How to use Google’s free transcription tools, Voice typing, Live transcribe

How to use Google’s free transcription tools, Voice typing, Live transcribe

Googles free transcription tools, if you’re in an influential video conferencing session and you are preparing an infodump that you know you won’t remember, it can be beneficial to have a transcription of that session.

Video and audio recordings are all well and good, but a text version of your meeting can be a lot simpler to search if you’re looking for that one particular bit of data inside of an hour’s worth of conversation.

There are several third-party apps out there that give AI transcribing for recorded audio, such as Rev and They also offer additional features, such as the capacity to simultaneously listen to the sound and watch for places that need correction or to combine directly with other apps such as Zoom, google transcription tools are very helpful.

However, these are subscription services with fees. If free is what you see for, then there are a couple of workarounds that may help although they do have some limitations.

Voice Typing on Google Docs

Even longtime users of Google Docs may not be conscious of its voice typing tool, which changes speech into text. This can be very beneficial if you have difficulty typing or find speaking faster or easier than typing.

It can also be practiced as a transcription tool for any video or audio recording you may have. You can even run it during a live videoconference to transcribe the conversation as it happens.

To do voice typing as a transcription tool:

  • Open a new Google Doc
  • Select Tools > Voice typing
  • If the language you’re using is not shown, click on the link above the microphone icon and select your language
  • When you’re set to start recording, click on the microphone icon. It will become bright red and begin transcribing. Note: be cautious about clicking on the microphone icon after you start the audio you want to transcribe.

Once you’ve begun the transcription feature, you cannot exit the Google Docs page, or the function will automatically shut off.

For example, if you’re transcribing a Zoom conference, and you take a minute to click into your email, you are going to lose everything after that point until you go back to your document and click the microphone again.

Also, the resulting transcription is well, to be charitable, less than perfect. If people are talking clearly, the Google Docs transcription feature does a fair job, but any mumbles, asides, or less-than-clear speech can be lost, transcription tools can be used by professionals and students.

Also, forget commas, periods, and other niceties if you need an entirely grammatically correct document, you’ll have to fill those in later. There is, however, an alternative.

Google Live Transcribe

Google’s Live Transcribe is an Android app that transcribes audio to your phone’s screen live as it “hears” it. The app is straightforward: you install it, load it, and it quickly begins transcribing. Originally built as an accessibility tool for people who are deaf or challenging of hearing, Live Transcribe will save a transcription for three days. If you want to hold the text for longer than that, you copy and paste it into a document.

The conclusion? If you only want a transcription of a meeting occasionally and don’t mind several errors and only a few periods, commas, and the like, then either might work for you. However, I’d lean toward Live Transcribe. Otherwise, check out the third-party transcription services. They may not be free, but they’re more reliable, which very well may be deserving of it.

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