Using OTranscribe for your transcriptions

Using OTranscribe for your transcriptions

Joe Makuc, pictured above, was a Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at BCC intern, working for the Monterey Library Oral History Project.  He wrote this piece.

Hi, welcome to this oTranscribe user’s guide. This guide explains how to use the free browser extension oTranscribe to create transcripts of audio and video files and Youtube videos. If you’re returning to oTranscribe, you can skip steps 1 and 3-4.

  1. Open your web browser, go to and select “Download.” Follow the subsequent instructions–once the download is finished, restart your web browser.
  2. Go to again. Choose the audio/video file or Youtube video you want to transcribe.
    • Tip: As oTranscribe notes, it’s only compatible with audio/video that’s compatible with your browser–oTranscribe will tell you if it can’t open the file for that reason, in which case you’ll need to convert that file first.
  3. Press the gear icon at the top right of oTranscribe’s window (on the same bar as “oTranscribe,” “Help” and “English”). This opens your Settings menu, wherein you can find and change the keyboard bindings used to manipulate the video playback and text editing. If you haven’t chosen anything to transcribe yet, Settings will be found on the same bar at the top left of the screen. When you’re finished setting your bindings, click on the Settings icon again to return to the transcription window.
  4. Familiarize yourself with your chosen controls. Hovering over “Speed” or any of the other icons will explain the relevant control and its binding, and clicking on any icon will activate the control.
    • Tip: You may want to only learn your bindings in small batches (starting with Play/Pause, Rewind and Fast Forward is good), in which event you can manually click on the other icons until you learn their bindings, too.
  5. Import your transcript up to this point, either using the Import control or manually copy-pasting into the text editor. If you’re just starting this transcript, then import your metadata form, as from a Metadata Template. If you’re picking up from where you left off last time, then your transcript should be ready to go in the transcription window.
    • Tip: You can use the Timestamp control to take timestamps, which can then be copy-pasted into the metadata timestamps and given a brief description.
  1. Transcribe using oTranscribe’s tools. When you want to save, you can use the Save control to upload the transcription to oTranscribe’s browser storage (oTranscribe normally saves every five minutes), which holds the last one hundred saves. Use the Export control regularly (or manually copy-paste) both to back-up your transcript and to put your transcript in a format where it’s easier to transfer, such as Google Drive or a .txt document.


Shots of oTranscribe for reference: the Transcription window, Settings menu on Mac, Transcription window with video selected


Written by Judith

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