oTranscribe: Free, Open Source, Easy Transcription Web Tool


Recording your thoughts, lectures, or other audio sources is all well and good, but maybe you want to memorialize those sounds in written word. There are plenty of tools out there to accomplish this, but thought I would mention here one that recently came to my attention. oTranscribe, developed by journalist Elliot Bentley, is a web app that allows you to import an audio file, open a word processor and type while the audio plays. It will play whatever formats your particular browser can process and has a built-in file converter. Controls are found on your keyboard, which makes it easier to stop, rewind, etc. You can insert time stamps with Ctrl + J or Cmd + J, which will allow you to jump to the insert points. The transcription is stored locally in your browser’s cache, nothing is uploaded. While this means you can’t access the goods from another computer, you also enjoy greater security with respect to your data. 

The keyboard stroke controls include the following:

Audio playback

  • Esc: Play/pause
  • F1: Rewind
  • F2: Fast-forward
  • F3: Slow down
  • F4: Speed up

Text editing

  • Ctrl+B: Bold
  • Ctrl+I: Italics
  • Ctrl+J: Insert timestamp

Note: On OS X, using Cmd instead of Ctrl.

Chromebook / Chrome OS alternative controls

  • Ctrl+1: Rewind
  • Ctrl+2: Fast-forward
  • Ctrl+3: Slow down
  • Ctrl+4: Speed up

Pretty cool. Thanks Elliot!


Transcribe Does Just What It Says for Audio Recordings



The other day I found myself neck deep in research on an arcane topic and, in order to immerse myself, I had cued up a podcast of a news interview on the subject while I was searching and reading material on the Web. I pulled some valuable information out of that podcast, but I wasn’t able to get everything because I was doing too many things at once and I really didn’t have the time to take notes while listening.



Enter Transcribe. This handy Chrome extension will transcribe audio recordings so that you have a written record and don’t miss a word. You can also navigate to their free tool page here. Pick a local file and the transcribed text will be auto-saved in your browser’s local storage. An audio player bar at the top of the screen is controlled by key strokes – ESC for pause / resume, F! for slow down, F2 for speed up, F3 for rewind two seconds and F4 for fast-forward 2 seconds. You will see the text in the window below the player. So simple and easy to use! Another cool feature? You don’t even need an internet connection to use it – just click on the transcribe extension button in an open browser window and Transcribe will get to work. Everything works locally.


There is a paid Pro version as well, with more detail at this link. The only difference I can obviously see is that the Pro version can handle multiple recordings at once.


Nice tool there, particularly if you work with audio recordings a lot or need to get interviews or other speeches from audible to written form.

Announcify Reads Your Websites To You

Too busy to read? Need to multitask your on-line browsing with other tasks? Check out Announcify, a very cool browser extension that will read a web page to you. It is a very sweet open source Google Chrome extension that you can pick up here. Once installed, click the little red Bird icon on the top right side of your browser bar. The extension will then read to you, first the title of the page / article and then the body. The web page is blurred, with only the portion currently being read in focus. Very clever indeed. There are customizable settings to adjust speed, pitch and volume. Tweak the voice, and you’re off to audio-book-ify the Web!

Announcify is an Android app too, in case you wanted to let your phone / tablet do the work for you.

I love this app – thanks MakeUseOf for the tip.

Sound & Vision On Your iPad

I have been fascinated with the Smartpens from LiveScribe for some time now, but haven’t been able to justify the price tag for the level of use I anticipate. Now there is a way to gain that sort of functionality with your iPad so, for me, it may be time to revisit the merging of voice and printed notes.

If you are not familiar with the Smartpen’s function, it allows you to record a lecture or speech and take notes on special paper at the same time. After, you can access the audio portion of the lecture by tapping on a corresponding section of the page. Soundnote for iPad functionally does the same thing. Simply fire up the app, engage the audio and start taking notes in the document editor. The app tracks what you type and draw. During playback, tap a word and and SoundNote will jump right to the proper time in the audio.

You can use Soundnote to make sketches that are fully editable. Drag it around on the page. Redo a line or trash the whole image.  If you need to access another document or app, SoundNote will pause the recording. All you need to do is tap record again when you return. You can share text, drawings and audio by email and transfer them to your Mac or PC. Audio notes are recorded in standard M4A format and one hour of high quality audio is only 25MB. You can even upload the text as PDF and audio to Dropbox.

Not that I am suggesting attorneys (or law students) might be guilty of this, but Soundnote will protect you even if you happen to fall asleep during that conference presentation or lecture – if you tap on the last text you wrote before nodding off, Soundnote will keep playing the audio it recorded while you were snoozing.

All this for $4.99, which is a tiny fraction of the cost of a Smartpen.

Not bad. Not bad at all.