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Using the Voice Memo App on your iPhone For Travel Writing

Posted by on April 21, 2012

One of the worst things possible for a travel writer to experience happened to me recently when my computer somehow, even through my virus protection software, picked up a virus that virulently took over the machine. We tried and tried to get it wiped off but finally had to admit defeat and format the hard drive.

This was a painful reminder that I need to back up, back up, back up. Luckily we had all our vacation photos because Tom backs up everything and why aren’t I more like him? but I lost quite a bit of original work that I had done in Word and I lost all the iPhone pictures that I had just put on the computer and deleted from my phone. Tom does almost all the photography when we travel – he is just much better than me and I constantly forget about taking pictures. If it wasn’t for him, we would have no photos and the ones we did have would be pretty much crap.

The only exception is food photos. I take all the food photos when we are doing restaurant reviews. It’s quick and easy with my iPhone, I can use Twitpic and put them up on Twitter immediately, which the restaurants appreciate,  and I actually find it kind of fun.

This was really a blessing in disguise when I got ready to write my Wine Me, Dine Me post after the Great Virus Takeover of 2012 and realized I had no pictures and couldn’t remember exactly what we had eaten. They didn’t have a menu online to refresh my memory, they only had one professional picture of the demonstration kitchen and I couldn’t find any pictures online. I remembered the experience in detail but all I could remember about the food was that it was fabulous. When I went to write the post, I found I had made notes about each of the dishes! I never do this so I was thrilled to find that apparently I was prescient enough to realize my computer was going to crash. Apparently, I am a frakkin psychic. Then I realized I could get the pictures again that I had put on Twitpic so I was saved.

I was lucky that time but it made me realize I really need to take more notes. Only I hate taking notes. It’s really a pain when we are busy, busy, busy traveling and I may not have access to a computer during the day when we are touring around. I realize I could theoretically do it on my iPhone but who wants to take the time to type detailed notes on that eensy screen?

Then I was watching one of those crazy Siri commercials the other night and I thought man that might be kind of handy but what I really need is something where I could dictate some quickie notes like on a tape recorder and I thought tape recorder because apparently I am approximately 4,831 years old and then I thought man I bet there is an app for that.

Well, of course there is.

In fact, there are probably hundreds of them. But, after doing some research, I came to the conclusion that the Voice Memo app that comes with the iPhone is pretty much all I need. I have played with it a little bit and plan to use it on our next trip, but I thought I would share what I have learned in case anyone else is interested in taking some notes this way.

First, find your Utilities Folder. The Voice Memo app is in there. Click on it and open it up.

Voice Memo in Utilities Folder

To record, just press the red “Record” button there on the bottom left and start talking. From what I understand, you can record as much as two hours of narration.

Voice Memo app with Record Button

When you are finished recording, just click on the “Pause” button – the one with the two red lines. The record button turns into this when you start recording. If you are completely finished recording, click the “Stop” button – the black one on the right. Once you click on the “Stop” button, you can’t put any more in that recording so click “Pause” if you think you might want to add more. Click on the “Microphone” button on the right to see your recorded memos.

Pause and Stop buttons

Once you click “Stop”, your voice memo will automatically be saved on your phone. Depending on how you want to use it, you can leave it there or email it. When you open it in an email, it will automatically open in iTunes and you can use it from there.

Memos you have recorded


Email your notes


If you want to manipulate your voice memos before you email them, just click on the arrow beside one of them.

Trim your voice memos

If you have a bunch of voice memos – which I anticipate I will – it will be easier to organize them if you name each file. You can do this by clicking on the arrow beside the voice memo, then choosing “Custom”.

Click on Custom


Then just choose a name for each voice memo.

Now you have them organized and can use them as you want. As I say, I’ll be trying out this system on our next trip and I’m really interested to hear if you take notes this way or use some other audio app to do so. Thanks for comments about this idea!

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4 Responses to Using the Voice Memo App on your iPhone For Travel Writing

  1. Mark

    Agreed, it’s very useful, and so much better than trying to scribble notes in the back of a minibus bumping along an unmade road. I use QuickVoice which is a free iPhone app – pretty similar but I like it a bit better.

  2. inka

    I just love it when people are so technologically advanced like you. Dare I admit??? I don’t have an iphone.Even worse: I take notes by hand. There, I have confessed.
    inka recently posted..Gibraltar – more than banks and monkeys

  3. Ayngelina

    Very cool, do you have something that can transcribe them for you?
    Ayngelina recently posted..Who am I to judge?

    • Jan Ross

      I haven’t used any vocal transcribing apps, but I’m sure they are out there. Good idea!

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