If you’ve ever been curious about the exact amount of information you encounter on an average day, you’ve probably come across this striking statistic from a UC San Diego report: 34 gigabytes of data.
To give some perspective, that's approximately 100,000 words—almost a quarter of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Interesting as it may seem, this figure actually comes from a study that was published waaay back in 2009.
Back then, it was estimated that an average American consumed 4.91 hours of television, spent 1.93 hours on a computer, and tuned into 2.22 hours of radio broadcasts each day.
Since then, few other eye-popping figures have filled the void, but the numbers—although realistically unquantifiable—are probably even higher.
That’s because, when we’re not streaming hours of Succession (no spoilers, I’m still catching up on season three), our brains are encountering countless amounts of information from an array of sources, including podcasts, webinars, YouTube videos, and meetings at work.
Given the limited hours in a day, it's no surprise that many are resorting to transcription software to manage the relentless information deluge.
What is transcription software?
Transcription software converts spoken language into text. It’s traditionally used in fields like journalism, law, medicine, and academics for converting audio from interviews and conversations into a readable format that can be stored and referenced later on, but it is increasingly used in many workplaces for transcribing meetings.
There are two main types of transcription software…
Automated transcription software uses advanced speech recognition algorithms to transcribe audio into text. Although the accuracy of the transcriptions can vary depending on the product, automated transcription software is more cost-effective and faster than…
Manual transcription services, where the bulk of transcription work is performed by actual individuals, typically through an intermediary platform that streamlines the process. Although the accuracy of transcriptions may be more consistent, these services usually incur higher costs and demand more time.
For this blog post, we’re going to be focusing on automated transcription software.
What are the benefits of transcribing meetings, conversations, and recordings?
Aside from providing a written record, transcribing audio can make it more accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, make information easily searchable and referenceable, and improve comprehension.
Not only that, but advancements in AI are now making it possible to transform multi-thousand-word documents into bite-sized summaries.
That hour-and-a-half-long meeting you couldn’t attend? That podcast about what really went down at BlackBerry? You can now absorb it in a fraction of the time… if you have the right software, that is.
If you’re a proud devotee to the Cult of Mac, read on. Although not all of these options provide dedicated desktop apps for MacOS, each one can be accessed from a Mac (provided you have an internet connection, of course).
Here are 6 of the best transcription software options for Mac users who need to transcribe and summarize meetings and recordings.
Bloks, an AI-powered productivity assistant, seamlessly transcribes and summarizes any call—be it on Google Meet, Teams, or Zoom—without the interference of intrusive bots.
Upon granting Bloks access to your Mac's microphone, users can activate the built-in AI meeting assistant by clicking the magic mic icon. Bloks then initiates transcription and summarization of any audio or conversation with a single click.
Once transcriptions are ready, Bloks automatically generates a comprehensive transcription and appends your summary as a notecard directly within Bloks. You can conveniently organize transcriptions and summaries using tags tied to calendar events, meeting attendees, and discussed topics.
You can also transcribe and summarize any podcast, YouTube video, or webinar without uploading any recordings—start Bloks’ AutoPilot, press play on the recording, and let Bloks do the rest.
Cost: Free (while in Beta)
Fireflies.ai is an AI meeting assistant bot that automatically joins meetings and takes notes, even if users can’t attend them. It’s used primarily for recording, transcribing, and organizing team meetings, sales calls, recruitment interviews, and more.
Fireflies.ai’s transcription service is currently limited to English, which could pose issues for non-English speakers. Some of its features, like AI-powered super summaries and certain integrations, require a Pro plan.
Cost: Free to $29 (billed monthly)
Rewatch is a collaborative video workspace hub designed primarily to help remote teams share, organize, and find meeting recordings, company videos, all-hands, and project updates. Its AI-powered meeting assistant, Rewatch AI, automatically creates transcriptions and AI-generated summaries that users can highlight, comment on, and share.
Some users have complained that Rewatch’s transcription system can produce errors, especially with internal terms and acronyms, and users can’t suggest corrections. Some users have also found that the program isn’t entirely intuitive and have cited difficulties uploading files, managing private videos, and searching for recordings.
Cost: Free to $19 (billed monthly)
MacWhisper is a transcription app built on OpenAI’s Whisper technology that’s specifically designed for use on Apple Silicon Macs. Users can drop audio files onto the application, which supports 100 languages and transcribes audio faster than real-time playback.
MacWhisper currently doesn’t differentiate between speakers, which could cause issues for people using it for larger meetings, and the program requires at least 8GB of memory, which can slow down less-powerful Macs.
While the Pro version of MacWhisper can translate audio files into different languages, users are unable to translate audio through the free version.
Cost: Free to $22 for personal use (one-time fee)
HappyScribe is a platform that uses AI for transcription and subtitling. It supports various languages, provides shared access for collaboration, and offers unlimited uploads. It also features auto-translation for most languages and integrates with various platforms, including Zapier. HappyScribe also provides secure file storage and supports multiple export formats.
Like most transcription software, HappyScribe occasionally has issues with transcription accuracy and may require manual edits and corrections. Limitations on video duration may also pose issues when transcribing longer content. Recordings with background noise may also impact transcription quality.
Cost: $0 to $29 (billed monthly)
Otter.ai is an AI meeting assistant that records audio, writes notes, automatically captures slides, and generates summaries. Users can collaborate with their team in the live transcript, add comments, highlight key points, and assign action items. And by connecting Otter.ai to Google or Microsoft calendars, it can automatically join and record meetings on various platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
According to reviews, some users say it’s easy to inadvertently leave Otter.ai on because there are no reminders to stop recordings, which can result in users accidentally recording and transcribing sensitive or confidential information. When added to Zoom, Teams, or Meet calls, Otter.ai appears on everyone’s screen as a participant, which some meeting participants may find intrusive.
Cost: Free to $30 (billed monthly)
Final Thoughts on Mac Transcription Software
In a world increasingly saturated with data, transcription software provides an efficient way to record, access, and understand information.
Whether you’re consuming podcasts, attending meetings, or studying lectures, automated transcription and summarization tools can streamline the process, allowing Mac users to easily transcribe, summarize, and navigate vast amounts of data quickly and affordably.
While each platform has its strengths and limitations, advancements in AI technology continue to improve the quality and functionality of transcription services, making it easier than ever to absorb information.