Good Transcription Software: 5 Options to Speed Up Transcription

When your job is to transcribe audio, having the right transcription software is essential. With the right software, audio files can become more explicit, making your transcription that much more accurate.

Transcription software works by allowing you to playback a file at a speed that is comfortable for you. There are many different kinds of transcription software on the market. It can be challenging to choose the right software that suits your needs.

How Does Transcription Software Work?

At the most basic, to transcribe an audio file, you will need a program that can playback a dictation. After downloading the audio, you will load it into the program and play it back.

Most people speak at around 130 to 150 words per minute during casual conversation. Approximately 40 words per minute are the speed of an average typist. A good typist does 70 to 80. 

Transcription software gives you the ability to rewind the file in little increments. People talk much faster than most people can type. Hence, a transcriptionist needs to be able to rewind and playback the software in small loops to ensure they catch every word of the dictation.

What Makes a Good Transcription Software?

Each software will have its features. But there are a few must-have features that can be deal-breakers when choosing the right software for you.

Smiling woman typing on laptop

Make sure that whichever program you choose, that you are comfortable with how it works and the features it has. Typing out a transcript can be challenging at times, and you need to ensure that you have the correct tools for the job.

1. Can You Change the Playback Speed of the Audio?

If there is a speaker who talks fast or garbles his or her words, the ability to slow down a dictation is essential. Being able to slow down audio recording make it much easier to catch mumbled words.

Or, if you have only started your career in transcription, you may not be able to type as fast as someone who has been transcribing for a while. Slowing down an audio file while typing can make it much easier to get an accurate transcript.

2. What Types of Files Can It Play?

Often, you will get more than one type of file, especially when you are working for a transcription service. Video files, mp3s, and wav files are all standard, but there are some other audio types that you may come across.

Having software that can playback many different types of client files can be a lifesaver. If it doesn’t have that ability, you may have to download a file converter. 

3. Does It Have Customizable Hotkeys?

Having hotkeys that you can customize to your preference is a beautiful thing to have in a transcription tool. If you use hotkeys instead of a foot pedal to rewind and play your audio files, the ability to choose which keys you use is essential.

Without being able to decide which key you want to use, you may be stuck using F1, or F2, or some other key that might not be comfortable for you to reach. 

4. Does It Work With the Transcription Equipment You Already Have?

If you already transcribe audio for a living, you probably have your foot pedal and headphones that you are comfortable with. Make sure that whichever software you decide upon, that it is compatible with your equipment. You don’t want to pay for something that doesn’t work with what you already have.

5. Does It Have the Ability to Create Time Stamps?

Timestamps mark the spot in time during a dictation. Without being able to create timestamps, a transcriber would have to stop, check the time in the audio, and manually add the mark.

Good transcription software will have the ability to insert timestamps with the press of a key. This saves typing time, creating quicker turnaround times for the transcriptionist.

Hands type computer keyboard

Transcription Software (Both Free and Paid)

Some software will have a free trial or a free version. With different benefits and features to each, here are some that you may come across:

FTW Transcriber

FTW Transcriber is my software of choice because it offers excellent value for its features. It has superior audio quality, which makes your transcription more accurate. It also can choose your keyboard shortcuts and insert timestamps.

Another great feature of FTW Transcriber is its auto timestamp ability. You can set it to insert timestamps automatically at whichever interval you require. It comes with a free and a pro subscription, with the pro subscription only being around $21 for two years.

Express Scribe

Express Scribe Transcription Software is a popular choice for many transcriptionists. It has a free version, as well as a pro version, and has many of the advanced features needed for transcription.

Another feature is its built-in capability to remove background noise. With a click of a mouse, you can manipulate your audio without having to load it into another program. Creating a high-quality transcript just became that much easier.


InqScribe can play both video files and audio, and it works with a USB foot pedal. That being said, there are a few features that I did not love about this software when I tried it. For example, you have to use the built-in text editor. Most of my clients and transcription companies that I work for prefer their documents to be typed out in Microsoft Word.

It comes with a 14-day free trial, and a license runs around $99.

Start-Stop Transcription System

I have not personally tried this software, but it gets terrific reviews. It is supposed to work with any file type. It also offers lifetime support. All this comes with a hefty price tag, however.


The only reason I found this transcription software is because I got a new computer and was cruising the Microsoft Store. It is kind of neat because it’s got built-in equalizer settings for audio playback. It also works with USB pedals and hotkeys, but I saw a review on it that said Bluetooth pedals are not supported.

Another thing I like about this app is that it has a setting where it will beep on a timer. So for adding timestamps, it will beep every 30 seconds or one minute or whatever you set it to. This software runs about $40.

Transcription Requires The Right Tools

Whichever program you decide to use, I would recommend checking out if they have a trial version to make sure that you are comfortable with all the features. Being able to work with your tools is part of what makes for accurate and quick transcription. And it can ultimately make you more money.

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Lauren is a work from home Transcriptionist and loves the freedom freelancing brings her. She is currently learning about web design and graphic design and hopes to branch out into branding/brand management. In her free time, she makes her own jewelry.

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