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How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

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As a new father, Dragon Naturally Speaking has become my best friend. While holding the baby I am able to dictate the text for the posts you’ve seen the past couple of weeks on this blog. While I’m away from my home computer an my Yeti Mic I have no way of dictating text so that it is automatically transcribed for me, so I started thinking about buying a voice recorder and then realized that the iPhone has a Voice Memo App that will allow me to make recordings that can be retrieved at a later date.

I promptly started recording voice memos for articles, ideas, notes, and anything I could come up with, I was loving it. However I quickly found two problems, the first was that the voice memos created on the iPhone do not automatically sync to the iTunes library, the second was that the format used by the iPhone when the voice memos are created (.M4A audio format) is not supported by Dragon.

After some tinkering I found solutions to both those problems and was able to have the Voice Memos transcribed by Dragon Naturally Speaking. The guide below is a compilation of all the steps necessary to get voice memos from your iPhone transcribed by Dragon to your computer without you having to type a single word.

If you have any comments or questions or know of a better way to do this please post them below.

Note: I used iTunes 9.0.2 with an iPhone 3GS and Dragon Naturally Speaking 10

Get Voice Memos Ready for Transcription

Before you can transcribe the Voice Memos you will have to sync them to your iTunes library and then convert them to a format recognized by Dragon Naturally Speaking. The links below are to guides that will walk you through the syncing and conversion of the voice memos. Both links will open in a separate window/tab so that you can return to this page when you are done with those instructions.

1. First you need to Synchronize iPhone/iPod Touch Voice Memos with the iTunes Library

2. Once you’ve got your Voice Memos on your computer you need to Convert them from M4A format to the MP3 format recognized by Dragon.

Transcribe Your Voice Memos

transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

1. Open the DragonBar and click on the Transcribe button.



transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking1 How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

2. The Transcribe from… dialog box will open, click on Browse to locate the file.

transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking2 How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

3. Locate and click on the audio file you wish to transcribe. If this is a Voice Memo from an iPhone and you followed the instructions on converting Voice Memos above the file should be an MP3 file.

4. Click on the Open button to proceed.

transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking3 How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

5. You will be brought back to the Transcribe from… dialog box. Click on the Advanced button to customize the transcription.

transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking4 How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

6. In the Advanced Settings dialog box you are provided with 3 settings to customize;

a. Choosing a Destination specifies where the transcribed text will be entered to, the options are the DragonPad window or A selected window. I usually stick to the DragonPad window and paste the contents to Word.

b. Dragon supports the use of commands during dictation so if you used commands throughout your recording make sure to select either All Commands or Restricted Commands, Dragon understands them as such – since I don’t use commands for transcripts I chose Dictation Only.

Since we are recording from an audio file the Communications Options is grayed out and will not be discussed in this tutorial.

7. Once you have made your choices, click OK to proceed.

transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking5 How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

8. When you are ready, click on the Transcribe button to begin transcription.

transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking6 How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

Transcription in progress…

transcribe iphone voice memos with dragon naturally speaking7 How to Transcribe iPhone Voice Memos with Dragon Naturally Speaking

Voila! The Voice Memo from your iPhone has been transcribed!

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Originally posted Feb 12, 2010

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  • Harris Jensen

    Dear Gil,
    I very much like your site! I’ll put an article and link to it from my site, good day journal.com. I am trying to transcribe on Dragon Naturally Speaking 10.0 from iphone voice notes I loaded onto itunes and with itunes converted to .mp3. I open up the .mp3 file and Dragon dies! It just closes up the software. I would like to keep the convenience of .mp3 conversion by using iTunes, but it looks like that doesn’t work. Or is there another way to use iTunes? If not, I’ll down load the free software for .mp3 conversion you reviewed on your other article which also was very good! Thanks for your feedback!

  • http://www.gilsmethod.com Gilberto J Perera

    I just checked the Nuance website and could not find a trial version of the Dragon Naturally Speaking application. Hope that helps.

  • Justin Warnock

    Where can I download Dragon for free or get a trail? I am trying to transcribe something from my voice mail

    • http://www.gilsmethod.com Gilberto J Perera

      I just checked the Nuance website and could not find a trial version of the Dragon Naturally Speaking application. Hope that helps.

  • mao

    I am working now in an iPhone app that goes from recording your dictation to delivering it to DNS 10, retrieving the transcription and allowing you, cut/paste or email it, if needed. (no cables, conversions or manual file operations involved)..

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/gjperera gjperera

      Mao – Whenever you complete the App, please keep me posted. I would be very interested in reviewing it and using it myself. Thanks for the heads up. Is there a blog you maintain with information on your product? When do you expect to see it on the App store? Look forward to hearing from you.

    • patrick steil

      mao, please contact me offline, thanks…

  • mao

    I am working now in an iPhone app that goes from recording your dictation to delivering it to DNS 10, retrieving the transcription and allowing you, cut/paste or email it, if needed. (no cables, conversions or manual file operations involved)..

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/gjperera gjperera

      Mao – Whenever you complete the App, please keep me posted. I would be very interested in reviewing it and using it myself. Thanks for the heads up. Is there a blog you maintain with information on your product? When do you expect to see it on the App store? Look forward to hearing from you.

    • patrick steil

      mao, please contact me offline, thanks…

  • cjs

    Looks great, but which VERSION of DNS did you use for this? They have at least 3 base levels, and a number of variants from there. This is exactly what I'm trying to do, but can't figure out what version is needed.