How to Turn Apple TV Closed Captions On or Off

Get subtitles only when you want them

Apple TV Home page.
Apple TV supports a number of accessibility features including closed caption and subtitles.

The Apple TV can provide closed caption services for those who are hard of hearing or deaf. Closed captions can also be used when watching in a noisy environment, allowing you to enjoy news or entertainment without cranking the volume up.

The Apple TV supports a number of ways to control subtitles. You can set closed captions to always be active or you can enable captioning on a show-by-show basis. You can also alter the subtitle style to better meet your needs.

How to Turn Apple TV Closed Caption on or off for All Supported Content

It doesn't matter which service you're using your Apple TV with – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple's homegrown video service – just about all services are going to include support for closed captions or SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing). While there's technically a difference between the two, for our purposes here, we can treat them both as a method to display the audio content of a show through subtitles.

To enable closed captions or SDH for all content:

  1. Starting at the Apple TV home screen, select the Settings icon.
  2. The Settings page will display a nicely organized list of options. Select General.
  3. From the list of general options, select Accessibility.
  4. From the Accessibility list, select Closed Captions and SDH. This will toggle the Closed Captions and SDH from off to on and back again.
  5. You can back out of the settings page by page using the Menu button on your remote, or use the Home button to jump back to the home screen.

Closed Captions and Subtitles for Current Show

You may not want to leave closed captions or SDH on all the time. Fortunately, the Apple TV can also turn subtitles on or off on a show-by-show basis.

Apple Tv Info panel and subtitles control.
Enable subtitles for any show you're watching via the Info panel.

On Apple TV 4 and Apple TV 4K:

  1. With a show selected and running, swipe down on the touch surface of the Apple TV remote to open the Info panel.
  2. The Info panel will display a short description of the show, along with a few additional options you can select.
  3. Swipe right to select Subtitles.
  4. With the Subtitles option highlighted swipe down, then select the option to turn subtitles On or Off.

Note: The actual option names may differ based on the service you're watching, but in general, you may see Auto, On, Off, or a language selection.

Using Siri:

On the Siri enabled remote, hold down the Siri key and say "Turn on Closed Captions." You can also ask Siri to "Turn off Closed Captions."

Using a Shortcut:

You can also access the closed caption options by triple tapping the Touch surface of the Apple TV remote.

On Apple TV 2 and Apple TV 3:

  1. With a show playing, hold down the Select button on the remote for about three seconds.
  2. A Subtitle tab will be displayed.
  3. Select the appropriate option to turn on or turn off subtitles.

Customize Closed Caption and Subtitle Styles

You can customize the subtitles style to better suit your needs. You can alter the font used, the font size, as well as font color. Additionally, you can set the background color the font is set against and control the opacity percentage.

From the home screen go to Settings > General > Accessibility. Then, from the list of options, select Style.

What you see at this point depends on whether or not you've previously created or edited any styles. You'll likely see options to Edit Style, Create New Style, or use a predefined style. You may also see a number of styles you can select to edit. No matter which option you choose you'll be able to make changes to the style.

Edit Apple TV subtitle styles.
You can modify the look of how closed captions and subtitles are displayed.

The style editing page will include a list of changes you can make as well as a preview showing you what the style changes will look like:

  • Description: The style name.
  • Font: Choose this option to change the font type. The currently selected font name is displayed.
  • Size: You have limited size options to select from.
  • Color: There are basic color choices to choose from with the current color listed in the item name.
  • Background: This is the color the font will be set in front of. Choose a background color that contrasts with the font color.
  • Opacity: This sets the background opacity, or how transparent the subtitles will look against the show being watched. 
  • Advanced Tools: These options let you change text opacity, edge style, and highlights.