How to get the transcript of YouTube videos: A 2023 guide

Computer showing a video

There are a lot of reasons you might want a transcript of a YouTube video. As a YouTube creator, a transcript makes your videos more accessible to a wider audience, not to mention giving you material for blog posts and social media copy. And as a regular viewer, a transcript gives you a way to skim the material and to easily reference it later. 

There are several ways to get that goldmine of video information, even without finding a way to download the whole video. Whether you’re on a computer or mobile device, you’ll learn the process of getting YouTube video transcripts in the step-by-step guide below.

Our full-featured video editing tool is as powerful as it is easy to use.
Look for our all-in-one audio & video production that’s as easy as editing a doc.

How to get a transcript of YouTube videos on desktop

Step 1: Choose the video

Go to YouTube in your web browser and search for the video you want a transcript of. Make sure closed captions are enabled on the video. Music videos, lectures, and other professional content most likely have them.

Results for “mr beast” search query on YouTube in Chrome browser.
Results for “mr beast” search query on YouTube in Chrome browser.

Step 2: Go to the video description and click the three dots

Open the video. To the right of the video title there’ll be a set of options, including Share and Download, and an icon with three dots. Click on the three dots.

Locating the three dots option on YouTube video.
Locating the three dots option on YouTube video.

Step 3: Click on “Show transcript”

After clicking More, a dropdown menu will appear. One of these options will be “Show transcript.” This is the gateway to accessing the written content of the video.

Selecting “Show transcript” from YouTube menu options.

Step 4: Choose the language

The transcript will appear on the right hand side of the video. 

Fortunately, YouTube’s auto-generated captions work in multiple languages. You can select any language from the dropdown list beneath the transcript.

Choosing language of transcript from YouTube video.
Choosing language of transcript from YouTube video.

Step 5: Review and download

There aren’t many options to adjust the transcript. You can only toggle time stamps on and off. YouTube also doesn’t have direct download options. If you want the transcript, you’ll have to copy and paste without formatting into a Google Doc or Microsoft Word file. 

Copying a YouTube generated transcript.
Copying a YouTube generated transcript.

For Macs, the paste without formatting keyboard shortcut is Command + Shift + V. For Windows, it’s Ctrl + Shift + V for most apps. 

Be warned: The newly pasted transcript isn’t very pretty. You’ll have to fix it up to get a good-looking transcript that’s ready to use.

Example of transcript from YouTube.
Example of transcript from YouTube.

How to get a transcript of YouTube videos on your phone

Pulling a YouTube video transcript on an iPhone or Android device is pretty much the same as doing it on your desktop. The only difference is you can’t copy and paste the transcript to a document. Below is a tutorial with more detail.

Step 1: Find the video on YouTube

On your phone, tap on the YouTube app icon to open it. Use the search bar at the top to type in keywords, titles, or the name of the channel to find the video you’re interested in.

Searching for Mr. Beast’s channel on the YouTube app.
Searching for Mr. Beast’s channel on the YouTube app.

Step 2: Look for the video details

Tap the video you want a transcript for. Once it’s loaded, tap “...more” underneath the title. 

Viewing Mr. Beast’s “I Bought Everything in 5 Stores” video on the YouTube mobile app.
Viewing Mr. Beast’s “I Bought Everything in 5 Stores” video on the YouTube mobile app.

Step 3: Tap “Show transcript”

Next, you’ll see details about the video, including the amount of likes, number of views, publish date, and a description. Scroll down until you see the “Show transcript” button, and tap it. 

Selecting the “Show transcript” button on video.
Selecting the “Show transcript” button on video.

Step 4: Tap the timestamps to jump to a specific part of the video

Once you have the transcript open, there will be a toggle option for timestamps. You can turn these on or off, depending on your preference. Clicking on a specific timestamp will jump to that part of the video.

Click on a timestamp to jump to a section of the video.
Click on a timestamp to jump to a section of the video.

Step 5: Choose the language

Not all videos will have translated transcripts, but if they do, there will be an option to choose from the available languages.

Choosing English as the language for a mobile YouTube video transcription.
Choosing English as the language for a mobile YouTube video transcription.

Step 6: Review

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t provide a direct download option for transcripts. You can’t copy and paste the text into another document to edit, either. Your best bet is to either reference the transcript as-is, or just go on a computer and grab the transcript there. 

Easy alternative for getting transcripts of YouTube videos

In the past, transcription was a labor-intensive process that required manual effort or outsourcing. But then came AI. Now, automated transcription services like Descript can drastically cut the time and effort involved in transcription.

Descript is an audio and video editing software that allows users to edit multimedia content like a text document. With it, you can automatically transcribe audio and video files. If you want to go through with a fine-tooth comb, you can manually correct the transcript in a user-friendly editing interface.

A completed transcription by Descript.
A completed transcription by Descript.

Descript can distinguish between different speakers and label them accordingly in the transcript. Your transcript is also time-coded and synced with the audio or video. So, you can click on a word in the transcript and immediately jump to that part in the audio or video.

Podcasters, video editors, and creators can all benefit from automated transcription. Say you’re editing an interview and realize there’s a section you want to cut. You can just edit the text version, and the audio will adjust automatically, leaving you with a super accurate transcript. 

Pros:

  • Fast, automatic transcription
  • Editing the transcript also edits the audio or video
  • Cloud-based and accessible anywhere
  • Excellent speech recognition

Cons:

  • Not 100% accurate; might require manual revisions
  • Subscription-based pricing might not be suitable for one-time users

The only catch: in order to get an automatic transcript of your video in Descript, you’ll need the video file. Which usually means you’ll have to download it from YouTube. 

If you pay for YouTube Premium, you can download videos to your computer and then do whatever you want with them—like transcribe them. But if you don’t have YouTube Premium and you want to download a YouTube video and pop it into Descript to transcribe it, you can use a free YouTube video downloader tool. Ddownr is one such tool. 

Homepage for Ddownr YouTube video downloader tool.

Just paste the video URL into Ddownr, click download, and the video downloads in a ZIP file on your computer. From there, you can put the downloaded video into an automated transcription service like Descript. 

Pros:

  • Can work offline once the video is downloaded
  • Provides flexibility to use various transcription tools

Cons:

  • Downloading videos may breach YouTube’s terms of service
  • Still requires another step or tool to transcribe
  • Video quality may decrease depending on the downloader used

The best transcription software

While you could manually transcribe each word from your audio clip or podcast episode, it’s definitely not the best option. With Descript, you can easily convert spoken words into written ones with our audio-to-text tool

Just upload a video to Descript, and within minutes you’ll have an accurate, timestamped transcript ready for editing. Even if your video has multiple people speaking, Descript identifies and labels them accurately. 

Once you’re finished, you can export the text transcript and share it with your community. Thousands of creators are using Descript for their audio and video content. Join them today by signing up for a free account

Transcript of YouTube videos FAQ

Can I turn a YouTube video into a transcript?

Yes, you can turn a YouTube video into a transcript. Many YouTube videos come with auto-generated subtitles, and there are also third-party services and software that can transcribe videos for you.

How do I transcribe a YouTube video for free?

You can transcribe a YouTube video for free by using YouTube’s auto-generated captions or online transcription services. Software like Descript allows you to automatically transcribe while adding speaker tags, time stamps, and the option to export your transcript to a text file.

How do you download a YouTube transcript?

There is no direct download option for a YouTube transcript. But, you can copy and paste the transcript from your video into a text file via Google Docs or Microsoft Word.

Featured articles:

No items found.

Articles you might find interesting

Podcasting

How to write podcast show notes that attract new listeners

Podcast show notes are a great way to engage listeners and monetize your show. Here’s how to write them—and save time doing it.

Podcasting

Podcast editing basics: How to boost your audio experience

Putting a podcast on the digital airwaves involves a lot of work to carefully craft an aural narrative and make sure that it all sounds amazing to your listeners.

Video

How to edit crosstalk in video

You don’t want to cut out crosstalk willy-nilly — there’s an art to editing this conversational collision.

Product Updates

How Descript Uses AI To Match Room Tone For Seamless Edits

Few recordings of human speech are recorded “perfectly” — that is to say, inside an acoustically treated studio, with a high-quality microphone, and without external noise or interference. Most are recorded imperfectly, with varying degrees of background noise and unwanted sound. Maybe there’s an air conditioner in the background or line-level fuzz. This is known as room tone, and when it comes to editing audio, dealing with room tone can be challenging and costly, requiring the use of dedicated plugins and software.

Podcasting

How to design podcast cover art: 10 expert tips and best practices

Your podcast cover art is a listener’s first impression of your show. Here are 10 expert tips and best practices to design one that attracts listeners.

Related articles:

Share this article

Get started for free →