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YouTube Captioning

As with all materials, it is easiest to make a video accessible for digital distribution when you plan to do so from the start.

How Captioning Works
Editing Captions
Keyboard Shortcuts
Troubleshoot Automatic Captions Issues

How Captioning Works

If automatic captions are available, they'll automatically be published on the video. Automatic captions may not be ready at the time that you upload a video. Processing time depends on the complexity of the video's audio.

YouTube is constantly improving its speech recognition technology. However, automatic captions might misrepresent the spoken content due to mispronunciations, accents, dialects, or background noise. You should always review automatic captions and edit any parts that haven't been properly transcribed.

Editing Captions

To review automatic captions and make changes:

  • Go to your Video Manager

  • Select your account in the top right corner

  • Select Creator Studio, then Video Manager, then Videos

YouTube account menu with arrow highlighting Creator Studio button.

*YouTube is in a transition right now to a new version of Creator Studio coming out in 2019 called YouTube Studio. If you don’t see the Creator Studio button, copy and paste, or type the link into Video Manager:

  • Find the video you want to add captions or subtitles to
  • Select the Edit drop-down menu next to that video
  • Select Subtitles/CC

YouTube Creator Studio edit menu with an arrow highlighting the Subtitles/CC option.

If automatic captions are available, you'll see Language (Automatic) in the "Published" section to the right of the video.


Once the screen with the captions appears, you may scroll down to review them.

  • Select the Edit button to make any changes to the script
  • You can now correct and make changes to the text in each frame. When you click on the text to change it, the video will advance to that timeframe so you can listen and identify what is being said


To edit the placement of captions in the timeline:

  • Grab the edges of each box with your mouse and drag them to where you would like them to be
  • Once you are satisfied with your edits, select the Publish Edits button

Demonstrating the movement of the timeline boxes to adjust the timing of each caption.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are some keyboard shortcuts to help speed along the editing process:

  • <Shift> + <Left>: Seek back 1 second
  • <Shift> + <Right>: Seek forward 1 second
  • <Shift> + <Space>: Pause or play the video
  • <Shift> + <Enter>: Add a new line
  • <Shift> + <Down>: Edit next subtitle
  • <Shift> + <Up>: Edit previous subtitle
  • <Enter>: Add the subtitle

Troubleshoot automatic captions issues

If your video doesn't generate automatic captions, it could be due to one of the following reasons:

  • The captions aren't available yet due to processing complex audio in the video
  • 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