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TotalRecall in action. Click to embiggen.

An easy-to-use tool for quickly annotating audio files


Penn TotalRecall is designed for precise scoring and timing of participant responses during verbal tasks, especially Free Recall. However, it can be used for many kinds of audio annotation. TotalRecall displays an audio recording as a self-scrolling waveform that automatically keeps up with audio playback.

TotalRecall is used on a daily basis by many in the Computational Memory Lab. Support and maintenance will continue indefinitely with new features being added as needed.


Operating System Type
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Mac OSX Mac OSX App
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Linux Debian Package
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Windows Windows Installer
Github icon.png Source Code

Getting started

Download the file for your platform.


  • Mac: Unzip This should automatically happen when you click it in your downloads. Then move into the Applications folder.
  • Linux: Double click the .deb file and click Install Package.
  • Windows: Double click the .exe file and follow the instructions.

Now try running the program:

  • Mac: search for Penn TotalRecall in Spotlight, or double click in Finder by going to the Applications folder.
  • Linux: on Ubuntu you can find Penn TotalRecall in the Applications --> Accessories menu.
  • Windows: you can find Penn TotalRecall in the start menu as usual. There should also be an icon on your desktop.

Try opening the wave file provided in this samples folder.

Check the menu items for actions and keybindings available to the user. Also check Help --> Key Bindings.

10.7 (Lion) and later

The "Gatekeeper" function in OS X is designed to keep your system safe from potentially harmful software. Unfortunately, they may also prevent you from opening "unsigned" applications like TotalRecall.

If you are unable to open TotalRecall on your Mac OS X system, please do the following:

  1. Go into System Preferences, then click Security & Privacy.
    Gatekeeper1.png(click to enlarge)
  2. Click the General tab, and select Anywhere under Allow applications downloaded from.
    Gatekeeper2.png(click to enlarge)
    Note: You may need to authenticate as an administrator.
  3. Open the TotalRecall application package. You may be warned about opening it for the first time.
  4. After it opens for the first time, you may return the setting that you changed in Step 2 above to its previous selection if desired.

Special thanks to Matt Mollison for noticing this problem, and finding a solution.

Video tutorials and written annotation guide

Our full guide to annotation and video tutorials explain proper use of TotalRecall, along with our internal annotation methods.

System requirements

TotalRecall currently runs on Mac OSX, Linux and Windows. We plan to test and support these configurations, but the program may work on others.

TotalRecall requires a Java Runtime Environment, version 5 or higher. Most computers come with Java pre-installed, so you can probably download and run the program without worrying about system requirements. If it turns out you don't have Java, you can download it free here.

Support, contact, and bug reports

Please feel free to contact us at: memory - software @ psych . upenn . edu (remove all the spaces).

Thank you for taking the time to improve Penn TotalRecall!

Data analysis

We also provide our Behavioral Toolbox, a collection of MATLAB functions useful for analyzing the output of TotalRecall.


Please visit our development page.

For developers, please also visit our TotalRecall/Build page.