YouTube needs no introduction but most videos have no subtitles or only the automatic version which apart from a few laughs at hilarious mistakes is not good for those of us with hearing issues.  Add to this that people who have problems with English (or what ever language the video is in) may well do better with a written version than a spoken and it makes sense to do.

Luckily Google have made it quite simple to fix, if a little time consuming for a longer video.

Upload your video

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If you have not already done this the first step is to get your video up to YouTube.  Depending on the video this is often as simple as clicking on the upload button on any page in YouTube when you are logged in and then dragging and dropping the video.  If your video needs editing or any changes to make this is the time to do it.  You do not want to go to the effort to write a transcript only to have it invalidated as you change your video.

Create your subtitles

Subtitles or transcripts should be uploaded to YouTube as a simple .txt file.  This can be written in Notepad in Windows or TextEdit on OSX or most simple third party editors.   Now you need to transcribe everything said in the video into the text file verbatim.  There is no need to add time stamps.

Personally I find the easiest way to do this is to put the text file on one screen and the video on the other.  Use a the change windows shortcut on the keyboard (alt-tab) then a shortcut to start and stop the video as appropriate (for example spacebar in VLC).

Put different characters speech on different lines and do not forget to spell check at the end – this text will appear in the video.

Upload your subtitles

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Once you have transcribed the video it is time to upload it.  Go to the Video Manager section of the Uploads section of YouTube and select the down arrow next to the video.  From the list select Captions.

Add to the video

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On the next screen click the big Add Captions box.

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Select the correct language then ‘Upload Transcript’.  Select your txt file and tell it to sync.  Do not select upload timed caption file as we’re using the inbuilt syncing system that does not need time codes. The system will compute for however long it needs – this is generally quite short but will depend on the video and transcript.

Check it worked

Once it has finished you’ll want to play the video and check that it is working as it should and the soundtrack  and subtitles do sync up correctly.  They will most of the time but a particularly poor soundtrack might have some issues.


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