How to Fix It When Roku Closed Captioning Won't Turn On

Figure out how to activate closed captioning when it's not working

Closed captioning is helpful you're hard of hearing, prefer to read what people are saying, are unable to understand the language, etc. Here's how to get closed captioning working again on a Roku.

The most likely "fix" for closed captions not working is to learn how they work—there are, surprisingly, a few ways to enable subtitles on the Roku, depending on the app you're using.

How Do I Activate Closed Captions on Roku?

There's an option in the Roku settings which you need to enable for closed captioning to work:

These instructions cover the standard way to enable subtitles on a Roku. Doing this turns on the system-wide captions, hence why you need to go into the device's settings to enable it. However, some streaming services control captions within their apps, so if this method doesn't work, be sure to see the other tips at the bottom of this page.

  1. Press the home button to go to the home screen.

  2. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Captions mode.

    If you don't see Accessibility, select Captions to open the captions menu.

  3. Choose On always.

    Roku captions mode options

What to Do When Roku Closed Captions Aren't Working

Enabling closed captions is just as simple as the above steps make it out to be. However, captions might still not work as you expect, either because of a software glitch or an app that uses its own subtitle options.

  1. Make sure the Roku's closed captioning setting is toggled on. It seems obvious, but they might have been turned off without you realizing it.

    Follow the steps outlined above to confirm captions are enabled. If they already are, shut them off, reboot the Roku, and then turn them back on.

    Don't skip over this step. Even if captions are already enabled, a reboot might be all that's needed to get them to show up. Do this through Settings > System > System restart > Restart.

  2. Verify the caption styles aren't customized to the point they aren't showing up correctly. They may be working just fine, but you can't see them very well.

    Go to Settings > Accessibility > Captions style, and walk through the Text size, Text color, Text opacity, and other relevant options, adjusting them as needed.

    Roku Captions style menu options
  3. Use the app's built-in closed captioning control if it has one. For example, if you're on YouTube, press the up arrow using the Roku remote until you reach the small menu right above the progress bar. Select the captions button and choose an option from that menu, such as English (auto-generated).

    Other apps are different, like Netflix's, where you need to press the down arrow on the remote to use the menu. One example of an option there is English [Original] with Subtitles.

    Netflix Roku app closed captioning menu
  4. Use the mobile app's captioning button, if possible. If the Roku remote or TV app won't let you enable closed captions, and the service you're using has a mobile app that supports Roku, look for an option there.

    Streaming services like Netflix and YouTube have mobile apps to cast video to the TV via the Roku. Playback and subtitle control are available directly from the app when you do this.

    YouTube uses a CC button for this purpose, and there's a similar option on the Netflix app and other streaming apps.

  5. Like the previous step, try casting from the service's desktop site. If enabling captions via the Roku app or mobile app isn't possible, there's likely an option through the desktop site.

    YouTube subtitle options
    YouTube subtitle options.
  6. Check for a Roku update. A bug could be to blame, and the only way to fix that is through a system update.

    Update checks occur automatically, but you can also check manually through Settings > System > System update > Check now.

  7. Reset your Roku. An issue with closed captioning is fully software-related, so if none of the above has fixed the problem, a complete software reset is your final option.

Was this page helpful?