Addictive Tool – Sony IC Voice Recorder

As a recent acolyte to the Getting Things Done (GTD) movement — living my life around to-do lists, inboxes, and open loops (read David Allen’s book) — I am always looking way to squeeze the most of the temporal situation. One of Allen’s tips is to organize to-do lists around settings, ie, have a seperate to-do list for when you’re home, running around doing errands, and another for when you are at your desk. Segment the items to the time and setting. Clear your inbox and catch up on reading on a long flight. Make phone calls at your desk when you have an open hour.

Car time is an interesting gap to try to fill. I use my commute to listen to podcasts, return some phone calls (I don’t use a headset and drive a stick-shift, so phoning is not my preferred activity), and thanks to a four-year old device, get some serious work done.

The device of which I speak is the Sony IC Recorder, specifically the ICD-MS1, which I purchased over the summer of 2000 when I joined McKinsey and had the crazed idea that I could use voice recognition software to dictate a novel. (voice recognition is well and good if you train it, but the amount of background noise in a car makes the recognition difficult at best).

The device gathered dust until I read Allen’s book and started using it to dictate my daily to-do list on the ride into work. The controls are intuitive enough to figure out in the dark. I hit record and blurt out whatever random thing I need to do into the microphone, hit pause, think for a second or two, hit pause again and blurt out another item. When I get to my desk I pop out the Sony Memory stick, stick it into an external USB drive, open up the voice recorder software on my Thinkpad, and transcribe the results into a Microsoft One-Note list.

It was pretty expensive at the time — more than $200 — but has paid for itself over the past three months.


Definitely a keeper and I’m sure Sony has a more modern version somewhere in its catalogue. A microcassette recorder would work as well, but the software that Sony provides is very amenable to transcription, with slow-down functions and the ability to archive files into folders. 

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Addictive Tool – Sony IC Voice Recorder”

  1. I found your site when looking for instructions on the use of my ICD-MS1, a very fine instrument, excellent for note taking while driving. I have been away from it for quite a while and now could use a brushing up on the fine points of its functions. Other sites on the Google list will be tried to this end. Thanks for your interesting comments anyway.

  2. Hello Chuck
    I too have a Sony IC Recorder ICD-MS1 and would like to use it with IBM Via Voice. Do you have any pointers as to how I can use the recorder with Via Voice

  3. Brian,
    I no longer use the Sony IC recorder for transcription — it was simply too much effort to train the software to react with sufficient accuracy — I do use it for quick note taking. I used the Dragon product, not Via Voice, but imagine the drivers for making it work with IBM’s product are available from Sony.

  4. I too am a fan. I need a larger (than 16mb) memory stick or more of them. Do you have a source for them?

    Thank you,

  5. Hi,

    I’d like to know how to change the “Authentication Key”. I use the Voice Edting 2.0 with my Panasonic RR-US450. Unfortunately I forgot the old Key. I need help to tranfer my files, the IC recorder is full.

    Thanks in advance

    Davi (

  6. Hi,

    I’d like to know how to change the “Authentication Key”. I use the Voice Edting 2.0 with my Panasonic RR-US450. Unfortunately I forgot the old Key. I need help to tranfer my files, the IC recorder is full.

    Thank you.

  7. The Panasonic instructions says,

    “To reassign the IC recorder authentication key settings, unplug and then plug in the USB plug.”

    If this isn’t what you need, you can always contact Panasonic at their customer service telephone number or email address.

    Good luck,


  8. Same problem, i have never entered any authentication key… so what do i do? unplugging and plugging back in does nothing 4 me… help. thanks.

  9. Hi, I have the same problem. The only folder you can never touch again is the secure folder. When the authentication window pops up, put in a fake authentication key. It will tell you it’s the wrong key, but you will still be able to use the other folders, including the dictation folder, hope that helps. Remember you have to use that “transfer” button at the bottom left, and then use that drop down list to see your files.

  10. I changed my computer to a new one, and the new instalation of the Voice Editing 2.0 says an AUTHENTICATION KEY has already been configured in the IC recorder. Unfortunately I forgot the old Key. How can I recover the files in my IC recorder then ?

  11. Same Authentication Key problem as anyone else, Really hoping someone from panasonic reads this and realizes that it was just a bad idea! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  12. Hey guys, I have Panasonic RR-US450, I had the same problem but I SOLVED IT!!! Here is how to assign a new key:

    1: Update:

    What you need to do is unistall the driver for the device and reinstall it using the CD.

    1. With the device connected go to the control panel
    2. Search “driver” in the search box at the top right hand side of the screen
    3. Choose the “device manager” option. If a pop up appears just choose continue.
    4. At the bottom of the list open the menu for the “Universal Serial Bus Controllors” if it is not already open.
    5. Double click on the “Panasonic IC Recorder” choice to open a new menu
    6. Click on the “driver” tab
    7. At the bottom of the list is the “uninstall driver (Advanced)” button, click it
    8. After the driver is uninstalled disconnect the device from the PC
    9. Reconnect the device, and it will bring up a new pop up. Choose the “Install Driver” option, it should be the first
    10. It will then ask you to insert the CD that came with the device, just insert disc 1 in to the CD tray

    Thanks to Megzthegreat!

    After reinstalling the drivers, open Voice Editing and the program will ask you to assign a new key! I’m sure you can figure out the rest!

  13. Thanks Gabe. It worked for me too. I just don’t use the “secret” folder and that’s allright, I have nothing to hide.

  14. Hi,

    I’d like to know how to change the “Authentication Key”. I use the Voice Edting 2.0 with my Panasonic RR-US450. I forgot the old Key. I need help to tranfer my files, the IC recorder is full.



  15. I too don’t remember the authentication key, (RR us450)

    I did contact Panasonic and was told it cold be sent to them, and they would have to “Remove a Chip???? or something and reinsert it????”

    The steps above for me did not work, I kept unistalling the driver, but after unplugging the device and plugging it back in, it just reinstalled the driver. Nothing about insert the CD.

  16. Now after trying the steps above again, it won’t re-install the driver, so I guess my only option is to reinstall the software. (us450 – Win7)

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