How to activate subtitles in Zoom for free

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Judit Llordés
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Just like Google Meet, Zoom also has a built-in subtitle feature. But it is hidden in the depths of the settings and is also quite limited in functionality. Unlike other services, on Zoom, you have to write the captions yourself so that others can read them. 

Thankfully, you can also assign the subtitle role to someone else so they can write Zoom captions on your own. Not an ideal solution anyway. But there is a solution in a third-party Zoom app that automatically writes captions in Zoom as someone talks. So let's get started.

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Enable subtitles in Zoom's free plan

To auto-generate Zoom captions, you must first enable the built-in caption feature on Zoom so that it can use the Zoom Captions API during Zoom meetings.

Enabling the Subtitle on Zoom function

  1. Open the Zoom website and log in if you haven't already.
  2. Here click on the option Settings in the left sidebar. Then, in the tab Meeting , select the option In a meeting (advanced).
  3. Now scroll down and enable Subtitles. Then enable the check mark next to Allow the use of the Caption API Token for integration with third-party subtitle services. It will help to connect Zoom with third party services for subtitles via API.

How to connect Web Captioner to Zoom

Enabling the Zoom Caption feature is not enough. As we noted earlier, captions must either be written by you or generated using an app that uses text-to-speech technology.

  1. Open the Zoom app and start a meeting. Works on both mobile and web app.
  2. Here you can find the new option Subtitles , click on it.
  3. Now you can find i type e Assign a participant to type the options for either type yourself or assign someone to captions to write for you. Click the button Copy API Token to copy the Zoom Subtitle API Token which we will use to provide the necessary access to the third party app.
  4. After enabling the Zoom function Caption built-in, go up Web Captioner and click sul pulsating Start Captioning.
  5. Then click icon of Profile in the lower right corner and select Settings.
  6. Select the option Channels in the left sidebar and then click the logo Zoom.
  7. THU paste the Zoom API token that you copied in step 3. Then select Send captions as soon as possible in the refresh rate section. Now click on Add channel.

How to use subtitles from Web Captioner on Zoom

We may have linked the Web Captioner to Zoom, but using it will involve a few more steps that you need to follow for each meeting.

  1. Start a new Zoom meeting and click the option Subtitles , then select I will write.
  2. A pop-up window will open for you to type. Close it because we don't rely on human intervention.
  3. This will bring up an option to change the subtitles. Hover over the option Subtitles and click on arrow in high. Then select Show subtitles.
  4. Once the Show Subtitles option is enabled, navigate to the Captioner Web page and click Start subtitles.
  5. The app will listen to your conversation and start subtitling the audio.
  6. These captions will also be reflected on the Zoom meeting screen app.
  7. Hover over Subtitles, click on arrow and then select Subtitle Settings to change the subtitle font size directly from Zoom itself.

Note that subtitles for all meeting attendees will be generated and displayed on the screen of everyone who has closed captioning enabled in Zoom. 

However, it will not work when using headphones because Web Captioner cannot hear Zoom meeting audio this way. In that case, everyone has to connect Web Captioner to Zoom from their end the same way to get their own subtitles.

Summary: Turn on subtitles on Zoom

While this is only a one-time process, you also need to open the Web Captioner website every time you want to enable subtitles in Zoom. Considering it's just a single click of the button, it's a scam that we have to tolerate using Zoom subtitles. Web Captioner is free as it works on donations, so consider donating if you find it useful.

On the other hand, this also raises some privacy and security concerns. What happens if you have a private or sensitive meeting, the details of which cannot be understood at any cost? In that case, we do not recommend that you use third-party subtitle sites or use them at your own risk. Ask your secretary or someone you trust to write the captions manually.

Further Reading:

  • How to enable (and disable) subtitles on Amazon Prime Video
  • How to turn Disney Plus subtitles on or off
  • Does Zoom warn me if someone takes a screenshot?
  • How to turn off subtitles on Netflix
  • How to mute audio on a zoomed call

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