Showing Subtitles on YouTube

Foreign and English language subtitles are becoming more common on YouTube videos and are great for those abroad, whose first language is not English, who are learning another language or who want to watch videos in the office…

This is a guide to how to see the subtitles on YouTube – or a YouTube calls them, ‘closed captions’.

First, find a video that has closed captions.  You will recognise it by the ‘cc’ icon next to the video.

If you can’t see any videos with this logo, alter your search so that it only includes videos with subtitles, by opening the ‘search options’ tab and clicking ‘closed captions’.


When you click through to the video, you will see a grey or red ‘cc’ icon on the bottom control bar of the video

If the cc icon is grey, closed captions aren’t on.  If it’s red, then they are on.  To turn the subtitles on, click the red button.  When you hover over the button, it should reveal a menu from which you can choose the language.

What languages are available depends on what the owner of video has uploaded. Click on the language you want.  You can also increase the size of the subtitle text by going to ‘other settings’ (see screen shot above).  Click on the + button to increase the font size of the subtitles.


Embedded videos are slightly different because of the compacted control bar at the bottom.

For embedded videos in Facebook etc, click the red or grey arrow, situated on the bottom right hand side of the video.

If the video has subtitles, you will see a grey or red cc icon.  Hovering over the grey arrow next to it will bring up the list of languages available, as well as the text size settings already discussed.

If you have an embedded video that you know has closed captions, but doesn’t show the ‘cc’ button, it might be because it has been embedded using the old <object… code rather that the new iframe code.  There isn’t, as far as I know, any way to get around this.  You just have to view it in YouTube or update the code (if it is yours).

There is one more situation where the subtitles turn up in a different place and that is in previews, e.g. in twitter.

In this case there is no sign of the cc icon.  But fear not.  Press play and begin watching the video, and the cc icon will appear and you can turn it on as normal.

There it is – in the middle of the bar.

Hope that this little tutorial helps someone watch youtube videos in Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Welsh, Chinese….

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