Best Transcription Software for 2017


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 software available today.


Express Scribe Software on Amazon


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


There is only one major flaw with Express Scribe: You cannot set a custom time code. So if somebody sends you an audio file that has a starting time code of 01:10:05, for example, there’s nothing you can do. Express Scribe only allows you to start a file at 00:00:00.

Start-Stop Universal Transcription on Amazon


  • 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
  • $179 price tag

FTW Transcriber


  • Works with almost any audio & video format.
  • You can customize your time code.
  • You can type in an MS Word document as you playback your audio or video file.
  • Pay as you go price plan.
    • You can try the software for $10 for one month, or sign-up for two years at $1/month.


  • Windows Only.
  • Free Version has ADs & is very limited.
  • Must be connected to the internet to use the pay version.
    • FTW checks if your license is valid by connecting to their server. If your internet is down, or you are somewhere without an internet connection then you cannot use the upgraded pay version.



  • 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.

More Transcription Equipment

Bose Wireless Headphones on Amazon

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.


Infinity USB Digital Foot Control (IN-USB-2) on Amazon

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. It’s responsive, versatile, and well-priced.

Transcription Starter Kits

Express Scribe Software with USB Foot Pedal on Amazon

Currently you can buy Express Scribe bundled with a USB foot pedal. There’s also a bundle that includes Express Scribe software, foot pedal, and headphones below.

Express Scribe Transcription Bundle with USB Foot Pedal & Headset on Amazon

I hope this article was helpful. Let us know if you have any questions. If you have any 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.

15 thoughts on “Best Transcription Software for 2017

  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.

  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.

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