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10 Essential Transcription Tools and Software for Transcribers

So you want to work as a freelance transcriptionist but you don’t know how to start. Transcription is one of the many work-at-home jobs you can start immediately with little start up cost. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive transcription equipment. In fact, you can start with just a computer, a headset, and word processing software.

In transcription, the tools come second to your hearing ability, comprehension skills, typing speed and accuracy, and good grasp of grammar. But you need the tools to make the work less taxing on you physically and mentally.

So what transcription tools do you need, not just to get started, but also to sustain an efficient and accurate transcription work process?

1. Computer

The choice between a laptop and a desktop is really a matter of preference. If you work wherever your feet take you, then a laptop is the right choice. But if you have a home office, a desktop is the logical choice.

What you should be looking out for are the processor and sound card. You will be dealing with huge audio and video files, so a fast processor that could handle multitasking would be desirable. Sound card helps improve the quality of audio.

2. Fast Internet Connection

Clients will be sending you audio and video files to transcribe or caption and they are huge files. With a high-speed internet connection, you can download and upload them in the quickest possible time. The less time you spend downloading, the faster you can get on with work.

3. Noise-cancelling Headphones

Some transcribers choose headphones that are comfortable to use because they use them for hours. A more important factor to consider is the quality of the headphones. You will not always get clear audio files, so you would struggle to make out some words or phrases of the speakers. This could strain your ears. With a noise-cancelling headphones, background noises are reduced so you can hear clearer words even if there are multiple speakers.

4. Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse

Typing is easy but if you do it for hours on end, it can cause pain on the wrist, forearm, and fingers. Having an ergonomically-designed keyboard and mouse can help prevent the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injury.

5. Word Processing Software

MS Word (Windows) or Pages (Mac) are the two popular word processors. You need to format the transcripts based on the specific requirements of the client.

6. Transcription Software

It is not enough to use an audio or media player to play the audio or video files. Although these media players have a rewind and forward button, they are not optimized for transcription. This is why you need transcription software where you can rewind and forward to specific sections of the audio file.

Most transcription software are not free, but they offer trial periods so you can evaluate the software. Those that offer free software have limited features and you can only unlock them if you buy the software.

Here are some of transcription software you can check out:

  • Express Scribe

  • The FTW Transcriber

  • InqScribe

  • Aegisub

  • Transcriber Pro

  • GearPlayer 4

7. Audio Enhancers These are programs that can amplify the audio or improve the quality of the audio by tweaking the sounds. With audio enhancers, you can make out words and phrases by changing the pitch and tone of the voice of the speakers.

Here are some audio enhancers you should check out:

  • FXSound Enhancer

  • Ears for Chrome

  • Boom

8. Text Expander Program

In a 30-minute audio file, you will hear words and phrases being repeated throughout. Typing long words and phrases multiple times is tiring and time consuming. With a text expander program, you can type shorter character sequence. The program will recognize these shortcuts and will expand them into complete text as you type them in real time. It will save you time and your fingers.

Here are some text expander programs worth checking:

  • Breevy

  • PhraseExpress

  • AutoHotKey

  • Auto Text Expander (Chrome)

  • FastFox

9. Foot Pedal

Some transcribers might argue that that foot pedals are just “luxury” tool. We beg to disagree. A foot pedal enables you to control the audio playback using your toe. This way, you don’t have to use the mouse or the keyboard to rewind or forward. Your hands can focus on typing.

10. Comfortable Ergonomic Chair

A comfortable chair is as important as a transcription software. You need a chair that will support your wright and lumbar and give you the correct posture. This will prevent back pains. Remember, you will be sitting down for long periods of time. You don’t want to develop back pains by sitting on a hard chair.

If you have these tools, software, and equipment, you’ll certainly have a positive transcribing experience. Having the right transcription tools can make transcribing more enjoyable.


Transcription is hard, but we make it look easy. Contact us to get a quote for your audio and video files.

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