How to Add Captions to a Video in iMovie on Mac

To add captions to a video in iMovie you can use the Titles feature. Select the Lower title style and drag it onto the timeline over the video clip. Then, in the text box input your desired caption with square brackets around it and adjust the alignment to center the text. 

Hi! I’m Nancy and I love to create videos in iMovie. With the rise of social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, videos have become a popular form of entertainment and to share information. That’s why it’s highly recommended to add captions and subtitles to your videos. 

In this article, I’ll share the easiest method for adding captions to a video in iMovie, as well as how to take advantage of the free captions feature on Youtube and Instagram.

Are Captions the Same as Subtitles?

Captions and subtitles are frequently used interchangeably but they serve different purposes. They can help individuals understand the dialogue better and describe the actions and sounds in the video. 

Closed captions are created specifically for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and include all audio sounds such as background music and sound effects. 

For example, if a scene in the video shows wolves howling, a closed caption could display [wolves howling] to provide context for viewers who are unable to hear the audio. In this way, captions help to ensure that all viewers can understand the content of the video.

Subtitles make videos accessible to individuals who speak different languages by translating the video’s audio into a language the viewer understands. Unlike closed captions, subtitles are specifically created for translation purposes. 

If you’re watching a movie in a language you don’t understand, subtitles can be a game-changer. For example, if you’re watching a Spanish movie but don’t speak Spanish, the subtitles can translate the dialogue into English or another language, allowing you to follow the story and understand what’s happening. 

How to Add Captions in iMovie

Now that we know the difference between closed captions and subtitles, it’s important to note that closed captions are typically short captions that describe specific sounds and actions. Here are the simple steps to add captions to your video.

First, open the browser menu and select Titles and choose the Lower title style. Next, drag it onto the timeline and place it above the video clip. Then, enter a brief description of the sound effect in the text box. 

You can adjust the font, text size, color, and alignment of the text box in the Title Settings. Finally, you can set the duration of the text clip by clicking on the Clip Information button in the toolbar and inputting the desired time.

Read our comprehensive guide on how to add subtitles in iMovie here.

How Do I Turn on Captions on My Video?

By uploading your video to YouTube or Instagram, you can take advantage of their free captioning features. This eliminates the need for manual captioning in iMovie, which saves you time and effort.


YouTube uses speech recognition technology to generate automatic captions for your videos. However, the processing time for this feature may vary. Once Youtube publishes the captions and subtitles on your video, you can review and edit them in the Subtitle editor.

YouTube offers three methods for adding subtitles to your videos: uploading a file, auto-sync, and manual typing. The quickest way to add subtitles to your video on YouTube is by uploading a subtitle file. You can obtain the subtitle file by using another software beforehand. 

Alternatively, if you have a transcript of your video, you can import it into the Auto-sync option and it will automatically edit the timings for you.


You can use Instagram’s free caption generator within the app. First, upload your video to create either a Story or a Reel. Then click on the smiley face icon and select the Captions feature.

After it transcribes your audio, you can easily edit the text and adjust the font style, color, and size with the various editing tools. Once you’re done editing, simply click the Download button to save a copy onto your device.

Final Thoughts

Captions are an essential tool for ensuring that video content is inclusive and accessible to everyone. Captions have numerous benefits not only for people with hearing impairments but also for those who may watch videos in noisy environments and who speak a different language and need written text support to fully understand the content.

Do you enjoy watching videos with captions and subtitles? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *