Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Adding captions to YouTube videos is as easy as (mince) pie

What better time than 4 pm on 22 December to start a blog post.

I saw via Twitter a while ago that YouTube had made it possible to add closed captions (subtitles you can turn on or off) to YouTube videos. This had been something that I'd wanted to do a while ago to our What it means to be a critical student tutorial that I'd blogged about back in September.

You can find the instructions in YouTube's help centre item called Getting Started: Adding / Editing captions, plus additional instructions on Getting Started: Preparing a Transcript File. I decided that I wanted to test out using a transcript file rather than a caption file as this would be much quicker if it worked - and this is what the help article says about it:
YouTube uses experimental speech recognition technology to provide automatic timing for your English transcript. Automatic timing creates a caption file that you can download. Short videos with good sound quality and clear spoken English synchronize best.
And I tried it and it worked a treat! We already had the script in a word document so I simply pasted it into Notepad, removed any special characters (bullets, in our case) and then uploaded it as per the instructions. The speech recognition software did it's job brilliantly and timed the captions perfectly. The only errors occurred where Steve (the narrator) had deviated from the script. It was an easy job to edit the transcript on paper whilst watching the captions. I then amended the .txt file and uploaded it again. Fantastic and well done Google on making captioning quick and easy!

Here it is - and just click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner menu to turn the captions on.


  1. I never knew that adding captions could perhaps be so straightforward. I'll look to try this next time I use YouTube for a tutorial video. Defo ticks inclusion boxes.

    Cheers Stu :)

  2. Hey Adam. For some reason Wordpress thought your comment was spam so only just found it. Sorry for the delay in replying and glad it was useful. Have you tried it yet?

  3. Cheers for this Stu - and yes it was easy. Added them to one of my Christmas flicks

  4. Stuart Johnson you rule i was looking for very long time for how to do it and here i found it thank you dude.!

  5. Stu - was just messing with screenr today and found a really nice browser based captioning system for youtube. have just tried it on the friendfeed screenr, make take a while before it updates on youtube.

  6. Looks promising. Let me know when I can see the e.g. Ta

  7. [...] published on YouTube you can add closed captions (useful for accessibility [...]