How I Transcribe Apple Watch Voice Memos

Published June 13, 2023

Ever since I purchased the Apple Watch, I’ve been experimenting with it to help me become more efficient in carrying out my daily tasks and workflow. Voice Memo DictationThe dictation feature is especially useful. However, there are two challenges I’ve run into with using the watch for dictation. The first is reminding myself to actually listen to the notes I’ve collected throughout the day. The second is transcribing the recorded dictation.

Sometimes ideas for articles hit me, and I begin writing them in my head. These ideas strike at any given time, and I’m not always near my tablet or computer to start typing. As such, having a digital recorder allows me to begin writing a rough draft of the article. On those occasions, transcribing the dictation becomes more important than the random reminders of things to get from the grocery store.

Wish List: Voice Memo to Transcribe Button

It would be great to dictate and tap a “Transcribe” button to have it done on the fly. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I searched through the watch, iPhone, iPad, and Mac to find such a feature, and I couldn’t find it. I also combed the internet for a quick, one-stop-shopping way to get it done, to no avail. iOS does not seem to have a built-in transcription program for Voice Memos, so I had to find an alternative.

Dick Tracy

My Voice Memo Transcription Workflow

Most often, I dictate to Voice Memo from my watch. More than my phone, my watch is with me all the time. I’ve had several “Dick Tracy” moments when capturing ideas or dictating articles. Below are the current steps I take to have my utterances transcribed:

  1. Record dictation on the watch or iPhone. iOS saves the dictation so I can access it through the Voice Memo app.

  2. Share dictated files with iCloud. I created a folder called Voice Recordings. There is where I place all recordings I wish to transcribe. You can also save the files locally if you don’t want to share the files between devices.

  3. Open a third-party app. In my case, I use the Dictate app.

  4. Dictate
  5. Once in the Dictation app, I tap Transcribe File. It opens the file search window for me to navigate to the recorded dictation.

  6. After tapping the file I want to be transcribed, The Dictation app allows me to select whether or not I want an accurate or quick transcription. I usually select accuracy option.

  7. Dictate transcribes the file. I double check it for accuracy and decide what to do with the transcribed text. Dictation allows me to Share the file with the app of my choice. I usually either save or copy the file for pasting elsewhere.

Alternatives to My Workflow

There are ways to transcribe recordings by uploading them to Google Drive and then transcribing them with Google Docs. I didn’t want that. I wanted something I could do locally without uploading things to Google. There’s also a feature in Word for transcribing, but since I’m usually working from an iPad, that doesn’t work for me.

If you search through YouTube, there are several ways to transcribe Voice Memos to text. However, since the Dictate app has worked best for me, there is no need for me to change what’s working.


BTW, rumor has it that in the next iOS update (iOS 17), there should be a marked improvement in transcribing Voice Memos. If that is the case, I’ll be a happy camper. However, if Apple doesn't make transcribing memos easier, I’ll continue with this workflow.

Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low-tech blogger.

Last Modified: 2 September 2023

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