YouTube generates captions automatically for most videos. This is useful even if you are not using Youtube to serve them; you can download the resulting captions file to use on other video platforms. For example, if I want to share a video on Facebook or Twitter or transcribe an interview for an article.
And if you need to convert the captions file to another format there are plenty of websites that offer the service for free,
You will always need to check and edit the text that Youtube generates.
You can now wait a few hours or a few days for Youtube to automatically create the captions for your video. Once your video captions are generated and edited for accuracy you are ready to make your videos public.
However, if you are impatient, you can also add and edit captions manually.
Assuming captions have not already been generated you will be presented with a dialog box with three choices,
I recommend you use the Auto-sync option.
To use Auto-sync – write out a full transcript of your video – ignoring any related time information. Then click the Auto-sync option and paste your text into the form field. Click Submit.
Youtube will then create the timings automatically – syncing your text with the audio of your video.
Writing out a transcript of the video in your favourite word processor is easier than typing the captions into the YouTube form as you watch the video. I’ve done that many times and it’s a taxing and time-consuming activity.
To edit your captions, click the Subtitles link from the left-hand menu and choose the video you would like to edit.
To edit the automatically added captions click DUPLICATE AND EDIT and a new editable copy will be created.
Then click the Edit link for the copy of the published captions text.
YouTube is not good at adding proper punctuation and capitalisation of words – so be sure to look for those issues.
To download the captions file click on the three dots to the right of the EDIT AS TEXT link within the captions dialog and choose Download subtitles.
By default, it downloads the captions in .sbv format (it does for me – but check if that’s the case for you). Use a conversion service such as the one provided by Arizona State University to convert the file to .srt.
If you Google for .sbv to .srt conversion you will find several websites that will cover the file for free.
© Jim Byrne 2022