Audio and video

You can import audio and video files into NVivo and code and annotate time ranges or transcribed text.

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).

Video file with media and transcript.

1Media—video content is displayed here

2Player controls—use these controls to play, pause and rewind.

3Media timeline—you can code the media using the timeline.

4Transcript—you can import a transcript or play and transcribe the media in NVivo.

5Transcript and selection controls—use these controls to interact with the transcript or to select a part of the media as it plays.

What types of media file can I import?

NVivo for Mac allows you to import media files that have been generated in a variety of ways.

Video formats

  • MOV format that was recorded on mobile iOS devices
  • MP4 format that was recorded on Android or Windows Mobile 8 phones
  • MOV format that was exported from QuickTime on a Mac (macOS 10.7.5 and later)
  • AVI format that was exported from Windows software

Audio formats

  • M4A format that was exported from QuickTime on a Mac (macOS 10.7.5 and later)
  • MP3 format
  • WAV format


You may find that you can import media files generated on other devices and operating systems.

If you have difficulty importing a particular:

  • video file, you could try converting the file to MP4 format using HandBrake—a free and open-source transcoder for digital video files.
  • audio or video file, you could try opening the file in QuickTime Player, exporting it using the default settings, and then importing it into NVivo.

Import an audio or video file

  1. In the Navigation View, click the Data folder that you want to import the audio or video into.
  2. On the Import tab, click Files and then Audio or Video.
  3. Select the file you want to import and click Import.
  4. (Optional) Change the name or enter a description of the audio or video.
    NOTE If you cannot see the Audio or Video Properties, click the disclosure triangle and then 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.
  5. Click Done.

NOTE  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.
  • 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

In audio and video sources you can code:

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

Click the Undock icon (in the top right of the Detail View) to open the file in the Detail View into its own window, making more space to work. See Customize the workspace

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.

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 NVivo audio or video file without importing the actual media file. You can work on the transcript and import the file later on.

In the blank area of the List View, open the context menu and select New File > Audio or Video.

The new audio or video file is opened in edit mode and you can add content to the transcript.

Where are media files stored?

The media content in an imported audio or video file can be embedded in the project or stored outside the project on your computer or network. Saving outside the project is useful if you have many or large files—if stored in the project it can impact project performance. If you move an externally stored media file, you need to update its link to the NVivo audio or video file.

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