Best Transcription Software for 2018 – The Definitive List


Researching what is “the best transcription software” can be a little overwhelming. There are a lot of different answers. A lot of companies promote a “free” software, but free in a very limited capacity. Also speech to text software comes up in search results, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, but that isn’t a transcription software. That’s a dictation software. We covered the differences between dictation and transcription software in this article found here.

As an experienced transcriber I’ve compiled a short list of the best transcription & audio dictation software available today.

The FTW Transcriber


  • Superior Sound Quality.
  • You can customize your time code & there is an automated time stamps feature.
  • Software can convert audio or video types to other formats automatically.
  • You can type in an MS Word document as you playback your audio or video file.
  • Great customer service.
    • They usually respond via email in the same day and will even make changes or additions to the software upon request.
  • Very affordable pay as you go price plan — as low as $1 per month.
    • You can try the software for $10 for one month. Alternatively, sign-up for two years at $1/month or $24 total.


  • Windows Only.
  • Free Version is limited.

Update – 7/14/2017:

  • Due to the positive response of this blog article, FTW kindly offered us a discount on their software.
  • Click here to receive a 7% Discount when you purchase FTW Transcriber.

Express Scribe transcription software

Express Scribe by NCH Software 


  • Free to try & very affordable to buy at $39.99.
  • Intuitive and easy to use. Great for beginners.
  • Imports almost any audio or video file.
  • Available on Mac or PC.


  • Very difficult to customize your time stamps.

Start Stop Universal Transcription System

Start-Stop Universal Transcription System


  • Works with almost all audio & video formats.
  • They have a software package that also comes with a very handy USB foot pedal.
  • You can customize your time code setting.
  • You can type in MS Word as you playback your audio or video file.
  • Free software upgrades.
  • Free technical support.


  • Windows Only
  • $150 to $179 price tag depending on Amazon’s price.
  • Software can be buggy at times.

InqScribe transcription


  • Works with all audio & video formats.
  • Available on Mac or PC.
  • Can set a custom time code.


  • Price is $99 per license. 
  • You can “Transcribe + Take Notes”, according to their website. Inqscribe touts this as a good thing, however I disagree. I’d much prefer typing directly in MS Word as opposed to having export and convert the transcript after I’m done typing.

Best Dictation Software
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 13.0
  • Best audio to text dictation software on the market.
  • Fully customizable to suit your needs.
  • The speech to text technology works very well.
  • Works in any application where you would normally type.
  • You can use this software to assist you in typing.


  • Not a transcription software. It is a dictation software.
  • Only accurate with one speaker at a time.
  • Newer versions seem to be PC only without a Mac option.

Transcription Software Bundles
Express Scribe Headset and Foot Pedal Bundle
Express Scribe Transcription Bundle with Infinity USB Foot Pedal & Headset

This Express Scribe bundle includes both a foot pedal & a headset.

Express Scribe Software with Infinity USB Foot Pedal

Currently you can buy Express Scribe bundled with a USB foot pedal.

More Transcription Equipment
WordSlinger Deluxe Headphones
ECS OHUSB WordSlinger Deluxe USB Transcription Headset

The WordSlinger Deluxe is specifically designed for audio transcription & spoken word. This focus on spoken word is achieved by the frequency response that’s built into the headset. Also, these headphones have built-in audio and volume controls. It comes with a 10 foot cord & plugs directly into a USB slot. It’s a great headset and retails for $59.95.


Bose Wireless Headphones

A pair of Bose wireless headphones with noise cancellation is an excellent investment, even though they are a little expensive.

When I get very difficult audio in, files with heavy background noise and distortion, these headphones can be a lifesaver. I’ve compared the audio using these headphones to a regular pair of headphones and the difference in clarity was incredible. With the Bose headphones I could hear words and conversations that were completely unintelligible on a regular pair of headphones.


Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking USB Headset with Noise Cancelling Microphone

These lightweight headphones are perfect for dictating in Dragon’s NaturallySpeaking software. You can also use them on Skype or Google Voice or just listen to music with them. They are very comfortable & lightweight, also, they do a great job of blocking out exterior noises.


Infinity USB Foot Pedal
Infinity USB Digital Foot Control (IN-USB-2)

A foot pedal for me is a big time saver. The reason you want a foot pedal is you can rewind, fast forward, and play the video with your foot. This means you don’t have to use your hands, the mouse, to control the video.

I do not want to stop typing and grab my mouse and hit the rewind button, or even use a keyboard shortcut, as I don’t want to get my hands out of position while typing. Using a mouse to control the video will slow you down significantly.

I use a USB foot pedal by Infinity, it works with every transcription software I use and every computer, both Mac and PC, I have. The Infinity USB foot pedal responsive, versatile, and well-priced. I’ve been using these for years and have never had any issues.

I hope this article was helpful. Comment below if you have a favorite audio transcription software and please leave any questions or comments you might have. If you have audio or video files that need to be transcribed please feel to request a quote or visit our transcription page. Happy transcribing!


Click here to see our reviews of the best headphones for transcription.

29 thoughts on “Best Transcription Software for 2018 – The Definitive List

  1. Hi, I am just starting out a home business for legal assitance work and have looked at both Start-Stop Universal Transcription on Amazon and ExpressSribe. Both have great reviews and both come in packages with pedals and headphones. Can you tell me which you prefer and why? Your is the best reviews of the products I have found so far.

    • Thanks Sarah! Express Scribe is the best software for someone who is starting out, it’s very user-friendly and runs well on every computer. Start-Stop is better for someone who is transcribing video with time code.

      Good luck with your home business!

  2. Thank you for your reviews. I have a question: Do you know if there is any way to transcribe *with a foot pedal* that does rewind and fast forward, with WIndows Media Player? (I use it for better sound clarity when Express Scribe does not work, but it’s not very useful without a foot pedal).

    • Hello, thanks for visiting our site. Unfortunately Windows Media Player does not have foot pedal functionality. You could try downloading FTW Transcriber, it’s free to try and you could see if the audio quality is any better.

    • vPedal works with Windows Media Player. The pedal was $75, and the plug-in for Windows Media Player is free on their site. I’ve been using about 10hrs a week for the last year.

  3. For poor audio, I recommend a utility called VLC – ( and you can use universal hot keys. It’s a free download. I use this to proof my Express Scribe transcripts.

  4. ExpressScribe actually does have a functionality for setting timecode to start at unique times, but it’s a bit buried and unintuitive. If you right click on the file and select “Dictation Information” there is a line that says Time Offset, and you can actually enter any time code you’d like there. Oddly, this is one of the only fields in that menu you can alter, the rest are just information but that one you can alter. It’s a lifesaver.

    You do also have to make sure in your display options that you’re displaying elapsed time and not remaining.

  5. Hello. I am curious if you have tried a transcription package called GearPlayer and your thoughts on it. To me, it seems very intuitive and has all the features you would be looking for in a transcription package except that it doesn’t work on a Mac. Thanks.

  6. Thanks for the great reviews. I’ve been using Start-Stop for 20 years, and it’s always been good to me. However, I’m typing more and more closed captioning, and ran into a problem. The video was shot with a different number of frames per second than the Start-Stop default, and there is no way to change it. Do you know of any professional closed captioning transcription software that has more features?

  7. Hello,

    I am planning on working to transcribe a series of webinar videos into text. What software would you recommend?

  8. Hi I’m a freelance journalist trying out transcription as an additional income source. While I see several people recommend Express Scribe, there are also some negative reviews online about this software.
    People say it is not that user friendly, opens your computer up to viruses and is almost impossible to get rid of once installed.
    Help! I don’t want any of this to happen, but really want advice on a good, reliable and free software to use!
    Your expertise would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks and regards – Lauren

    • Hi Lauren,

      Thanks for the question. In the past, when I first started using Express Scribe, it definitely had some issues. Express Scribe would try to install additional software, their licensing/upgrading process was intentionally confusing so you’d end up having to spend extra money. However, that doesn’t happen anymore. I think a lot of people were turned off by those two issues.

      I’ll try to address your concerns one by one:

      – Regarding User Friendliness — Express Scribe is very easy to use. You simply click and drag audio/video files into Express Scribe’s player and the files are ready to transcribe.

      – Regarding viruses or spyware — I’m not aware of that happening. I’ve been using Express Scribe for around 8 years and I’ve never had that issue. It’s always a good idea to have real-time virus protection on your PC at all times. Macs generally do not get viruses from software, so it would be safe on a Mac.

      – I can’t recall every uninstalling the software, so I’m not sure how easy it is to uninstall, but my guess is you go into uninstall programs in Windows and go through the normal process.

      Another alternative is FTW ( Very cheap, works well, & user friendly. I use this software as well as Express Scribe and Start/Stop.

      Hope that helps! Good luck with everything.

  9. Thank you for the great article! You mentioned in response to another comment above that you use FTW, Express Scribe and Start/Stop. I’m only transcribing video files with time stamps. I’ve been using a vPedal to control play back in Windows Media Player and typing my document in Word. I’m mainly looking for a software that can make time stamping easier then just typing it in as I go, and watching to make sure I get one every 30 seconds, and one that can help control play back speed when needed on a difficult file. Out of the three you use which do you think would help me most? Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience. Also, I agree with you on the Bose noise cancelling headphones. I love mine for transcribing. I only wish I had paid for wireless ones as that would have been worth the $.

  10. My platform is an iMac 10.12.6

    1. What I am looking for is a program that will automatically convert from recorded text to actual text, so that I only have to edit the text, not enter it manually. (I believe this is a transcription software, right?)

    2, Is there a program for transcription of Spanish? I believe that inqScribe can work for Spanish, but does it convert as in 1. above?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Ricardo,

      To answer #1, the only software that might work for speech recognition is Dragon. But you would have to speak into the microphone and dictate the words.

      And to answer #2, any transcription software — including Inqscribe — can handle a Spanish audio file but you would have to manually type each word.

      Hope that helps. Thank you!

      • Thank you for your response. I am still unclear: If Dragon can turn my dictation into text, why can it not do it when the sound source is a recording?


        • I’ve used Dragon in the past, it learns your voice over time. You speak directly into the microphone. You have to vocalize special commands and other things to have it work properly.

          If the software has changed and it allows you to input digital audio files then that’s great, but to my knowledge Dragon isn’t able to do that. I hope that helps.

  11. Ricardo, Dragon Professional Individual 15 will do exactly what you’re asking about. It will convert any .wav file (I think it works with .mp3 also) into text, and it’s surprisingly accurate!

  12. I have resisted changing from cassette recorder to digital. I transcribe town board minutes with a board of 7 and applicants explaining their applications etc. I’ve looked at Stop Start $169 package plus a $149 Olympus digital recorder. Haven’t yet looked at express script. I want a simple easy to use software package and recorder that will capture my meetings. I would probably need two extra mics since we sit at a long table. What would you suggest. Thank you. April

    • Hi April,

      Thanks for the question. I don’t have personal experience recording a meeting. I do think switching to digital would make your life a lot easier. I would suggest (as you mentioned) getting a couple of digital recorders and a few microphones. Once you have the recorded MP3s I think Express Scribe or FTW would suit your transcription needs and those programs are much cheaper than Start Stop.

  13. I am using Express Scribe and would like to know how to transfer dictation from one source to my express scribe. For example I type for a library, they record on a USB, I go and collect it and then put it into Express Scribe. How can the library export the recording into my express scribe to save me the journey?

    • Hi Valerie!

      Thanks for posting the question. It sounds like you don’t want to physically pick up the USB stick, that’s understandable. Sending digital audio files is pretty easy. The library could sign up for a free service like Dropbox or Google Drive and send you the files that way. Once the library uploads the file to a service — like Dropbox or Google Drive — you would get an email notification and then download the audio files from there.

Leave a Comment