Live Captions help to show the text transcript of the audio playing on your computer. This is an accessibility feature for those having difficulties in listening audio or understanding the video content. If you frequently watch learning videos in different language, then try Live Captions to show English transcript and level up your skills. Windows 11 comes with a default feature to enable or disable Live Captions and here is how you can do that.
Things to Understand Before Using Live Captions
By default, Live Captions option is disabled in Windows 11. Here are the things you should understand before enabling it manually.
- The feature needs language files from Microsoft to be downloaded in your computer. This essentially means you do not need internet connection for getting text transcripts when the audio is playing.
- Since the audio is processed in your system, no data is sent to Microsoft or third-parties when using Live Captions.
- It is only available in English (United States) and with Windows 11 version 22H2 or later.
Update: Microsoft added 10 additional languages for Live Captions support with Windows 11 Moment 3 update in June 2023. The supported languages include regional dialects of English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Danish.
Enable Live Captions in Windows 11
There are four methods to enable Live Captions in Windows 11 PC. Once enabled, you will see the text transcription showing on the Live Captions bar when the audio is playing. You can simply close the bar to disable Live Captions.
Method 1 – Using Keyboard Shortcut for Live Captions
Simply press “Windows + Control + L” shortcut keys. If this is the first time, you will be prompted to setup by downloading the language files.
Click on “Download” button to get the files on your computer. You will see the progress bar running to show the download progress and wait for 100% completion.
After downloading, you will see a success message showing “Speech Pack – English (United States)” is installed from Microsoft Store. You will also see the “Ready to caption” message in the top bar indicating Live Caption is turned on.
Now, you are ready to use Live Captions feature in your Windows 11 PC. Since I have already downloaded the language file, system will not prompt to do so in the following methods. Otherwise, you will be prompted to download the file when you use any of these methods for the first time.
Method 2 – Enable Live Captions from Quick Settings (Action Center)
The old Windows 10 Action Center is called Quick Settings in Windows 11. From this panel also you can toggle all accessibility feature.
- Press “Windows + A” shortcut keys or click on the speaker/network/battery group icons in taskbar system tray.
- This will open Quick Settings and click “Accessibility” button on the flyout menu.
- Turn on the switch against “Live Captions” to enable it.
- You will see the “Ready to caption” bar showing on the top.
Method 3 – Use Start Menu to Enable Live Captions
You can also enable Live Captions in Windows 11 right from the Start menu.
- Click the Start menu icon on taskbar and then click “All apps” button.
- Click “Accessibility” menu to expand and then select “Live Captions” from the list.
Method 4 – Enable Live Captions from Settings App
You can enable or disable all accessibility features including Live Captions from Windows Settings app also.
- Right-click on Start menu and select “Settings” menu to open Settings app.
- Go to “Accessibility” section from left sidebar and then click “Captions” option on the right side showing under “Hearing” section.
- You will see a sample video showing the live preview of how captions will look. Below that video, turn the switch on against “Live captions” option to enable it.
Customize Live Captions Settings
By default, Windows 11 will show a “Ready to caption” bar on top of area. Click the gear “Settings” icon in the bar to customize the usage of Live Captions.
- Position – you can change the Live Captions bar to top, bottom or make floating on the screen. It is good to keep it on top or bottom for easy visibility.
- Caption options – from here you can enable “Filter profanity” option to restrict vulgar words in the transcript. Similarly, you can also select “Include microphone audio” option which can be used for conversations. For this, you should setup microphone in Windows Settings app under “System > Sound” section.
- Caption style – clicking on this option will take you to “Accessibility > Captions” section in Windows Settings app. Scroll down on the page to find “Caption style” section. Here, you will find the “Default” style is selected and click on that dropdown. You will see additional styles like White on Black, Small caps, Large text and Yellow on blue. Select your preferred style and check the preview video to confirm the appearance.
Creating Custom Live Caption Style
If you do not like any of the preset styles or want to edit the existing styles, first select the style from the list and then click on “Edit” button.
- Name – Windows will automatically assign the name as copy of the selected style like “Yellow on blue (copy)”. Simply delete that text and enter a new name for your style.
- Text – under “Text” tab, first select the text color for caption from the palette. Below the color palette, you have options to adjust the opacity, font size, font family and effects. Windows will show the live preview of caption instantly on the video. Below are the available values for the selection:
- Opacity – 0%, 25%, 75% or 100%.Size – Small, Medium, Large or Extra large.Font – Mono serif, Proportional serif, Mono sans serif, Proportional sand serif, Casual, Cursive or Small caps.
- Effects – Raised, Depressed, Uniform or Drop Shadow.
- Background – go to “Background” tab and select the color and opacity for caption.
- Window – finally, go to “Window” tab and select color and opacity for the live caption area.
Now, go back to “Captions” setting and you will see the newly created style is set as your default caption style.
You can create multiple styles and toggle by selecting them from the dropdown. It is also possible to delete the custom caption style by simply clicking on “Delete” button. Remember, you can only delete custom style and not the default items.
Using Live Captions in Windows 11
Now that you have enabled and setup Live Captions on your computer and the next step is to test how it works.
- Open any audio or video file on your system. Let me open a .mp4 audio file with Windows Media Player for testing.
- Press “Windows + Control + L” keys to open Live Captions.
- Start playing the file and you will see the bar shows Live Captions with your selected style as the audio plays.
Instead of opening a file from your system, you can also open YouTube or any other website that plays audio and see the Live Captions. Windows generates live captions with very good quality only when you play the audio in US English. Otherwise, you will see the text generation takes long time with lot of mistakes in words and punctuations. This is because the Live Captions feature works only in US English and uses US English language pack for processing the audio.