6 YouTube Captioning and Subtitling Hacks You Need to Try

September 30, 2021 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: September 5, 2023

Automate Your YouTube Captioning [Learn About the Integration]

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

Over 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. 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, boost SEO, reach wider audiences, and increase views. Discovery Digital Networks saw a 7.3% increase in views on YouTube when they added captions to their videos.

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

Most importantly, captions make your videos accessible to people who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing.

With YouTube, you can easily add captions to your videos, and there are plenty of hacks for captioning that can help take your videos to a whole new level. Let’s dive in!

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 YouTube Studio
2. From the menu on the left, click the Subtitles tab
3. Select the video you want to translate

gif of add a new language to a YouTube video 

4. If you haven’t selected the language for the video you intend to translate, you’ll be asked to choose and the language and confirm

5. Select Add Language and choose the language you’d like to translate to

6. Under “Title & description”, click Add

7. Enter the translated title and description, and select Publish!


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


 Learn about 3Play’s YouTube integration ➡️ 


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

YouTube has been slowly rolling out automatic English captions for live streams with accounts that have over 1,000 subcribers.

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.

YouTube. 3Play Media. Learn about the captioning integration.

This post was originally published by Sofia Leiva on Mar 29, 2018, and has since been updated for accuracy, clarity, and freshness.

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