First things first

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Transcribe video and audio

Dovetail’s built-in transcription and video highlights are a powerful way to share stories about your research and develop a repository of searchable audio and video clips.

Upload a video or audio recording you’ve taken from an interview, usability test, sales call, or product demo. Dovetail will process the recording into a fast, streamable format, and transcribe it using an advanced AI-powered speech engine. Then, create highlights (Highlight and tag project content) to turn your raw recording into tagged, searchable audio and video clips.

Get started with transcription

To upload a video or audio recording:

  1. Click Data in the sidebar.

  2. Click + Add data.

  3. Click the Video or Audio icon.

  4. Choose a file from your computer.

  5. Next to Transcribe this file, click Begin.

Your recording will be uploaded into a note and processed to ensure fast playback. The amount of time this takes depends on the length of the recording. In general, processing takes about 30% of the length of the file; e.g. a 60 minute recording will take approximately 20 minutes to process and transcribe.

You can close the note and continue using other parts of Dovetail while your file is uploading. You can safely leave Dovetail entirely (e.g. close the browser window or turn off your computer) while it’s processing and being transcribed, and come back later.

Change and rename speakers

While our AI speech-engine will attempt to automatically detect different speakers, it sometimes doesn’t get it right. You can change or rename the speaker for a monologue (a period of speech by one person) by clicking their name, which defaults to Speaker 1 and Speaker 2. Next, either select an existing speaker or create a new speaker. Changing the speaker there only changes it for the monologue, but renaming a speaker changes it everywhere it's used.

To rename speakers in an entire transcript, click the speaker name, then click the (···) menu to the right of the speaker name and either type a free-text name, link a person, or link a user.

Merge and split monologues

You can merge two monologues into one by placing your cursor at the start of the second monologue and pressing backspace. Similarly, you can split one monologue into two by placing your cursor inside and pressing enter.

Set custom thumbnails

When you upload a video to a note, Dovetail shows an early frame of the video as a thumbnail on your data board. To change this thumbnail:

  1. Play the video

  2. Click the Actions (···) menu in the top right of the video

  3. Click Save as cover to save the current frame as the note's thumbnail

Note that only the first video in a note can be used as its thumbnail and this feature isn't available in Safari.

Watch video with subtitles

Dovetail allows you to enable subtitles for videos for accessibility and easier sharing. Once enabled, subtitles will be displayed for all videos you watch until you disable it. To enable or disable subtitles:

  1. Hover your cursor on the video

  2. Click the closed caption icon in the lower right corner.

If you download a video, the subtitles will not be included.

Keyboard shortcuts

Dovetail provides a number of keyboard shortcuts to control the playback for audio and video. To see them, click the Actions (···) menu in the top right of a note, tag, or insight, then Shortcuts.

Supported file formats

Dovetail supports the following file formats:

Video formats:

  • mp4

  • mov

  • mpeg

  • avi

Audio formats:

  • mp3

  • m4a

  • wav

Supported languages

You can transcribe conversations 28 different languages and you'll receive a full native-language transcript back. The languages include:


When transcribing, simply select the language of your file and you'll get a transcript back within minutes.

Import your own transcript

For when you need human-level accuracy with your transcripts, or to analyze conversations in a language that we don't yet support – we've also added the option to bring your own transcript (in the form of a caption file) into Dovetail.

We support importing any WebVTT (Web Video Text Tracks) caption file. When you upload a .vtt caption file, we'll use the caption timestamps to sync with playback with your video or audio file.

For human-level accuracy, we recommend using's captioning services who are able to supply a compatible .vtt file for use in Dovetail once one of their skilled transcriptionists finish your job. If you have a non-compatible .srt caption file, you can convert this to a compatible .vtt file using Rev's free caption converter.

To import your own transcript:

  1. Click the ••• button on a video or audio file.

  2. Click Upload transcript.

  3. Select a compatible .vtt file from your system.

  4. Your transcript will be uploaded and processed by us.

Note: When importing .vtt files the speaker names must be formatted as <v NAME > in order for Dovetail to correctly extract the speaker name.

Tips for optimal results

Here are a few tips to improve the quality of your recordings and transcript:

  • Record in a quiet setting with minimal background noise.

  • Invest in quality recording equipment, such as a microphone or recorder.

  • Speak clearly, loudly, and slowly.

  • Avoid talking over other people.

Custom vocabulary

To improve the accuracy of transcripts you can submit a list of custom words or phrases that are not found in a dictionary (for example company names or industry jargon) before starting a transcription.

To avoid having to type out the terms every time before a transcription, you can save a list of up to 100 words or phrases within an individual project, or workspace admins can create a global list of terms within workspace settings, for use in all projects.

There are two ways to save new vocabulary within a project.

Add new custom words and phrases when transcribing videos. These will automatically be saved and used for future transcriptions within the project.

Alternatively, add or remove custom words and phrases from Project Settings.

  1. Open a project.

  2. Click Settings.

  3. Select Transcription.

  4. Under Custom vocabulary, add or remove words.

Creating a global custom vocabulary

Workspace admins can save custom words and phrases for use across all projects. To do so:

  1. Click your profile photo in the top right of the screen.

  2. Click Settings.

  3. Click Transcription.

  4. Add or remove words under Custom Vocabulary.

Find and replace words and phrases

If you miss entering a custom word before transcription, or our Ai engine misidentifies a term, you can find and replace words and phrases within a transcript at any time from the editor toolbar.

How our model is trained

The AI speech engine we use is trained on 50,000+ hours of human-transcribed content across a diversity of topics, industries, and accents. This makes our transcripts some of the most accurate available.

Transcription usage

Each pricing plan includes a number of hours that are used monthly.

At the moment, we are not enforcing the limit of hours and are monitoring excess usage and customer feedback to understand the right amount of hours to include in each plan.

Once we've finalized the number of included hours in each plan, we will include a way to purchase additional hours when you reach the advertised limit. The cost will be $9 USD per additional hour.

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Kai Forsyth

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David Richard

Senior Software Engineer

Article info

Last updated 5 December 2021
6 min read

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