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5 Steps of How to Add Captions in iMovie

Picture: how to add captions in imovie

Many casual Apple device users love iMovie for being simple and user-friendly. Indeed, it is a powerful video editing tool that can do pretty much anything. If you’re a content creator who uses iMovie, you’re probably curious if iMovie can instantly caption your videos to increase their accessibility and improve your engagement.

Unfortunately, iMovie currently lacks the magic to automatically add captions to your videos with a single click. Like most video editing tools, you still need to spend the time to manually add the captions yourself. While captioning your videos will be time-consuming, with the right process it can be a cinch.

Here are 5 steps of how to add captions in iMovie.

1. Edit your video as usual

Captions are like icing on the cake – but only if there is a cake, to begin with. Thus, it’s important that you first piece together your video into the final product. This includes the ordering and trimming of the footage as well as the color correction, transitions, and effects.

This makes it easier to choose the best font settings for your subtitles in terms of readability, as some parts of your video may make the captions hard to read.

2. Transcribe the video draft

Transcribing your current video draft makes it far easier to add the subtitle text later on in iMovie. However, this step on its own can be tiring without the proper setup.

To make it less hectic, here’s an efficient way to transcribe your video:

  1. Go somewhere quiet and plug in headphones to focus on the audio.
  2. Place iMovie and the word processor of your choice beside each other.
  3. Play your video draft and listen carefully to the dialogue.
  4. At the same time, type the dialogue on your word processor.
  5. To make each line distinct, use a basic format like [minute:second] then the line (e.g. “[2:06] Cats are cute!”)
  6. Be patient. You’ll be rewinding your video a lot to catch any quick or hard-to-understand dialogue.
  7. Save the file – this can be useful later on.

Transcribing is a long and tiring process, but it can give you long-term benefits like content repurposing and increasing accessibility. To reap the benefits of transcription without the hassle, use FreeTranscriptions to generate automated transcripts for your videos.

3. Add text

Your transcribing will finally pay off when you start adding the subtitle text, as you only have to copy and paste each line.

To add the subtitle text, use the “Titles” tool and paste each line at the respective times you previously designated. 

iMovie features various “Titles” options for your captioning needs. You can use any of those options, but if you want basic, run-of-the-mill captions, use the following options:

  • Title: Standard Lower Third
  • Text alignment: Center
  • Font size: 54 px – 72 px (based on video resolution)
  • Font type: Based on preference

4. Watch video draft and edit captioning

As how it usually goes with video editing, it’s important to play your video draft back several times to spot any blemishes. In this case, you’ll check the following:

  • Dialogue: Are the captions showing the proper dialogue? Are there any grammatical or spelling errors?
  • Readability: Are all the captions readable?
  • Appearance: Do the captions look the same in terms of font size, type, color, etc.?
  • Timing: Do the captions appear at the proper times? Or do they appear too early or too late?

When you spot a mistake, pause the video playback, fix it right away, then continue playing. For best results, try watching the current video with another person to help you test the captions.

5. Finalize video and render

Once you’re happy with the captions, all you have to do now is iron out any remaining kinks in your editing and render the video. You can test the captions one more time by watching the rendered video. Sometimes, the compression can affect the appearance of the captions. In this case, adjust the rendering settings to the best possible video quality.

Adding captions in iMovie can be exhausting and time-consuming, but the payoff makes it worth doing both in the short and long term. Of course, no one wants to go through the hassle every time. If you want to make captioning videos in iMovie a lot easier, it is highly recommended that you use automated transcriptions to convert dialogue into text in a jiffy.