Captioning YouTube Videos

This resource is designed to be printed as a one page PDF file. An HTML version is also available below.

Using the Video Manager

  1. To add or edit a captioning file, you must be the owner of the video and have the video uploaded to YouTube.
  2. Go to the Video Manager tab in your YouTube account.
  3. screenshot of video manager button on youtube account page.
  4. Find the video to caption, and select the Edit button.
  5. screenshot of Edit button located in Video Manager.
  6. Using the top navigation bar, click the Captions tab. This page is where you will choose to upload existing caption or transcript files, or create your own automatic captions.

Uploading Caption or Transcript Files to YouTube Videos

If a transcript or caption file already exists for a video, simply upload the file to YouTube. This method is recommended.

Caption Files vs. Transcript Files

  • Caption files contain both text and time codes.
  • Transcript files only contain text and are saved as a plain text file (.txt). However, if the video is in English, YouTube can automatically synchronize your transcript with the video to create a caption file.

Uploading Caption or Transcript Files

  1. If you have a caption file, select the Add Captions button, and choose Upload a file. Set the Track Language and add a Track Name. Select the Upload button and choose the correct caption/transcript file from your computer.
  2. screenshot of 'Upload a file' option highlighted.
  3. If you have a transcript file, select the Add Captions button, and choose Transcribe and sync. This allows you to create the transcription within YouTube. Set the Track Language and add a Track Name and then enter the transcript in the Video Transcript section. Select the Sync button when you have completed. YouTube will sync the transcript file with the video as accurately as possible, however sometimes additional editing is necessary.
  4. screenshot of 'transcribe and sync' option highlighted.

Automatically Creating Caption Files from YouTube Videos

YouTube has provided a way to create caption files from videos you have uploaded. However, the quality of the captions is usually poor and you will probably need to edit the caption file manually.


  • Automatic captioning works best when the audio is clear and easy to understand. (E.g., background music or speaking in an accent can affect accuracy.)
  • The automatic captioning option may not be available for all videos.

Creating Caption Files

  1. In the Captions tab, under Active Tracks, select the automatic captions option, titled the video language (E.g., English), if available.
  2. screenshot of the automatic captions option.
  3. Test the captions for accuracy by playing the video and reviewing the text concurrently. To edit the captioning file, select the line that needs repair in the captioning editor text box.
  4. screenshot of the captioning editor text box in use.
  5. Use the Add below and Remove buttons located above the captioning editor to add/remove captions as needed.
  6. screenshot of the 'add below' and 'remove' buttons.
  7. After completing the captioning edits, select the Save a copy button to create a new caption file.

Finding Captioned Media

Just because the CC icon appears on a video doesn't mean it's been correctly captioned; this icon also appears when the video has been automatically captioned.

  1. To search for captioned videos only, type your search terms into the YouTube search bar and hit Enter. Select the Filter tab and under Features, choose CC (closed caption). Now all YouTube videos displayed should have captioning provided.
  2. screenshot of youtube search bar with CC filter tab highlighted.
  3. Another option is to type your search terms into the YouTube search bar followed by a comma and then CC (e.g. “web accessibility, CC”).

Removing Inaccurate Captions

To remove the Automatic caption track, under the Captions tab, select the original automatic captioned file and under the Actions tab, choose Disable. This ensures viewers will not be able to see the inaccurate version on YouTube. screenshot of the Disable button located in the Action button.

Made possible by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), US Department of Education. No official endorsement implied.