How to Add Captions and Subtitles to Your Videos: 5 Easy Options

Adding captions or subtitles to your video content is beneficial not just to your audience, but to your brand as well. After all, captioned videos can help boost your search engine results and make it easier for you to localize your content. Likewise, quality captions can compensate for background noise in your video while also ensuring accessibility and flexibility to your viewers.

Simply put, if you’re not already incorporating captions with each video your brand uploads—you probably should be. But where should you begin? Do you really need to sit down and painstakingly transcribe your videos word-for-word?

If that sounds tedious and time-consuming, that’s because it is. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that make adding captions and subtitles to your content relatively quick and simple so you don’t have to spend hours transcribing—or dole out a chunk of your brand’s marketing budget to hire a transcriber.

Below, we’re covering five different methods on how to add captions to videos. From our easy-to-use tool at Wave.video to subtitle options through YouTube Studio, Google Drive, Adobe Spark, and iMovie—we’ve got you covered.

#1. Adding Captions with Wave.video

Not to toot our own horn, but we like to think that our captioning tool at Wave.video is hands-down the simplest and most effective option on the web. In fact, using our video maker, you can turn speech into text in just a few easy steps.

Step 1. Sign Up

If you’re not a Wave.video user yet, sign up and become one! You won’t regret it, we promise.

Step 2. Create or Upload Your Video

Begin by uploading your video file directly to your Wave.video account. If you haven’t yet created your video, you can do so directly in our platform’s online video maker.

Add captions to videos - upload to wave.video

Step 3. Automatically Generate Captions

Next, simply use our captioning feature to generate automatic captions and subtitles for your video. The speech from your video will be automatically transcribed. Alternatively, if you have your own captions or prefer to upload an existing transcription, you always have the option to upload a .srt or .vtt file with your subtitles.

Step 4. Customize Captions to Match Your Brand

After you’ve used our automatic transcription feature or uploaded your own subtitles manually, all that’s left to do is to review your captions, make changes as necessary, and customize your captions as you see fit. Even though our automatic transcription software is very accurate, it’s always a good idea to review the subtitles for yourself to make sure no corrections are needed before you publish.

When it comes to customizing your captions, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from with Wave.video. Not only can you switch up your subtitle font, but you can also change the font size and color to align with your brand. You can also select from backgrounds for your subtitles, whether you want them to be shadowed, placed in an opaque box, or just about anything else you could imagine.

Add captions to videos - customize captions

You also have the option to “burn” captions into your video or allow them to be toggled on/off by your viewer.

Once you’re happy with your captioned video, simply download it in .mp4 format and you’ll be ready to upload!

Voila! That’s all there is to captioning your videos in Wave.video; it really is that simple, so be sure to give this tool a try the next time you upload or create a video. Remember that all Wave.video users with a Business plan subscription enjoy 200 minutes of free captioning each month; from there, additional captions cost just five extra cents per minute.

Add Captions and Subtitles to Your Videos Easily

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#2. Adding Captions with YouTube Studio

If you upload videos to YouTube, you also have the option of using the YouTube Studio tool to either add your own video captions or auto-generated subtitles. YouTube’s auto-generated captions are now available on both uploaded videos and selected English live streams (on channels with more than 1,000 subscribers).

Automatic captions for on-demand videos are available in a wide range of languages, including not just English but French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. Not sure where to begin when using YouTube Studio to generate automatic captions? Follow the steps below!

Step 1. Sign in to YouTube Studio

Begin by logging into your YouTube Studio account; this is where you go to upload and manage your brand’s YouTube videos. Once you’re logged in, select the “Subtitles” option from the menu on the left side of the screen.

Adding captions with youtube studio

Step 2. Choose Your Video

Next, select the video you’d like to add auto-generated captions to. If you haven’t yet uploaded your video, you’ll be prompted to do this before you proceed. After you’ve selected your video, captions will be automatically generated based on YouTube’s speech-recognition software.

In most cases, subtitles are ready in just a matter of seconds after selecting your video. However, if you have a particularly long video, the processing time may be longer. Just be patient!

Step 3. Review and Edit Transcribed Captions

After your video is captioned, you should review the subtitles carefully to make sure there are not any errors. It is not uncommon for YouTube’s software to incorrectly transcribe some words due to things like dialects, background noise, or mispronunciations of words.

Once you’re happy with your video’s subtitles, all that’s left to do is to save your work. The next time somebody views your video, they’ll have the option to toggle captions on or off as desired!

Uploading Your Own Subtitles on YouTube Studio

Alternatively, you can add your own captions to any YouTube video through your YouTube Studio account. Simply log in, select “Subtitles” from the menu on the left side of the screen, and select your video. Then, choose your subtitle language and click “add.”

From there, you’ll be prompted to upload your supported subtitle file (.srt, .sbv, etc.). You’ll then have the option to select your subtitles to upload with or without timing. Be sure to review your subtitles after they’ve uploaded and make any edits as needed before saving and publishing your work, and you’ll be all set!

#3. Adding Captions with Google Drive

While Google Drive doesn’t offer an automatic generator for subtitles, you can still add them to your videos manually by following a couple of simple steps.

Step 1. Create a Caption File

Google Drive currently supports .srt and .sub file formats for video captions, so you’ll need to begin by creating your caption document and saving it as one of these file extensions. This can be a time-consuming process if you’re transcribing manually—so you may want to consider using a transcription service if you have it in your budget to do so.

When creating your own transcript file, Google recommends using descriptions like [laughter] or [music] in square brackets to make your subtitles more accessible. If there is a change in speaker, you can also denote this by adding “>>” at the point where a new speaker begins.

Step 2. Link Your Caption File to Your Video

Once your subtitle file is completed, select the video in your Google Drive account that you’d like to link it to. If If you haven’t already uploaded your video, do this before moving on.

After you’ve selected your video, click on the “More” option next to the video and select “Manage caption tracks.” Then, click “Add new caption tracks” and use the “Select file” option to choose your file. From there, all you have to do is select your caption language and click “Upload.”

As with using any caption or subtitle program, always be sure to check your work and make edits as needed. If you need to change any captions, you can do so by selecting the “Manage caption tracks” setting in your video and clicking on the caption track you wish to edit. From there, simply select “edit” and make any changes needed before saving.

Translating Captions in Other Languages

Google Drive also offers a convenient translating option for subtitles; to make subtitles available in another language, simply go to the video you’ve already uploaded captions to and click the “Settings” button on the bottom-right side of the screen. At the bottom of the language list, select “Auto-translate” and then choose a language!

#4. Adding Captions with Adobe Spark

If you use Adobe Spark to create graphics and videos, you should also be aware of this program’s subtitle feature. This feature is pretty easy to use—but like Google Drive, there is no automated option available. On the flip side, you can actually add your captions directly to your video in Adobe Spark, rather than having to create a separate caption file; you might find this to be an easier and more user-friendly option if you’re not familiar with creating caption files.

adding captions with adobe spark

To add subtitles in Adobe Spark, follow four simple steps.

Step 1. Upload Your Video Content

Begin by opening up your Adobe Spark app and upload your video content, if you haven’t done so already. Be sure to select the size format that suits your needs.

Step 2. Add Your Subtitles

Next, select the “Layout” tab, followed by the “Caption” option to add subtitles for a specific clip. After choosing your layout, you can use the “+” button to add text as needed. Here, you’ll also have the option to change the size of your subtitle font as you see fit.

Step 3. Customize Your Design

After your captions have been added, there are many ways to customize your design to suit your brand and serve your audience. Above your video, look for the “Theme” button, which allows you to change the font and colors of your subtitles. You can also select the pencil icon to delve deeper into customization options, such as adding a colored background to your subtitles for greater readability.

Step 4. Revisit and Revise

Take time to review your video with the captions in place and make changes as needed. With Adobe Spark, you can easily revert back to previous versions of videos if you need to—so feel free to get creative and play around with your caption designs until you find one that sticks!

#5. Adding Captions with iMovie

iMovie isn’t exactly the easiest tool for adding subtitles to your videos, but it is an option. The thing to be aware of if you’re using iMovie to add captions is that this program doesn’t support traditional caption files—so you’ll actually need to add your captions manually and frame-by-frame to your video. This can be a little time-consuming and cumbersome, but this process will work in a pinch (and is ideal for shorter videos).

Step 1. Import Your Video

Start by uploading your video to iMovie. From your computer, you can do this by selecting “Import Media” from the File menu and then choosing the video file from your hard drive.

Step 2. Add Text Boxes for Captions

From there, you’ll need to add individual text boxes on every part of your video that requires subtitles. You can add an individual subtitle by selecting the “Titles” menu option at the top of your iMovie timeline page.

When adding a title, you’ll need to manually position it on the frame; try to choose somewhere in close proximity to your speaker. From there, you’ll also need to adjust the amount of time the text box remains in the frame to align with the speaker in your video. This will require a bit of trial and error, and you’ll need to repeat this process for each subtitle.

Step 3. Check Your Work and Export Your Video

As always, check your work to make sure your captions line up properly with your speakers and that you’re happy with the finished product. From there, you can save and export your video to whatever platform you’d like!

The Bottom Line on Video Subtitles

Ultimately, Wave.video and YouTube Studio are your most convenient options if you’re wondering how to add subtitles to videos without having to transcribe and manually enter them yourself. With automatic caption generation, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle. Still, other programs like Google Drive, Adobe Spark, and iMovie make it possible to add your own captions manually if needed.

Regardless of how you end up doing it, adding subtitles to your videos makes your content more accessible—which can in-turn boost your brand’s industry reputation.

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