How to Transcribe Audio on a Chromebook

There are several fairly interesting options for transcribing audio on the Chromebook. Perhaps unbelievably, even with all of the technology available today, the best option remains human transcription.

The future of transcription?

Settle down, T-1.

But if you just don’t want to shell out the cash for a good ol’-fashioned Online Transcription Service, there are some mechanical transcription options that can do a “good enough” job for personal use.

While you probably wouldn’t want to use software to transcribe an important legal or business document without going back over and “checking it twice,” if you’re a student with limited means or are struggling to make ends meet, sometimes the software options can do (sort of) in a pinch. Note: We do not recommend using the auto-transcript generator built into YouTube for medical transcription purposes.

What Type of Transcription Tools will we Cover?

Here, we’ll only be covering tools to use for transcribing audio files yourself. If you need your files quickly or don’t want to waste time doing it yourself, check out a cheap, fast human transcription service like iScribed.

Naturally, most of the software apps we’ll be covering here are available on Google’s Chrome app store. The ones we’ll mention here are just tools for transcribing, as we do not believe there are any current good options for creating text out of human speech fully automatically (and reliably).

Top 3 Audio Transcription Tools on the Chromebook

These options are listed in the order we discovered them, not in order of recommendation.

  1. Transcribe – The first option we’ve found is the aptly (should that be app-tly?) named Transcribe. It’s gotten pretty good write-ups, and while we haven’t tested it ourselves, it looks like a solid option for transcribing audio files. You can select the file you want via a selector An added benefit is that Transcribe is HTML5 and can work without any connection to the internet.
    The UI for Transcribe includes a standard player for audio in addition to a standard text editor.
  2. oTranscribe – Another app-tly named… uh… app available for the Chromebook is oTranscribe. This one also runs on HTML5 and can be used offline. It provides an easy interface for fast forwarding, rewinding, and of course playing audio files while you take down the transcription yourself. This will obviously save you quite a bit of time compared to switching between tabs over and over (and over) again. Even if it doesn’t do the transcribing for you, its functionality makes it the next best thing.
    The interface for the oTranscribe Chrome app
  3. Transcription Helper – More of a Chrome extension than an app, this is another tool that runs locally on your Chromebook and does not require an internet connection. Again, it provides a similar audio playback/review interface for a file that you choose, streamlining the amount of time you spend transcribing important documents.
    A screenshot of Transcription Helper audio file player with text editor.

Conclusion

This list of apps is a “shortlist” to be sure, but those are the best available options we have found to date. We’d be very interested to know what specialized audio/text tools the workers at big transcription companies like iScribed use (assuming there are some who use Chromebooks as their computer of choice, and with so many people that’s a good possibility these days).

Do you know of any other good audio transcription apps for Chrome? Have any transcribing workflows you’d like to share with other Chromebook users? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Jake T.

Blogger. Chromebook Reviewer. Chrome-magnum. Then I say something.