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I tried, but my voice memo gets paused. If this isn't possible, is there any way to import voice memos to ipod (kind of workaround)?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Since Voice Memos both plays and records audio, and recording can't be done in the background as far as I know, then the whole app does not work in the background. That sounds more like a design decision to me, rather than a technical limitation. In theory, Apple could have made the playing audio part of Voice Memos to work in the background.

A very long-winded way to get to do what you need is to import the voice memos to your iTunes library. In iTunes, select your iPhone from the Devices list. One of the tabs (probably Music or Info) has a checkbox that will enable transferring voice memos into iTunes. When this is enabled and you sync your device, the voice memos get imported and a playlist titled "Voice Memos" is created.

At this point, those audio files and the "Voice Memos" playlist should act like any other. You could, for instance, get to the audio files from the "Voice Memos" playlist and then set the metadata for each file by right-clicking it and selecting the Get Info dialog. Useful voice memos can be set to a Media Type of Audiobook--which makes them available to you as audiobooks in the iPod app.

If you make them Audiobooks or basically do anything that sends them to the iPod app; then you could play them in the background while you open your note-taking app of choice.

You do not need to set them as audiobooks, though. Once they're in the voice memos playlist; then you can sync the playlist as you would any other. The caveat is that without metadata, it becomes hard to find the files in the iPod app. In iTunes, for instance, they show either with a blank artist name or with an artist name of "Untitled". That is why I strongly suggest adding metadata ASAP.

I am just reminded of Dragon Naturally Speaking and Dragon Dictate. I do not have them, but I have heard nothing but great things about them. You may try their apps (one of them is free, I believe). They may offer you better features over the included Voice Memos app. I've seen screenshots where it looks like in addition to having a record option, the UI also has a text field for you to type on.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks... will try these apps out. – Ankush Jul 27 '11 at 16:58

There is one way, and it only works on IOS 5 (or higher - you need to see the camera button when you press twice the home button when the iphone is locked).

To be able to listen to your voice memos while doing something else, you need to:

  1. Start the recording.
  2. Lock the screen (without pressing anything else) - this way your recording continues to play.
  3. Double press the home button. (the camera icon will appear on bottom right)
  4. Open the camera.
  5. Press the home button - and now you can do anything while the memo continues playing.

Hope this helps. All the best!

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This works on iOS 8.1 perfectly. – ProductionValues May 30 '15 at 8:25

So hours and hour later i have worked out how to listen to my voice memos in iTunes app on my iPhone 5 - i managed to sync them from the voice memos app to my itunes library on my mac but then could not get them back onto my phone to be able to listen to them.

Once you have them in your iTunes library they will appear in a 'Voice Memos' folder

  1. copy the songs into a new playlist
  2. select all the files that you want to sync
  3. right click on them and go to 'go info'
  4. on the options tab change the media kind from voice memo to music
  5. plug phone back in and resync.

This got all my voice memos to appear like songs in a separate playlist under the itunes app.

Finally :)

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Christian, your suggestion doesn't work anymore since iPhone update to v4.2.1. The "voice memo" playlist appears in iTunes on the computer but doesn't appear in the phone (unless you search for it) and voice memos are not synchronised anyway.

The only solution is to sync the memo from the iPhone to the computer, select the voice memo you want on your phone, go to “Advanced” and select “Create MP3 Version”. Then put that mp3 version in the playlist of your choice and voilà!

PS: you can use the same trick with podcasts episodes if you want to keep some of them when the original podcast episodes get deleted. PPS: be aware that copying the physical file and adding the copy to iTunes doesn't work neither for podcasts nor memos, you have to alter the file if you want the get the copy added in your iPhone music app and prevent it from being deleted if you get rid of the original.


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  1. Share the voice mail to your email which is linked to your iPhone. It will change it to an m4a.
  2. Open the file from your email.
  3. Press play.
  4. Press the home button. The memo will continue playing.
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Basically it's already been said, though it's a bit different in iOS 6 & iOS 7:

  1. Open Voice Memos.
  2. Start listening to one of your recordings.
  3. Lock your iPhone.
  4. Wake your iPhone, and stay on the lock screen.
  5. Slide up on the camera, but don't take a picture.
  6. Press the home button.

Source: Snapguide: How to Listen to a Voice Memo in the Background (iPhone)

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If you are texting someone, on text free for your iPod, go to your voice memos, select the memo you want and then not completely turn it off but just push the button and when that person texts you back it will show up on your screen then, when you unlock your iPod, it will go straight to text free, then from there you can push the home button and the voice memo will still be playing. I know it's complicated but it works for me. If you need more explanation, just ask.

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