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How to Transcribe a YouTube Video to Text Quickly

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YouTube can be a rich source of information and entertainment, but for some, text makes it an even better experience. For others, a transcription of a YouTube video is a necessary tool. YouTube video transcriptions can also give people a better understanding of a specific video’s content and even provide a learning experience. 

For that reason, you might consider learning how to transcribe a YouTube video, but where do you start? The good news is you don’t have to take transcription classes or spend hours doing it in a word processor. There are a few options you can choose to transcribe your YouTube video to text quickly. 

Reasons to Transcribe a YouTube Video

A lot of planning, time, and effort goes into creating a video, and you want to give your videos the best shot at succeeding on YouTube. Adding a transcription to your video description can help in many ways, and is a step that you shouldn’t look over. 

Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Audiences

If you have your own website and want to rank well on the search engines, having transcribed videos on your site helps your SEO. You already know that a wider reach means a larger audience, which, in turn, can mean more jobs. So knowing how to transcribe videos is critical to your career.

Having text on your videos enhances your social media followers’ experiences, too, plus lots of people watch videos on mute. If you’re saying interesting things, they might save it to watch later or turn the sound on right then if they can. 

Transcripts can make your videos more shareable via things like click-to-tweet plugins as well, which only helps expand your reach.  

Developing a Global Presence

Another way to expand your videos’ reach is to ensure those who don’t speak English as a first language can understand them. If you decide you want a more global presence, putting captions on your videos can help people who don’t speak English as their first language better understand them. 

Even if you choose to do short captions, you need to know how to transcribe your videos to do that. The transcript is the tool that makes creating the captions easier and quicker. 

Increase Engagement on Your Videos

If you’re looking to expand the viewing times on your YouTube channel, adding transcriptions is a way to help. Viewers are more engaged with content that they can consume in more than one way—in this case they would be able to watch, listen to, and follow along by reading—and that increased engagement leads to longer viewing times

Transcriptions also allow you to caption your content easier, which helps you hold the notoriously short attention span of viewers. 

How to Transcribe a YouTube Video

What are the best ways to transcribe a YouTube video quickly? There are three primary ways. 

Use an Outside Automatic Transcription Tool

One of the easiest and fastest ways to transcribe a YouTube video is to use an automatic transcription tool. These tools take videos and transcribe their audio for you. They also transcribe audio-only files like podcasts. 

There are many of these tools out there, and most of them cost some money, either via subscription or in the form of a per-minute or per-hour rate. However, depending on your budget, they can save you so much time and work that you might find they give you excellent value.

So what are some of these tools?

Temi

Temi combines a transcription service with a tool. You upload your files and their software generates a transcript for you. They accept all video types, so you can get a transcript for it without converting the file first, whatever your preferred format.

You can also export your transcript into Word and PDF, among other file types where you can make edits, although you can also edit directly in their app. With clear speaking, little to no crosstalk, and very little background noise, you can get 90 to 95 percent accurate transcripts.

Trint

Trint is a transcription tool that comes with a desktop version and an app like Temi, and you can edit your transcripts on both. They use AI software to create transcripts in multiple languages within minutes. It will translate 54 languages, although this feature isn’t available under all plans. 

Trint will work well for you if you speak very clearly. If you tend to speak quickly, with a heavy accent, or have poor pronunciation, Trint has a bad habit of creating inaccurate transcripts. 

Rev

Rev is different in that it uses human transcriptionists rather than software. All you do is upload a video from your computer or give them the URL to the video you want to have transcribed, and they do the rest. Despite using live transcriptionists instead of software, you still get a quick turnaround, although it’s hours instead of minutes.

Once it’s finished, you can review the transcript and rate it. That’s one of their quality-control checks and helps ensure a very high level of accuracy. You can then export it as a Word file, PDF, or another type of file. 

Work with YouTube and Google’s Own Free Transcription Tools

You might find it easiest to use YouTube’s transcription tools. They’re certainly the cheapest since they’re free. However, to generate a transcript via YouTube itself, you need to enable automatic captioning first. YouTube will then generate its own captions using its speech recognition technology. From there, you can get a transcript.

However, speech recognition software doesn’t always render the most accurate transcripts. Because of that, you might find that you need to edit YouTube’s automatically-generated transcripts quite a bit. 

To view and edit captions for a transcript, follow these instructions:

  • Sign in to YouTube Studio
  • Find ‘Subtitles’ in the left-hand menu and click on that
  • Click on the video to which you want to add or edit the subtitles
  • Under ‘Subtitles,’ click the three dots representing ‘More’ next to the subtitles you need to edit
  • Review and edit or delete anything that’s inaccurate or doesn’t need to be there

If you’re having problems getting YouTube to generate captions, it’s possible that your audio isn’t clear enough, is of poor quality, or in a language that YouTube doesn’t support. There could be other problems, too.

To get a transcript from an existing video:

  • Open your video on YouTube itself (as opposed to in YouTube Studio)
  • Click on the three dots under the right-hand corner of your video next to ‘Save’
  • Click on ‘Open transcript’

That’s all it takes. 

YouTube recommends that people put their own captions on videos, though, because depending on various factors, the automatic captions may not appear on new videos right away, and, of course, there are the potential accuracy issues. Whether that’s a problem for you depends on how quickly you need a complete video.

Use Google Docs to Transcribe YouTube Videos

Did you know that you can use Google Docs to transcribe YouTube videos? Google Docs has a built-in voice typing feature. It’s only available on Chrome right now, so if you’re using a different browser, you won’t be able to find it. 

Locating it while using Chrome is easy:

  • Open Chrome
  • Open a new Google Doc
  • Click on ‘Tools’
  • Click on ‘Voice typing’ and look for a microphone icon.

To get it to transcribe a video, do the following:

  • Open a second browser window and set the two side-by-side
  • Open the video you wish to transcribe
  • Click on your Docs window
  • Click on the microphone icon
  • When it turns red, it’s recording
  • Hit ‘Play’ on your video

As long as the sound is clear, Google Docs can do a reasonable job of transcribing it. Keep in mind, though, that this works best if only one person is talking at a time. Even then, while you get a full transcript, it probably won’t be the most accurate. 

Also, you can’t navigate away from your Google Docs window at all. You’ll stop the recording the minute you do that. 

If you have the time and patience to edit and not much money available to pay for transcripts, you can consider going this route. Depending on how long your video is and how clear the audio is, you might not spend that much time editing. 

Google Live Transcribe for Android

Google Live Transcribe for Android is probably one of the more accurate, free transcription tools out there. Created as an accessibility tool for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, it works to transcribe a wide range of audio with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

When you open the app, it automatically starts writing what it hears. You don’t have to do anything. While the app originally didn’t save transcripts, it now saves them on your phone for up to three days. So you have three days to stick it in your notes or email it to yourself. 

For people who hear just fine, Live Transcribe works for students recording their lectures or journalists recording interviews and speeches. To use it to transcribe a video might be a little more difficult because that has to be the loudest and clearest sound within your phone’s range. 

Not to mention that you have to move the transcript from your phone to your computer, at which point you may have to reformat and edit before you have a good transcript.

However, since Live Transcribe is so easy to use and requires so little work, you may well decide that you like this method of creating transcriptions the best. 

Apple Dictation Apps

Apple has several very similar apps, like Ada Dictation by Blueshift. This app is only available in Apple’s app store and bills itself as one of the most accurate transcription apps out there. However, unlike many other transcription apps, Ada Dictation works offline, giving you some added flexibility.

You can import files, including videos, into the app for transcription, edit the transcripts within the app, and then export them or copy and paste the text into an email, notes, or other text apps. Its accuracy is good, though not perfect. 

If you want to use it to transcribe a video on your desktop, you’ll need to have your phone very close to your computer’s speakers. 

Do It Yourself

You can always transcribe your videos yourself, even if you haven’t had any training. Your best bet is still to find software, but the software you’ll use for DIY transcription doesn’t do automatic generation. 

Transcription Foot Pedal

If you’ve ever tried to type out a long quote from a video with no help, you already know how irritating it is to type out as much as possible, use your mouse to pause the video and go back, and repeat the process until you’ve got the whole thing. Who wants to transcribe an entire video that way?

That’s where a transcription foot pedal comes in. This allows you to start and stop the audio when you need to without using your mouse, meaning your hands never leave your keyboard. However, you need software to go with it. If you’d prefer not to use a foot pedal, most of this software will allow you to use a key on your keyboard to control playback. 

Word Expanding Software

If you already have a shorthand you use for notes, you can get a word expanding program that can turn your shorthand into complete words and sentences. 

Programs like TextExpander take your shorthand and turn it into complete words, phrases, and sentences, and they have functions that interpret your shorthand within the context of your writing. 

They can take some time to learn, though. People most often use them for medical transcription, although they’ll work for transcribing anything. However, if you prefer to transcribe your videos with shorthand, a text expander will help turn it into a full transcript.

Final Thoughts

No matter the size of your company or brand, your videos are an important part of your content marketing. You can do things to help your videos get more views and find a larger audience, like transcription.

You don’t need to be a professional transcriptionist to know how to transcribe a YouTube video. There are so many ways to do it easily and quickly these days, even if you choose to use a service with live transcriptionists.

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