if needed, PlayOnLinux and use the free versions of Windows software like Inqscribe, Express Scribe, etc.


Try Parlatype, rewind on pause and much more

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Automatic voice recognition software normally reduces the manual transcription needs. But Automatic voice recognition technology is not still matured to produce accurate transcription for non-American accents, or with people speaking quickly or multiple speakers audio files. If you have more than one voice it is almost impossible to get a good transcript. Add to that any background noise or a weak recording and you can pretty much forget it.

So, after automatic transcription, you have to massage this transcription into the final form. Some of the massages are

Correct incorrectly transcribed words/phrases. Correct punctuation/sentence breaks. Define paragraph breaks.

For automatic transcription, you can refer



ExpressScribe is pretty good and the free version works fine. It's for Windows but works well in Wine.


  • There's a free Linux version but it showed some bugs on my computer, for example when moving through the timeline. A couple of times it crashed on startup.
    – Andrew
    Aug 25, 2014 at 22:59

After getting frustrated with all the Linux community had to offer, in the way of transcription, I went on the path to copy Express Scribe. This is self-promotional, so if you like my software, I did it :). My program runs in the background. It's a simple window displaying "Hello World", but it operates like Express Scribe in that it listens for key combinations from you and controls your audio accordingly. You're free to use whatever document program you desire.


F2 is play/pause. F4 is rewind 3 seconds.

I may advance the program further, if there is enough outcry but at this time, I have no need to do so.

You will need to install Python3 and Pyglet (minimum). If you want to deal with encrypted and compressed formats, you need to install Avbin.

The project can be found here: https://github.com/ki4jgt/Transkripshun


I tried many of the above suggestions and ended up with audacity

Use it like this to manually annotate a audio file with text:

  1. Open your audio file
  2. Hit (p) to pause track when you hear something you like to annotate with text
  3. Hit Ctrl+m to add annotation at point and enter annotation text
  4. Hit enter to finalize text annotation
  5. Hit (p) to continue listening to track
  6. Repeat 2-5 until your audio file is annotated

Make sure Sync-Lock-Tracks is enabeled.

Jump between annotations with Alt+left / right arrow


Try Transcribear a free web based editor for manual audio transcription. It supports several formats including ogg, mp3. You can also set up hotkeys that can be very useful for fast typing, or controlling the player such as play the recording faster, slower, go backward to play the section again if you cannot understand the speaker when transcribing the recording.

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