Laptop on a desk with OTranscribe, one of the best free transcription tools, open on the screen. There is a window in the background and a cup of coffee on the desk.

3 Free Transcription Tools You Can Try

Transcription is a great skill to practise in our online world. You can use it to make written records of almost anything, to improve the accessibility of your online content, or to maximize your SEO.

There are plenty of free options out there than can deliver results if you have the time to do it yourself.

Here are five free transcription tools we have tried.

1. OTranscribe

OTranscribe is a free, open-source tool that can be used straight out of your web browser. It has a simple interface which lets you control the audio player and text editor in the same window, which means you don’t need to click out of tabs to stop and start the audio. Everything can be controlled through your keyboard, and interactive timestamps help you navigate the transcript. OTranscribe also saves your progress automatically as you go.

To start, just upload an audio or video file or enter a link to a YouTube video. The player will then sit to the left of the text box so you can do all your work in one window.

Screenshot of the OTranscribe tool interface, with a video file on the left and transcription text on the right. This is the first of our best free transcription software tools.

OTranscribe also allows you to adjust the keyboard shortcuts so you can tailor it to your transcribing style.

Screenshot of keyboard shortcuts in the OTranscribe program.

One thing to note: OTranscribe only saves work as an RTF file, so copy your transcript once it’s done if you want to keep it in another format.

2. Express Scribe

Express Scribe is a popular industry tool designed for professional transcribers. It can be installed for free on a Mac or PC and lets you control everything through your keyboard or by linking to a foot pedal. It has an easy-to-learn interface and features a broad range of hotkey controls for better speed and efficiency.

There is both a free version and a paid version of Express Scribe. The free version includes foot pedal support and can play a wide range of audio file types.

Screenshot of Express Scribe control window, with multiple tabs of settings and playback options. This is the second of our best free transcription software tools.

Express Scribe also allows you to adjust the playback options for your file to suit your typing speed.

Express Scribe playback options box, with playback speed control.

3. The FTW Transcriber

Another popular option for professional transcribers, The FTW Transcriber is a downloadable tool with high-quality audio playback. It supports a range of audio and video file types and features automatic timestamps.

This tool appears as a small orange box on your screen, which you can move around to your preferred spot. Within the box, you can play, pause, adjust volume, and skip forward and backward on the audio.

Screenshot of Word document with orange FTW Transcriber control box in the corner. The user is transcribing an interview. This is the third of our best free transcription software tools.

The FTW Transcriber can be used on smartphones and tablets for added convenience. Something to note, however: It is only compatible with Windows and Android operating systems.

4. Inqscribe

Inqscribe is a downloadable tool with a simple interface that allows users to do all their transcription in one window. It features a wide range of keyboard shortcuts, which can be customised to your style and needs. Inqscribe allows you to create snippets, so you can insert any frequently-used expressions into your transcript with a simple keystroke. You can insert time codes anywhere in the transcript, and create a closed captions file from these later on.

The Inqscribe media player can play audio and video from a URL, a server, files from your hard drive, flash drive or CD.

Inqscribe program is open, with a video file and transcript showing in the same window. This is the fourth of our best free transcription software tools.

5. Transcribe

Transcribe is a streamlined tool that provides two options for transcription, depending on your preferred style. Transcribe your file in the traditional method by typing it out, or use Transcribe’s dictation feature, which converts your voice into text using voice recognition.

Typing option

If you’re using the traditional transcription option, Transcribe features a tightly integrated player and editor that you can use to control the speed of the audio as you type. It also has an automatic text expander which allows you to use snippets instead of typing out long passages of text multiple times.

Screenshot of Transcribe application with a media player open up the top of the screen and the written transcript below. Keyboard shortcut options are on the right. This is the fifth of our best free transcription software tools.

Dictation option

The dictation option is easy to use, and generally faster than typing. To use this option, you’ll need a microphone set-up. If you’re using just your voice, simply begin speaking into the app and see your words come up on screen. To transcribe from a file with audio, you will need to listen to the audio and repeat what you hear into the microphone. This is similar to how Ai-Media’s respeakers work to create live captions. It might take some practice!

Screenshot of Transcribe dictation software window, with settings up the top and the transcript in the main frame.

Something to note: Transcribe only offers one week free use of its software.

There’s no stopping you now!

Get one step closer to becoming a top transcriber by trying out one of the tools we’ve suggested.

And if doing the hard yards of transcription is not for you, you can get your audio and video files transcribed by an expert for a small fee. Ai-Media offers speedy and reliable transcription services through Scribblr-Ai. This tool boasts 99% accuracy, is available around the clock, and is compatible with a variety of accents and dialects. Get in touch to find out more! Or find more tools on the Ai-Media website.


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