How to Add Captions to TikToks

Creating a TikTok with captions improves accessibility, increases engagement, and is quick to do with the auto-caption feature. Follow this tutorial to begin captioning your TikTok videos.

How to Add Captions to TikToks

Almost all TikTok videos use sound, but including captions allows the video to be more accessible to viewers. With increased engagement, your video could land on more “For You” pages.

Prior to the auto-caption feature, users had to type and time text to match their dialogue. Now, captions only take a few taps to create. Currently this feature is only available in American English and Japanese, but other languages will be supported in the future.

I'll show you how to use the auto-caption feature in TikTok and to make up for the limited languages, I'll show you how to generate captions in Kapwing.

Kapwing is a free online video editor that is popular among TikTokers. For example, racial justice advocate Kimberly Foster using Kapwing to add Closed Captions to TikToks and Instagram Reels. Creators can apply this technique for any vertical video.

How to Auto-Caption TikTok Videos

Using the auto-caption feature is a straight-forward process and only takes a few minutes to put into action. Grab your phone and let's jump into the tutorial.

  1. Record or upload a TikTok video
  2. Turn on the auto- caption feature
  3. Edit Captions

Step One: Record or Upload a TikTok video

Open TikTok on your mobile device, tap the + tab, then upload a video from your camera roll or record a video. You can record one video or a series of short clips that are up to 60 seconds and have a 9x16 aspect ratio. In this example, I recorded a short video in the app. Tap the red checkmark after recording or tap next if you uploaded a video.

Step Two: Turn on the Auto-Caption Feature

Click the down carrot on the right side of the screen to reveal the captions feature. Tap on captions, then you'll see a consent form. This basically states that you consent to the use of the audio to generate captions. Tap the small circle at the bottom to accept and turn on captions.

Step Three: Edit Captions

Tap the play button next to a line of text to make sure the captions match what you're saying. You can fix errors by tapping the pencil icon, then tap the line of text you want to edit and enter the correct word or phrase. When you're finished, tap save in the top right corner of the screen.

Watch the replay and your captions will appear on the screen. You can tap the captions to edit it again or to delete them. You can only move the captions up and down the left side of the screen and blue grid lines will appear as you move the captions. When you're finished, tap next, fill out the last screen and post your video.

The auto-caption feature isn't perfect, but it did great job of getting the majority of my dialogue correct. There are a few things I hope to see improved in the future. Of course, I want more languages to be supported so a diverse audience can enjoy TikTok videos. I imagine this will happen sooner than later, but we'll see.

Next, you can't customize the captions, so everyone is stuck with same font, color, and background color. This seems minor, but I enjoy having creative control over every aspect of my content. Lastly, captions aren't burned into the video. If you save the video to repurpose it for another platform, you'll have to add captions all over again.

How to Customize Auto-Captions for TikTok

Kapwing's subtitle maker is a free alternative to TikTok's auto-caption feature with added benefits. You can choose from hundred of languages, change the font, customize the colors and adjust the positioning. You can use Kapwing on any iPhone, Android, PC, or tablet. Let's get started.

Follow these 3 steps to add captions directly into TikTok videos.

  1. Upload the video clip(s)
  2. Generate or add captions
  3. Export, download and share the video to TikTok
video tutorial

1. Upload the video clips to the Kapwing Studio

Begin by heading to Kapwing's Subtitle Maker and click "Start Editing" to enter the Kapwing Studio. Here, you can upload the entire video.

If the video is already posted on TikTok, you can paste the URL of the TikTok video into the paste box to import it into the editor.

After the video is uploaded, you’ll be able to edit the video before adding subtitles. Trim the clip by dragging the ends of the layer so the video meets TikTok's 60 second requirement. You can combine multiple clips together  in the timeline, crop or zoom in on the video, and change up the speed.

2. Generate or Add Captions

The next step is to actually add subtitles on your 9:16 TikTok video.

In the Kapwing Studio, click the subtitles button on the top menu. From there, type in the spoken content and use the time bar to time exactly when in the TikTok you want the subtitles to appear.  

You can also be creative with your captions! The best TikToks use fun and colorful captions to stand out and grab viewers’ attention. Using the menu on the left, you can change the text color, size, or font and position the subtitles.

Another cool thing about the Kapwing Subtitles Editor is that it has an AI-powered auto-generated feature. Kapwing can automatically create subtitles that match your audio in a matter of minutes. Just click the Auto-Generate button, underneath "+ Add subtitle", to try it out. Automatic transcription works well if your TikTok has clear dialogue without much background noise.

Select a language from the dropdown menu , then tap auto-generate again to begin transcribing your TikTok video. This shouldn't take too long since, TikTok videos are one minute or less.

After the auto-generated captions appear, you can use the sliders to adjust the timings and correct any spelling or grammar errors.

On TikTok, the most popular style is to use white text with a black outline for captions. This is also the default style in Kapwing's Subtitles Editor.

3. Export and share it to TikTok

When your video is finished, make sure the output size is 9:16 (the perfect size for the Tik Tok app!) and click 'Export video' in the upper righthand corner. Download the video to your camera roll. Now it's ready to be posted directly onto TikTok through the app.

Reach out to us on Instagram or Twitter and let us know your thoughts on the subtitle maker in Kapwing Studio. Then, head over to TikTok to watch our latest videos.

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