How to Transcribe a YouTube Video

How to transcribe a YouTube video

YouTube is a popular source of information and entertainment. So popular, in fact, that in 2022 there were more than 2.56 billion YouTube users worldwide! There are millions if not billions of videos on the platform on just about any topic that you could imagine, uploaded by users from around the world in virtually every language.

Adding a transcription or subtitles to your YouTube video can help you to reach a wider audience and expand your business on an international level.

Keep reading to learn the other benefits of transcribing YouTube videos, the different ways to convert a YouTube video to text, and how to transcribe a YouTube video for free.

Note: Please bear in mind that you should only download videos from YouTube that belong to you. If you don't own the video, please check YouTube's terms of service before downloading and transcribing to ensure you aren't violating their terms.

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Why transcribe a YouTube video?

Creating a transcript of your YouTube video has an array of benefits:

  • Global reach

Given how popular YouTube is on a worldwide scale, it makes sense to tap into that global audience. Adding subtitles to your videos can help to increase your reach by making it possible for speakers of other languages to watch and understand your content.

  • SEO

By adding a video transcription or subtitles, you'll be able to target relevant keywords and boost your search rankings not only on YouTube itself but on Google too. Appearing higher on the results page can lead to more traffic.

  • Accessibility

For viewers who might be deaf or hard of hearing, captions and transcripts make your content more accessible. Learn more about how to make your video content more accessible.

  • Users on the go

Captions make it easier for viewers to watch your videos on the go, which can boost your traffic and increase the number of views for YouTUbe videos receive.

  • Marketing material

A transcript of your YouTube video can be used to create marketing materials for your business or brand - whether that's reports, articles or quotes that can be turned into assets for social media.

Find out more about content repurposing and how to get the most out of your video content.

Four ways to transcribe a YouTube video

1. Transcribe a YouTube video with its own free feature

One of the most obvious ways to convert a YouTube video to text is with YouTube's own automatic captioning service. It's free to use, however even YouTube itself warns that the quality and accuracy of the captions can vary.


  • A quick way to get a YouTube transcription

  • Free to use


  • Not very accurate

  • Not available for every video

Here's how to get a transcript using YouTube's auto captioning service:

1. Go to YouTube and click on the video you want to transcribe

2. Click on the '...' at the bottom right of the video

3. Click 'Show transcript'

4. Copy and paste the transcript into a text document

Not every YouTube video has a 'Show transcript' button. That might be because the video is too long, the sound quality is too poor, or the language in the video is not supported. If you want to transcribe one of those videos, you'll want to try one of our other methods below instead.

And here's how to edit the automated captions on your YouTube videos:

1. Sign in to YouTube Studio

2. Select 'Subtitles' from the left-hand menu

3. Click the video that you want to add captions or subtitles to

4. Under Subtitles, click 'More' next to the subtitles that you want to edit

5. Edit or remove any parts that haven't been properly transcribed

2. Transcribe a YouTube video manually

If you have plenty of time on your hands, then the good old-fashioned method of watching your YouTube video and typing a transcript as you go along is an option. It's not one that we would recommend though, especially for long YouTube videos, as manually transcribing takes even longer than you'd expect.


  • Your transcript will be as accurate as you want it to be

  • Free (depending on the value you put on your time)


  • Very time-consuming and tedious

How to transcribe a YouTube video manually

To transcribe a YouTube video manually, listen to the recording carefully and type what you hear into a text document. You'll need to pause, rewind, and listen to certain sections again to make sure you capture everything accurately.

Keep calm and patient... and when that fails, try another option from this list!

3. Transcribe a YouTube video with a human transcription service

Another option is to pay a human transcriber to manually type out the transcription of your YouTube video for you. While the transcription will be highly accurate, this is a more costly method and you could wait anywhere between hours and days for your transcription.

Find out more about human vs automatic transcription services.


  • Very accurate


  • An expensive option

  • You'll have to wait a while for your YouTube transcript

4. Transcribe a Youtube video using Transcribe

The best way to transcribe YouTube videos is with an automatic transcription service like Transcribe. Our easy-to-use AI-powered software means you get incredibly fast, high quality transcriptions of your audio and video files at the best possible price.

You can import your YouTube video in a variety of formats, and export the transcript in a format that suits you. We support more than 120 languages and dialects, offer up to 500 hours of cloud storage, and there's professional support on hand if you need any assistance.


  • A fast way to get a YouTube transcription

  • Much cheaper than using a human transcription service

  • More than 120 languages and dialects supported


  • Your transcription may need a bit of editing to get it perfect

How to transcribe a YouTube video using Transcribe

1. Download the video from YouTube

Download the video (ensuring you do so in line with YouTube's terms of service). Your downloaded video will need to be in one of our supported file formats: m4v, mp4, mov or avi.

2. Download the Transcribe app or launch the online editor

3. Upload your YouTube video

Import your video from your phone or computer.

4. Choose your language

Select the language of your YouTube video from more than 120 languages and dialects.

5. Start the transcription process

Your YouTube transcription will be ready in a matter of minutes thanks to our high-speed AI software. Sit back and relax, and we'll send you a notification when your transcription is complete.

6. Your transcription is ready!

Now that your YouTube transcription is ready, you can proofread and polish the text in the app, online or in your preferred file format - with or without timestamps. With our standard version you can export your transcribed text to TXT, or upgrade to our PRO service to export to PDF, DOCX, JPG and SRT.

SRT is a file format specifically for captions. It's made up of time coding and plain text, which video software reads and extracts in order to display subtitles on your video.

How long does it take to transcribe a YouTube video?

This depends on the method you use.

If you use a human transcription service, you might have to wait days or even weeks to receive your transcript. If you choose to transcribe your YouTube video manually, then it depends on the length of your video. It takes a professional transcriber four hours to transcribe an hour of audio, so bear that in mind when calculating how long it might take you.

Transcribe's automated transcription software takes just minutes, if not seconds, to transcribe your YouTube video. So if speed is the name of the game, you know which option to choose!

How to transcribe a YouTube video for free

Doing it yourself manually is one way of getting a free YouTube transcription, however depending on how long your video is, this can take a really long time. YouTube offers a free service too, however even they admit that it isn't the most reliable service in terms of accuracy.

With Transcribe, you get your first 15 minutes of transcription time for free, so if your YouTube video is on the shorter side then this could work out as a free option. Once you've used up this 15 minutes and seen for yourself whether our service meets your needs, you can buy additional credit for $5/hour, or 10 hours for just $30. Alternatively, upgrade to PRO for $12.99/month and you'll receive an additional 5 hours of transcription time each month (that's the equivalent of two feature length films!).

Ready to transcribe a YouTube video to text? Download the Transcribe app or launch the online editor to get started.

Written By Katie Garrett

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How to Transcribe a Video

From YouTube videos and social media posts to conference calls and lectures, learn how to transcribe video with our helpful step-by-step guide.

11 May 2022 #6