Creating transcripts from YouTube videos

When you want to add content from a YouTube video into your Roam database, it can be very time-consuming to type out a transcript word-by-word. Below are two options that will speed up the process. Both have their own pros and cons.

Option 1: Use the video transcript provided by YouTube.

Option 2: Create a transcript using the Otter app after extracting an mp3 file from the YouTube video.

Option 1: Using transcripts from YouTube


This option uses the transcript available with the YouTube video.

When to use it

The best times to use this option are when:

  • you don’t want to spend money creating a transcript;
  • you want to transcribe a short excerpt from a video.


The benefits of this option are that:

  • the transcript appears in sync with the video as you watch it, so it’s easy to find the text you want;
  • for shorter excerpts, it’s a much quicker process than Option 2.


There are various drawbacks to this option:

  • some YouTube videos don’t have transcripts;
  • the transcript provided by YouTube doesn’t have any punctuation included, so you need to do this yourself;
  • it can prove very time-consuming to produce longer transcripts.

How to use it

a. Click on the three dots icon underneath the video you want the transcript from. Then, select ‘Open transcript’. The transcript will open to the right or underneath the video.

b. Click on the three dots icon on the top right-hand side of the video and you’re given the option to toggle the timestamps off.  As they appear on every single line, we recommend you toggle them off as keeping them complicates the editing.

c. Click at the beginning of the text you want to save and drag the cursor down until you’ve highlighted all the text required. Then, copy the highlighted text.

d. Paste the highlighted text into a text or document file and save it. This gives you a transcript that has line breaks at the end of each line. (These line breaks can be removed manually or by using sites like From here, you can edit and format the text — and then paste it into your Roam database.

Option 2: Using the Otter app to produce transcripts


This option involves:

a) extracting an mp3 file using a free program;

b) importing the mp3 file into Otter, which produces a transcript.

We are going to show you the process for using the 4K YouTube to mp3 app. The free version of the app allows 30 downloads a day. It also extracts an audio file from videos on other sites such as Vimeo, Instagram and Facebook.

Similar apps can be found here.

When to use it

This option is most useful for producing transcripts of longer videos.


The benefits of this option are that:

  • Otter produces a transcript with punctuation, which saves a great deal of time when editing;
  • Otter also differentiates between different speakers. While this feature doesn’t work 100% of the time, it works often enough to be very useful.


There are various drawbacks to using this option:

  • as it’s a slightly involved process, it’s only worth doing when you need a longer transcript;
  • a free Otter account only has very limited options for producing transcripts from mp3 file. So, if you are going to use it a lot, you will need to pay $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

How to use it

1. Extract an mp3 file of the video

a. Copy the YouTube link of the video you want the transcript from. Then, open up the 4K YouTube to mp3 app and click on the paste link icon. This will start the process to extract the mp3.

b. After a few minutes, the audio file will be extracted and put into a folder on your hard drive. If you move your cursor to the right of the video name, a Show in Folder icon will appear. Click on that to go to the folder where the mp3 file is stored.

c. You can specify the folder you want audio files to be saved in by going to Preferences. You can also choose the format (mp3, m4a or ogg) and the audio quality.


Step 2 of this processGetting the mp3 file transcribed by Otter — can be found on the Otter knowledge base page.

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