Accessible Technology

Adding Captions to YouTube Videos

There are three ways to add captions to YouTube videos. For all three, you must be the owner of the video.

  1. Use the YouTube Caption Editor.  YouTube automatically generates captions for most videos when they’re uploaded using speech recognition technology. These machine-generated captions are rarely if ever fully accurate. However, if their accuracy is decent and captions can be perfected with only a few minor corrections, the easiest way to correct them is to do so directly in YouTube.  For instructions see the Edit Captions help page on YouTube.
  2. Outsource. Companies such as Automatic Sync Technologies, 3PlayMedia, cielo24, and many other captioning service providers will caption videos for a fee.  Contact these companies directly for additional information.
  3. Do it yourself.  There are free tools available online that make it possible and easy to caption your own video. See Captioning your own video for free for additional information.

The end product generated by the second and third options is a caption file. Most caption files are plain text files with time codes indicating the start and stop times. Popular caption file formats include SRT, WebVTT, and TTML, all of which are supported by YouTube.

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. Select YouTube Studio

Login to YouTube, then select YouTube Studio from the dropdown menu.
YouTube menu dropdwon

Step 2. Choose Subtitles

Choose Subtitles from from the left-hand side menu in YouTube Studio, then click on the title of the video you’ll add captions to.
YouTube subtitles menu choice

Step 3. Click ADD Link

While in the subtitles menu for your video, click ADD to open a dialogue for adding a caption file.
add subtitles option

Step 4. Select Upload a file

Select Upload a file from the three button choices presented.
upload a file option

Step 5. Browse to caption file

After choosing the Subtitles file radio button in the pop-up dialogue, browse to your caption file’s location using the Choose File button.
pop-up dialogue for caption upload