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MAXQDA11 Tip of the month: Transcribing Audio

If you are working with MAXQDA 12, read the article Transcribing Audio with MAXQDA 12.

In most cases when you conduct and record interviews, you end up with an mp3 audio file that needs to be transcribed. Transcription is often done with a foot pedal, which can be attached to the usb port of your computer or notebook. If you do not have a foot pedal or just want to use your keyboard, you can use the shortcuts F4 or F5 to play and pause an audio file during transcription.

Import audio into MAXQDA

There are several ways to import an audio file into a MAXQDA project:

  • a) select “Documents > Transcribe audio/video file” or
  • b) right click on a document group and select “Transcribe audio/video file” from the context menu or
  • c) drag & drop the audio file into the document system; this is the easiest and most intuitive import option.

Import audio via drag & drop

If you used method a) or b), you are immediately ready to start the transcription. MAXQDA automatically displays the media player toolbar that contains the media control buttons. Additionally the edit mode in the document browser window is activated so you can start typing in new text.

Activate media player and edit mode manually

If you used method c) to import the audio file you need to manually activate the media player and the edit mode before you can start the transcription. Display the media player toolbar with “View > Media player” and turn on the media player with the on/off button. Activate the edit mode by clicking the “Edit” button in the main toolbar.

Activate media player and edit mode

Media player control panel

Before you start the transcription, it might be a good idea to open the media control panel and select if you want to add a timestamp every time you hit “enter”. This is also the place where you can set the playing speed.

Open the control panel

Playing Speed and Rewind Interval

Unless you type at an unusually high speed, it makes sense to slow down the playing speed of the audio so you can keep up with it. The 1 on the slider in the control panel indicates the original speed. Select how many seconds you want the audio to rewind each time you pause the playback by sliding the rewind interval scale to the right. The default option for this setting is 2 seconds.

Play and pause audio playback

Start listening to the audio by clicking the “Play/Pause” button and type your text into the document in the document browser. Pause the audio when you can not keep up with the audio anymore. To pause either lift up your foot from the foot pedal, use the keyboard shortcut F4, or click the “Play/Pause” button again.

Tip for mac users: How to use the F4 key to pause and play media with MAXQDA for Mac OS X.

Interrupt transcription and start again

If you need to interrupt your transcription for a while, just deactivate the document edit mode. To continue your work later on, right click on the document in your document list and select “Open document and media file”. Then activate the edit mode again, so you can type more text into the document. Click on the last timestamp, listen to the audio and continue your transcription.

Continue transcription at a later time

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Categories: Tip of the Month

2 Responses to “MAXQDA11 Tip of the month: Transcribing Audio”

  1. Hello. I have a Mac with Os X Yosemite 10.10.5 and Maxqda version 12. I am planning to buy a Science II pedal. I will be able to make transcript within Maxqda just with the pedal or do I have to buy also F5 software?

  2. Julia Gerson

    Hello Sandra – MAXQDA supports two pedals right out of the box, and the Science II pedal is one of them. You can use it to transcribe directly in MAXQDA and do not need to purchase F5 additionally. The blog article above describes transcription in MAXQDA 11 – for an updated description of the transcription feature in MAXQDA 12 you might like to read our current online tutorial on this topic: http://www.maxqda.com/max12-tutorial/e-importing-av-files/e-2-transcribing-and-writing-text-directly-in-maxqda11
    Best regards,

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