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!


Return to Dictation with Quicktate & Evernote

I remember the “good” old days when the alternative to typing was to speak your document into a little microcassette recorder so that your assistant could type it for you. I still encounter folks who prefer dictation to typing up their own stuff, for whatever reason that may be. But don’t you “dictators” long for being in charge of your words from first utterance until final text edit?

Well, from the “do it yourself” bin, you can get all the fun of dictation with quick conversion to editable text on your smartphone or desktop and the convenience of Evernote with Quicktate. Quicktate is a third-party service that allows you to speak your notes either directly into Evernote or as an audio note attached to email to your Evernote account or via a telephone number and receive back simple, searchable text notes. Quicktate uses live audio transcribers to convert voice to text, no matter how small or larger the recording. If Quicktate integration is enabled, Evernote will “notify” Quicktate when an audio recording has been saved and Quicktate retrieves a copy, transcribes the note and sends it back via email and directly back into yoru Evernote account. It currently works for notes created going forward, but they are working on allowing users to transcribe old audio notes as well. Notes tagged with NOQT will not get automatically transcribed. While Quicktate doesn’t save the audio notes, it saves transcripts in your Quicktate account, organized by month. You can even enable Quicktate to transcribe your voicemail messages and return them into Evernote.

Quicktate’s transciption API has been used by services other than Evernote, such as YouMail, TweetCall, Voxie and Voice on the Go.

The service costs – Economy is $4.99 per month and includes 700 words, with each word over costing $.0125 cents. Standard, for $19,99 per month includes 3,000 words with overage costing $.011 per word. There is also a pay as you go option for $.0175 cents per word. Quicktate also offers a free trial so you can see how you like the service.

If you prefer the freedom of dictation but want the convenience of searchable text, Quicktate might be your ticket. Paired with Evernote, you can become a chattering, organizing machine. And, if you are an Evernote fan generally, you may want to check out their Trunk – it is chock full of applications that work with Evernote to make the service more efficient and effective for your particular needs.