Captioning YouTube Videos

Why caption videos?

  • Required for accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • For anyone in noisy situations, when the audio quality is poor, or where noise isn’t allowed
  • Make your video text searchable by search engines
  • Increase comprehension, especially for people with English as a second language


YouTube already has automatic captions so why should I have my videos manually captioned?

YouTube does offer an automatic caption service. Unfortunately, the technology that YouTube (which comes from Google) uses is not always accurate in choosing the correct captions.

For example, below you will see a clip from a recent Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. This clip has utilized automatic captioning from the YouTube site. The automatic caption reads, “my dream is killed three months to make my community.” What the person is actually saying is, “My dream is pretty much just to give back to my community.”

UCA Auto Caption Example


Automatic captions are, in theory, a great idea aimed at making YouTube more accessible. However, as seen above, the auto captions are not always correct and this can cause significant confusion for students who rely on the text to capture the content of the video or don’t hear the audio. It is important to check and see if the automatic captions for your video work before you show the video clip in class! If the captions don’t match up with what is being said, we have provided the steps below to caption all of your YouTube videos.


How to caption videos


Upload the video to YouTube


The video has to be in your YouTube channel.

If it’s not your video, you will need to download the video.

  1. Copy the link to whatever YouTube video you are attempting to caption
  2. Go to:
  3. Enter the link and click “Download”.
  4. You will be shown multiple formats to download your video. We suggest downloading the clip in MP4.
  5. Go to your YouTube page and “Upload” the clip into your channel.
  6. Be aware of copyright issues!


Download the automatic captions


Thanks to Market Duru, which has an instructional video at

  1. In your YouTube Channel when you log in, choose “Video Manager”.
  2. In the Edit pulldown menu, choose “Captions”.
  3. Click on “English (automatic captions)”, then “Actions”. Under Download, the file format you want to download will be .sbv
    Download Automatic Captions

Edit the captions


  1. Open the captions.sbv file in Notepad.
    Caption Before Edit
  2.  Remove the timestamps and correct the captions. Put linebreaks so that there are no more than about 10 words per line.Captions After Edits

Get the correct timestamps

Go to

    1. Paste in the URL of your YouTube video.
    2. Paste in the edited captions in your captions.svb file.
    3. Click Play to start the video, and click Add timestamps by clicking a when you hear each line.
  1. When you’re done, you’ll see your captions file with timestamps added.

New Captions with Timestamp


Upload your corrected captions to the video


  1. Copy and paste into a Notepad file.
  2. Save it as a .sub file (not caption.sub.txt).
  3. Go back to your video in YouTube and choose Add new captions.
    Adding Your Captions
  4. Upload your corrected captions file.
    Uploading Caption File
  5. Disable the automatic captions by going back to the Track List and selecting “English (automatic captions)”. Then, click “Action” and selecting “Disable”.
    Disable Auto Captions
  6. Enjoy your video with captions!


*Adapted from the Northern Illinois University- Presidential Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities