How To Add Captions To Your Videos

You’ve recorded it, uploaded to your computer/cloud, edited a logo animation, a transition or two – then what? How do you add captions to your videos?

Let’s just remind ourselves why captions are valuable to our video content:

  • People tend to watch longer (see this research by Instapage as some proof)
  • YouTube and google can’t watch/index video content but they can read text, so closed caption files and video discriptions can improve the reach and views of you video content
  • It makes your content more accessible to a more diverse audience

With 80% of viewers watching video without sound, it’s important to add visuals to let people know what your video is about and whether they want to save it for later to listen to, or watch it now with captions or titles.

Captions can be time consuming and pretty tedious to be honest.

Following is a few ways to add video captions, and the pros and cons of each. So hopefully you can choose a method and not lose your mind along with it.

Option 1 – Adding Captions With Video Editing Software

I use iMovie because it’s free and pretty easy to work out (here’s a short 10 min tutorial if you need it).
If you have Windows, you could try Windows Movie Maker, some of the other microsoft products, or check our Filmora.
  1. Upload your video file to your video editor
  2. Add titles there manually: watch a bit of video, add the title of your choice, then type in the words you say
  3. Save to your computer, and hey presto the captions stay with the video file

>>>there’s an example of iMovie titles in a recent promo video on the right>>>

  • captions remain always with the video file (so can’t be turned on and off, and you can add the video anywhere and the captions will go with it
  • it can be immediate and fast if your videos are less than a minute
  • Captions in the MP4 file can’t be indexed by Google for SEO. Not sure about that? Here’s more information.
  • OMG tedium!! This is the definition of watching paint dry, grass grow and kids sport all in the one package.
Although splash a beautiful colour on the wall and I might choose it over doing captions manually in iMovie. And the longer the video the more of your life you lose…
  • it’s pretty fast and cheap ($1 per minute of video)
  • you can use it as a transcript by adding the text to a pdf
  • Google and YouTube can index a closed caption/srt file to improve your SEO
  • it’s pretty simple to add to the video file
  • people can turn captions on and off
  • if you share on another platform the captions don’t always show and need to be switched on
  • if you are creating longer videos, over 5 minutes or so, this is your best option

Option 2 – Adding Captions With a Third Party Captions File

  1. Add the video to youtube (unlisted is fine, it’s like a draft and you’re only doing this to get the share url, so you don’t have to add any other youtube bells and whistles at this stage)
  2. Grab the url and send it to
  3. They send back an srt file
  4. Open it in text editor or similar and read through while watching the movie to proofread it
  5. Open youtube and add the captions file in the subtitles menu in video editor
  6. Do the same if you are adding the file directly to Facebook (upload video to your post, then once it’s loaded, you can add a captions file – instructions here)

Option 3 Using Auto-Captions in Facebook and YouTube

Some fortunate beasts have the ability to auto generate captions in Facebook. And you can also do it in YouTube.
Open the video and click to edit. The editing screen allows you to add captions. This is where you add you .srt file, but if you click “generate” like the photo on the right, the editing screen pops up. You should check each line – because you don’t want to end up publishing the one over here – FB Auto Captions Fail!
A word of warning – test it on a short amount of text and ‘save’ to see if it works. Sometimes you can’t tell if you can use this feature until you try to save something. Don’t waste 30 minutes editing the captions only to find it doesn’t save. I value the safety of your laptop…

Option 4: Key Word Titles

When I am in a super hurry and the thought of making captions makes me prefer a needle in the eye, adding keywords or headings through the video can still help the viewer, without the hours thrown away doing word for word captions. Here’s an example of one:

There are prettier software options than the titles in iMovie, but I have always just wanted to use what I already have and not learn a whole new software. Camtasia, etc etc.

BONUS option

Outsource the lot to someone else to do from start to finish. There is merit in finding an VA who can add your captions and post your videos. SO MUCH LESS WORK!

Over To You

Do you add captions to your videos? Whats you’re favourite method?

Would you like to know more about how to craft powerful video messages, set up on a budget to create high impact social videos for your business marketing and more? No more random acts of video or facebook live! Check out my workshop dates here – run in Melbourne and online, there’s bound to be one to suit you xx

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