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How to add closed captions (subtitles) to any video

Whether you’re crafting a social media post or editing professional videos for work, incorporating closed captions (subtitles) can help your message stand out and reach more people. Adding them used to be a laborious undertaking, but the right apps make this task a breeze on your iPhone.

The importance of captions

Closed captions make your videos accessible to a broader audience, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing. They also cater to viewers in noisy or sound-sensitive environments who might miss out on your audio content. Beyond accessibility, captions improve comprehension and viewer retention by helping everyone follow along more easily, regardless of any language barriers or ambient noise.

While many social media platforms provide basic captioning tools, specialized captioning apps offer far superior control and quality. These apps allow you to adjust timing, style, and formatting to perfectly match your video’s vibe, and are often better at auto-transcribing videos than Instagram or TikTok, meaning less time spent manually correcting errors.

Which apps to use

After a good deal of research and testing, the two iOS captioning apps we like best are VEED and Captions: For Talking Videos.

VEED (above) is a little quicker and easier to use, and particularly good for producing captions in the kind of high-energy style prevalent in YouTube shorts and Instagram reels. Meanwhile, Captions (below) is a little more mature, granting greater customization and control.

That’s reflected in the price: while VEED charges $6/month or $36/year, Captions is almost double that at $11/month or $60/year.

Still, both apps were remarkably good at automatically transcribing the audio of a given clip into subtitles. Neither was 100% perfect, but we found them to be more reliable than the built-in dictation and transcription tools elsewhere.

How to use

Both apps are relatively easy to use, but you’ll want to get to grips with their nuances to make the best content you can. Luckily, both have official guides that are pretty comprehensive: see How to use VEED and Introduction to Captions. We won’t duplicate all the nitty-gritty details from those help pages, but will instead leave you with a few general tips for creating video captions.

Positioning: Obviously, you’ll want to position your captions so as not to obscure the most important aspects of the video. But also be careful placing your captions too close to the top or bottom, as many platforms will either clip the edges or overlay descriptions and menus in those areas.

Colors: Use a contrasting color for your captions to make them stand out. White text with a black outline or background is a popular choice as it’s visible against most things, and won’t be an issue for those with color blindness.

Accuracy: Double-check for spelling and grammatical errors. Accurate captions enhance the professionalism and accessibility of your video.

Length: Break longer sentences into shorter, digestible chunks. This makes it easier for viewers to read and follow the captions without feeling overwhelmed.

Fonts: While it’s smart to use a clear, readable font over anything too fancy, you may want to consider using a custom font to match existing branding or keep your videos consistent and unique.

Happy captioning!