"How to" Guideline series is coordinated by Helen Mongan-Rallis of the Education Department at the University of Minnesota Duluth. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions to improve these guidelines please me at e-mail hrallis@d.umn.edu.

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Using Express Scribe (Free Voice Transcription Program)

By Helen Mongan-Rallis. Last Updated: December 10, 2008

See Express Scribe tutorial on the Express Scribe Site - this shows screen shots and directions for Windows computers. The guidelines below were created for Mac users, but the essential steps are the same, and the directions more detailed than on the Express scribe site.

Download your audio recordings from your digital recorder to your computer:

  1. When you download your recordings, download them into a separate folder on your computer in which you will store all the recordings that you want to import into Express Scribe for transcribing. Do not have anything else except your recordings in this folder.
  2. You can download recordings from a wide variety of portable handheld recorders. To learn more about these, once in Express Scribe, click on the "Help" icon and select "Transfer from Portable Handheld Recorders - Dock/"
  3. If your recordings are on an iPod, when you plug in your iPod to your computer and iTunes automatically launches, I recommend saying "no" when given the prompt "The iPod "Your iPod Name" contains new voice memos. Would you like to move these voice memos to your iTunes Library?"
  4. Instead, open the iPod (it shows up on your computer as an external drive)
  5. Copy the audio files from your iPod to the file that you have created for your Express Scribe recordings (in Step 1 above)

Importing the audio recordings into Express Scribe

  1. Download Express scribe from: http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/
  2. Once you have downloaded the software, install it.
  3. Once you have installed it, launch it.
  4. In the Express scribe window that opens, click on the "Dock" icon (see screen shot below):

    dock icon

  5. In the Dock (Audio File Transfer) window that opens:
    1. Click on the "browse" button to locate where you have saved the audio recordings file on your compute
    2. click on the box "only load files news that those previously loaded" --> this will ensure that old files that you have already downloaded from your recoding device aren't reloaded into Express scribe each time you dock.
    3. Click the "OK" button

      Screen shot showing the dock window

    4. The Express scribe window will open showing the audio recordings that you have loaded (see screen show below under "playing the audio files for transcription" section.

Playing the audio files for transcription:

  1. Click on the name of the file that you want to play
  2. Click on the play arrow at the bottom of the window to begin playing the audio file
  3. You can stop and start the file by using the other arrow keys or by using the slide bar located to the right of the arrow keys
  4. Set the speed of playback by sliding the playback speed control back and forth (lower than 100% to go slower than actual recorded speed, higher than 100% to go faster.
    1. You should play around with this until you find the correct speed for you (your typing speed) so that you don't have to keep starting and stopping the recording
    2. If you wish to purchase the foot pedal from the Express Scribe website so that you can start and stop the playback without having to switch from typing to click on the Express Scribe window, you certainly can, but I have found that once I have my typing speed figured out, I don't have to start and stop. I err on the side of playing it back slower than I type, to give me a chance to type more accurately. Occasionally I do have to stop the recording if I make a mistake and lose my rhythm, but mostly I don't need to once I have found the "sweet spot" for playback speed.

    Window showing Express Scribe controls


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