How to transcribe audio to text on PC, Mac and Word

Have you recorded a very long audio lesson and now you want to record it so that it can be easily read anywhere? Unfortunately, using a voice recorder and recording at the same time, it is almost impossible to follow the recording without errors.

Whenever you skip a word, you have to spend a lot of time pausing, rewinding, and restarting the file. All this turns out to be a huge waste of time. Fortunately, there is a solution, there are indeed several of them. Just use software or website created specifically for transcription.

If you think this is science fiction that only PC experts can do, you’re wrong! Today I want to show you how to transcribe audio into text. You will be surprised because it is really simple and does not require special skills.

There are programs that you may have already used but did not know about their functionality, as well as other special programs. Not only that: now many sites offer this online service, they are very easy to use and transcribe the document for you!

If this is what you were looking for, take a few minutes to read the following and choose the method you like best.

Programs for transcription of audio into text

Let’s start by looking at which software makes it easy to get great results. There are several programs of this type, both free and paid, but below I want to show you only those that I consider the most useful and with the most accurate transcription, so as not to spend hours writing text.

Illustration for transcription of audio into text

Here you have to choose between the programs that write for you and those in which you have to perform the conversion. Usually, the big difference is the price, because although the first ones are almost all paid, when you need to do this, you can find free software, but they are very convenient.

Nevertheless, let’s look at three different options that can help you achieve excellent results and greatly simplify your work.

Express Scribe: How it works

The best of all free programs is Express Scribe, without a shadow of a doubt. Available for both Windows and Mac, it allows you to convert audio to text easily and for free. The only thing you will have to do is manually, and transcription is not automatic.

It puts a lot of functions at your disposal when you need to double-check how, pause and restart, or slow down the playback speed of a recording to have more time to record or edit any errors. You can also assign commands to hotkeys so that you don’t have to use the mouse every time and speed up the process even more.

The first thing to do is, of course, go to the program’s website and download the version suitable for your operating system: .exe for Windows and .dmg for macOS. After the download is complete, you need to open the file and follow the installation instructions. Once this step is also completed, you can finally start using the program.

When you open it, you will immediately hear a welcome message explaining how the program works and what it is for, but you can safely ignore it because it is very simple. To convert an audio file to text using Express Scribe:

  1. Install and run Express Scribe.
  2. Click Upload.
  3. Select the audio file and click “Open”.
  4. Write the text in the corresponding window.
  5. Save the transcript as a text file or send your notes by email.

It is very convenient that if you configure the playback, back, forward, and pause functions for hotkeys, you do not need to use the mouse, but you do everything from the keyboard and it takes even less time to perform the accuracy.

Dictation on Mac

Although Apple computers have a significantly higher cost than the average, the operating system comes with many programs and features that are not only advanced but also free. Among them is a whole office suite, a video editing program, and dictation functionality, and all this is free.

In fact, on a Mac, you don’t have a real way to transcribe an audio file directly into text without resorting to additional programs or online programs, but you can use dictation. It is very convenient and converts what you say to your computer into text in real-time. I’ve had the opportunity to experience it, and I use it very often precisely because it’s simple and very accurate, as long as you speak clearly and loudly.

It can be used in all programs, even on websites and in online applications such as Google Docs, etc., which makes it even more versatile and very useful for those who want to save time when writing.
In this case, you can start the sound and the computer will decipher the text, but do not expect very high accuracy unless the voice is heard quite clearly and very loudly.

If you want to dictate to a Mac, just open the document and press the microphone key on the keyboard (or the fn key twice). If you do not activate the dictation function by pressing these keys, the keyboard shortcut may not be activated.

If, on the other hand, the result is not quite accurate, it may be set to English or another language. To solve this problem, just go to “System Settings” > “Keyboard” > “Dictation” and set the abbreviations. Here you can also change the language you speak: choosing the right one will greatly increase accuracy.

In short, the dictation function is most useful for those who do not know how to use the keyboard quickly and will save a lot of time if they are dictating to someone (for example, a Mac).

Transcription of words (in Windows and online)

You’ve probably already used it to write papers or dissertations, or at least you already know it. Microsoft Word is the most commonly used writing program in the world, and you may not know it, but you can also use it to convert audio files into text.

Transcription of words

For example, if you are recording a meeting or lecture, you can upload your file and use the transcription function to record it into the program. Unfortunately, this is only possible in the Microsoft 365 online package and only if you use the Premium version, i.e. the paid version.

On the other hand, however, the functionality is incredible because it allows you to upload your audio file or record your voice (a bit like dictation on a Mac) and then decrypt it with a program. Let’s see how to do this if you have an audio file:

  1. Click on the Dictation option to open the drop-down menu.
  2. Select Transcription.
  3. Choose whether to download audio files or start recording.
  4. If you are downloading a file, wait a few minutes for the download and transcription to complete.
  5. If you choose dictation, start dictating to your computer and you will see the transcript in real-time.
  6. Make the necessary corrections when the transcript is ready.

You will see the text divided into different parts every 5 seconds or so, which will make it much easier for you to proofread.

This is not 100% accurate, especially if there are background noises, the speaker speaks with an accent or does not speak very clearly, but you can still reproduce poorly transcribed parts of the recording and make your corrections.

After the process is complete, you can create a single document with a complete transcript or save parts of the text in this and other Word documents with a simple copy and paste. From here you can do it at your discretion: you can convert the file to pdf, save it on your computer, send it by email, or even give access to colleagues who would like to make changes.

Sites for automatic conversion of audio files to text

However, the best way to transcribe audio into text is to use the appropriate online services, which are full on the Internet. There are so many of them, for example, Google Cloud Speech to text or Trint.
However, out of all these, I prefer Happy Scribe because it is accurate and you can also convert video audio to text. I often use it to do transcription or even subtitles for YouTube videos, just pointing to the URL of the channel, and it does it all.

However, unfortunately, like any professional solution, this is paid software, but it is quite inexpensive (20 cents per minute), and there is also a free trial version with which you can see how it works and whether this particular tool is right for you. Their local clerk also can check the transcript and get 99% accuracy, but the price goes up.

Nevertheless, I have been using it for a long time, and I must say that the promised accuracy is even higher than 85%, especially if the audio file is well recorded, the voice is very clear, and not a very strong dialect.

Decrypting even long files takes several minutes, and I have to make a few corrections before saving them or uploading them to the internet. In short. As you can see, there are many ways to transcribe an audio file into text or dictate it directly to your computer, including those that do everything automatically and take a lot of work from you. Unfortunately, if you need accurate transcription, more professional solutions are paid, although many have free trial versions, so you can test them without any obligation. However, there is no doubt that the more accurate the software, the more time you save and perform work that may take hours or minutes.

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