How to Transcribe Videos and Podcasts


Thank you for helping make the online world more accessible to all! When heroes like you help transcribe videos and podcasts, you are making the online world more accessible for the Deaf or hard of hearing, or translating content for those who don't speak the native language that the content is in.

Transcribing Hero


In this post you'll learn how to transcribe videos and podcasts using Crowdscriber's free transcription software. Our subtitle editor makes transcribing fast and easy. So let's get started! 

Wait...What? There's free transcription software?

Read about Crowdscriber's awesome free tool.

Transcribing in 6 Easy Steps

If you are new to Crowdscriber, I recommend also reading the post on the Layout and Settings for the Subtitle Editor. It shows you where everything is. 

There are six easy steps to follow when transcribing a chunk for a video or podcast. Whether you are transcribing your own content or helping someone to make their content more accessible, the process is the same. 

Each video or podcast is broken into chunks, which are 2 minutes or less. You have 12 hours to complete a chunk. If you don't, not to worry, it just gets put back into the pool of chunks and someone else can claim it later. That's the beauty of Crowdscribing! 

1. Claim Your Chunk

The first thing you need to do is claim your chunk. The content curator will have provided a link. They may have emailed the link direct to you, tweeted in the Twitterverse, posted somewhere like Facebook or in a forum like Discord. 

No matter how you got it, it's all the same. Just click on the link, and it will bring you to a screen where you can claim your chunk by entering your email.

Why do we need your email? It's just so we can send you your very own beautiful little chunk. You can create an account, but you don't have to. We're easy like that.

If you plan on transcribing regularly, creating an account lets you access your chunks in one place. 

First and most important, make sure to check the language that you'll be transcribing in. On this page it will say which language the content creator would like.

Enter your email and click Continue. It won't take long and you will receive an email from us with the link to your own two-minute chunk. If you don't get it, check your junk mail just in case. 

The Email Link

The email you receive will look like this. Double check the language and comments, and then click on the link to start transcribing.

Link in your email

If at any point you stop transcribing your chunk or close the subtitle editor window, don't worry! Just come back to your email and click the link, and it will bring right back to your work. It autosaves everything you do! 

2. Choose Auto-Caption or Not

If auto-captions are available, you will see this pop-up before you start.

Auto captions

If the video or audio track is in English, Crowdscriber can pull the Auto-Captions if they are enabled.

So what's the deal with auto-captions? 


Auto-captions are pulled from YouTube or Google. They convert speech to text by applying an algorithm to the audio...but it’s not always accurate.

Should you choose auto-captions or not?

It's really a preference for each individual transcriber. If you have never transcribed before, you can try both and see which you like better. Here are some Pros and Cons


  • You get a head start with all the subtitles added
  • You are editing more, so less typing subtitles
  • If the audio is good and the speaker clearly speaks, it can be a fast edit job


  • Accents, bad audio, slang terms can make for bad auto-captions
  • Subtitles will be broken up in weird places, so lots of merging and splitting subtitles 
  • Punctuation and capitalization will be off and have to be added and corrected


Again it comes down to preference.

If you become good at using Crowdscriber's unique features like Split/Merge, and Shift Text Left/Right then editing auto-captions might be your choice.

If you are a fast typer you may want to start from scratch so that you can listen and type. You'll spend less time editing subtitles. 

3. Read the Comments

The content curator may add some comments or instructions that will be important to you as a transcriber. They may include things like: how to spell names, technical words, acronyms, who the speakers are and more. 

Where to find comments

Always check the comments before you start. It may help you transcribe, especially if there are words or names you aren't familiar with.

If you don't see the blue comment bubble, that means the content curator doesn't have any comments or instructions for you. Transcribe away!

4. Adjust the Playback Settings

Before you begin transcribing, it is important to adjust your playback settings. You can find them on the right side of the screen under the gear icon. 

You can choose between two options, Continuous Playback and Interrupted Playback.

Whenever you make a change, don't forget to click Save

Continuous Playback

Continuous playback doesn't pause at a set interval. This means you have to manually pause the video/audio. 

Playback Settings

Continuous playback is great if you are a fast typer or you are reviewing the subtitles and just doing minor tweaks at the end.

Interrupted Playback

With interrupted playback the video/audio will pause at a predetermined time (chosen by you). 

Choose which option you like. If you choose Interrupted Playback, you can start with five seconds and see how it goes. 

Interrupted playback is great for listening to a 5 second or so part and typing what you hear. It pauses automatically, and you can then press play, or use the hotkey (TAB) when you are ready to continue.

Below the gear icon, you will see this symbol. This is the playback toggle between Continuous and Interrupted Playback. 

Playback Toggle in Crowdscriber Subtitle Editor

When it is orange, continuous playback is on. When it is grey, interrupted playback is on. This is a quick way to switch between the two. When you are first starting try out both and see what you like.


You can even slow down the audio/video with the speed control, found right above the timeline. A combination of Speed Control and Continuous Playback could be the winning combo for you!

Speed Control

Rewind Controls

You can rewind using the hotkeys SHIFT + TAB. How many seconds back, is up to you. You can adjust that under the gear icon with the other playback settings. Don't forget to click Save when you make a change.

5. Creating & Editing Subtitles

When you transcribe videos and podcasts, the process is broken into two parts. Creating your subtitles and then Editing your subtitles. If you opted for auto-captions then the creation part is already taken care of, now it's just onto editing

Creating Subtitles

To start creating subtitles is simple. Play the video (play button or TAB), listen to the video or audio, and type what you hear. Hit Enter to save the subtitle. Note: Wherever you hit Enter, the subtitle will be placed behind the red timeline marker.

Try to avoid long sentences. A subtitle can range in size, however, you typically do not want a subtitle that is more than two lines and longer than 88 characters. Just think how you would read it. 

If you need to rewind to hear something again, you can use the video scrub bar, grab and drag the timeline, or use the hotkey SHIFT + TAB (we'll get into more hotkeys later).

Keep going until the two minutes of your chunk are done.  Now it's editing time!

Editing Subtitles

When you edit subtitles, you can fix any text, split and merge subtitles, and adjust the timing of the subtitles.

One key editing job is making sure each subtitle lines up with the audio. Also make sure the subtitles aren't too long, or are just a flash on the screen. 

Auto-captions will require more editing of the text. Words can be misheard by the speech-to-text algorithm. It sometimes doesn't add correct punctuation, capitalize words, and names can be misspelled. 

Basic Editing

At a very basic level, just double-click on the subtitle you want to edit. That will open the subtitle in the subtitle editing area. Now you can edit the text, and hit Enter to save. 

By hovering your mouse over the subtitle, you get some other options. 

  • Move subtitle - Grab and drag the subtitle (Note: you will only be able to move it with the space between its neighbouring subtitles; you cannot change the ordering)
  • Delete subtitle
  • Adjust size/timing of subtitle - Grab the blue handles on either side and adjust the size and line it up with the audio 
  • Split the subtitle - hover on the word, click on the icon to split
  • Merge the subtitles - hover on the blue handles (must be touching), click on the icon to merge

These GIFs will show you how these moves are done.

Move, delete and resizing a subtitle

Moving, resizing and deleting a subtitle

Split Merge Function

Split and Merge function

Advanced Editing - Hotkeys

Using the Hotkeys will make transcribing videos and podcasts so much faster and easier. Your hands are on the keyboard already for when you are typing. Why not keep them there? 

To see the list of hotkeys at anytime. Just click on the light bulb icon on the right side of the screen to see them all. 

Hotkey list

Let's go over what each hotkey can do for you. Once you understand how to use them, you'll absolutely love them. 

Play / Pause 


No big explanation here. TAB once to play, TAB again to pause. 



This rewinds the playback. How far back depends on what you set in the playback settings

If the video is playing when you rewind, it will continue playing after rewinding.

If the video is paused, playback will remain paused after rewinding

Adjust to Current Time 

CTRL + [

This is generally used once subtitles are already entered. So more in the reviewing phase when you adjust the timing of the subtitles. 

When you use CTRL + [ , the start of the next subtitle will be adjusted to where the playhead is (the redline).

If the red line is in the middle of a subtitle, that will become the subtitle's end at the same time. Below is an example.

Adjust to current time

Adjust to current time in action

Edit Current Subtitle 


Edit Current Subtitle is also great for reviewing . If you are reviewing the subtitles, whether it be your own, or auto-captions, just use CTRL + ALT + ⇧ (up-arrow). Whichever subtitle falls under the playhead (red line) at that moment will become editable. 

The subtitle in the timeline will turn grey, meaning you are in edit mode for that subtitle. Now you can edit the subtitle. Hit Enter when you are done editing to save your changes. 

Edit Current Subtitle in Action

Edit current subtitle in action

Split Subtitle


There are actually two ways to split a subtitle. The first way was mentioned earlier, which is by using your mouse on the timeline with the scissor icon.

The second way is to use the CTRL + ALT+ S hotkey while editing a subtitle. It will split the subtitle into two, placing all the text before the cursor in the first subtitle, and all the text following the cursor into the second.

Shift Text Left/Right

CTRL + ALT + ⇦/⇨

Shift Text Left and Right is a super handy feature. What it does, is sends the text from left or right of the cursor, into the next subtitle to it (left or right). 

For example, when working with auto-captions, sometimes the subtitles created don't account for pauses or the end of sentences.

Rather than splitting one subtitle into two and then merging the next two subtitles together, you can do it all in one step with CTRL + ALT + ⇦/⇨

The GIF below will give you a better idea. 

Hotkeys working

How to Shift Text Left/Right

Overflow Period

The overflow period is the extra three seconds that may appear at the beginning and/or end of your chunk. It is there to allow you to determine the word or context of the sentence if the chunk happens to start or end mid-word or mid-sentence. 

The overflow period technically belongs to another chunk, which is why you’re prevented from adding or resizing subtitles beyond your chunk’s start and end time.

6. Review & Submit Your Transcription

Once you have added all the subtitles and edited them, it's good to go through them one more time. Here are things to look for:

  • Timing of the subtitles - make sure they match the audio. Use the blue drag handles to adjust to the audio.
  • Make sure subtitles are on the screen long enough to read - if they are too long to read, you may need to split them.
  • Check all the spelling and punctuation.

Awesome job! Now that you've reviewed it all and are satisfied with your transcription, it's time to submit! 

Submitting a Chunk

Submitting a chunk is super easy. Submitting a chunk is super easy. Just click the big button that says SUBMIT CHUNK and you’ll be presented with a confirmation popup where you can confirm your submission.

Submitting a Chunk

You can add any comments you may have for the content curator. This is purely optional. What would you put in here? 

For example, if you had trouble understanding some of the language, or couldn’t make out certain words, then you can indicate that in the comments so the content curator is aware of it. Then click Submit!

Claim Another Chunk!

If there are more chunks to be completed for that video or podcast, you will be given the chance to do another chunk if you want. Totally up to you. 

Claiming another chunk


Thanks again for your help transcribing content to make it more accessible to everyone. Below are some frequently asked questions that might answer some queries you may have.

If your question is not answered here, please start a conversation using the Intercom at the bottom right of your screen in the subtitle editor, or send your question to and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as we can.

Related Tutorials

Frequently Asked Questions


How long do I have to transcribe my chunk?

Why are there "suggested videos" over the YouTube video I'm transcribing?

What happens to my chunk after I submit it?

How long should a subtitle be?


What should I do if I cannot make out a word in the video?

If two people are talking and one person is affirming the first talker with “Ya, Mmm Hmm, ok, …” should I include that in the subtitle?

Should I include repetitive words?

Should I include sounds or background noise?

What should I do if I’m not familiar with the technical terms being used?

What should I do if two people are talking at the same time?


How should I translate proper names?

Should I translate directly word-by-word, or just convey the main idea?


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About the author 


Oliver has been a content creator and market researcher with a passion for helping people understand and learn through his writing.

He also writes for his own travel site Ačiū. He lives in Canada and was raised in a German household. Being bilingual has given him the opportunity to gain valuable experience in transcribing and translating videos and podcasts.

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