A Guide to Selecting the Best Free Transcription Software + Alternatives

Published on
July 14, 2023

Transcription software can play a significant role in the productivity of team meetings. It helps document conversations, highlight key takeaways, and ensure that no critical information gets lost in the ether.

However, not all transcription tools are created equal. Particularly in agile environments, where the pace is quick and the need for actionable insights is high, standard transcription software can fall short. (What's worse than sitting through a too-long meeting? Having to read the full transcript after.)

These meeting tools, while useful for simple transcription, often lack the more sophisticated features that agile teams need for a truly efficient workflow. So, while you might start exploring free transcription software options, you'll soon realize that you need more than just the word-for-word transcriptions - you need contextual insights, updates, and real-time documentation of action items.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the advantages and limitations of free transcription software, examine why you might need a more comprehensive solution, and introduce a robust alternative that supports agile teams' needs better. Let's dive in and explore how to elevate the efficiency and effectiveness of your agile meetings!

Free transcription tools to know

If you're diving into the world of transcription, there are several free tools that might catch your eye. These platforms can serve as a solid starting point if you're looking to simply transcribe your team's meetings. However, as we'll see, they may not fully cater to the unique demands of an agile environment. Let's get to know them a bit better:


Descript is a versatile audio and video editing software that encompasses transcription capabilities, making it an all-in-one solution. It excels in recording and transcribing meetings, interviews, and any other video or audio content. Powered by AI, Descript's transcription engine ensures accurate transcriptions even in challenging audio conditions. The software makes editing a video as simple as editing a word doc, allowing for simple error corrections or making soundbites a breeze.

Descript has several notable features. Automatic transcription eliminates the need for manual typing by transcribing video files and audio files automatically. Collaboration options enable seamless teamwork on videos or transcripts for efficient project collaboration.

The editing functionality empowers users to make precise modification to transcripts, voiceovers and videos. Descript also offers overdub capabilities, facilitating audio replacement or improvement, along with a sound effects library for enhancing your recordings.


Fireflies.ai, an AI-powered meeting assistant, can help streamline your meetings by recording, transcribing, and summarizing them into chapters. With additional features for note-taking, file sharing, and team collaboration.

With Fireflies, you can get automatic recording and full transcription, enabling you to capture meeting details without manual note-taking. Customizable settings allow tailoring of summary length, level of detail, and tracked keywords to meet individual needs. The result is a play-by-play of each meeting available by logging into Fireflies web app.


Otter.ai is the same as Fireflies. It utilizes OpenAI API to create voice-to-text transcription. It facilitates accurate transcriptions of audio recordings, live meetings, and phone calls. Otter.ai's transcriptions can be conveniently exported in various formats and offer collaborative and editing features for enhanced productivity. The key difference with Otter is that you can add a note manually to specific slides while you're in the meeting. And the assets you discuss in the meeting (like PowerPoints) are provided in context with your full transcription.


Riverside.fm simplifies the process of recording and producing high-quality audio and video content, serving as a virtual recording studio. It offers a range of impressive features, including HD audio and video recording, automatic transcription, real-time collaboration, cloud storage, and seamless publishing to social media platforms. Whether you're a podcaster, musician, entrepreneur, or content creator, Riverside.fm is a viable choice, enabling you to consistently create professional-grade audio and video content.


oTranscribe is a free and open-source transcription software that is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It can be used to transcribe audio recordings, live meetings, and phone calls. oTranscribe's transcription engine is powered by Google Cloud, so it can accurately transcribe even noisy or difficult-to-understand audio. oTranscribe also allows you to edit the transcript, so you can correct any errors or make changes to the formatting.


Harnessing the capabilities of artificial intelligence, Vowel excels in accurately transcribing various audio sources, be it recorded audio, live meetings, or phone calls. With Vowel, you can rely on its precision and flexibility, exporting transcriptions in diverse formats. Vowel offers collaborative features and editing functionalities, making it a versatile tool for content refinement.

Is basic transcription enough for your team?

While transcription services might seem like a magic bullet for your meeting needs, it's important to remember that they are just a single piece of the puzzle. Yes, they can convert speech into text, but that's just scratching the surface of what you need from a productive agile meeting. Let's dig deeper into why transcription alone might not cut it for you.

Lack of project context

One significant limitation of free transcription software is the lack of contextual understanding. Sure, it can jot down every word said in a meeting, but it's not enough to just know the words; you need to understand their meaning within the context of your project. Trudging through heaps of transcripts to extract context can consume a huge chunk of your precious time, a resource agile teams always wish they had more of.

Actions lost in a sea of words

Transcriptions give you a verbatim account of what was said, but they don't always facilitate collaborative note-taking. In an Agile meeting, it's essential to capture decisions, assign tasks, and keep track of critical issues. Transcriptions can often miss these points, buried within the sea of text. So you're left with a document that's high on volume but low on utility.

Insufficient action item tracking

If there's one thing agile meetings are never short of, it's action items. And free transcription software is not cut out for tracking them effectively. Sure, it can document the tasks assigned during a meeting, but what about following up? Tracking progress? Integrating with project management tools? Unfortunately, transcription services often lack these essential capabilities.

Lack of integration with existing tools

If there's one thing agile meetings are never short of, it's action items. And free transcription software is not cut out for tracking them effectively. Sure, it can document the tasks assigned during a meeting, but what about following up? Tracking progress? Integrating with project management tools? Unfortunately, transcription services often lack these essential capabilities.

No meeting summaries and highlights

After an extensive discussion, the last thing you want is to go through a detailed transcript to figure out the meeting's key takeaways. Unfortunately, that's what you're left with when using many of these transcription services. They lack the ability to automatically generate a succinct meeting summary or highlight the important parts. And let's face it, in the fast-paced agile environment, who has the time for that?

Spinach.io: The best alternative to basic transcription software

Meet Spinach, your very own AI Project Manager, purpose-built to accelerate dev teams. Unlike simple transcription tools, Spinach is all about understanding the core purpose of your agile meetings, taking notes, tracking actions, linking to existing tickets for project context, and even creating new tickets based on your discussion. But how does it do all that? Let's unravel its superpowers one by one!

AI-powered meeting summaries

With Spinach, you get the gist of the meeting without wading through mountains of text. Its AI-powered meeting summaries don't just document the conversation chronologically; they capture key decisions and action items, categorized and neatly presented, so nothing slips through the cracks. And the best part? You get all this directly in Slack, where your team is already working. No more hopping between apps or sifting through long-winded play-by-plays.

Generating action items

It’s AI capabilities don't stop at providing summaries. It goes a step further, generating action items from the meeting, assigning an owner to each, and shooting them directly into your Slack. Every team member gets their own To-Do List, ensuring everyone knows exactly what they need to do next. Now, even if you miss a meeting, you're never out of the loop, thanks to Spinach!

Ticket creation

Found a bug during your meeting? Discussed a new task? Spinach's got your back! It cleverly picks up these discussions and suggests relevant tickets. You can review and edit these suggested tickets directly in Slack, and with just a click, add them to your project board. Plus, the corresponding ticket is linked in your summary and action items, giving you all the context you need for future discussions.


Spinach isn't just smart; it's also sociable! It integrates seamlessly with your existing work tools, making it a cohesive part of your work environment. Here are some of the integrations Spinach supports:

  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Notion
  • Google Docs
  • Trello
  • Linear
  • Cisco Webex
  • Google Meet
  • Slack
  • Confluence
  • Jira
  • Asana
  • ClickUp

Get more than transcription with Spinach.io

While free transcription software tools can certainly document your meetings, Spinach.io goes a step further by offering AI-powered meeting summaries, tracking action items, and suggesting tickets. It's built for Agile teams, just like yours, that need more than simple transcriptions. With Spinach, your meetings become a breeding ground for efficiency and productivity, and your team never loses sight of the action items and decisions.

Why spend hours scrolling through transcripts when you can get a smart, concise summary directly in Slack? Stop missing out on the context and start embracing structured, efficient, and productive meetings.

Ready to power up your meetings? Get started today!

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