How to Get Free YouTube Video Transcripts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Wondering how to get free YouTube video transcripts?

You know how valuable YouTube transcripts can be if you’re a YouTuber or a content creator. They can make your content more accessible and improve your SEO. You can also reuse some parts of the content more easily. Plus, some people simply prefer reading while watching. Luckily, getting YouTube transcripts is as simple as pie. 

Without further ado, I’ll walk you through the steps to extract free YouTube video transcripts on desktop and mobile devices. We’ll also explore the benefits of transcripts for content creators and discuss when investing in professional YouTube transcription services is best.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • It’s very easy to access free YouTube video transcripts. With a few clicks on your desktop or taps on your phone, you’ve got a written record of your favorite videos.
  • Transcripts can be your secret weapon for boosting SEO, engagement, and reach. To be sure, they make your videos more accessible to viewers with hearing issues or language barriers and allow you to repurpose your content into blogs, social media posts, and more.
  • Although YouTube’s free auto-generated transcripts are great for casual content, investing in professional human transcription services for videos requiring the highest accuracy is best.

Can You Get YouTube Video Transcripts?

Getting a YouTube video transcript is possible and free. Most of us have experienced the real-time closed caption on YouTube videos. However, did you know there’s a way of extracting its captions? Thankfully, YouTube made it a piece of cake to get a full transcript of the videos you’re interested in, which you can read at your convenience. 

Now, what’s the use of these transcripts in the first place? 

Well, the written version of the content can be used as a resource. For example, you publish it as captions in your video, turn some part of it into a blog, or perhaps as a reference when searching for quotes from that content. 

So, the next time you need a written record of a YouTube video, remember that transcripts are only a few clicks away. I’ll cover this in more detail in the following sections. 

Types of YouTube Videos Where Transcriptions Can Help

Below are some types of YouTube videos where transcriptions can help a lot. 

Types of YouTube VideosWhy You Need Video Transcriptions
Educational content and tutorialsAllows viewers to follow along at their own pace, review complex concepts, and easily reference specific instructions or information.
Interviews and Q&A sessionsMakes it easier for viewers to quickly locate and revisit specific questions, answers, or discussion points without having to rewatch the entire video.
Webinars and presentationsEnables viewers to review key insights, data, or examples mentioned in the video, making it a valuable resource for those who may have missed the live event or want to revisit the content later.
Documentary-style videosHelps viewers better understand and retain the information presented, as they can read along while watching or review the content at their own pace.
Podcasts and audio-heavy contentProvides a text version of the content for search engines to index and for hearing-impaired viewers to follow along, ensuring accessibility and improved SEO.
Foreign language contentCrucial for videos featuring content in multiple languages or targeted at non-native speakers, as they can be used to create translations or provide a written reference for those learning the language.

How To Get Free YouTube Video Transcripts on a Laptop or Desktop

People who produce any type of transcript use a computer. So, it’s entirely possible for anyone who wants to get YouTube Video transcripts with a MAC or Windows PC. 

1. Head to YouTube

Access and search for the video’s keyword or title that you need to transcribe and click it. For example, I searched for the keyword how to speak better and clicked the first video. 

an image depicting the first step in getting a free youtube transcript

2. Expand Video Description

Once you have accessed the link and played the video, simply scroll down, look for “…more” in the video description, and click it. It looks the same as the image.

an image depicting the more button on a youtube video.

3. Click “Show transcript”

After clicking the “…more” button, scroll down again a little bit til you see the Transcript section, then click on “Show transcript”

an image depicting the "show transcript" button in Youtube

5. Review The Transcript

After clicking the “Show transcript” option, you’ll see the transcript beside the video. There’s not much you can do from there aside from toggling the timestamps—and yes, it’s auto-generated by AI.

How to Get a Free Transcript of YouTube Videos on Your Phone

While most people try to get free YouTube video transcripts with a computer, it is also 100% possible to do it with a phone. 

1. Look For The YouTube Video On The App

Open the YouTube application on your phone and type in the video’s keyword or title from which you need a transcript. For this example, I once again used the keyword how to speak better and selected the first video. 

an image showing how to search for a youtube video

2. Select “…more” Somewhere Below The Title

Once the video starts, scroll down and find the “…more” button below the title—it’s exactly the same as the illustration below.

an image showing the more button in a youtube video

3. Select “Show transcript”

After selecting the “…more” button, the video description will expand. Once it’s expanded, scroll a bit, find the section for Transcript, and click on the “Show Transcript” button. 

an image showing how to get a free youtube transcript on a mobile device

5. Review The Transcript

Then there you have it. A timestamped video transcript will appear after clicking the “Show transcript” option. Also, clicking the menu icon will show you the option found in the right column of the image and nothing else. 

an image showing the transcript in english

Can You Directly Download Scripts From YouTube?

Unfortunately, you can’t download transcripts from YouTube unless you own the video. And, as we’ve seen in the previous sections, YouTube’s transcript generator has limited options. If you need to save the transcript, you’d have to take a few extra steps.

The best way is to manually copy and paste the transcripts into a document like Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or even Notepad in your Chrome browser. This route will take time and extra effort, especially if you need highly accurate transcripts.

You’ll also expect many mistakes since this transcript is AI-generated and, in my experience, it will be horribly inaccurate – at best. And, polishing the transcripts involves reviewing the whole video, carefully listening to every spoken word, removing timestamps, putting them in the appropriate sections, and more. 

Benefits of Video Transcripts For Content Creators

It’s easy to see why viewers would like the option to get transcripts from YouTube videos. So, what’s in it for content creators? 

  • Improved Accessibility: Including a transcript alongside your content will make it accessible to viewers with hearing issues or non-native speakers. This will ensure more people can view, enjoy, or learn from your video. 
  • Enhanced SEO: Search Engines like Google or Bing can easily index your content when you have a text version since they aren’t yet at the point where they can transcribe YouTube videos, despite recent improvements. If your content is crawled and indexed, it will increase its visibility and could generate more views for your channel. 
  • Increased Engagement: Adding transcripts to your video content makes it easy for your viewers to skim through and locate specific info they want. There’s no need to review the whole video and manually note the necessary details. 
  • Repurposing Opportunities: Video transcripts can easily be repurposed into blog posts, social media updates, or email newsletters. This allows you to expand your content offerings and reach more viewers on different platforms without creating entirely new content, saving you time, money, energy, and other resources.  
  • Varied Audience Preferences: Many people prefer reading over watching videos, while some prefer watching videos with subtitles. If you incorporate transcripts in every video you produce, you’ll provide video and text-based content for an audience with different ways of consuming content.
  • Better Comprehension: Unsurprisingly, some viewers may find written information easier to understand. Adding transcripts to your videos could turn your content into learning tools catering to specific learners.
  • Time-stamped Navigation: Like the ones we found in YouTube Videos, transcripts often include time stamps representing the specific points in the video. These timestamps allow your viewers to jump to the sections they’re most interested in and make your content a lot easier to navigate.

Should You Settle For Free, Automated YouTube Video Transcripts?

No, it’s best not to settle for automated YouTube video transcripts in most casesIndeed, YouTube’s automated transcription can provide a general idea of the content, it has many limitations that may compromise the usability of the transcripts.

According to research, automated transcripts—including YouTube’s free ones—are only about 86% accurate under the best of circumstances. This means that they are bound to contain errors, misinterpretations, or inconsistencies that could be problematic for certain types of content. 

For example, accuracy is the most important factor in educational videos, tutorials, interviews, or legal proceedings, ensuring the information is correctly conveyed.  

In those cases, it is highly recommended that you opt for professional human transcription services. These services can convert and provide a more reliable transcript that captures nuances, technical terms, and complicated discussions with better precision.

However, there are some situations where automated transcripts are acceptable. For instance, if you’re working for casual content, personal vlogs, informal conversations, or any video content where transcript accuracy doesn’t matter, automated transcripts can still improve accessibility and provide a general idea. 

Let Ditto Transcribe Your Crucial YouTube Videos

With over 14 years in the industry, Ditto offers world-class transcription services that no other provider can match. Our services include: 

  • More than 99% accuracy on all types of content transcription
  • 100% US-based, human transcription
  • Fast turnaround times
  • Different and affordable rates to fit different budgets
  • Stringent security measures that meet different regulatory requirements
  • No long-term commitments or contracts (pay as you go)
  • Industry-leading customer service
  • Flexible features for varying requirements
  • Professional translation services for Arabic, French, Spanish, German, and more

So what are you waiting for? Maximize your reach and retention with Ditto’s professional transcription services and see the difference. 

Ditto Transcripts is a Denver, Colorado-based transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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