6 YouTube Captioning and Subtitling Hacks You Need Try

Updated: April 9, 2021

If you really want to up your YouTube game, you should consider adding captions.

72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds. That’s a lot of content, which, unfortunately, isn’t always captioned.

When it comes to YouTube, captions are a powerful tool. Captions can help engage your audience, improve brand recall, increase SEO, and help reach wider audiences.

Discovery Digital Networks saw a 7.3% increase in views on YouTube when they added captions.

A research study from the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science found captions improve brand recall, verbal memory, and behavioral intent.

Adding captions also makes your videos accessible to people who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing.

With YouTube, you can easily add captions to your videos. In addition, there are plenty of YouTube hacks for captioning that can really help take your videos to a whole new level.



YouTube Hack #1: Auto Translate Captions

Using Google Translate, YouTube will automatically translate your caption file into other languages.

To use this feature, your video will need to have an original caption file. There are many ways to create captions. You can DIY them, use YouTube’s automatic captioning feature, or submit your file to a captioning company.

Once you have your caption file uploaded to your video, you are ready to translate!

Here’s how to do it:

1. Head over to your Creator Studio, then select Video Manager. Click the Edit tab under the video you want to translate.
2. Next, head over to the Subtitles/CC tab at the top of the video editor.
3. When you select Add new subtitles or CC, a search bar will appear. Search for the language you want to translate to.


Gif displaying YouTube interface. Click Subtitles/CC, then Add new subtitles or CC, then select your language. In this example, Portuguese is selected

4. A new menu will appear on the left. Select Create new subtitles or CC.

5. You’ll be taken to YouTube’s video editing interface. Above the transcript, you’ll see two tabs: Actions and Autotranslate. Select Autotranslate.

6. Your translations will appear under the original script. You can easily edit them by clicking on the translated version.

7. Finally, select Publish!


Gif demonstrating use of YouTube's auto-translation feature and editing subtitles


Don't forget to edit your translations!

Unfortunately, automatic translations aren’t always correct…


Like with anything that comes from automatic transcription, it’s always a good idea to double check the transcript for errors.


YouTube Captioning Hack #2: Reposition captions on a video

Is the caption placement obstructing an important visual element in the YouTube video you are watching?

If so, YouTube has a workaround for that.

Using your mouse, you can drag captions and place them all around the video screen.

You can do this with any video that has captions available, not just the ones that you own.


Mouse moving YouTube subtitles to change their position on screen

YouTube Captioning Hack #3: Use keyboard shortcuts for adjusting captions

Keyboard usability is so important.

These shortcuts give access to people who can’t rely on a mouse, including people who are blind or low vision, and people with motor disabilities.

Unfortunately, many video players fail on keyboard accessibility.

But while YouTube still has some kinks to work out, they do have some easy keyboard shortcuts for captioning.

Using your C key, you can turn captions on or off.

To increase the size of the captions, use the + (plus) key. To decrease the size of the captions, use the – (minus) key.


To turn captions on/off, press the C key. To increase or decrease the size, press + or - respectively


 Implement A Video SEO Strategy with Transcripts and Captions ➡️ 


YouTube Captioning Hack #4: Use live stenographers for YouTube Live Stream

YouTube recently announced that they would be releasing automatic English captions for live stream.

But since automatic captioning is far from perfect, YouTube allows you to have live stenographers.

Here’s how you can deploy this feature:

1. Under your YouTube Creator Studio, select Live Streaming, then Events.

2. Select New live event.

3. Fill out the appropriate details for your event. Under Type select Custom.

4. Next, head over to Advanced Settings and scroll to the bottom. Under Added delay, add a 30s or 60s delay to your broadcast.

5. Under Stream optimizations, make sure to select Normal latency.

6. Then click Create event.

7. Once you’ve selected your ‘stream key,’ a Closed Captions menu will appear. Select POST captions to URL.

8. A link will appear that you can share with your live captioners when you go live!


Demonstrating how to add captions to a live stream. Click Live Streaming, create an event, and set type to Custom. This leads to a new screen that allows closed captioning selection at the bottom


YouTube Captioning Hack #5: View videos with a transcript

YouTube also allows you to view videos with a transcript.

The transcript plays along with the video; you can also select specific lines and skip to that part of the video.

Here’s how to add a transcript:

1. Under the video player, select the ellipsis “more” icon (…).

2. Select Open transcript.

A transcript will pop up on the right-hand side.


Demonstration of YouTube transcript to the right of the video player

YouTube Captioning Hack #6: Manage caption settings for your device

When available, you can toggle captions on or off across different devices for YouTube videos.

You can also choose to “Show automatic captions by speech recognition” when available.

This feature works for your computer, Android, iPhone, and Ipad.

Here’s how it works:

Manage caption settings on your computer

To turn captions on or off by default:

1. Go to your Account Setting Page.

2. Select Playback.

3. Under captions, check or uncheck the “Always show captions” box and/or “Show automatic captions by speech recognition (when available)” box.

To adjust the style of your captions:

1. Under the video player, select the settings icon.

2. Next, select Subtitles/CC, then options at the top of the mini menu.

3. Now you can change the font, font color, font size, background color, and background opacity.

Manage caption settings on your iPhone & iPad

To turn captions on or off:

1. Lightly tap on the video you are watching. Tap on the menu icon three dots on top of each other, youtube menu button.

2. Under captions you can select to turn the captions on or off.

To adjust the style of captions:

1. Head over to your iPhone’s settings menu.

2. Tap General, then Accessibility.

3. Scroll down to find “Media,” then tap Subtitles & Captioning.

4. Tap on Style where you will see all available options for size and font. You can even customize your own styles under Create New Style.

Manage caption settings on your Android

To turn captions on or off:

1. Lightly tap on the video you are watching, then tap on the menu icon three dots on top of each other, youtube menu button located at the top right corner of the video player.

2. Under captions you can select to turn the captions on or off.

To adjust the style of captions:

1. Open the YouTube app.

2. Select Menu, then Settings.

3. Tap on Captions.



Want to learn more? 

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