otter.ai is one of the more popular machine-driven transcription apps – and it’s easy to see why. The algorithms are good at transcribing speech, including distinguishing and identifying the people speaking. And if you use the Otter Assistant feature, it will be added to your calendar and Zoom, Teams, and Meet meetings that are on that calendar will be automatically transcribed, even if you’re not there.
While that can be useful – if your boss asks you what happened in a meeting, you can have the information even if you were playing word at that time – it can also be a problem. For example, what if you forgot (or didn’t notice) that the automatic feature was turned on and recorded a meeting that might contain sensitive information or should be private? (There have been several online complaints about this.) Recording such a meeting is not only rude, but can also violate the rules for the meeting – even if you don’t realize what Otter was doing.
It is possible that you have enabled Otter Assistant without realizing it. Around February 2023, Otter introduced the new feature with a pop-up configuration page inviting you to enable Otter Assistant, which would automatically take notes for any Zoom, Meet, or Teams meetings on your calendar. It included a toggle that offered to automatically share meeting notes with the people listed in your calendar event.
If you (like me) were in a hurry to get to a meeting, you may have shrugged, clicked “Enable Otter Assistant” and left it at that – not realizing that you had just given Otter permission to automatically start all record your meetings. (And if you didn’t turn off the “share meeting minutes” switch, you may have received some surprised emails from other meeting participants, too.)
While you cannot uninstall Otter Assistant, you can easily disable it in several ways. The first thing you should do is check if Otter Assistant is connected to your calendar. If so, you can unplug it. (Or plug it in, if you prefer.)
Disconnect Otter Assistant from your calendar
Otter can be connected to a Google calendar, Microsoft Outlook or an iOS calendar. To check if your account is linked to one of your calendars:
On a desktop
- On your main Otter page, click your profile icon at the top left of the page.
- click on Account settingsand select the Applications tab.
- At the bottom of the web page you will see the Connect calendars and contacts subheading. You will see subheadings for Google and Microsoft.
- If one of your calendars is connected to Otter, you’ll see the email associated with that address under the appropriate ecosystem. (For example, there’s a Gmail address under the Google subheading.) You can then click the Disconnect link to disconnect that calendar from Otter.
Of course, if you want to Otter to automatically cover a calendar event, it’s easy to set up by clicking Add next to your favorite ecosystem on the same page. But there is an easier way to do it.
Connect to a meeting from the Otter home page
You can link your Google or Microsoft calendars or your Zoom meetings right from Otter’s homepage.
- On the home page, you will see a calendar on the right with three buttons below it: Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and Zoom Meetings.
- Click the button for the service you want to connect to and provide the necessary permissions.
Prevent automatic recording
According to Otter’s support page, once you’ve linked your calendar, “by default, Otter Assistant will automatically join your Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams meetings.” If you don’t want it to join your meetings automatically, you can disable that feature so that it only records meetings if you allow it.
On a desktop
- Go to the as described above Account settings page.
- This time click the Meetings tab.
- Under the Otter Assistant subheading, search for Join all meetings automatically, and switch it to the Out position.
On a mobile device
- Tap the three parallel lines in the top left corner, then tap your ID box.
- Select Meeting settings and search for Otter Assistant. Depending on whether you use iOS or Android, the features available may vary, but you can switch between them Join all meetings automatically on or off.
Use the Otter Chrome extension
Otter has one Chrome extension that detects when you open a virtual meeting link in your browser and offers to record, transcribe and summarize your meeting each time your meeting starts via an automatic pop-up window. If you want to use Otter to record your meetings on-demand rather than automatically (and you’re using a Chromium-based browser like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge), this might be the best way to do it.
After installing the extension, if you start a meeting with Google Meet or with Zoom (using the Chrome browser), a popup will appear inviting you to “get automatic meeting overview” by enabling Otter Assistant .
There are two or three different things you can do at this point:
- You can click Add Otter assistant to enable the feature for this meeting and allow your meeting to be automatically recorded.
- You can check or uncheck a box that will allow Otter Assistant to join all other meetings. (The first time it came to mind for me, it was checked, so be aware if you don’t want it enabled for all of your meetings.)
- If you’re using Otter with Google Meet instead of Zoom, you have the option to click Record on my device so you can record your meeting manually.