How to Auto-Caption YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts need captions, but Shorts doesn't have an auto-captioning feature yet. In this article, I'll show you a great work around for auto-captioning YouTube Shorts.

How to Auto-Caption YouTube Shorts

Captioning short-form content is super important. It makes videos more accessible and keeps viewers engaged whether they have the sound on or off. Auto-captions make this process quick and easy but not all platforms have an auto-cap function.

Like YouTube Shorts.

So, how do you add AI-powered captions to your YouTube Shorts without spending a ton of time and effort manually typing them out? In this article, I'll show you how to auto-caption YouTube Shorts with an online video editor called Kapwing.

Step 1) Upload Your Video to Kapwing

Head over to Kapwing's subtitle generator to get started.

You'll be prompted to sign into your account if you're not already logged in and from there will be able to create a new project. When you open your new project, you'll see the upload options.

You can either upload your video from your device with drag and drop, upload from Google Drive or Photos, or paste a link to a TikTok video or other short-form video online.

Step 2) Generate Auto-Captions for Your Video

Once your video is uploaded, head to the Subtitles tab on the left sidebar and click "Generate Subtitles."

This will automatically add captions synced with the exact timing of your speech.

Set your caption language settings (you can even translate your captions if you want), then wait for the subtitler to do its thing. The process time varies depending on the length of your video, but for short-form videos you typically only need to wait a few moments.

For this example, it took less than a minute to generate auto-captions.

Step 3) Customize Your Auto-Captions

When the captions are ready, you'll see them appear on your video if you press play on the preview. You'll also see a full overview of the captions, including time stamps of where they appear in the video, in the Subtitles window to the left.

Take a moment to read through them and make sure they're correct. If you find something you do need to change, like a homophone that's been transcribed incorrectly or a name that's been misspelled, it's easy to correct.

Just click on the mistake in the transcription and edit it like a Word document.  

There are a few different things you can do to change how the auto-captions on your YouTube Short look.

1) Adjust the Characters Per Subtitle

To change how many words are in each subtitle, simply move the Character Per Subtitle slider.

For a short-form video, I'd recommend only having a few words on the screen at a time. Otherwise, it could become cluttered and difficult to read, which is the opposite of accessible and engaging.

2) Change the Font, Color, and Size

Click on the subtitle text box to see the Edit menu on the right side. Within this menu, you have the option to customize your subtitle's font, font color, font size, background color, and background styling.

You can keep things simple, curate a branded look, or just be colorful and fun.

The important thing to keep in mind is that your auto-captions should still be nice and legible. That means high contrast for color choices (no white font on a beige background) and easy-to-read fonts with a heavier line weight and without a ton of serifs or curly-cues.

3) Add an Animation to Your Subtitles

Click on the Animations tab on the right to choose from seven different subtitle animation styles.

Most of these are karaoke-style animations that highlight or reveal the word actively being spoken as you speak it. They add an extra bit of color and movement to your video that will help keep viewers engaged.

Click on a style to see a preview of how it would look with your captions and customize the different color and style options available.

Step 4) Use Safe Zones to Keep Captions Visible

Once you've finished customizing and editing your auto-captions, click on the canvas. The canvas is just the dark background behind your video preview. In the Canvas menu on the right, you'll see an option to "Show Safe Zones."

Using Safe Zones lets you check if your content will be visible once you publish it to TikTok, Instagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts by placing a transparent overlay onto your video while you edit it.

Since we're making a YouTube Short, choose the option to show Safe Zones for YouTube Shorts.

My subtitles are safely inside the clear area in the middle where they won't be covered by a video description, the like, share, and comment buttons, or any other features.

Step 5) Export and Share to YouTube Shorts

When everything is exactly how you want it, hit the Export button and choose your file format and sizing preferences.

Download your video then upload it to YouTube Shorts and publish as usual — except now it has auto-captions!

Hopefully you found this article helpful in your quest for adding auto-captions to YouTube Shorts. For more creator tips, tricks, and tools like this, check out our Resources Library or visit our YouTube Channel.

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