This section explains how to import interview transcripts into MAXQDA.


You can easily import automatically or manually created transcripts into MAXQDA. MAXQDA supports the formats of nearly all transcription programs. Most transcription programs allow you to export the created transcripts to common text formats such as Word (DOCX) or Rich Text (RTF), which you can then import directly into MAXQDA. MAXQDA also supports special formats such as VTT, which is generated by Microsoft Teams or Zoom during a video conference, or video captions in SRT format.

Transcripts usually contain timestamps that refer to the corresponding audio or video file. Timestamps are automatically read by MAXQDA during import, allowing you to access and listen to the original audio directly from the transcript. If you create transcripts or have them created outside of MAXQDA, they should contain timestamps at least at the end of each paragraph and also within a paragraph in the case of passages that are difficult to understand.

For example, a transcript with timestamps looks like this:

I: So, Robert. Could you please describe your current living situation for me? [0:00:10.5]

B: Sure. Uhm, at the moment I am living with my parents. In my old room in the basement. I did have a room in the dorms at college, but I am taking a semester off and wasn't sure where I'd end up going. I am looking for an internship at the coast, so I'll probably find a place with a roommate there soon. [0:00:30.1]

Example transcript with timestamps at the end of paragraphs

Importing transcripts with timestamps

How to import transcripts along with their corresponding audio or video files:

  1. Make sure that you have the corresponding audio or video recordings for all of the transcripts that you want to import. For example, you can save the transcripts and the media files in the same folder, using the same names for a transcript its corresponding media file.
  2. In MAXQDA, go to the Import tab and select the function Transcripts.
Import transcripts
  1. From the drop-down menu, select the entry for the transcription software used to create the transcript. If you do not know which software was used, select Transcript with Timestamps.
  2. A dialog box appears for you to select the transcript file to import. If you hold Ctrl (Windows) or (macOS), you can select multiple transcripts.
  3. Click Open and MAXQDA asks for the associated media files. Select them in the dialog box that opens, and click Open. If you don’t want to link any media files to the transcript, click Cancel (MAXQDA will then ask if you want to import the transcript without a media file and if you want to keep the timestamps in the text).

Supported transcription apps and timestamp

If possible, export your transcripts from the transcription program you use to DOCX format for Word, as this preserves formatting. If available, make sure the Export Timestamps and Export Speakers options are enabled when exporting. Of course, the options may have different names for different vendors.

MAXQDA supports transcripts from the following software for automatic transcription:

Software for automatic transcriptionTimestamp format
MAXQDA Transcription[h:mm:ss.x]
Otter.aispecial format that e.g. shows hour only when needed
Temispecial format in a link
Voicedocsspecial format that e.g. shows hour only when needed
Please note: f4x allows export in RTF format only. This can be read by MAXQDA without any problems. HappyScribe and SimonSays offer a special "MAXQDA" format for export, however, the DOCX format is usually sufficient.

MAXQDA supports transcripts from the following software for manual transcription:

Software for automatic transcriptionTimestamp
easytranscript, f4 & f5transcript#hh:mm:ss-x#
Inqscribe, Transcriva[hh:mm:ss.xx]
Rev, HappyScribe[hh:mm:ss]
Transcriber Prohh:mm:ss

In fact, MAXQDA supports many more transcripts created by manual and automatic transcription software, namely those that offer export to a common text format and use one of the timestamp formats listed.

Please note: If you import any text document that contains timestamps in one of the formats listed above, MAXQDA will automatically detect the timestamps and ask you for the associated media file.

What happens during import?

  • MAXQDA creates a new text document with the transcript.
  • The associated audio or video file is copied into the folder for external files and assigned to the transcript.
  • Text documents with the associated media file can be recognized by their special symbols in the "Document System": a musical note for audio files and a video camera for video files.

MAXQDA converts the timestamps in the transcript to internal MAXQDA timestamps and removes them from the text for better readability. The chronology of the timestamps is checked in the text: tmestamps that refer to an earlier time than those previous to them are removed.

Tip: If you do not assign an audio or video file during import, you can do this later by right-clicking on the document name and selecting the Link Audio/Video File option.

After importing the transcript and audio or video file, you can immediately see in MAXQDA’s “Document Browser” that timestamps are displayed in the column left to the text. Clicking in the area of the timestamps plays the media file at the corresponding position.

Texts that already contain timestamps when imported can, if necessary, be subdivided more precisely with further timestamps. For more information, see the Transcription section.

Importing transcript in VTT file format

With some video conferencing tools, such as Zoom, Teams, or WebEx, it's possible to automatically generate meeting transcripts which are saved in VTT file format.

To import a VTT transcript file in MAXQDA, go to the Import tab and select Transcripts > From VTT files.

Importing transcripts without timestamps

If your transcripts do not contain timestamps, you can import them via Import > Transcripts > Transcripts without Timestamps. Alternatively, you can simply drag the transcript from Windows Explorer or Mac Finder to the "Document System".

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