As artificial intelligence continues to streamline business processes, AI transcription services are being used more than ever to transcribe audio and video recordings into written text.
Not only do they generate results faster than manual transcription — which can often be a tedious, time-intensive process — they're also more affordable, with loads of low-cost and free services available to desktop and smartphone users.
If you're interested in capitalizing on artificial intelligence without spending a dime, this guide covers quality free AI transcription tools, including their key features and device compatibility. Scroll down to discover a ranking of our top picks or skip to a specific transcriber using the links below.
The 7 Best Free AI Transcription Tools
Whether you're a podcaster or the designated meeting scribe, here's our round-up of the seven of the best free AI transcription tools:
1. Otter AI
- Best for: Students and workers transcribing notes
- Compatibility: Mac, Windows, iOS & Android
Otter AI is an all-in-one AI meeting assistant that's been designed with the needs of note-takers in mind. Its generous free plan lets users record, transcribe, and summarize meetings and lectures in real-time and also boasts integrations with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
Otter's free transcription cap is much more generous than other services, allowing for 300 monthly transcription minutes each month (at 30 minutes per conversation), from three audio and video files.
Otters AI Chat feature is available on its free plan too, allowing users to chat to other teammates instantaneously. If you need to transcribe video or audio files regularly, however, you'll have to bump up to Otter's Pro plan at $10 per user, per month, which lets you import and transcribe 10 files per month.
- Best for: Podcasters and journalists transcribing interviews
- Compatibility: Mac & Windows
Riverside is a free recording platform that offers audio and video-to-text transcriptions in over 100 languages. It claims to transcribe content with 99% accuracy, which is a huge boon for a free tool, and also offers recording and editing features at no extra cost.
These extra features make Riverside ideal for content creators looking for an all-in-one recording, editing, and transcribing tool. Yet, its speaker differentiation feature, which automatically displays when different people are talking, also makes the tool useful for workers transcribing complex conference calls involving multiple speakers.
However, Riverside's free plan only allows for two hours of audio and video transcriptions, on a one-off basis. What's more, in order to download transcripts, you'll have to upgrade to one of its paid plans — making the service less suitable for users transcribing large amounts of content.
3. Happy Scribe
- Best for: Beginners to transcribing tools
- Compatibility: Mac & Windows
Happy Scribe is a user-friendly transcription tool that offers both automatic and human subscriptions. Its free AI transcription service is available in over 120 languages and can deliver results in under five minutes.
The tool accepts a wide range of audio and video input, including desktop files, YouTube URLs, and Google Drive links, and also lets users share transcripts in different formats, with the option to activate view-only or edit modes.
Its free plan offers in-house subtitle and translation services too, but only 10 minutes of your recordings are free. Its AI-powered service only claims to be 85% accurate as well, trailing other services like Riverside and Notta.
- Best for: Managers and video call hosts
- Compatibility: Mac, Windows, Google Play & App Store
Vowel is an AI meeting helper that lets you host, record, and transcribe meetings. Vowel is one of the only platforms on this list that offers hosting capabilities in-house, making it one of the best choices for managers and other workers tasked with logging minutes in meetings.
Vowel works in a similar way to web conferencing services like Zoom but goes above and beyond by offering AI-powered meeting summaries, and advanced live transcription services.
This makes the tool one of the best options out there for users looking to transcribe video calls. However, users looking to transcribe other types of content like interviews or video and audio files will be better off using Otter or Riverside instead.
- Best for: Podcasting and content creator beginners
- Compatibility: Mac and Windows
Descript is an app for podcasters and content creators that lets you record, edit, and transcribe video and audio content. Descript offers a number of unique features like filler word removal and studio sound quality.
Descript also has an AI-powered overdub feature that lets you edit text to create voiceovers in your own voice, offering a huge advantage for users who aren't comfortable speaking themselves.
However, if you're just looking for a straightforward transcription tool, Descript's input cap of one hour a month may put you off. If you want a more generous time limit, we recommend upgrading to its Pro plan, at $24 per user, per month, or using other services like Otter AI.
- Best for: Transcribing and summarizing work meetings
- Compatibility: Windows, Mac & Google Play
Grain is an AI conversation intelligence assistant that lets users record, transcribe, and highlight key information in video calls.
Grain's free plan, Basic, has a much more generous transcribe cap than services like Notta, letting users transcribe 20 meetings, and five additional uploads a month. Free users have access to Gain's AI notes feature too, which summarizes key parts of the meeting.
Grain only lets you transcribe meetings in nine different languages, compared to other services like Riverside and Happy Scribe, which offer over a hundred different language options. This makes the platform less suitable for businesses with a global reach and prevents it from appearing any higher on our list.
- Best for: Workers recording short meeting snippets
- Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Google Play & App Store
Notta is a free transcribing service that lets you convert video and audio content into written transcripts in minutes. It claims to transcribe content with an impressive 98.9% accuracy rate, giving leading services like Riverside a run for their money.
Like our frontrunner Otter, Notta also integrates with leading services like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, making it easy for workers to record and transcribe work calls.
Notta also offers lots of advanced free features, like screen recording, speaker identification, and live recording transcription. The free service only lets users transcribe content up to three to five minutes at a go through, which will be a dealbreaker to users wanting to transcribe entire meetings.
Should I Use a Free Transcription Service?
Thanks to these free tools, businesses and personal users no longer have to pay a lot for high-quality, speedy transcription services. However, while these platforms offer impressive accuracy and a boatload of other AI-powered features, their stingy user caps make them ill-suited to users looking to transcribe high volumes of content.
With this in mind, those with regular transcription needs will be better off paying for paid plans. Premium plans tend to offer better quality transcription services too, and often end up being well worth the extra dollars per month.