Accessible Technology

Adding captions to YouTube videos

YouTube automatically generates captions for most videos when they’re uploaded, but these machine-generated captions are typically not accurate. You can get your videos captioned through the UW’s partnership with Automatic Sync or you can caption your videos yourself for free.

The end product of either option is a caption file in a format such as SRT, WebVTT, or TTML. YouTube supports most caption file formats, so any of these is fine.

To add captions to videos on YouTube, you must be the owner of the YouTube account where the video is hosted. The specific steps for uploading your caption file change frequently as the YouTube interface is upgraded. However, the general sequence is fairly consistent.

Step 1. Login to YouTube, then go to Video Manger.

Currently Video Manager is located within the Upload menu, accessed by clicking Upload.

Screen shot from YouTube: Click on Upload, select Video Manager from the menu

Step 2. Find the video you want to add captions to, select Captions.

Video Manager features a list of all your current videos. Currently each video includes an Edit button. Click on the Edit button to reveal the Captions option.

Screen shot from YouTube, showing the Edit menu for a video. The Captions option is highlighted within the menu..

Step 3. Upload your caption file.

The Captions area within Video Manager includes a variety of features for managing your video’s captions and subtitles. One of the options is Upload a File. Select that option, then follow the prompts to upload your caption or subtitle file and identify the language. After you upload your file the new captions or subtitles will be live on YouTube within seconds.

Screen shot from YouTube, showing the Caption area, with option "Upload a File" highlighted

YouTube also includes its own caption editor as well as a variety of other features related to captions and subtitles. For additional information see YouTube’s Help page on Captions.