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How to Add Captions to a Video for Free [Windows, Mac & App]

Last Updated on Feb. 10, 2022 – by David Morgan
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Video Captioning and Subtitles

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all multimedia made for government, entertainment, education, and business have captions available for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

So why add captions or subtitles to videos that don’t fall under the Disabilities Act, like personal videos for YouTube or social media? Including the Deaf community and non-English speakers is not only inclusive, but it also helps you gain followers. Videos with captions or subtitles receive a 40% boost in views and are more likely to be watched to the end, which helps your YouTube rank. Additionally, 80% of Facebook videos are watched on mute which means videos without captions are getting skipped.

Captions and subtitles are important and necessary for follower growth. But how can someone add captions without hiring an expensive third party?

We recommend using PowerDirector. It is an editing software and app that allows a beginner to add captions and subtitles in a few easy steps. This article will explain the ins and outs of captions and subtitles and how to add them using PowerDirector.

Download PowerDirector for your device of choice and follow our simple step-by-steps to add captions to your videos in no time.


What is the Difference Between Captions and Subtitles?

Captions are a written version of the dialogue in a video, written in the same language as the medium. Captions assume the viewer can’t hear (either because they are hard of hearing or because they are watching with the sound off) and includes music cues, sound effects, and speaker changes.

Subtitles are a translation of the dialogue for people who don’t speak the same language as the medium.

Standard subtitles assume the viewer can hear the audio and don’t include the audio cues like music and sound effects. Subtitles for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDHH) are translated into the viewer’s language and also include audio cues.

How to Add Video Captions on Windows and Mac

If you’d like to add captions using PowerDirector on your Windows or Mac device, download it below and follow along:

Step 1: Add your video to the timeline.

PowerDirector - Subtitle Room

Step 2: Open the Subtitle Room.
The Subtitle Room is found in the menu on the left. Click the ellipses to open the Subtitle Room option.

PowerDirector - Add Subtitle

Step 3: Drag the timeline slider to the position where you would like to add a subtitle, then click on the +.
The subtitle will automatically be added to the length of the clip. To change the duration, click on End Time and input a new number, or place your cursor at the end of the blue subtitle box. When the cursor becomes two arrows, pull the end of the box to increase or decrease duration.

PowerDirector - Edit Subtitle

Step 4: Click in the box under Subtitle Text and write out your caption. When you’ve finished, click anywhere on the screen and you will see your caption on the video.

PowerDirector - Edit Subtitle Style

Step 5: Click on the T to change the font, size, color, and more of your text. Click Apply All if you want all the captions in the video to have the same look.

PowerDirector - Edit Subtitle Position

Step 6: Click the arrow icon circled above to bring up the Position screen.
Here you can change the location of the text on the screen. Move the X Position slider to move the text right or left, and the Y Position slider to move up and down.

Step 7: Move the timeline slider to the next place you would like to add a subtitle and click the +.
Continue adding subtitles this way until you are done.

PowerDirector - Export Subtitle as SRT

You can export your subtitles in an SRT file, in case you want to use them in other projects or formats. The first circled icon is to import SRT files into your project, the second is to export SRT files.

Step 8: Click the Export as SRT File icon. Select where you want to save the file, name it, then hit Save.

If you want to create captions with backgrounds or animations check out our article on How to Add Text to a Video on Mac and Windows to learn how to use PowerDirector’s Title Designer. Another great tool to quickly and easily make video captions.

How to Add Video Captions on iOS and Android

If you would prefer to add captions on your phone or tablet you can get the PowerDirector app for free on Google Play or the App Store.

Once you have created a new project follow along with these simple steps to add captions to your videos using a mobile device:

Step 1: Add a video to the editing timeline.

PowerDirector App - Add a Layer

Step 2: Tap on the Layer icon that looks like 2 stacked squares.

PowerDirector App - Add a Text Layer

Step 3: Choose the look of your captions, then tap the + button to add it to the timeline.

PowerDirector App - Edit Text

Step 4: Tap on the Text Box that appears on your video and type in your text. Tap the checkmark when done.

PowerDirector App - Editing Menu

Step 5: Tap the text box in the timeline to bring up the Edit icon.

PowerDirector App - Adjust Text

Step 6: Browse the text editing options to change the color, border, font, style, and add a shadow of your captions. Or you can change the background color, blend, mask, animate and more.

Step 7: Use your fingers to change the size and location of the text box in the preview window. Change the duration of your caption on the timeline by dragging either its end either in or out.

Step 8: Tap the Layers icon to add another caption or use Duplicate.
Continue adding captions until you have reached the end of your video.

Tips for Writing Video Captions

Writing captions for social media posts is different from transcribing dialogue for a film or television show. Since most people will be watching your videos with the captions on and sound off, it is important your words draw people in and keep them watching.

Know Your Audience

Using the lingo or slang of your demographic will make the viewing experience more personal for your followers. Don’t be too alienating with your words, as you don’t want to exclude anyone outside your target demo.

Hook Them With the First Line

The hook is the most important part of writing. It draws readers in and makes them want to read more.

The first sentence of your video is all most people will read, so it needs to capture attention and do it fast. But how can you get viewers to stop and watch your video when they are quickly scrolling through a haystack of content?

Here are some ways to draw viewers in:

  1. Use humor
  2. Quote Shocking statistics
  3. Personal success story
  4. Explain viewers pain points and how you can help

Keep it Short and Sweet

We live in a visual age. Your visuals should remain soothing and uncluttered. So keep captions short and don’t obstruct your visuals.

You only have a few seconds to get people’s attention, so pack a punch with as few words as possible.

Include a Call to Action

A Call to Action (CTA) is when you ask viewers to Like, Share, Subscribe, etc. to your channel or post. You can also link to your website or store. Viewers who watched your video to the end have already given you a stamp of approval, so don’t be afraid to ask for the next step.

Best Video Captioning App Free Download

Adding captions to your videos on Windows and Mac is easy with the PowerDirector. It is simple enough for a beginner, and yet full of options to customize your text. With PowerDirector, you have complete control over the look, location, and duration of your text.

You can also import SRT files of captions you used in another program. Or you can export the captions made in PowerDirector to use again. Meanwhile, the PowerDirector app has fun options for captions like speech bubbles and animated text.

PowerDirector isn’t just for captions. It’s a powerful editing software packed with special effects, audio tools, color tools, and more. And it contains a large royalty-free stock library filled with music, photos, videos, and sound effects.

Download it on your Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS devices for free.

Adding Video Captions FAQs

1. What is closed captioning?

Closed captions are captions you can turn off and on with your remote. Open captions are part of the video and can't be turned off.

2. What other features should I look for in a video captioning app?

Customization

A video captioning app should allow you to change the font, color, size, and location of your text.

SRT Files

You should have the ability to export your captions as an SRT file, and import SRT files made on other apps.

Duration

You should have the option to choose when your captions begin and end.

3. How do I add captions to photos?

You can use PhotoDirector (Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS) to add captions to photos.

Windows and Mac

Step 1: Upload your image and select it in the library then navigate to the Edit mode.

Step 2: Select the Text tool and click on your image to add a text box. Type what you would like your caption to say.

Step 3: With the text selected use the menu bar to change the font type, size, color, and style.
When you are finished save your image.

Android and iOS

Step 1: Tap Edit and choose your photo.

Step 2: Scroll through the menus on the bottom of the screen and open the Text Tools.

Step 3: Choose either Text or Text Bubble.

Step 4: Type in your caption and edit the font settings.

Step 5: Tap the checkmark to save your caption and then save your photo.

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