Add subtitles and closed captions

Subtitles and closed captions open up your content to a larger audience, including deaf or hard of hearing viewers or those who speak languages besides the one spoken in your video. They also act as metadata that helps your videos show up in more places on YouTube. Learn more about these benefits with Creator Academy best practices or in our YouTube Captions and Subtitles video. If you already have captions or subtitles, get help editing existing captions.

To add new subtitles or closed captions to a video:

  1. Go to your Video Manager.
  2. Next to the video you want to add captions or subtitles to, click the drop-down menu next to the Edit button.
  3. Select Subtitles and CC.
  4. In the drop-down menu, choose the language that's spoken most in the video and click Set language.
    • Note: If you change the setting for the original language of your video, all future translated subtitles will use the new language as the source for translations (your published and draft subtitles and closed captions won't be affected).
  5. Click the Add subtitles or CC button.
  6. Choose the language for the subtitles or closed captions you want to create. You can use the search bar to find languages that don't automatically show in the list.
    • If you choose a language that you've already started working on, this will take you directly to your draft and you can start adding content again.
  7. Choose how you want to add subtitles or closed captions to your video:
Create new subtitles or closed captions

You can create new subtitles or closed captions from scratch. Check out our video on creating subtitles and closed captions or follow these instructions:

  1. Select Create new subtitles or CC
  2. Play the video. When you get to the part where you want to add a caption, pause the video.
  3. Type your caption or subtitle into the box that says "Type subtitle here and press Enter." Don't forget to add text describing other sounds happening in the video. For example, you can add sounds like applause or thunder as [applause] or [thunder] so viewers know what's going on in the video.
  4. When you're done, click the blue add button and you'll see your content show up in the transcript and in the timeline below the video.
  5. If you need to, adjust when the caption starts and ends by dragging the borders around the text under the video.
  6. Repeat this process for all the spoken words in the video.
  7. When you're done, select Submit.

To speed up your work, you can also use these keyboard shortcuts:

  • Enter: Add the subtitle.
  • Shift + space: Pause or play the video.
  • Shift + left arrow: Seek back five seconds. 
Transcribe and set timings

You can transcribe your video and automatically line up your text with the speech in the video. A transcript contains the text of what is said in a video, but no time code information, so you need to set the timing to sync with your video.

Note: Since the transcript text is automatically synchronized to your video, the transcript must be in a language supported by our speech recognition technology and in the same language that's spoken in the video. Transcripts are not recommended for videos that are over an hour long or have poor audio quality.

  1. Select Create new subtitles or CC.
  2. Underneath the video, click Transcribe and set timings.
  3. Type all of the spoken audio in the text field. If you're creating closed captions, make sure to incorporate sound cues like [music] or [applause] to identify background sounds.
  4. Click Set timings to sync your transcript with the video.

Setting the timings can take a few minutes. While you wait, you'll be brought back to the video tracklist. Once it's ready, your transcription will automatically be published on your video.

Upload a file

If you have a subtitle and closed caption file, you can upload it to your video. These types of files contain both the text and time codes for when each line of text should be displayed. Some files also include position and style information, which is especially useful for deaf or hard of hearing viewers.

  1. Click Upload a file.
  2. Choose the type of file you have to upload.
  3. Click Choose file > Upload.
  4. Use the editor to make any needed adjustments to the text and timing of your new subtitle or closed caption.
  5. Click Publish.
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