Audio and video files

You can import audio and video files into NVivo and code and annotate time ranges or transcribed text. YouTube videos are also handled.

Video and audio files consist of the media file itself and, optionally, a text 'transcript'. This can be a transcription of the spoken words, notes you have made, or a combination of both. Transcripts are displayed in tables identifying time ranges within the media.

You can import transcripts or create them in NVivo.

NOTE  NVivo Transcription is an automated, online transcription service integrated into NVivo. It provides accurate, real-time transcripts delivered directly into the program.

Opened video files are displayed in three sections, as shown below (the video section is not present for audio files).

1Audio timeline—a timeline of the file's audio. Select time ranges to code or annotate here.

2Video—for videos only, displays the video in sync with the audio timeline above.

3Transcript—text associated with the media file, displayed in timestamped rows. You can edit the text and code and annotate it here. If required, add columns to show additional information—for example, speakers (see Add custom fields to transcripts).

What media file formats can I import?


  • MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 format (mp3)
  • MPEG-4 audio format (m4a)
  • Microsoft Windows Media formats (wma, wav)


  • MPEG formats (mpg, mpeg, mpe, mp4)
  • Windows Media formats ( avi, wmv)
  • QuickTime formats (mov, qt)
  • 3G Mobile Phone format (3gp)
  • AVCHD High Definition Video formats (mts, m2ts)


NVivo relies on third-party codec software to decode media files. If suitable codecs are not installed on your computer you will not be able to import some files, even if they are in supported formats. In this case you need to install a suitable codec pack.

We suggest a package such as K-Lite Basic:

NOTE  The link above opens Windows/File Explorer to immediately start the download. Or you can go to the K-Lite download site here:

Alternatively, any of the codec packages at this Softpedia web site should work.

After installing a codec pack, close and reopen NVivo and try importing your files again. If the issue persists, try another codec pack.

DISCLAIMER   QSR provides the sites linked to above as a convenience and their inclusion does not imply approval or support by QSR. As the sites are outside QSR’s control, you therefore agree that QSR is not responsible for their contents, any links they contain or any changes made to them.

Import an audio or video file

  1. In Navigation View, click the name of the files folder that you want to import the audio or video into.
  2. On the Import tab, in the Data group, click Files.
  3. Browse for and select the file you want to import.
  4. Click the Open button.
  5. Click OK.
  6. (Optional) Change the name or enter a description of the audio or video file.
  7. (Optional) Click the Audio or Video tab to set options for storing the media file—you can embed it in the project or store it outside the project on your computer or a network.
  8. Click OK.


  • If you receive a message indicating that the media file cannot be imported, check that it is in a supported format. If it is, you may need codec software.
  • If the audio or video contains the responses of a particular case, you may want to code the entire media file at a new case node—click the More button, and then select the Code files at case nodes located under check box.
    • The new case nodes are added at the root level of the Nodes folder, unless you click Select and specify an alternative location.
    • If you want to classify the new case nodes—click the Select button and choose the classification. All attributes will be set to default values.
  • You can import multiple files at the same time.

What can I do in an audio or video file?

When working in an audio or video file you can:

  • Create a transcript—you can transcribe the media in NVivo yourself, you can import an existing transcript, or you can have your media file transcribed using the integrated transcription service NVivo Transcription. If you don't need a transcript, you can leave it blank (and hide it if you want to).
  • Play, pause, forward and rewind the media—you can go to an exact location using the timeline
  • Code the media directly on the timeline or code the text in the Content column of the transcript
  • Annotate the media directly on the timeline or annotate text in the Content column of the transcript.
  • Create see also links from the timeline or text in the Content column of the transcript

In audio and video sources you can code:

  • A section of the media via the timeline
  • Text in the Content column of a transcript

Can I work with the transcript only?

You can work with a transcript, even if the audio or video is not available. For example, if:

  • You are working in the field and the media is stored on a network drive at the office.
  • You are working with a video file containing YouTube content, but are not connected to the Internet.

When you open an existing audio or video file where the content is not available, you are prompted to work without the audio or video. If you choose this option, the file opens and you can work with the transcript.

You can also create an audio or video file without the media content. This is useful in situations where you have a transcript, but do not have the original recording.

Work on the transcript and import media content later

You can create an audio or video file without importing the media file. This is useful if you want to work on the transcript and import the file later on.

Where are media files stored?

The media content in an imported audio/video file can be embedded in the project or stored outside of the project on your computer or network. Storing media outside of the project is useful when you are dealing with many or very large media files—embedding large files can impact on project performance. If you subsequently move the media file to another location on your computer or network, you will need to re-link it.

The way you work with audio and video (coding, linking and annotating) is the same whether the media file is embedded or stored outside the project.

Working with YouTube videos

A YouTube video is not embedded in the project or stored on your computer or network. The video file has a link to the video on YouTube.

You need an Internet connection and Internet Explorer 10 (or later) to play the video in NVivo. You can still work with the video transcript (if you have created one) without an internet connection.

You can work with a video file from YouTube in the same way as you would a video file containing imported media—however, there are few minor differences. For videos files from YouTube:

  • You cannot display a waveform.
  • You cannot adjust the playback speed.
  • The video size always scales to fit the player window.

NOTE  You cannot embed a YouTube video in NVivo. You create a video file that links to the original content on the YouTube website. This is a restriction that is imposed by YouTube.