Captions and YouTube

How to find videos with captions

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.

Videos with closed captions will have 'CC' indicated after its description on the results page.

YouTube is the world’s most popular video sharing website. It contains a mix of personal and professional videos that entertain, inform and spark discussion, from home videos to music videos, trailers and advertisements.

When watching YouTube videos in class, make sure you turn on captions if they are available for learning and literacy benefits for all your students.

How to turn captions on

There are two types of captions that may be available on YouTube videos: those that are supplied by the owner of the video (recommended) and automatic captions.

Captions that have been provided by the video owner are of a much higher quality than automatic captions that use Google's speech recognition software. If captions are available, you'll see a captions icon at the bottom right of the video represented by a CC logo. Click on this button and select the option to turn on English captions from the pop-up menu.

Automatic captions, indicated as 'English (auto-generated)', are generally not recommended due to the highly inaccurate quality of the captions. They can, however, provide a good start in creating your own YouTube captions.

You can change the way captions look, including their font size and colours, by clicking on the ‘Settings’ icon, selecting 'Subtitles/CC' from the list and opening the 'Options' menu.

How to caption a YouTube video

Whether you want to add captions to your own YouTube video or have your students create captions for a video project, adding captions can make a video accessible to a broader audience, improve ease of understanding and increase its reach.

To add captions to a video on YouTube you must be the video owner and be able to use an online editor such as CaptionTube to create a caption file. If the video is not yours you can caption and view it on Amara. It should be noted that some video sources may have protection on their content which prevents uploading to Amara. Also, final versions may only be viewed on the default screen size (i.e. not in Full Screen mode) and cannot be viewed on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

YouTube allows you to upload either a caption or transcript file to produce captions for your video. A caption file is preferred as it contains both the text and timing information for the video and can be created using free online captioning services.

While YouTube allows ‘auto-captions’ to be generated using speech recognition software, this is not ideal as it often results in inaccuracies in wording and spelling.

You can caption your YouTube videos in three easy steps.

Firstly, you need to upload your video to YouTube, for which you need to have a free YouTube account.

Secondly, you need to create a ‘caption file’ for your video using an online editor such as CaptionTube, which was created by YouTube for captioning YouTube videos.

CaptionTube provides instructions and video tutorials on how to create a caption file, including how CaptionTube works and how to import videos, how to create and edit YouTube captions, and how to download, email and copy and paste captions as text.

Lastly, add the caption file to your YouTube video. When uploading the file, make sure you select ‘Caption file’ instead of ‘Transcript file’.

If you would like to caption a video which you do not own, you can do so on Amara as long as the video source has not put protection on the content. It can then be watched with captions by anyone on the Amara website. Instructions for creating captions on this site are available when a video is uploaded and the user selectes the 'Subtitle' option to the bottom left of the player. A short instructional video is then available. Alternatively, users can read some Frequently Asked Questions.

For more detailed instructions on how to caption a YouTube video visit Media Access Australia.