How to Remove YouTube Automatic Captions from Your Videos

January 18, 2019 BY SOFIA ENAMORADO
Updated: April 7, 2021

Once you’ve uploaded a video to YouTube, you’ll notice that YouTube’s automatic captions are turned on. Even if you’ve uploaded your own captions or created captions in YouTube’s transcription interface, automatic captions will still show up as an option on your video.

YouTube fully admits that their automatic captions are not the most accurate (they claim approximately 80% accuracy). Automatic captions can instead be a detriment to both SEO and accessibility.

Learn more about web accessibility in the 21st century

cartoon woman and video camera

How to Replace or Hide Automatic Captions

So, can you remove the automatic captions? Well, you can’t remove them, but you can upload your own accurate captions and hide the automatic captions:

  1. Go to your Video Manager and click Edit next to a video
  2. Select the Subtitles/CC tab
  3. Select English (Automatic), or whichever language is used
  4. Click Unpublish

How to Replace or Hide Automatic Captions

If you haven’t done so already, you can replace the automatic captions with your own caption file. You can upload your own caption file, create captions in YouTube, or submit your video for captioning to to add accurate, accessible, and SEO-friendly captions in place of the automatic captions.

 Bringing web accessibility into the 21st century ➡️ 

How to Remove and Replace an Uploaded Caption File from YouTubevideo camera and maroon blob

If you added your own captions and for some reason want to remove this file (maybe it’s inaccurate, or maybe you uploaded the wrong file by accident), you can delete uploaded caption files.

  1. Go to your Video Manager and click Edit next to a video
  2. Select the Subtitles/CC tab
  3. Select English, or whichever language is used
  4. Click Unpublish.
  5. Select Upload from the Actions menu to add a new caption file

Editing YouTube’s Automatic Captions: A Word to the Wise

While you can edit YouTube’s automatic captions, doing so will create a copy of the automatic captions that will overwrite any caption file that you may have uploaded. Be careful if you choose to do this!

Our recommendation is to upload or create a new caption file and hide the automatic captions. This will provide your video with accurate captions that improve accessibility and SEO.

Why Shouldn’t You Use YouTube’s Automatic Captions?

As mentioned above, YouTube’s automatic captions are incredibly inaccurate. They can hurt your branding, credibility, and user experience.

 Learn about WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 ➡️ 

Key Stats:Captions increase video view time by 12%

  • Captions increase view time by 12%.
  • 45% of people watch more than an hour of YouTube videos per week.
  • 80% more people are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available.

Inaccurate captions are not accessible
Both Harvard and MIT were sued for using automatic captions on their videos. The courts ruled that inaccurate captions do not provide an equal experience for deaf or hard of hearing viewers, therefore caption accuracy is an essential element of accessibility.

Inaccurate captions hurt your video SEO.

Google rewards helpful search results and penalizes spam. Part of the definition of spam is “automatically generated gibberish” — which is an apt description of most automatic caption files. By uploading or using inaccurate captions, you risk being labeled as spam and losing search rank for your whole YouTube channel.

Inaccurate captions are incomprehensible.

Errors affect the reading comprehension of your content. Misspellings and incorrect words can be misleading to readers.

Caption quality is especially important in educational videos. Mistakes in the caption file can easily misinform a student.

The Age of Video

Caption quality matters. More and more people are opting to watch videos with captions – not just for accessibility reasons.

Having accurate captions is just a small investment for the large returns it can bring to your channel in the long run.

WCAG 2.0 and 2.1: bringing web accessibility into the 21st century. Download the white paper.

This blog post was originally published on July 7, 2014 and has since been updated.

3play media logo in blue

Subscribe to the Blog Digest

Sign up to receive our blog digest and other information on this topic. You can unsubscribe anytime.

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.