October 19, 2023

How to add captions to TikTok videos: A step-by-step guide

Learn how to seamlessly add captions to your TikTok clips to make them more accessible and engaging.
October 19, 2023

How to add captions to TikTok videos: A step-by-step guide

Learn how to seamlessly add captions to your TikTok clips to make them more accessible and engaging.
October 19, 2023
Chloe West
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Transcriptions

TikTok captions aren’t just a trend for video creators—at this point, they’re essential.

By adding captions to your TikTok videos, all of your viewers can easily understand what’s being said in your video—whether they’re watching with no sound on, have hearing impairments, or just enjoy reading along as they listen. It also pleases the almighty algorithm: including captions on your TikTok videos can increase impressions by 55%.

Although it may be an extra step in the video production process, captions make your videos more accessible to viewers. Whether you do it in TikTok or use a captioning tool like Descript, we’ll show you three different ways to add TikTok captions in this guide.

Why add captions to your TikTok videos

With so much competition on TikTok, learning new ways to keep your content engaging is important. Aside from engaging views, adding subtitles or captions to your TikTok content offers the following benefits.

Enhanced accessibility and inclusivity

Accessibility is becoming more important online, and that applies to your social media content and videos. As more platforms add accessibility features—like captions and alt tags—you must start incorporating them into your social media marketing strategy.

Studies show that captioning a video improves comprehension and memory of the video. It’s also helpful for people watching videos in their non-native language and for viewers who are hard of hearing. 

After all, the more people you can reach by making your messaging more accessible, the more people you’re likely to convert into followers, readers/viewers/listeners, and customers.

Improved viewer engagement and retention

When people can read and better understand what you’re saying, they’ll stick around to finish the video and be more likely to engage with your other content. 

SEO benefits and discoverability

Transcribing your online videos can impact your video’s discoverability, or the number of people who see your content. Having clear text indicating what your video is about can support your SEO efforts, helping even more people see it online.

What is the TikTok auto captions tool?

When you upload a video, you can use the "auto captions" feature. TikTok uses speech recognition technology to transcribe the audio to text, which is then displayed as captions on the screen. The tool makes it easy to review and edit the auto-generated captions, too.

How to add captions to TikTok videos

There are three main ways you can add captions to your TikTok videos. Use the auto-caption tool we just mentioned, add them manually to achieve a different look, or use a third-party tool to transcribe your video during the video editing process. We’ll walk you through step-by-step tutorials for each different technique below.

How to add auto-captions to TikTok videos

The fastest and easiest technique is using the auto-caption feature right inside TikTok. Here’s how it works.

1. Record or upload your video

To start, upload a video to TikTok. Tap the plus sign to open up the camera tool, choose a video length, and press the round button to start recording. 

You can also record your content with your iPhone, Android, or a video camera and upload it to finish your edits. Just tap the plus sign to open the camera tool, then select the video from your camera roll by tapping the thumbnail.

Either way, you need to get your video filmed and ready for final editing inside the TikTok app. Tap the check mark once you've recorded or uploaded your video.

2. Access the auto-captions feature

Tap the automatic captions button in the right sidebar to get started. It's a rectangular box with lines of text at the bottom. Below, it's circled in red:

A TikTok screen with red circle around auto caption tool

This tool uses AI to process and translate your audio into subtitles for you, so you don't have to lift a finger. The captions will appear in sync with the audio—but you may need to go to the next step to make sure every word matches.

3. Edit your captions

AI isn’t perfect, and TikTok's captioning tool is no different. It will save you time over writing your captions manually, but you can't fully rely on it without double checking. Read along with the video captions to make sure everything is right. If there's anything wrong with the captions, just tap on them, edit the text, and save.

Editing TikTok caption on mobile phone

4. Position and style your captions

Finally, ensure the overall look and feel of your TikTok subtitles match your video. You can edit them by tapping the A in a box icon. From here, choose fonts, colors, alignments, and whether the text should be outlined. You can also drag the subtitles around the screen, resize them, and position them where they won't block important visuals.

Editing caption style in TikTok’s editor

💡PRO TIP: Use the same style throughout all your videos for consistency. A consistent style solidifies your brand identity and creates a comforting experience for viewers, encouraging them to come back for more.

When you’re happy with your TikTok captions, save everything and you’ll be directed back to the main video editor. And, voila! You’ve finished adding auto subtitles to your TikTok content.

How to manually add captions to TikTok videos

You can also add captions manually using the Add Text feature inside the TikTok editor. This is a good captions option if you want more control over when your captions appear on the screen, add extra commentary, or transcribe videos in different languages than English.

1. Record or upload your video content

The first step is to record your video inside the TikTok app or upload a previously filmed video. You can record multiple segments or upload multiple videos that you plan to splice together. Once you've got the full video recorded or uploaded, tap the button with the check on it to move on to the next step.

2. Access the text feature

Start adding manual captions to your videos with the Add Text button. It's just a simple “Aa” icon. 

Locating the Add Text feature in TikTok’s video editor

3. Type out your captions

The next step is to manually type your subtitles. Even though this is a longer process than using a text-to-speech tool, it can help you get a little more creative with your captions. 

See the TikTok below for an example of what it could look like. The top is a piece of text providing additional context, while the bottom is the word-for-word caption of the audio in the video:

.

4. Time your captions

Next, you'll need to set the time and duration of when your captions will appear. This part can be tedious, so it may be better to use manual text for additional commentary and the automatic tool for your full captions (especially for longer videos).

Tap on the text, then tap the Edit duration button from the pop-up that appears. Here, you'll use the slide to control when the captions appear and disappear.

Choosing duration for manual captions on TikTok.

When you're done, tap the check mark at the bottom right corner. Move on to the next caption until you've finished captioning your video.

5. Position and style your captions

You can design TikTok text just like your captions. Choose a style you can use consistently throughout your TikTok videos to make your content more recognizable. 

Styling manual caption text in TikTok’s editor

How to add subtitles to TikTok videos with third-party software

TikTok’s native video editor is a good place to start, but it doesn’t always have the features you need to caption your social media content. Let’s explore how you can find a third-party captioning app to get more flexibility in your TikTok subtitles.

1. Choose your third-party software

Start by choosing a captioning app that supports social media videos. Popular options include Descript, Capcut, and VEED.io.

We, of course, recommend Descript’s caption generator as a quick and easy way to automate captions for any social media video, whether it’s a TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube video. The caption generator is part of the Descript video editing suite, which is packed with both traditional and AI-powered tools to speed up the editing process, including:

  • Studio sound for professional-grade audio 
  • Green screen to remove unwanted video backgrounds 
  • Eye contact to readjust your glaze (like if you’re reading from a script)

2. Auto-transcribe your video

Once you’ve found a video editor app, import your TikTok to the tool of your choice. If you choose Descript, the software will automatically transcribe your video. The transcription will sit on the left side of your video. You can easily make any necessary edits to ensure your captions match up to the audio perfectly.

Example of a transcription made by Descript

3. Style your captions

Next, turn your transcript into subtitles by adding captions in Descript in a few clicks: just click the “T” for the text tool, and choose “Captions.” The captions will automatically appear on your video. 

Next, choose a style and format for your TikTok subtitles to match your branding. You can easily customize the font, colors, and style or select from Descript's ready-made templates for businesses and content creators.

Styling captions in Descript

4. Export your video

Once you’ve finished adding TikTok captions or making any additional edits to your video, it’s time to export it. TikTok prefers .MP4 video files—you can choose this option when saving a video from Descript.

Exporting video in mp4 for TikTok

5. Upload to TikTok and publish

Finally, it's time to upload and publish the video on your TikTok account. Make any last-minute edits you need from TikTok's right sidebar before tapping “Next” at the bottom of the screen to finalize your video. Add a description and relevant hashtags, and tap the “Publish” button to release the video to your subscribers—and beyond.

The tool you’ve been missing to elevate your TikTok clips

Want to create amazing TikTok content that’s accessible and engaging? Descript’s TikTok video editor is the perfect solution. Easily create fun and entertaining short-form videos, then upload them to your TikTok profile to share with your followers.

Creators who use Descript not only benefit from automated captions, but streamline their video editing process with tools like:

TikTok creators love Descript for a reason. Take a free tour today and see why it’s the preferred video editor for thousands of TikTokers.

How to add captions on TikTok FAQs

Why don't I have captions on TikTok?

If you don’t have TikTok captions, go to Settings > Accessibility and make sure you’ve turned the captions feature on. When publishing a new video, go to More options, turn on the captions feature, and select the right language.

How do I add subtitles to TikTok automatically?

Use the auto-caption feature built into TikTok’s in-app editing tools to automatically create subtitles. Or, use a tool like Descript to fully manage your external editing and captioning process before uploading the final video to TikTok.

Chloe West
Chloe West is a marketing writer for SaaS companies. She’s based in Charleston, SC, and when she’s not working, you’ll find her playing card games or watering her plants.
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How to add captions to TikTok videos: A step-by-step guide

how to add captions on tiktok

TikTok captions aren’t just a trend for video creators—at this point, they’re essential.

By adding captions to your TikTok videos, all of your viewers can easily understand what’s being said in your video—whether they’re watching with no sound on, have hearing impairments, or just enjoy reading along as they listen. It also pleases the almighty algorithm: including captions on your TikTok videos can increase impressions by 55%.

Although it may be an extra step in the video production process, captions make your videos more accessible to viewers. Whether you do it in TikTok or use a captioning tool like Descript, we’ll show you three different ways to add TikTok captions in this guide.

Remove all your “ums” and “uhs” with a click, correct your voiceover by typing, and get studio-quality sound wherever you record. Check out our
Tools that work for creators.

Why add captions to your TikTok videos

With so much competition on TikTok, learning new ways to keep your content engaging is important. Aside from engaging views, adding subtitles or captions to your TikTok content offers the following benefits.

Enhanced accessibility and inclusivity

Accessibility is becoming more important online, and that applies to your social media content and videos. As more platforms add accessibility features—like captions and alt tags—you must start incorporating them into your social media marketing strategy.

Studies show that captioning a video improves comprehension and memory of the video. It’s also helpful for people watching videos in their non-native language and for viewers who are hard of hearing. 

After all, the more people you can reach by making your messaging more accessible, the more people you’re likely to convert into followers, readers/viewers/listeners, and customers.

Improved viewer engagement and retention

When people can read and better understand what you’re saying, they’ll stick around to finish the video and be more likely to engage with your other content. 

SEO benefits and discoverability

Transcribing your online videos can impact your video’s discoverability, or the number of people who see your content. Having clear text indicating what your video is about can support your SEO efforts, helping even more people see it online.

What is the TikTok auto captions tool?

When you upload a video, you can use the "auto captions" feature. TikTok uses speech recognition technology to transcribe the audio to text, which is then displayed as captions on the screen. The tool makes it easy to review and edit the auto-generated captions, too.

How to add captions to TikTok videos

There are three main ways you can add captions to your TikTok videos. Use the auto-caption tool we just mentioned, add them manually to achieve a different look, or use a third-party tool to transcribe your video during the video editing process. We’ll walk you through step-by-step tutorials for each different technique below.

How to add auto-captions to TikTok videos

The fastest and easiest technique is using the auto-caption feature right inside TikTok. Here’s how it works.

1. Record or upload your video

To start, upload a video to TikTok. Tap the plus sign to open up the camera tool, choose a video length, and press the round button to start recording. 

You can also record your content with your iPhone, Android, or a video camera and upload it to finish your edits. Just tap the plus sign to open the camera tool, then select the video from your camera roll by tapping the thumbnail.

Either way, you need to get your video filmed and ready for final editing inside the TikTok app. Tap the check mark once you've recorded or uploaded your video.

2. Access the auto-captions feature

Tap the automatic captions button in the right sidebar to get started. It's a rectangular box with lines of text at the bottom. Below, it's circled in red:

A TikTok screen with red circle around auto caption tool

This tool uses AI to process and translate your audio into subtitles for you, so you don't have to lift a finger. The captions will appear in sync with the audio—but you may need to go to the next step to make sure every word matches.

3. Edit your captions

AI isn’t perfect, and TikTok's captioning tool is no different. It will save you time over writing your captions manually, but you can't fully rely on it without double checking. Read along with the video captions to make sure everything is right. If there's anything wrong with the captions, just tap on them, edit the text, and save.

Editing TikTok caption on mobile phone

4. Position and style your captions

Finally, ensure the overall look and feel of your TikTok subtitles match your video. You can edit them by tapping the A in a box icon. From here, choose fonts, colors, alignments, and whether the text should be outlined. You can also drag the subtitles around the screen, resize them, and position them where they won't block important visuals.

Editing caption style in TikTok’s editor

💡PRO TIP: Use the same style throughout all your videos for consistency. A consistent style solidifies your brand identity and creates a comforting experience for viewers, encouraging them to come back for more.

When you’re happy with your TikTok captions, save everything and you’ll be directed back to the main video editor. And, voila! You’ve finished adding auto subtitles to your TikTok content.

How to manually add captions to TikTok videos

You can also add captions manually using the Add Text feature inside the TikTok editor. This is a good captions option if you want more control over when your captions appear on the screen, add extra commentary, or transcribe videos in different languages than English.

1. Record or upload your video content

The first step is to record your video inside the TikTok app or upload a previously filmed video. You can record multiple segments or upload multiple videos that you plan to splice together. Once you've got the full video recorded or uploaded, tap the button with the check on it to move on to the next step.

2. Access the text feature

Start adding manual captions to your videos with the Add Text button. It's just a simple “Aa” icon. 

Locating the Add Text feature in TikTok’s video editor

3. Type out your captions

The next step is to manually type your subtitles. Even though this is a longer process than using a text-to-speech tool, it can help you get a little more creative with your captions. 

See the TikTok below for an example of what it could look like. The top is a piece of text providing additional context, while the bottom is the word-for-word caption of the audio in the video:

.

4. Time your captions

Next, you'll need to set the time and duration of when your captions will appear. This part can be tedious, so it may be better to use manual text for additional commentary and the automatic tool for your full captions (especially for longer videos).

Tap on the text, then tap the Edit duration button from the pop-up that appears. Here, you'll use the slide to control when the captions appear and disappear.

Choosing duration for manual captions on TikTok.

When you're done, tap the check mark at the bottom right corner. Move on to the next caption until you've finished captioning your video.

5. Position and style your captions

You can design TikTok text just like your captions. Choose a style you can use consistently throughout your TikTok videos to make your content more recognizable. 

Styling manual caption text in TikTok’s editor

How to add subtitles to TikTok videos with third-party software

TikTok’s native video editor is a good place to start, but it doesn’t always have the features you need to caption your social media content. Let’s explore how you can find a third-party captioning app to get more flexibility in your TikTok subtitles.

1. Choose your third-party software

Start by choosing a captioning app that supports social media videos. Popular options include Descript, Capcut, and VEED.io.

We, of course, recommend Descript’s caption generator as a quick and easy way to automate captions for any social media video, whether it’s a TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube video. The caption generator is part of the Descript video editing suite, which is packed with both traditional and AI-powered tools to speed up the editing process, including:

  • Studio sound for professional-grade audio 
  • Green screen to remove unwanted video backgrounds 
  • Eye contact to readjust your glaze (like if you’re reading from a script)

2. Auto-transcribe your video

Once you’ve found a video editor app, import your TikTok to the tool of your choice. If you choose Descript, the software will automatically transcribe your video. The transcription will sit on the left side of your video. You can easily make any necessary edits to ensure your captions match up to the audio perfectly.

Example of a transcription made by Descript

3. Style your captions

Next, turn your transcript into subtitles by adding captions in Descript in a few clicks: just click the “T” for the text tool, and choose “Captions.” The captions will automatically appear on your video. 

Next, choose a style and format for your TikTok subtitles to match your branding. You can easily customize the font, colors, and style or select from Descript's ready-made templates for businesses and content creators.

Styling captions in Descript

4. Export your video

Once you’ve finished adding TikTok captions or making any additional edits to your video, it’s time to export it. TikTok prefers .MP4 video files—you can choose this option when saving a video from Descript.

Exporting video in mp4 for TikTok

5. Upload to TikTok and publish

Finally, it's time to upload and publish the video on your TikTok account. Make any last-minute edits you need from TikTok's right sidebar before tapping “Next” at the bottom of the screen to finalize your video. Add a description and relevant hashtags, and tap the “Publish” button to release the video to your subscribers—and beyond.

The tool you’ve been missing to elevate your TikTok clips

Want to create amazing TikTok content that’s accessible and engaging? Descript’s TikTok video editor is the perfect solution. Easily create fun and entertaining short-form videos, then upload them to your TikTok profile to share with your followers.

Creators who use Descript not only benefit from automated captions, but streamline their video editing process with tools like:

TikTok creators love Descript for a reason. Take a free tour today and see why it’s the preferred video editor for thousands of TikTokers.

How to add captions on TikTok FAQs

Why don't I have captions on TikTok?

If you don’t have TikTok captions, go to Settings > Accessibility and make sure you’ve turned the captions feature on. When publishing a new video, go to More options, turn on the captions feature, and select the right language.

How do I add subtitles to TikTok automatically?

Use the auto-caption feature built into TikTok’s in-app editing tools to automatically create subtitles. Or, use a tool like Descript to fully manage your external editing and captioning process before uploading the final video to TikTok.

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