using Audacity to transcribe interviews - help!

I would like to use Audacity (or find some other audio program) to transcribe interviews. (That is to say, Audacity plays, I type - I know I’m not in a position to use it with a voice recognition program.) I’ve been using Peak a little, and I haven’t been able to find how it is set up for transcribing either. So, specific questions:

• Is there a feature whereby I can one-click backtrack by a few seconds? When transcribing, you often want to replay the last second. My cassette-based transcriber just automatically backtracks 2 seconds every time you pause it with the foot pedal.

• Is there a foot pedal available that will work with these programs?

• Is there a feature in Audacity whereby you can insert comments or marks (as in Peak)?

• Is there a way to slow down playback, for when you’re having trouble understanding someone?

• Is there a way to easily toggle back & forth between Audacity and Word with a keystroke, so I don’t have to lift my hands off to the mouse every time I need to go back & forth between stop & starting Audacity & typing in my word processing program?

• Is there another audio program that is developed more with transcribing in mind?

• Just generally, if anybody had any advice about using these audio programs for transcribing I’d love to hear it - I’ve been searching the web, and can’t seem to find anybody else out there who is transcribing. I’m a journalist, and I would just think there’d be other folks. Thanks for your help!

You’re a snippet of a small portion of a subset of all users. So, nobody is knocking down the door to develop software for you and Audacity isn’t likely to do you much good.

Audacity doesn’t back up 2 seconds as far as I know.

No foot pedal.

You can insert labels, but I can’t find the instructions.

You can slow down playback, but it’s not like dragging your finger on the capstan or slowing down a motor. It’s a production tool, so you have to select some audio with the mouse and apply an effect like Change Speed.

ALT-TAB on the PC and Apple-Tab on the Mac will toggle between all the running programs. That’s how I program web pages where you have to keep three or four programs running at once. The spacebar will start and stop Audacity playback but then the playback will always resume from the last cursor position, not where you last stopped. There are hotkeys to return playback to the beginning of the show, but that’s about it.

You can program your own keys. Preferences > Keyboard.

If you do get one of these to work to your satisfaction, maybe you’ll post how you did it so everyone else that has this job can use it. Audacity is an all volunteer effort. There is no “They.”


Good work Koz ! I’m onto it and will report back. I love Audacity though ! Wish I had more time to play with the software - it looks fantastic !

Ooo… I love the constant pitch. While you may say that it’s a lot worse than Olympus Player Pro, it’s a lot better than the equivalent in Audacity.

Now, I have to figure out a way to jury-rig a foot pedal for Express Scribe. :slight_smile: Still, having the F-keys on the keyboard without going back and forth between programs is a real plus. Thanks for the reference.


I use Express Scribe, but it would be so cool to have a it combined with Audacity. If Audacity had a good transcription feature, I could mark or cut certain parts of an interview and transcribe them at the same time. The advantage would be to have both audio and text in one file, not having to switch between programs - and later just copy and paste the text from the text section into my script. For radio/podcasting work, this would be really awesome.

I wish I could program that myself!

desktop with Audacity and open-office, simultaneously visible and both running.png

I’m not sure why this is such a complicated question to get answered but it is. I’ve made some headway myself on this and here is where I am:

I have audio on a cassette that I can hear through Audacity.

I would like to, and have, turned that into a .wav file for use on Express Scribe but Express Scribe will not accept it anyway.

If someone could tell me how to do this, great. If not, can you tell me how to get audio from a tape to express scribe? At this point I’m willing to pay someone to help me get this done.


Could you check in the Express Scribe documentation and let us know what file format the recording needs to be.

Apparently Express Scribe can accept analog input, (e.g. ye-olde tape recorder) …

Express Scribe …
Ability to dock both analog and digital portable recorders to load recordings

Id suggest to use “F4” for transcriptions, its free and designed only for that purpose. Think its a nice tool for it.