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How to transcribe a Zoom meeting (+ a hassle-free alternative)

How to transcribe a Zoom meeting (+ a hassle-free alternative)-featured image

Technological advances and the pandemic have transformed the way people work. Now, many people spend a big chunk of their days in Zoom meetings. 

Zoom, a popular video conferencing app, brings a lot of people together for a wide variety of meetings and events like webinars. 

But an issue people struggle with is generating accessible Zoom recordings and transcriptions, so they can create better meeting minutes and make the most of the knowledge shared in meetings. 

In this guide, we’ll tell you the best ways to create transcripts of your online meetings, with or without Zoom. 

Can Zoom automatically transcribe a meeting?

The short answer is yes, Zoom gives you the option to create an auto-transcription of your meeting.

To create an audio transcript of your meeting, you need a paid Zoom account — that means an Education, Business, or Enterprise plan. This is because you need cloud recording for transcripts in Zoom, and the free plan only lets you create a local recording (e.g. on your desktop).

Once you subscribe to a paid plan on Zoom, you need to make sure that you’ve turned on the transcription option. Here’s how:

  1. Sign into the Zoom web portal as an admin.

  2. Click Account Management then Account Settings.

  3. Open the Recording tab.

  4. Find the Cloud Recording setting and verify that it’s enabled.

  5. In the Advanced cloud recording settings section, click the Create audio transcript checkbox to enable it.

  6. Click Save to confirm.

After you’ve recorded your meeting, you’ll get two emails: one to tell you that the cloud recording is ready and another with instructions on how to access your transcript.

Pros and cons of transcribing meetings with Zoom

The pros of transcribing with Zoom are:

  • Automatic transcription is available if you don't want to use another tool (but fair warning: it's not great)

  • You get your transcript in your inbox 

  • The transcript may be displayed as closed captions in the Zoom video or audio recording

The drawbacks of using Zoom’s built-in transcription are:

  • You can’t use it with a free account 

  • Enabling the feature is confusing 

  • The transcript doesn’t identify individual speakers alongside the timestamps, which means you’ll need to manually identify them for other people   

  • You can't view the transcript alongside the recording — they're separate files :(  

3 key benefits of transcribing meetings

Why would you want to transcribe a recorded Zoom meeting in the first place? After all, you have the video file and audio file. Isn’t that enough?

Here are some benefits to having a full meeting transcript. 

Easier to search

Searching a transcript for keywords is much easier than scrubbing through a video for the moments you need. 

Recording Zoom or Google Meet meetings is useful, but it’s a lot harder to search through a video recording when you don’t have time to watch the whole thing.

It’s easier to copy and paste relevant bits from a transcript for your meeting notes than to create video and audio clips. Tip: If you want to turn your meetings into searchable, shareable knowledge, Vowel is the tool for you! Instead of saving transcripts as separate files, it saves them alongside your videos and lets you search across all your meeting content — transcripts, notes, action items, and more.


Your virtual meetings aren’t just useful for attendees — they can also be repurposed for people who didn’t attend in real time, like new hires and leadership teams.  

Compared to Zoom cloud recordings, transcripts are a better way to keep a documentation archive. Text files are smaller in size so they save precious cloud storage space. They also transfer well through folders, tags, and links when you upload them in a knowledge management app.

Legal matters

For some companies, written records are a legal requirement. If you work for a public company with shareholders, for example, you need to produce meeting minutes for your board of directors. 

If you run meetings like those through a Zoom call, using the transcription feature means you can make sure the minutes capture exactly what people said. 

Even if you aren’t subject to regulatory requirements, a written record of meetings might be useful if any disagreements pop up.  

How to transcribe a Zoom meeting (without Zoom)

If you want to transcribe a meeting from the Zoom app but you don’t want to get a paid plan, you can still transcribe the meeting but you need to use another service. Here are three ways to do this:

1. Use an online transcription service

A quick and easy way to produce a transcript is to use an online transcription service. These services use your audio or video file to generate a transcript.

Some services, like Temi or Sonix, use automatic transcription powered by machine learning, while others have real humans transcribing the audio. Services like HappyScribe combine the two approaches. 

The upside of services like these is that you can, in general, give them any video or audio recording and get a transcript back. They typically charge per minute so you don’t need to get a subscription if you won’t be transcribing often. 

But there are two major downsides to online transcription services:

  • Automated transcription: Results may not be great if your audio isn’t excellent. If there’s background noise, the result won’t be very accurate. Some services don’t even do well with accents, which isn’t acceptable. 

  • Human transcription: Professional transcriptionists deal with lower-quality audio much better than AI does, but they also take longer. Expect to wait at least 24 hours before you get your transcription. 

2. Use a live transcription tool

If you don’t want to wait for the transcription, you can use a live transcription tool. Tools like Otter.ai and Grain work as Zoom integrations (a.k.a. add-ons). They generate the transcription during the meeting and send it to you afterward.

But both these tools add extra costs and require setup to connect with Zoom.

3. Use an all-in-one tool 😉

If all this talk about pricing plans, account settings, add-ons, integrations, and online services has you feeling overwhelmed, there's some good news: There’s one app that does it all, from meeting preparation to recording, transcribing, generating AI-powered meeting recaps, and more.

Vowel is a video-conferencing tool that lets you run way more productive meetings, automatic meeting transcription included. 

With Vowel, transcripts are created in real time (with 9 languages and 4 English dialects to choose from!) so you can get live transcription and speaker identification. The transcript is timestamped and synchronized with the recording — no separate files!

When you use Vowel, all meeting-related documents live together in one place, making meeting management hassle-free. No more hunting through various online storage and cloud drives to find your transcripts. 

When you compare it to Zoom, it lets you do everything out of the box — no need to rely on add-ons or external (and costly) services.

Vowel organize meetings folders GIF

Get real-time, accurate transcripts for all your meetings with Vowel

As we covered, meeting transcripts can become a pain if you have to use third-party transcription tools or add-ons. Not only do you have to spend more time setting them up, they also cost more because you need a monthly subscription on top of your regular video-conferencing costs.

And transcribing on Zoom, well...it's not great (just look at this founder who used to "Loom" his Zoom recordings to get a transcription!).

Use Vowel instead, and all your team members can have instant access to searchable, shareable knowledge. Did we mention no downloading or wait times?  It’s free to try, no credit card required — sign up now!