June 19, 2024

How to get the transcript of YouTube videos in 5 easy steps

Learn how to transcribe a YouTube video on your phone or computer using free and paid third-party services like Descript.
June 19, 2024

How to get the transcript of YouTube videos in 5 easy steps

Learn how to transcribe a YouTube video on your phone or computer using free and paid third-party services like Descript.
June 19, 2024
Mina Son
In this article
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
Sign up

What type of content do you primarily create?

Videos
Podcasts
Social media clips
Transcriptions
Start editing audio & video
This makes the editing process so much faster. I wish I knew about Descript a year ago.
Matt D., Copywriter
Sign up

What type of content do you primarily create?

Videos
Podcasts
Social media clips
Transcriptions

Have you ever stumbled upon a good YouTube video, only to wish you had a written version for reference? Perhaps you’re a content creator who wants to make videos on your YouTube channel more accessible to your subscribers, or repurpose the content into social media posts that reach a wider audience.

In either of these scenarios, and many others, having a full transcript of a YouTube video can be quite helpful. 

But how do you extract such a goldmine of information from YouTube without paying for a Premium account to download videos? 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—even as a complete beginner. 

Why create YouTube transcripts?

Creating YouTube transcriptions might seem like an unnecessary step in your content creation workflow, but the document has lots of hidden potential:

  • Improve rankings. Your transcript is jam-packed with keywords that search engines use to determine the context of a video. Simply adding your transcript to your video description can help with YouTube SEO.
  • Make content more accessible. Transcriptions are the foundation of subtitles. When people can see what you’re saying on-screen in real-time, it instantly makes your YouTube videos more accessible to those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Reach an international audience. Some YouTube transcript generators can support multiple languages, which opens you up to a global audience of non-English speakers.

💡 Pro tip: Streamline your video uploading workflow by letting AI do all the work for you. Descript’s YouTube Description Generator will write a concise description—including timecodes and chapters—on your behalf.

Descript’s YouTube Description Generator writing a video description

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.

Step 2: Go to the video description 

Open the video. Beneath the video title there’ll be a set of options, including the option to view More.

The transcript area of a YouTube video showing Show transcript button

Step 3: Click on “Show transcript”

After clicking More, the video description will appear. You’ll also see the option to Show transcript. This is the gateway to accessing the written content of the video.

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

A YouTube transcription on the right column

Step 4: Choose the language

Fortunately, YouTube’s auto-generated captions work in multiple languages. You can select any language of your new YouTube transcription from the dropdown list.

Step 5: Review and download your transcription

There aren’t many transcript options to adjust YouTube’s default text. 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. 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 YouTube transcript isn’t very sexy. You’ll have to fix it up to get a good looking transcript that’s ready to use.

A Google Doc showing Mr. Beast’s video transcript

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—you can only read it. 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.

Step 2: Look for the video details

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

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. 

Finding a YouTube transcript on the phone

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 time stamps. You can turn these on or off, depending on your preference. Clicking on a specific timestamp will jump to that part 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.

Step 6: Review and download your YouTube transcript

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. If you just need to grab a quote, your best bet is to type it into a document manually. If you want the entire transcript, you'll need to go on a computer and grab the transcript there. 

3 alternatives to download transcripts from YouTube

YouTube’s default transcript tool is a little hit and miss. Its accuracy isn’t the greatest—you’ll likely need to spend time combing through the text file to fix errors. That’s where these four alternatives come in handy.

1. Descript’s free automated transcription tool

In the past, transcription was a labor-intensive process that required manual effort or outsourcing. Automated transcription services like Descript have emerged as a result of machine learning, drastically cutting transcription time and effort.

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. You can even import YouTube videos with just a link.

If you want to go through with a fine-tooth comb, you can manually correct the transcript in a user-friendly editing interface. It even has keyboard shortcuts that let you automatically change capitalization and punctuation without typing them out manually.

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 simply edit the text version, and the audio will adjust automatically, leaving you with a highly accurate transcript. 

Pros of Descript’s YouTube transcription tool:

  • Fast, automatic transcription
  • Editing the transcript also edits the audio or video, though you can make text corrections without editing the file as well
  • Import YouTube videos by pasting in the link
  • Cloud-based and accessible anywhere
  • Export the YouTube transcript as an SRT file for easy repurposing
  • Excellent speech recognition

Cons of Descript’s YouTube transcription tool:

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

2. Manual transcription

Before AI technology, transcribing was done manually. This involved someone diligently typing out every word with the help of headphones and a foot pedal. Even today, manual transcription is preferred for important projects like legal cases or qualitative research.

It can take hours to transcribe a long video, or even just an hour of content. If you’re not a professional transcriptionist, you probably won’t enjoy manually transcribing YouTube videos.

Pros of manual transcription:

  • High accuracy if done properly
  • Transcriber can add notes, time stamps, and nuances

Cons of manual transcription:

  • Time-consuming
  • Requires human resources; can be costly

3. Professional video transcription services

If you want manually generated YouTube transcripts without actually typing it out yourself, consider leaning on a professional transcription service. Popular options include Rev, GoTranscript, and TranscribeMe.

While accuracy is high with this YouTube transcription option, turnaround times can be slow. It’s also more expensive since you’re paying a person (not a free tool) to transcribe the content for you.

Pros of professional transcription services:

  • High accuracy rate
  • Most services offer quality control for things like grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Good contextual understanding to clarify questions in the transcription

Cons of professional transcription services:

  • Can be very expensive, especially if you’re transcribing lots of videos
  • Transcripts aren’t instant—there’s a delay for someone to manually transcribe the video

The best transcription software for YouTubers

Gone are the days of trying to transcribe an audio clip or podcast episode, or paying an expensive transcription service to do the hard work for you. With Descript, you can easily convert spoken words into written ones with our free audio-to-text tool

Simply paste in the YouTube link to Descript, and within minutes you’ll have an accurate, time stamped transcript ready for editing. Even if your video has multiple people speaking, Descript identifies and labels them accurately. 

Repurpose your YouTube video transcript with Descript

We’re biased, but Descript is the best YouTube transcription tool for YouTubers. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Millions of creators rely on Descript’s video editing suite to produce top-notch videos.

All free plans include advanced features that let you create world-class transcriptions, including:

  • Filler Word Removal to banish “ums” and “uhs” from your YouTube transcript
  • Speaker labels to clearly identify who’s talking
  • Automated subtitles that turn your transcripts into on-screen captions
  • Timestamps that help people find specific parts of your video through the transcript
  • Collaboration tools to work on a transcript with your team

Millions of brands and creators are already using Descript for their audio and video content. Join them by signing up for your free account today

Transcript of YouTube videos FAQ

Can I turn a YouTube video into a transcript?

To turn a YouTube video into a transcript, locate the three dots beneath the video and choose Show transcript from the drop down menu. YouTube will show the auto-generated transcript in the side menu.

How do I transcribe a YouTube video for free?

  1. Download the YouTube video file
  2. Upload the video into Descript’s free transcription tool
  3. Wait for Descript to transcribe the video
  4. Edit your transcription

How to convert a YouTube video to a Word document?

To turn your YouTube video transcript into a Word Document, upload the file into Descript. Use AI features to remove filler words and add speaker tags, then copy and paste the edited YouTube transcript into a new Google Doc.

Do all YouTube videos have transcripts?

YouTube doesn’t create an automated transcript for every video. If the creator has disabled the transcript for a video you want to transcribe, download the file and upload it into Descript. The transcription software will automatically generate one for you.

Mina Son
Mina is a writer, video game narrative designer, and all-around word nerd. When not writing, she embarks on adventures with her husky, Moro.
Share this article
Start creating—for free
Sign up
Join millions of others creating with Descript

How to get the transcript of YouTube videos in 5 easy steps

Computer showing a video

Have you ever stumbled upon a good YouTube video, only to wish you had a written version for reference? Perhaps you’re a content creator who wants to make videos on your YouTube channel more accessible to your subscribers, or repurpose the content into social media posts that reach a wider audience.

In either of these scenarios, and many others, having a full transcript of a YouTube video can be quite helpful. 

But how do you extract such a goldmine of information from YouTube without paying for a Premium account to download videos? 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—even as a complete beginner. 

Why create YouTube transcripts?

Creating YouTube transcriptions might seem like an unnecessary step in your content creation workflow, but the document has lots of hidden potential:

  • Improve rankings. Your transcript is jam-packed with keywords that search engines use to determine the context of a video. Simply adding your transcript to your video description can help with YouTube SEO.
  • Make content more accessible. Transcriptions are the foundation of subtitles. When people can see what you’re saying on-screen in real-time, it instantly makes your YouTube videos more accessible to those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Reach an international audience. Some YouTube transcript generators can support multiple languages, which opens you up to a global audience of non-English speakers.

💡 Pro tip: Streamline your video uploading workflow by letting AI do all the work for you. Descript’s YouTube Description Generator will write a concise description—including timecodes and chapters—on your behalf.

Descript’s YouTube Description Generator writing a video description

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.

Step 2: Go to the video description 

Open the video. Beneath the video title there’ll be a set of options, including the option to view More.

The transcript area of a YouTube video showing Show transcript button

Step 3: Click on “Show transcript”

After clicking More, the video description will appear. You’ll also see the option to Show transcript. This is the gateway to accessing the written content of the video.

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

A YouTube transcription on the right column

Step 4: Choose the language

Fortunately, YouTube’s auto-generated captions work in multiple languages. You can select any language of your new YouTube transcription from the dropdown list.

Step 5: Review and download your transcription

There aren’t many transcript options to adjust YouTube’s default text. 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. 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 YouTube transcript isn’t very sexy. You’ll have to fix it up to get a good looking transcript that’s ready to use.

A Google Doc showing Mr. Beast’s video transcript

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—you can only read it. 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.

Step 2: Look for the video details

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

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. 

Finding a YouTube transcript on the phone

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 time stamps. You can turn these on or off, depending on your preference. Clicking on a specific timestamp will jump to that part 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.

Step 6: Review and download your YouTube transcript

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. If you just need to grab a quote, your best bet is to type it into a document manually. If you want the entire transcript, you'll need to go on a computer and grab the transcript there. 

3 alternatives to download transcripts from YouTube

YouTube’s default transcript tool is a little hit and miss. Its accuracy isn’t the greatest—you’ll likely need to spend time combing through the text file to fix errors. That’s where these four alternatives come in handy.

1. Descript’s free automated transcription tool

In the past, transcription was a labor-intensive process that required manual effort or outsourcing. Automated transcription services like Descript have emerged as a result of machine learning, drastically cutting transcription time and effort.

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. You can even import YouTube videos with just a link.

If you want to go through with a fine-tooth comb, you can manually correct the transcript in a user-friendly editing interface. It even has keyboard shortcuts that let you automatically change capitalization and punctuation without typing them out manually.

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 simply edit the text version, and the audio will adjust automatically, leaving you with a highly accurate transcript. 

Pros of Descript’s YouTube transcription tool:

  • Fast, automatic transcription
  • Editing the transcript also edits the audio or video, though you can make text corrections without editing the file as well
  • Import YouTube videos by pasting in the link
  • Cloud-based and accessible anywhere
  • Export the YouTube transcript as an SRT file for easy repurposing
  • Excellent speech recognition

Cons of Descript’s YouTube transcription tool:

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

2. Manual transcription

Before AI technology, transcribing was done manually. This involved someone diligently typing out every word with the help of headphones and a foot pedal. Even today, manual transcription is preferred for important projects like legal cases or qualitative research.

It can take hours to transcribe a long video, or even just an hour of content. If you’re not a professional transcriptionist, you probably won’t enjoy manually transcribing YouTube videos.

Pros of manual transcription:

  • High accuracy if done properly
  • Transcriber can add notes, time stamps, and nuances

Cons of manual transcription:

  • Time-consuming
  • Requires human resources; can be costly

3. Professional video transcription services

If you want manually generated YouTube transcripts without actually typing it out yourself, consider leaning on a professional transcription service. Popular options include Rev, GoTranscript, and TranscribeMe.

While accuracy is high with this YouTube transcription option, turnaround times can be slow. It’s also more expensive since you’re paying a person (not a free tool) to transcribe the content for you.

Pros of professional transcription services:

  • High accuracy rate
  • Most services offer quality control for things like grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Good contextual understanding to clarify questions in the transcription

Cons of professional transcription services:

  • Can be very expensive, especially if you’re transcribing lots of videos
  • Transcripts aren’t instant—there’s a delay for someone to manually transcribe the video

The best transcription software for YouTubers

Gone are the days of trying to transcribe an audio clip or podcast episode, or paying an expensive transcription service to do the hard work for you. With Descript, you can easily convert spoken words into written ones with our free audio-to-text tool

Simply paste in the YouTube link to Descript, and within minutes you’ll have an accurate, time stamped transcript ready for editing. Even if your video has multiple people speaking, Descript identifies and labels them accurately. 

Repurpose your YouTube video transcript with Descript

We’re biased, but Descript is the best YouTube transcription tool for YouTubers. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Millions of creators rely on Descript’s video editing suite to produce top-notch videos.

All free plans include advanced features that let you create world-class transcriptions, including:

  • Filler Word Removal to banish “ums” and “uhs” from your YouTube transcript
  • Speaker labels to clearly identify who’s talking
  • Automated subtitles that turn your transcripts into on-screen captions
  • Timestamps that help people find specific parts of your video through the transcript
  • Collaboration tools to work on a transcript with your team

Millions of brands and creators are already using Descript for their audio and video content. Join them by signing up for your free account today

Transcript of YouTube videos FAQ

Can I turn a YouTube video into a transcript?

To turn a YouTube video into a transcript, locate the three dots beneath the video and choose Show transcript from the drop down menu. YouTube will show the auto-generated transcript in the side menu.

How do I transcribe a YouTube video for free?

  1. Download the YouTube video file
  2. Upload the video into Descript’s free transcription tool
  3. Wait for Descript to transcribe the video
  4. Edit your transcription

How to convert a YouTube video to a Word document?

To turn your YouTube video transcript into a Word Document, upload the file into Descript. Use AI features to remove filler words and add speaker tags, then copy and paste the edited YouTube transcript into a new Google Doc.

Do all YouTube videos have transcripts?

YouTube doesn’t create an automated transcript for every video. If the creator has disabled the transcript for a video you want to transcribe, download the file and upload it into Descript. The transcription software will automatically generate one for you.

Featured articles:

Video

How much do YouTubers make? See real-world examples

There's no single answer to how much YouTubers make. But whatever your channel size, this article will give you a good idea of what to expect.

Articles you might find interesting

Video

Guide to Instagram Video Sizes: How to Format Your IG Posts

Here’s a breakdown of the optimal video size for Instagram, the optimal video format for Instagram, and some key tips for getting your content noticed (and those view counts up).

Podcasting

Adding transition music to a podcast? Everything you need to know

Background music can add to the listening experience too, creating a sense of whatever emotion you want to evoke, but, you should know that you’ll likely have to pay for it.

Video

How to trim a video: 4 easy methods for beginners

Trimming your video is the first step to tightening up your content. Learn 4 quick and easy video trimming methods for beginners in this guide.

Video

How to enhance video quality using these expert tips

We’ll show you what you can do to improve your videos using expert tips and the best video enhancer tools available on the market today.

Podcasting

Call Recording: Great Audio Apps and Assets for Podcasting

If you’re a podcaster, filmmaker, or journalist seeking the best software for call recording, you should insist upon the following features and call recording apps.

Related articles:

Share this article

Get started for free →