Subtitles provide viewers with a video’s dialogue in written form. Captions include subtitles plus a written description of what is occurring in their videos for viewers who might not be able to hear or understand the sound.
Here's a short video about captions and subtitles on Vimeo:
To turn on captions or subtitles when viewing a video, click the CC button in the player's bottom toolbar. In the menu that appears, select the caption or subtitle track you’d like to see. To see captions in action, try turning them on in the video below:
Video creators upload captions and subtitles to their own videos. If you do not see your language, it probably means that the video has not yet been transcribed or translated. Feel free to contact the video creator directly to inquire!
We use Helvetica Neue with bold styling for captioning and subtitle display in the Vimeo player. The size of the font is responsive, meaning it will adjust per the size of your browser window.
Adding captions or subtitles to your video
You can add captions or subtitles to your video by going to your video manager, clicking into the desired video, then selecting the Advanced option on the right side to access additional video settings. Open the Distribution tab and head to the Subtitles section.
To upload a captions or subtitles file, click the “+” button, specify the language, and tell us whether it’s a caption or subtitle file. Then click Choose File and upload the file from your computer. Once the file is uploaded, you’ll need to toggle it on to activate it. To replace, delete, download, or edit the file, click on the three dots next to the file name and select the corresponding option from the menu.
If you don’t already have captions or subtitles for your video, you can purchase them through one of the trusted providers listed below. These same providers are also listed on the Advanced tab of your video’s settings.
Vimeo supports the following captions and subtitles file formats: SRT, WebVTT, DFXP/TTML, SCC, and SAMI files, but we recommend using WebVTT whenever possible. We also recommend encoding your caption files in UTF-8 format. Otherwise, captions that contain special characters may not display properly during playback.
✦ Automatic closed captions
Vimeo also offers automatic closed captioning, so all videos will be automatically transcribed by our system during the upload process. This new tool is currently only available to our Enterprise members, but we will be rolling it out to all future membership tiers in the future. Current Enterprise users should reach out to their account manager to enable this feature.
These captions are enabled by default, however, if you would prefer to disable the captions for your viewers, or use your own subtitles instead, you can disable them by visiting your video’s Advanced Settings page and clicking on the Distribution tab. Scroll down to the subheading Subtitles and Captions; below Captions, you can toggle off the Vimeo created transcript.
At this time, all automatic closed captions are only available in English. So if you would like to offer additional languages to your audience, you’ll need to upload separate subtitle or caption files.
Your viewers will be able to turn on captions, and toggle between the available languages, on your video’s clip page by clicking the [CC] button on the video toolbar.
Below the player on the simplified video settings and clip pages, you’ll find a [CC] button that when pressed will launch our new captions panel. From the panel, you’ll be able to follow along with the video’s transcript. Clicking on any segment of the transcript will take you to that point in the video. Additionally, if you leave the panel open while your video plays, the system will auto-scroll through each line of text and highlight it when it appears in the player so that you can follow along.
You can also search for a video from your Video Library using keywords from your transcripts. When you select a video from the search results, you’ll be taken to the video’s settings page and the transcript panel will open automatically.
✦ Troubleshooting captions-related issues
If you encounter an error while uploading your subtitles or captions to the website, please ensure that you are uploading a file type that we support (SRT, WebVTT, DFXP/TTML, SCC, and SAMI). You may get one of the two following error messages if you try to upload a file type that we don’t accept (ex. “.txt” or “.csv”), or if you have formatting issues within your file (ex. HTML code or improper syntax):
- Unexpected Text Track Upload Type
- Invalid Caption File
If you receive the “Unexpected Text Track Upload Type” error, double-check to make sure that you are uploading a file type we accept (SRT, WebVTT, DFXP/TTML, SCC, or SAMI). After converting your document to an accepted file type, try uploading it again.
If your file type is one of the supported file types, and you still receive the “Invalid Caption File” error message, please follow these troubleshooting steps to get your file ready to upload.
First, if you are using a DFXP/TTML, SCC, or SAMI file please convert it to a WebVTT file as this file type is the easiest to troubleshoot. Files can be converted using the Caption and Subtitle Format Converter.
If you are using an SRT file, please convert it to a WebVTT file using the TextEdit (Mac) or Notepad (PC) application. You can follow these steps to convert your file:
- Add the header WEBVTT followed by a line break at the top of the file.
- Find (ctrl-F/cmd-F) the comma character (,) and Replace-All with the period character (.)
- Copy-and-paste the content of the file into this validator: http://quuz.org/webvtt/.
- Make the appropriate changes for any errors the validator reports back.
Here are some examples:
In this example, the “cue identifier” is the beginning timestamp and the ending timestamp. An error will be registered in the file if you add a line break after the timestamps.
The beginning and ending timestamps must be written on the same line of text or you’ll see an error like the first one displayed in red above.
Additionally, the ending timestamp for a cue should not precede the beginning timestamp or you’ll see the second error message.
Finally, the beginning timestamp for a cue should not be equal to or earlier than the ending timestamp of the preceding cue. In the example above, the ending timestamp for line 3 is the same as the opening timestamp for line 4 (00:18.000), resulting in the error message.
If your subtitles or captions don’t appear during playback, make sure you’ve activated the caption file by toggling it on. You can toggle on the file by clicking the CC button underneath the video. Once it's blue, the file has been activated.
If your file is active and you’re still not able to see your subtitles/captions, or if they are not showing as expected, please try these troubleshooting tips.
- First, download the file from the video’s settings page.
- If you get a 404 Not Found error, the file was invalid and not accepted by the system.
- If you are able to download the file from the system, convert the file into a WebVTT file using the directions above. Then paste the content of the file into the validator site.
- Once you've done that, make the appropriate changes in your document for any errors the validator reports back.
We recommend using TextEdit (Mac) or Notepad (PC) to make updates to your document. Here are some examples of common issues we’ve come across with subtitle/caption files:
(Please note that it's not possible to add font color or change the size of captions at all, even outside of HTML formatting.)
✦ Supported languages for captions and subtitles
We support all of the languages listed below. If you're uploading a file in a dialect that our player doesn't seem to support, feel free to get in touch.
Chinese (China) (zh)
Chinese (Hong Kong SAR China) (zh-hk)
Chinese (Simplified Han) (zh-hans)
Chinese (Singapore) (zh-sg)
Chinese (Taiwan) (zh-tw)
Chinese (Traditional Han) (zh-hant)
Dutch (Belgium) (nl-be)
English (Canada) (en-ca)
English (Ireland) (en-ie)
English (United Kingdom) (en-uk)
English (United States) (en-us)
French (Belgium) (fr-be)
French (Canada) (fr-ca)
French (Switzerland) (fr-ch)
German (Austria) (de-at)
German (Switzerland) (de-ch)
Northern Sami (Lulesamisk) (se)
Persian (Afghanistan) (fa-af)
Portuguese (Brazil) (pt-br)
Portuguese (Portugal) (pt)
Scottish Gaelic (gd)
Southern Sotho (st)
Spanish (Mexico) (es-mx)
Spanish (Spain) (es)
Western Frisian (fy)