Add subtitles and closed captions

Subtitles and closed captions open up your content to a larger audience, including deaf or hard of hearing viewers or those who speak languages besides the one spoken in your video. They also act as metadata that helps your videos show up in more places on YouTube. Learn more about these benefits with Creator Academy best practices or in our YouTube Captions and Subtitles video. If you already have captions or subtitles, get help editing existing captions.

To add new subtitles or closed captions to a video:

  1. Go to your Video Manager.
  2. Next to the video you want to add captions or subtitles to, click the drop-down menu next to the Edit btn.
  3. Select Subtitles and CC.
  4. In the drop-down menu, choose the language that’s spoken most in the video and click Set language.
    • Note: If you change the setting for the original language of your video, all future translated subtitles will use the new language as the source for translations (your published and draft subtitles and closed captions won’t be affected).
  5. Click the Add subtitles or CC btn.
  6. Choose the language for the subtitles or closed captions you want to create. You can use the search bar to find languages that don’t automatically show in the list.
    • If you choose a language that you’ve already started working on, this will take you directly to your draft and you can start adding content again.
  7. Choose how you want to add subtitles or closed captions to your video:

You can create new subtitles or closed captions from scratch. Check out our video on creating subtitles and closed captions or follow these instructions:

  1. Select Create new subtitles or CC.
  2. Play the video. When you get to the part where you want to add a caption, pause the video.
  3. Type your caption or subtitle into the box that says “Type subtitle here and press Enter.” Don’t forget to add text describing other sounds happening in the video. For example, you can add sounds like applause or thunder as[applause] or [thunder] so viewers know what’s going on in the video.
  4. When you’re done, click the blue add btn and you’ll see your content show up in the transcript and in the timeline below the video.
  5. If you need to, adjust when the caption starts and ends by dragging the borders around the text under the video.
  6. Repeat this process for all the spoken words in the video.
  7. When you’re done, select Submit.

To speed up your work, you can also use these keyboard shortcuts:

  • Enter: Add the subtitle.
  • Shift + space: Pause or play the video.
  • Shift + left arrow: Seek back five seconds.

You can transcribe your video and automatically line up your text with the speech in the video. A transcript contains the text of what is said in a video, but no time code information, so you need to set the timing to sync with your video.

Note: Since the transcript text is automatically synchronized to your video, the transcript must be in a language supported by our speech recognition technology and in the same language that’s spoken in the video. Transcripts are not recommended for videos that are over an hour long or have poor audio quality.

  1. Select Create new subtitles or CC.
  2. Underneath the video, click Transcribe and set timings.
  3. Type all of the spoken audio in the text field. If you’re creating closed captions, make sure to incorporate sound cues like [music] or [applause] to identify background sounds.
  4. Click Set timings to sync your transcript with the video.

Setting the timings can take a few minutes. While you wait, you’ll be brought back to the video tracklist. Once it’s ready, your transcription will automatically be published on your video.

If you have a subtitle and closed caption file, you can upload it to your video. These types of files contain both the text and time codes for when each line of text should be displayed. Some files also include position and style information, which is especially useful for deaf or hard of hearing viewers.

  1. Click Upload a file.
  2. Choose the type of file you have to upload.
  3. Click Choose file > Upload.
  4. Use the editor to make any needed adjustments to the text and timing of your new subtitle or closed caption.
  5. Click Publish.

Edit captions

Whether you’re editing captions automatically generated by YouTube or tweaking captions you’ve added yourself, the captions in-line editor allows you to quickly and easily make changes to both the text and time codes of your captions.

Editing text

To edit the text of your captions:

  1. Visit your Video Manager and click the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” btn for your video
  2. Select Captions
  3. Click on the caption track you would like to edit
  4. Click inside any line in the caption track panel and edit the text
  5. Remember to save when you’re finished

If you’re editing automatic captions, this will generate a new caption track including your revisions.

Editing time codes

There are a few different ways to edit time codes on your caption tracks. The easiest method is to edit the time codes directly in the YouTube captions editor:

  1. Visit your Video Manager and click the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” btn for your video
  2. Select Captions
  3. Click on the caption track you would like to edit
  4. Select a specific line in the caption track panel and press the up or down arrow to adjust timing and the left or right arrow to change duration
  5. Once you’re finished, be sure to select Save Changes

You can also edit time codes by downloading the caption file and using a plain text (.txt) editing program like TextEdit or Notepad to edit the captions.

To download your captions:

  1. Visit your Video Manager and click the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” btn for the video you’d like to translate
  2. Select Captions
  3. Select the caption track you would like to download
  4. Click the Actions drop-down menu
  5. Click the captions file format you would like
  6. Your browser will download a file containing the captions track

When you’re done editing, simply add the captions back to your video.

Alternatively, you can get help by using caption editing software or services.

Remove subtitles and closed captions

Depending on the type of subtitles or closed captions you want to remove, you can either disable them to prevent viewers from seeing them on your video, or delete them completely from your video and YouTube account.

Automatic captions

YouTube’s automatically generated captions cannot be deleted from your YouTube account. If you’re unhappy with them, you can edit the captions, add your own captions, or follow the steps below to hide them from your viewers:

  1. Visit your Video Manager and click the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” btn for your video

  2. Select Subtitles and CC

  3. Click on the language you would like to disable (it should say “Automatic”)

  4. Click the Actions drop-down menu

  5. Select Unpublish

If you change your mind, select Publish to turn them back on.

Subtitles and closed captions you added yourself

If you added subtitles or closed captions to your video, you can delete them by following the steps below:

  1. Visit your Video Manager and click the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” btn for your video

  2. Select Subtitles and CC

  3. Select the language you’d like to delete

  4. Select the Actions drop-down menu

  5. Select Delete subtitles

  6. Select Delete to confirm the track will be removed permanently

Translator Toolkit requests

If you’ve requested a translation for a caption file, you can remove it following these steps:

  1. Visit the Translator Toolkit to see a list of your pending translations

  2. Select the box (or boxes) for the translation(s) you would like to remove

  3. Click the Delete menu btn to remove them

Automatic captions

Even if you haven’t added captions to your video, YouTube may use speech recognition technology to automatically make captions available.

Since these are automatically generated, the quality of the captions may vary from video to video. As the video owner, you can always edit the captions to improve accuracy, or remove them from your video if you do not want them to be available for your viewers.

If your video does not have automatic captions, it could be due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • The language in the video is not yet supported by automatic captions
  • The video is too long
  • The video has poor sound quality or contains speech that YouTube doesn’t recognize
  • There is a long period of silence at the beginning of the video
  • There are multiple speakers whose speech overlaps
  • English
  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Upload subtitles and closed captions

How to upload subtitles and closed captions

  1. Visit your Video Manager and click the drop-down menu next to the “Edit” btn for the video you’d like to upload subtitles or closed captions for
  2. Select Subtitles and CC
  3. Select the original spoken language of the video from the drop-down menu (157 languages)
  4. Click the Add subtitles or cc btn and select the language of the subtitle or caption file you want to upload
  5. Select Upload a file (Details below)
  6. Choose the language at the top of the screen
  7. Choose the type of file to upload
  8. Click the Choose file btn and browse your computer for the file
  9. The file will auto-populate and let you know the timing of each subtitle or closed caption

A subtitle or closed caption file includes the text of what was said in the video and time codes for when the text should display. Below, you’ll find information on the wide variety of formats that YouTube supports.

Preferred formats

Format name File extension Additional information
Scenarist Closed Caption .scc Exact representation of CEA-608 data. The preferred format whenever captions are based on CEA-608 features.

The basic and advanced formats below are less preferred because they do not convey CEA-608.

Basic formats

Here are some examples of the most basic formats that YouTube supports:

Format name File extension Additional information
SubRip .srt Only basic versions supported — no style information (markup) is recognized.
SubViewer .sbv or .sub Only basic versions supported — no style information (markup) is recognized.
MPsub (MPlayer subtitle) .mpsub “FORMAT=” parameter is supported.
LRC .lrc No styling, but enhanced format supported.
Videotron Lambda .cap Primarily used for Japanese subtitles.

If you’re new to creating caption files, you may want to use SubRip (.srt) or SubViewer (.sbv). They only require basic timing information, and can be edited using any plain text editing software.

The main difference between SubRip and SubViewer files is the format of the caption start and stop times.

Advanced formats

These formats let you have more control over styling (markup) and where you want to place the captions on your video. For each of the formats, we recommend using SCC and discourage TTML and SMPTE-TT.

Format name File extension Additional information
SAMI (Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange) .smi or .sami Only basic features supported — timecodes and text.
RealText .rt Only basic features supported — timecodes, text, and simple markup.
WebVTT .vtt Initial implementation.
DFXP (Distribution Format Exchange Profile) .ttml or .dfxp Interpreted as TTML.
TTML (Timed-Text Markup Language) .ttml Partial implementation. SMPTE-TT extensions supported for CEA-608features. iTunes Timed Text (iTT) file format is supported; iTT is a subset of TTML, Version 1.0.

Broadcast formats

These formats are typically used for closed captions for broadcast content (TV and movies) and support either the CEA-608 or EBU-STL standards. YouTube tries to display the captions from these files just as if they were on a TV, with the same styling, color, and positioning.

Format name File extension Additional information
EBU-STL (binary) .stl European Broadcasting Union standard.
Caption Center (binary) .tds Supports CEA-608 features.
Captions Inc. (binary) .cin Supports CEA-608 features.
Cheetah (ASCII text) .asc Supports CEA-608 features.
Cheetah (binary) .cap Supports CEA-608 features.
NCI (binary) .cap Supports CEA-608 features.

Caption software

If you’re creating a caption file yourself, there are many caption editing software and services that can help you. Alternatively, you can get captions translated for you by sending a request to vendors or friends.

Captions not only make your videos accessible to a wider audience; they also act as additional metadata that help your videos show up in more places on YouTube. Check out these best practices on closed captions to find out more.


If you haven’t made captions before, you may want to try using transcripts. Transcripts are simple since they only contain the text of what was said in the video and don’t require any time codes.

Automatic timing

The key benefit of a transcript is automatic timing–once you add your transcript, speech recognition technology automatically matches your captions with what is said in the video. Videos that are less than an hour long with good sound quality and clear speech are best. Remember that the transcript must be in the same language as is spoken in the video.

  • English
  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish


You can create a transcript in one of two ways:

1. Type the text directly in YouTube

Go to your Video Manager and add captions. You’ll be able to type what was said in your video directly into the video transcript text box. Your video will automatically pause as you type.

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to help you type your transcript:

  • Type SHIFT + LEFT or click the rewind icond  to rewind your video 5 seconds.
  • Type SHIFT + SPACE or click the play icon  to pause/play your video.

2. Create a transcript file

In order to create a transcript file, type the text of what was said in your video and save it as a plain text file (.txt). You can do this by converting other formats (like Microsoft Word, HTML, PDF) into a plain text file or you can use native programs on your computer like TextEdit or Notepad.

In order to get the best results, use these formatting tips:

  • Use a blank line to force the start of a new caption.
  • Use square brackets to designate background sounds. For example, [music] or [laughter].
  • Add >> to identify speakers or change of speaker.

Here’s an example of what your transcript file might look like:

>> ALICE: Hi, my name is Alice Miller and this is John Brown
>> JOHN: and we're the owners of Miller Bakery.
>> ALICE: Today we'll be teaching you how to make
our famous chocolate chip cookies!
[intro music]
Okay, so we have all the ingredients laid out here

For non-English language transcript files, we recommend saving the file with UTF-8 encoding to improve display accuracy:

  1. Open Notepad
  2. Click File then Save as
  3. Select Text Documents (*.txt) under “Save as type” and choose UTF-8 under “Encoding”
  1. Open TextEdit
  2. Click Format, then select Make Plain Text
  3. Click File, then Save
  4. Select Unicode (UTF-8)

YouTube Ready Captioning Vendors

If you’re a company that provides captioning services for YouTube videos, you can apply to be on YouTube’s list of captioning vendors. In order to become a qualified vendor, you must fit the following criteria:

  • Have a valid YouTube account and channel that includes a public video displaying captions provided by your company’s captioning services, as well as a video or page that describes your services in detail
  • Publicly post online either your rates or how clients may request quotes for providing captions for videos that may be uploaded to YouTube
  • Have the ability to accept videos from clients via YouTube or other online file delivery system
  • Supply the YouTube usernames for 3 customers that you have provided captioning services for in the past (we won’t share these publicly)
  • Be able to automatically upload completed captions using YouTube’s captions API

YouTube Ready vendors must not misrepresent their relationships with YouTube, including without limitation stating, suggesting, or implying that the vendor is sponsored or endorsed by YouTube. Use of the YouTube brand is governed by the YouTube branding guidelines and any other applicable terms between you and YouTube. YouTube reserves the right to remove any vendors from the YouTube Ready list at its sole discretion.

Please submit your qualifications using this link:

Subtitles and Closed Captions Glossary

ASR: Automatic Speech Recognition. YouTube uses automatic speech recognition to add automatic captions to all videos (minus those that it can’t in error) that are spoken word and are one of these languages: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish.

Automatic Caption: Caption track created by ASR.

Closed caption: Closed captions are for hard-of-hearing and deaf viewers. Content includes a transcription of the spoken words as well as sound cues like “[music playing]” and “[laughter]” and identification of speakers like “Mike: Hey there!” or by using positioning on the screen.

Contribute: To create and submit a new caption track or edit for approval by the video creator.

Contribution: A new subtitle or closed caption, or edit to an existing one, submitted to a creator.

Contributor: A volunteer who has submitted a new subtitle or closed caption or edit.

Creator: Video uploader/owner.

Submit: Sending a track to a creator.

Submission: The track that a creator receives from the contributor.

Subtitles: Text tracks that accompany a video in a language other than the spoken one in that video. Primarily for foreign-language viewers. Content is a translation of spoken words and written text. Usually not positioned and always show at the bottom or below the video (“sub”titles).

Set timings: When a user submits a transcript, we use our sync server to automatically align the transcript with the video, creating a timed caption track.

Transcript: Unformatted (and un-timed) text, transcribed verbatim from the video.

Translation: Subtitle created by translating existing subtitles or closed captions.

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