How to Caption Videos with YouTube

YouTube is a great option because it’s free and you can download the caption text file to use with your video. You can import the caption text file into an app to burn in your captions for open captions.

This tutorial assumes you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube.

Now, which option do you want to do?

Edit Automatic Captions

When you upload your video to YouTube, it takes time for it to generate automatic captions. How quickly depends on different variables. So, keep checking until you see them show up.

After YouTube creates automatic captions, you have a caption file you can download to use. However, it still needs editing. You could edit the file in a text editor or follow these steps. A text editor is faster, but the timing isn’t going to be as accurate.

Here’s a faster approach:

  1. Edit the timings in YouTube.
  2. Break up long lines of captions by hitting Enter where you want to break it. (32 characters per line, up to two lines.)
  3. Publish the edited captions.
  4. Download the caption file (typically, you want SRT).
  5. Open the caption file in a text editor.
  6. Edit the text and save the file.
  7. Upload the file in YouTube to replace the automatic captions.

Here’s the video tutorial:

How to edit automatic captions

1. Go to

2. Select Transcriptions Subtitles.

YouTube Studio interface with "Transcriptions" selected except it's now Subtitles
Transcriptions is now “Subtitles”

3. Select the arrow under Language for the video you want to caption.

YouTube Studio interface: select language for video to caption
Select language for video to caption

4. Select Published by English (Automatic). (Your language may be different.)

YouTube Studio interface: select correct language for video to caption
Select the correct language for video to caption

5. Select Edit.

YouTube Studio subtitles interface
Edit captions

6. Play the video and edit the text until the captions are correct. (Use SHIFT+ENTER to move a line of captions to a second line to make them more even.)

YouTube Studio interface: Editing the captions
Editing the captions in YouTube

7. Play the video and move the sliders to synchronize the text with the video.

YouTube Studio interface: editing the timing of captions
Editing the timing of captions

8. Select Publish edits.

YouTube Studio interface: Publishing the edits
Publish the edits

9. Select the item under Published. This example: English (United States).

YouTube Studio interface: Accessing the revised captions by selecting the right language
Accessing the revised captions

10. Select Actions > .srt to download the caption file.

YouTube Studio interface: Downloading the caption file
Download the captions

11. Open the SRT file in any text editor like Notepad or TextEdit and delete the extra lines.

Viewing the SRT caption file in a text editor
Viewing the SRT caption file in a text editor

If you upload it to LinkedIn, you may get an .SRT file error. That’s why you want to erase the extra lines.

When you upload a video, the service will have an option for uploading the caption file. The .SRT is your caption file.

Use Auto-sync

If you have a script or transcript, you can copy and paste it into YouTube using the Auto-sync feature in its Subtitles tool. The transcript does not need to have timings.

Here’s the video tutorial on how to use Auto-sync to copy and paste a transcript.

How to use Auto-sync on YouTube’s Subtitles tool

Enter captions manually

With this option, you enter all the text while you watch the video. It’s the most time-consuming method of the three.

How to add captions manually on YouTube.

Upload a caption file

If you already have a caption file like an SRT or VTT file, you can upload it with the video. While these steps are for YouTube, this is the sort of thing you’ll need to do on other social networks.

Upload a caption file to YouTube

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