Sync audio with foreign language text

Is there a way to sync audio with foreign language text? Specifically, I download free foreign language audiobooks read by native speakers on YouTube and the text I can get for free from Project Gutenberg. It would be great to be able to click on a link, word, paragraph or some other marker in the text document and have the audio start from that point. Many of the audiobooks I have downloaded are 6+ hours long. I know how to add a label track in Audacity audio files. But wonder if it is possible to create a link in the text document that would send a call to the Audacity file and start playback from that label.

For my purposes with these audiobooks, I do not need a word to word sync. But a word to word sync may be something of interest to me in other cases.

Or maybe someone knows of an existing program that accomplishes the same thing?

You are correct - your only option in Audacity is labels. But if the books are M4B format, they may have chapter marks that are distinguishable by iTunes and iOS devices and you can use software to edit/add such markers.


Also see this search link - there may be some iPad/iPhone apps that show text when playing the words. I don’t know whether this requires specific audiobooks or works with any audio book if you obtain the text separately. Let us know how you get on with your research into this.


Any word-processor should allow you to insert a hyperlink in the text to an audio-file on your computer, which will then play using your default audio player …
demo of hyperlink in wordprocessor document to audio file.gif
You should use a relative hyperlink, (rather than an absolute one, which I have used above), so the links will still work if you open the folder containing the document & audio-files on a different computer, see …

Thanks the responses. The text documents I get from Project Gutenberg are usually plain .txt files, which I import into Open Office Writer for formatting/printing. I am not familiar with M4B format you are talking about, but assume it is an eBook format that has tags to jump to various chapters. Are you saying that a book in M4B format could be used with Audacity labels to navigate to specific points in a large audio file?

I have been able to use the foreign language Gutenberg texts in Balabolka, a free text-to-speech software program, and that has worked out great in the respect that the audio is automatically sync’d with the text as the Balabolka program reads the book. However, a native speaker is just better to listen to than the TTS voices from the computer. Which is why I am now looking for a way to maybe use the labels in Audacity to sync up text from my Gutenberg downloaded books.

Is there anyway to put a link in a text document that would point to a label in an Audacity file? That would work for me. I know how to add an HTML link to an audio file, like in the example offered in one of the responses, but wonder if the link could be sent to a label in the file so I could keep the 6+ hour audio file intact. If not, I guess I could always export multiple labels and link to the separate files…

No there isn’t. I think your idea to “export multiple labels and link to the separate files” should work.

Yes I think you will have to format them to a rich format other than plain text to have a working hyperlink. Hyperlinks won’t help you move to a specific part of a file unless you find a player that explictly supports adding some argument to the file name to tell it where to play. I have not researched that.

M4B File (What It Is & How to Open One).

No. That is why I said iTunes and iOS devices which have the best support for M4B. Audacity does not recognise chapter marks in M4B files. Moreover chapter marks have no automatic association with arbitrary methods that applications use to mark time points, such as Audacity labels.


Well, I guess I could use the label feature of Audacity and break up the large 6+ hour audiobooks into chapters, export multiple labels, and just (relative) link to each file for each chapter. That moves me ahead in my project. If I come up with a better solution, I will post it here for anyone interested in this topic.

Thanks for the responses and for the help.