How to Add Subtitles to YouTube

Enhance your videos with closed captioning

screenshot of a YouTube video with closed captioning

Adding subtitles to your YouTube videos allows viewers who are hearing impaired to enjoy your content via the use of closed captioning. They're also useful if you’d like viewers who speak a language other than your own to have the ability to view your videos. Viewers may also want to watch your content with their sound muted, so learning how to add subtitles to YouTube videos could widen your audience. 

How to Put Subtitles on YouTube Videos

Adding subtitles to your videos can't be done in YouTube Studio. As a result you’ll need to revert to Creator Studio Classic, described in the steps below.

  1. Open a web browser and navigate to the YouTube Video Manager, entering your Google Account credentials, if prompted.

  2. The YouTube Studio interface will now appear, unless you’ve previously switched back to Creator Studio Classic or if you’ve never upgraded your experience. Select the Menu icon, represented by three horizontal lines and located in the upper left-hand corner.

    screenshot of YouTube Studio
  3. When the drop-down menu appears, select Creator Studio Classic.

    screenshot of YouTube Studio menu
  4. You may be asked why you’re returning to Creator Studio Classic at this point. Select a reason and select Submit, or Skip if you’d prefer not to answer.

    screenshot of YouTube Studio questionnaire
  5. You should now see the Creator Studio Classic interface, as shown in the accompanying screenshot. A list of your uploaded videos should be displayed, each accompanied by a drop-down menu located directly under the date and timestamp. Select the drop-down menu, then select Subtitles/CC.

    screenshot of YouTube Creator Studio Classic
  6. A set video language dialog should now appear, overlaying the main browser window. Choose the language used most in the video from the list provided, then select Set language when ready.

    screenshot of YouTube Set Video Language dialog
  7. Select Add new subtitles or CC.

    screenshot of YouTube Manage Subtitles and Closed Captions interface
  8. When the drop-down menu appears, choose the language you’d like to use for your subtitles. 

    screenshot of YouTube Subtitles Language selection
  9. You’ll now be asked to select a method for adding your subtitles. Select Upload a file to submit a file you’ve already populated with your captions and their corresponding timings. The file’s contents should be in one of YouTube’s approved formats.

    screenshot of subtitle methods in YouTube Creator Studio Classic

    Before selecting one of the following options, note that automatic captions may have already been added to your video via Google’s voice recognition technology.

  10. Select Transcribe and auto-sync to type your own subtitles to correspond with the spoken audio, later utilizing the Set timings feature to synchronize the transcript with your video. If you’re adding closed captions you’ll also want to include background sound notifications like "[cheering]" or "[music]."

    screenshot of YouTube Transcribe and Auto-Sync interface

    The Transcript and auto-sync option can only be used in the video’s original spoken language.

  11. Select Create new subtitles or CC to enter or edit subtitles for each individual scene, each accompanied by its corresponding timestamp. By default, autogenerated content will be populated and is completely editable. 

How to Turn on Subtitles on YouTube

If you’re not a creator or uploader, but instead a viewer who'd like to see subtitles on videos you’re watching on YouTube, take the following steps to enable this feature.

  1. Navigate to the video you wish to view.

  2. Select CC, located in the lower right-hand corner of the video player window.

    If the CC button is grayed out or not visible altogether then captions/subtitles are not available in the current video. 

  3. Subtitles and/or captions should now appear while your video is playing.

Set Subtitles to Turn on Automatically

You can also modify your YouTube account settings so that closed captions and subtitles are automatically displayed by default. 

  1. Select your Google Account icon, located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. 

  2. When the pop-out menu appears, select Settings.

    screenshot of YouTube menu
  3. Your YouTube settings interface should now be displayed. Select Playback and performance, located in the left menu pane.

    screenshot of YouTube Account screen
  4. In the Captions section, select Always show captions and Show automatic captions by speech recognition (when available) to enable them, then select Save to complete the process.

    screenshot of YouTube Playback and Performance settings