Captioned YouTube videos

Closed captions on YouTube can either be provided by the owner of the video or are automated captions which use speech recognition software to transcribe the video.

For a video to have the options of auto-captions, the video owner must have first requested auto-captions on a video. The speech recognition track can take a few days to become available to viewers. Video owners can also disable auto-captions once they’re activated.

How to search closed captioned videos on YouTube

To search YouTube for videos with closed captions:

  1. Search the key terms of the video or type of video you want to watch.
  2. From the search results page, click on ‘Filter’.
  3. Under ‘Features’ select the ‘Subtitles/CC’ option.
  4. The results will now be filtered to display all videos with closed captions.

Any video with captions provided by the video owner is indicated by the CC symbol YouTube closed captions icon in search results and a CC icon YouTube Subtitles/CC icon in the bottom right of the video player.

How to turn closed captions on/off on YouTube

  1. Click on the CC icon YouTube Subtitles/CC icon at the bottom right of the video player. If a caption script has been provided by the video owner, captions will appear once the symbol is clicked on. You know when closed captions are activated because the CC symbol turns white, instead of grey.
  2. To change caption settings, click the Settings icon YouTube settings icon and select Subtitles/CC from the menu. Here you will be able to select another language if available, or select automatic captions with the 'auto-generated' menu option.

How to turn closed captions on/off by default on YouTube

To always see closed captions when watching YouTube videos:

  1. You must first have an account with YouTube.
  2. Go to the Playback page from the Account settings menu in the top left corner.
  3. Checking the ‘Always show captions’ box means you will see auto-captions (when available) on all videos that don’t have captions provided by the video owner. However, if captions have been provided, you will always see those captions first.

Interactive transcript

What are interactive captions

Videos that have captions provided by the owner also have an ‘Interactive Transcript’. This is the full text of the captions that, while you are watching the video, shows you what point of the text you are up to and allows you to jump to different points in the video by clicking on text in the transcript.

How to use interactive captions

  1. Beneath the player to the right you will see the Interactive Transcript icon and an arrow pointing down. Clicking on either opens a pane showing the caption transcript.
  2. You can hide the transcript using the arrow up button that replaces the transcript icon.
  3. You can jump to different parts of the video by clicking on text within the transcript.

Transcribe audio

What is transcribed audio

‘Transcribe audio’ uses Google’s speech recognition software to provide automated captions for YouTube videos. Note that this is a machine generated captioning system and is not completely accurate.

How to use transcribed audio

  1. Hover over the ‘CC’ symbol at the bottom right of the video and under ‘Caption Actions’ select ‘Transcribe Audio’.
  2. Within a few seconds automated captions will appear at the bottom of the screen.
  3. To change between automated captioning and the caption script provided by the video owner (where applicable), hover over the ‘CC’ symbol and under ‘Caption Selection’ select English (transcribed).

Translate captions

What are translated captions

‘Translate captions’ is an option available on YouTube videos which translates the English language captions into different languages through a machine translation system. Note that this is machine generated translation and is not completely accurate.

How to translate captions

  1. After closed captions have been turned on, hover over the ‘CC’ symbol and under ‘Caption actions’ select ‘Translate captions’.
  2. A box will appear with a number of different language options.
  3. Click on the language box to see a drop-down menu of the translation language options and once you’ve selected your chosen language click ‘OK’.
  4. After a few seconds, the captions should appear in translated form.

Text options

You can also adjust the caption settings:

  • To increase text size, press the ‘+’ key on your keyboard
  • To decrease text size, press the ‘-‘ key on your keyboard
  • To change the background of the text to black/clear, press ‘B’ on your keyboard

Further information


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