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How to Transcribe a YouTube Video for FREE

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Sep 13, 2021• Proven solutions

If you want to transcribe your videos to make the dialogs and speeches available in text format, you can use YouTube Transcribe feature that the streaming site offers for free. In this article, I’ll share with you a couple of methods to transcribe a YouTube video for free.

Part 1: How to Transcribe YouTube Video Automatically for Free [2 Ways]

Besides the basic video editing features on the YouTube platform, you can now quickly transcribe YouTube videos to the text as well. The good thing is, you can either use the automatic transcription feature that YouTube offers, or upload it manually while adjusting the timing as you go further.

Below are the two methods to transcribe your YouTube videos for free:

Method 1: Use the Automated Transcription Service on YouTube

As the name suggests, YouTube automatic transcription service works automatically. This means you don’t even have to click the ‘Transcribe’ button anymore to transcribe a YouTube video, and the website takes care of it on its own. All you need to do is, choose English as the language of the video when setting up subtitles. You can follow the instructions given below to do so:

Step 1 Upload a Video

Sign in to your YouTube account, click your profile picture from the top-right corner, and click YouTube Studio from the menu. Next, click CREATE from the upper-right corner, click Upload videos from the menu, and drag and drop a video from your computer to the Upload videos box that appears next.

Upload YouTube videos

Step 2 Select Transcription Language

On the Details page of the next box that appears, scroll down and click MORE OPTIONS, and select English in the Video language drop-down list under the Language, subtitles, and closed captions (CC) section.

Select Language on YouTube

Step 3 Publish the Video

Follow the on-screen instructions from this point to publish the video, and wait while YouTube automatically transcribes and adds the close captions to it.

Note: Depending on the duration of the clip, the time YouTube would take to transcribe may vary.

After YouTube has transcribed the video, you can download the transcription file in your preferred format. The instructions are given below explain how you can do so:

  1. Get to the Subtitles Window

While on the YouTube Studio page, click Subtitles from the left pane to go to the Channel subtitles page. And then click the video you want to modify.

  1. Get to Classic Studio

In the video subtitle page of the target video, hover mouse on the Published Automatic status under the Subtitles column, click the Options icon (with three vertical dots) that appears, and click Edit on Classic Studio.

YouTube Classic Studio

  1. Download Transcription File

Click and open the Actions drop-down list from the top-left corner of the left pane, click your preferred transcription format including .vtt, .srt and .sbv from the list, and save the file on your local hard disk.

YouTube videos transcription

Method 2: Get YouTube Transcription when Watching

In addition, if you are watching any other video, you can make YouTube transcribe that for you as well. You can follow the instructions given below to get the YouTube video to text transcription:

Step 1: Play the Video

Go to the video on YouTube and start playing it. Make sure NOT to get to full-screen mode as doing so would hide the option to transcribe the clip.

Step 2: Enable Transcription

Click the More icon (with three horizontal dots) from under the bottom-right corner of the video player, and click Open transcript to see the video transcription in the Transcript pane that appears in the right.

Step 3: Manage Timestamps

Click the Options icon (with three vertical dots) from the top-right corner of the Transcript pane, and click Toggle timestamp to enable or disable the timestamps in the video transcription.

Limitations of Using YouTube Transcribe

Although YouTube’s automatic transcription is a decent feature that saves you a lot of time, since Google uses machine learning algorithms to convert the speech to text, the level of accuracy may vary depending on the accent of the speaker, and the clarity of the audio the video has. Also, even sometime you may not be satisfied with the end-results.

Part 2: How to Transcribe YouTube Video to Text Online with Third-Party Service

In addition to the above two, you can also transcribe a YouTube video using a third-party service. Even though there are plenty, the one that is used and appreciated by many is Kapwing. Good thing about Kapwing is that it supports both manual and auto transcript generation, and is capable of adding subtitles to the videos directly from within its interface.

You can follow the step-by-step instructions to transcribe a YouTube video and download the transcription file using Kapwing:

Step 1: Add YouTube Video

Copy the URL of YouTube video you want to transcribe, go to, paste the URL in the Paste a URL field, wait while Kapwing fetches the content of the video, and opens the Add subtitles to Video page.

Step 2: Transcribe the Video

Click Auto-generate from the right window, and follow the on-screen instructions to transcribe YouTube video to text.

Kapwing Auto Generate Subtitles

Step 3: Download the Transcription File

Click Download SRT from the left pane, and follow the instructions from there to download the transcription file in *.srt format.

Kapwing Auto Generate Subtitles


  • Kapwing is free to use
  • The auto-transcription process is quick and less tedious
  • Kapwing also allows manual transcription and uploading of an existing *.srt file


  • The auto-transcribed text might lack accuracy as the task is done by the speech-to-text tools that work in the background

Part 3: Benefits of Transcribing YouTube Videos

You may need video transcriptions for several reasons, such as analyzing the summary of the entire speech in the video, extracting a single phrase or quote that was spoken in the clip, or making the video helpful even for those suffering from hearing impairment. When you transcribe a YouTube video, the transcript can be useful in many ways. Some of the most common benefits of transcribing a video include:

  • Search Engine Optimization

When you add subtitles, the text can appear in Google search results when someone types a similar phrase in the search box. This helps get more views to your videos, thus giving your channel popularity, and you, monetary gains in the long run.

  • Accent

If the speaker in the video is from a different region and is using an accent that you are not much comfortable with, you can turn on the subtitles and read the dialogs along with the video.

  • Repurposing on Blogs

If you own a blog that you have embedded your video to, the transcription could be used to add text to it so the target audience can get a fair idea of what the video is all about. This is useful because many people prefer reading over watching.

YouTube Video Transcription FAQs

1. How to Transcribe YouTube Video to Text

Usually the transcription files have *.srt extension that are globally accepted and supported by almost all media players. However, there might be instances when you want to have the subtitles in plain text.

That said, to convert an SRT file to TXT, you can:

  • Right-click the SRT file
  • Go to Rename
  • Replace srt with txt and press Enter
  • Click OK on the confirmation box that appears next to convert SRT to TXT

After this, you can simply double-click the file, and read and modify the transcribed content as needed.

2. How to Edit and Upload Edited Transcript to YouTube

If you made any modifications to the transcript that was automatically generated by YouTube or any other third-party transcription tool, you can follow the steps given below to upload the new file to the YouTube video:

    • Go to YouTube Studio and then to the Channel subtitles page as explained earlier
    • Expand the Languages column of the target video
    • Click the Options icon that appears under the Subtitles column when you hover mouse on to it
    • Click Edit on Classic Studio
    • On the next page, click Edit from the top-right corner

Edit YouTube subtitles

  • Click to open the Actions drop-down list from the upper-left corner
  • Click Upload a file
    • Follow the on-screen instructions from there to upload the modified transcription file
    • Click Save Changes from the top-right corner of the page when done


If you are looking for a quick and easy way of adding subtitles to your videos, letting YouTube transcribe for you could be a good approach. However, because these auto-generated transcriptions are created by machine learning algorithms, their accuracy cannot be counted on. Therefore, the best way to get the job done accurately is, let YouTube auto-transcribe your video, download the transcription file, make the necessary changes to it, and then upload the file back to the video.

author avatar
Richard Bennett
Richard Bennett is a writer and a lover of all things video.