What are transcripts and how are they different from subtitles and how can they be used? Let’s start with what they have in common, discuss the differences, and see how easy it is to convert YouTube captions to text files. Creating transcripts and subtitles starts with transcription. Transcription is writing down text that captures all of the speech in a video. Both can be used to follow along with the video without relying on hearing the speech itself. And both are text files that can be updated in a text editor.
Differences between transcripts and subtitles
- Transcripts only capture the language in the video.
- Subtitles can be in the same language of the video or translated into multiple languages.
- Transcripts are separate from the video, often appearing on the side or below a video player.
- Subtitles are integrated into the video either as closed or open subtitles.
- Transcripts are stored and displayed as plain text information.
- Subtitles can be styled to include bolded or italic text or different font and background colors, depending on the file type of the subtitles.
- Transcripts might contain timestamps but often have the option of toggling them on or off in the video platform.
- Subtitles require timestamps to align the text correctly with the timing of the video.
How to download YouTube subtitles
Getting a subtitles download is not as intimidating as it may seem at first. It’s easy to download YouTube captions or subtitles from the transcript.
To download a YouTube transcript, all that is needed is a YouTube video and the ability to copy and paste. Follow these steps to get a copy of your YouTube video transcript onto your computer:
- Go to video.
- Click the three dot menu below the video.
- Click open transcript.
- Click and drag to highlight the whole transcript.
- Copy the text (Ctrl +C on Windows, Command + C on Mac).
- Open a text editor and paste the text and save the file.
Make sure the correct language is selected in the subtitles menu. Timestamps can be toggled on or off for the YouTube transcript. If the transcript will eventually be used as a subtitle file, it’s good to keep the timestamps on so that that information is not lost.
Using a downloaded YouTube transcript
Transcripts can be useful in many ways. They can stand in as class notes for a missed lecture or as an easy reference for musicians searching for lyrics. Transcripts are searchable in a way that video isn’t, so if there is an important term it’s easy to find in the transcript by a simple find function in a text editor.
After the YouTube subtitles download is completed from copying and pasting, the transcript with timecodes can be easily converted to an SRT file in a text editor. Check out our article on creating and editing SRT files to learn more.
To prepare a file to be SRT, each subtitle entry needs to have all four of the following elements:
- Subtitle number: each subtitle is numbered, starting at 1.
- Timestamps: the start and end times for the subtitle to be displayed in the format hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds.
- Subtitle text: This text will be displayed on screen in the final video with the SRT file enabled.
- A blank line marks the end of the subtitle entry.
Example of an SRT subtitle entry:
00:00:00,100 –> 00:00:07,100
I’m an SRT expert now!
SRT files are supported on most video platforms and are exclusively supported on social media sites like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram where their simplicity is beneficial. SRT is also supported on Amara, where you can upload, edit, and redownload your subtitles for use elsewhere.
Amara teams give people even more options with YouTube integration. Amara teams provide a workspace where multiple people can contribute to subtitles. This can be an important step in quality assurance. Two heads are better than one, whether you are transcribing, translating, or reviewing! Because the accuracy of a transcript or a subtitle file starts with the accuracy of the transcription, which is often best served as a team effort. Amara Community is a great place to get started for small teams with public videos, but there are several Amara team options with customizable workflow features!