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How To Become a Pro at Instagram’s Auto-Generated Captions

Automatic subtitles make your Instagram videos more accessible and engaging. Here’s how to create and edit your own.

Colleen Christison January 5, 2023
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When it comes to accessibility online, auto-generated captions are a big win. Now, you can easily include auto-generated captions on Instagram videos and Reels. It can increase your reach, shooting you to Instagram stardom (maybe). Look out, Whindersson Nunes!

This article walks you through the automatic subtitles Instagram offers. By the end, you’ll know how to get auto-generated captions on Instagram and why you should use them.

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What are auto-generated captions on Instagram?

Auto-generated captions on Instagram are text transcriptions of the speech from a video or Reel.

Captions appear on-screen at the same time as the speaking or singing. This is because the text needs to synchronize with the visual content for context.

Instagram uses speech recognition technology to create these captions automatically.

How to auto-generate captions on Instagram

Creating auto-generated captions in your Instagram videos is easy. There are two ways to do it: From your post or your settings.

The easiest way to create auto-generated captions from your post:

In a hurry to get started? The easiest way to create captions is hiding in your Stickers section.

Step 1: Begin by starting to post your Instagram video or Reel like you normally would.

Step 2: On the editing screen, tap the Sticker button (the square smiley-face icon at the top right).

sticker button top right on Instagram

Step 3: Find the Captions option, then tap it.

captions sticker

Step 4: This sticker will automatically generate captions for you! You should see them scroll across your screen now. At the bottom of your screen, you can choose how your text presents itself.

automatically generated captions

Step 5: Edit any incorrect words by clicking on the caption as it scrolls across the screen. Click on the word you want to change and type it directly onto your screen. Then hit Done in the top right corner.

tap on words to edit

Step 5: Publish like you normally would by hitting Next, then Share.

publish new post on Instagram by clicking share

Using the Sticker feature means your auto-generated captions are always there. This includes viewers who do not have captions enabled on their accounts. This way, you can be sure that captions will be auto-generated for all of your viewers.

How to manage captions for your video before and after posting

Good news for those indecisive folks out there: You can manage captions for your video before and after posting.

Here’s how to upload your video with captions:

Step 1: Upload your video like you normally would. Before hitting Share, tap Advanced Settings.

advanced settings option on Instagram

Step 2: Scroll to Accessibility. You can toggle Show Captions on or off.

show captions option under accessibility

Step 3: Click the back arrow and hit Share to publish your video.

click share to publish video

Here’s how to manage captions for a video you have already published:

Step 1: Go to the video you would like to edit. Tap the three vertical dots at the bottom of the video to bring up more options.

three vertical dots bottom of video for additional options

Step 2: Tap Edit.

edit option

Step 3: Navigate to Advanced settings. Scroll down and toggle Show captions to turn them on or off, and hit Share.

show captions option under accessibility

How to enable captions on videos you watch

If you want captions on your videos but don’t want to depend on other creators to provide them, you can turn them on yourself. Here’s how to do it from your settings:

Step 1: Tap your profile or profile picture in the bottom right to (you guessed it) go to your profile.

Instagram profile bottom right

Step 2: Tap on the hamburger menu in the top right corner, then click Settings.

hamburger icon

Step 3: Tap on Account, then click Captions.

settings account

captions button under account

Step 4: Toggle your Caption setting to auto-generate captions on your videos.

turn on button to auto-generate captions

Why you should use captions on Instagram videos

You may already have everything you need to know about Instagram video content. But auto-generated captions can help boost your video strategy in a few notable ways.

There is one big reason you should use captions on Instagram videos: It allows the maximum number of people to understand your video.

And that’s not only a good thing for you but for all Instagram users. Plus, more views and engagement can help you with ranking on the elusive Instagram algorithm.

Here are a couple of reasons why that’s the case.

Auto-generated captions improve accessibility

Web accessibility, often just called accessibility, is one of the biggest reasons you should use captions on your Instagram videos.

Accessibility is part of inclusive design, which aims to provide the best user experience for as many people as possible, notably those with disabilities.

The disabled audience makes up a vast proportion of society, intersecting every demographic and psychographic. You can bet your bottom dollar that a percentage of your audience has disabilities.

By ensuring your content is accessible, you’re expanding the audience that can see it. Plus, it’s just better when we can all play ball.

Auto-generated captions may need to be edited for correctness to be truly accessible.

Providing correct auto-generated captions can help your content reach:

  • People who are Deaf or hard of hearing and can’t hear audio
  • People with cognitive or learning disabilities who need to see and hear the content to best understand it
  • People who experience sensory overload with auditory stimulation and need to watch videos with the sound off
  • People who are in a physical situation where they can’t watch your video with sound

People watch videos without sound

As we mentioned above, many people with disabilities watch videos without sound. And able-bodied people are also watching videos without sound. Whether they’re killing time on a bus ride or sitting in a library, your audience can’t always have the sound on your videos jacked up.

When you provide auto-generated captions, you don’t have to worry about people watching your videos without context.

Captions make your videos more dynamic

When Instagram users scroll through their feeds, words on a Reel can pop out at them. Be sure to grab attention with your videos by using a strong introduction. You’ll make those thumbs pause in their tracks.

Frequently asked questions about Instagram’s auto-generated captions

Can you edit auto-generated captions on Instagram?

You can edit auto-generated captions on Instagram using the Sticker feature. Just click on the text on the screen to change or edit the caption.

Can you add auto-generated captions to other social platforms?

Auto-generated captions are available on most other social media platforms. TikTok launched its subtitle feature just a few months before Instagram, and Twitter was soon to follow.

How does Instagram’s auto-generated captioning work?

Instagram uses speech recognition technology to generate captions automatically. Typically, this technology involves

  • automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology,
  • machine learning technology (ML), and
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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