Knowing how to transcribe Google Hangouts meetings is helpful for businesses that need a written record of video meetings.
What is Google Hangouts?
Google Hangouts is a consumer-level, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service. Launched in 2013, it’s almost identical to the better-known Google Meets software. Before 2020, Google Hangouts was for personal use, whereas Google Meets was a paid, business-only service.
Both are now free to use for everyone, but Google has announced it’ll shut down Hangouts in November 2022, as it has been replaced by Meets and Chat. However, the steps given below will work for both video conferencing services.
Why Transcribe Google Hangouts Meetings?
At the most basic level, transcriptions are written versions of audio or video content. But why is this useful?
Having a transcription of a Google Hangouts meeting can be used for:
- Passing on notes. For example, if someone wasn’t present for the meeting, it’s an easier way of catching them up on the discussion.
- Creating marketing content. A text file can be turned into a blog post, YouTube video script, social media captions, or podcast content. While you might not just copy and paste the transcript, it’s easier to reference a written document than an audio file.
- Taking meeting minutes. Although meeting minutes are slightly different to a transcript, it still functions as a written log of the discussion.
- Improving efficiency. A transcription means meeting participants don’t have to take their own notes, allowing them to be more present for the actual discussion.
How to Transcribe a Google Hangouts Meeting
There are a couple of options for how to transcribe a Google Hangouts meeting, which are detailed below. The first step for creating a meeting transcription, though, is to record the meeting itself.
How to Record a Meeting on a Computer
Recording a Google Hangouts meeting on a computer is simple because the platform has a built-in recording feature. The steps are:
- Join the Hangouts meeting as usual through your desktop browser.
- Click on the 3 vertical dots in the top corner for the More menu.
- From there, click Record Meeting. Everything from this stage will be recorded.
- To stop it, go to the same menu and click Stop Recording.
- Hangouts will automatically save the file to your Google Drive.
How to Record a Meeting on a Smartphone or Tablet
There are 2 options for recording a Google Hangouts meeting on a mobile device. The first is to follow the steps above if you’re using the Hangouts app, which is likely the case on a tablet.
But, on a smartphone, you can also use the screen recording feature built in to your device. This is a simple process:
- Navigate to your device’s control center or drop-down settings menu.
- Find the Screen Recording option and tap it.
- When the meeting is finished, tap the same button to stop the recording.
How to Manually Transcribe a Google Hangouts Meeting
One option for transcribing your Hangouts meeting is to do it manually. This can be a long process, particularly if it’s a lengthy meeting with multiple speakers. Here’s a brief guide:
- Record the meeting. Follow the steps above to do so.
- Listen to the recording. Have an initial listen to the content to familiarize yourself with the speakers and topics. If possible, make a list of speakers.
- Begin transcribing. In the early stages, don’t focus on accuracy. Just try to get down as much content as possible. Ideally, add in line breaks when a new speaker takes over.
- Tidy up the transcription. This step is where you begin to finalize the transcription. Ensure speakers are divided properly and that your punctuation is correct. Listen out for potentially confusing words. For example, “there” and “their”.
- Add in timestamps. Providing you’ve got your speakers arranged properly, you can add in timestamps of when their section begins. Make sure it’s as accurate as possible, down to the second.
- Manual transcription is free and requires no extra software. Providing you have a word processor (such as Google Docs) and the recording, you don’t need anything else.
- If you’re a fast typist with good listening abilities, you could create a manual transcription in as few as 2 listens.
- Manual transcription can take a long time. For example, you might need to listen to the audio 4-5 times to get all the details.
- There’s no guarantee of accuracy. The transcription will only be as good as your spelling, grammar, and listening skills.
How to Automatically Transcribe a Google Hangouts Meeting
A second option is to use an automatic transcription platform, such as Transkriptor. The steps are as follows:
- Record the meeting.
- Upload the audio/video file to the transcription platform.
- Leave it to transcribe.
- Next, make any necessary edits.
- Finally, download in your desired text file format.
- Automatic transcription is quick and easy, as you don’t need to focus on accuracy yourself.
- Automatic platforms add timestamps and speakers, where available, which can be one of the more long-winded steps.
- Unclear audio could compromise the accuracy of your transcription.
- There may be confusion around certain unclear words, but these are easy to edit once the transcription is generated.
Frequently Asked Questions about Transcribing Google Hangouts Meetings
Turn on captions in the Settings and Accessibility menu. Find Live Captions and toggle on or off. Once turned on, captions will be generated and then recorded as part of the meeting file.
To export a text Hangouts conversation, go to Settings. Click on Chat and find the option that says Export. You can then download the text chat as a csv file, and any media in it will download as a zip file.
If you follow the steps above, you can export the file to your Gmail account. From there, you can download and print it as usual.