Quick and Easy Captions for YouTube


As a captioner and #a11y advocate, nothing annoys me more than videos that only have the YouTube auto-generated captions. Also as a captioner, I know how time consuming doing proper captions can be.

So I was elated when I discovered that there’s actually a fairly quick and user-friendly way to create your own captions with just a little editing, right from YouTube’s auto-generated transcript.

How do you do it?

Go to your video on YouTube on the regular video playing screen anybody would see when they go to watch your video.

YouTube video play screen.

Click the three dots at the bottom right corner of the video, then click “Open Transcript.”

The transcript will appear beside the video on the right.

YouTube auto-generated transcript.

Click the three dots by the transcript and then click “Toggle timestamps.” That will get rid of the timestamps and allow you to highlight and copy all of the text.

Paste the text you copied into a new Word file or Doc and copy edit for grammar and punctuation.

For every speaker change, indicate it with >> and a space. Each new speaker gets a new line in your document. Like this:

>> Courtney:

>> Narrator:

Then you’ll save the edited document as a .txt file.

Go back to YouTube (your channel dashboard, studio.youtube.com)

Side menu bar on YouTube creator studio.

Click “Transcriptions.”

YouTube video selection screen.

Click the video you want to add captions to. Set the language and that will take you to another screen.

YouTube video transcript language selection screen.

Click “Add Language.”

Select English (or whatever language you’re captioning in).

Click “Add.”

Select “Upload a file.”

Caption or transcript upload popup.

Leave “Transcript” selected and click “Choose File.” Navigate to the .txt file you saved wherever you saved it to, click upload, give YouTube a few minutes to do it’s thing and you will soon have non-shitty, legible captions AND a proper transcript!

YouTube automatically times your edited .txt file with the words as they’re spoken in the video, so you don’t need to worry about doing time stamps yourself because it’s a pain in the ass.

For bonus accessibility points, unpublish the “English (Automatic)” because they’re trash here:

YouTube captions languages selection screen.

When you hover your cursor there, you’ll see three dots appear for options, click it and select “Delete.”