Sunday 7 April 2024

The Easiest Way to Get YouTube to Auto-Sync Your Video Script

Easiest Way to Auto-Sync Captions on YouTube - cyan background with a screen grab of the YouTube captions screen over top

Auto-Syncing Subtitles on YouTube

Subtitles are things that are often overlooked on YouTube vids, and as good as AI is getting at creating auto-generated subtitles for vids, there is nothing quite like having personally uploaded, accurate ones for quality control.

However, I have found they can be a little tricky, and doing them manually by hand takes forever!

One way of doing this is paying a company to create a subtitle file from your video and just uploading this. However, for those of us on a budget, this is often a cost we simply cannot afford.

Luckily, YouTube offers great tools to help us out.

The most useful of these for me, is the Auto-Sync option.

Below I'm going to share the most useful tip I have discovered on how to get this option to work quickly and exactly how I want every time.

What you will need to use this method:

  • the script of your video
  • YouTube Studio

Method for Flawless Auto-Sync Subtitles

Preformat the script file:
  1. Open your script file in the word processor of your choice - as long as it has a search and replace option.
  2. Add a new paragraph at every point you definitely want a new subtitle - YouTube will auto break longer paragraphs, but it can be very random how it does it and sometimes with large scripts it fails.
  3. This is the important step - search and replace all single paragraph marks with two paragraph marks so paragraphs have a space between them. This will make auto-syncing work like a charm because it will take each paragraph as its own subtitle and has to do way less work.
Inputting the Subtitles:
  1. Open your uploaded video in YouTube Studio and click the subtitles option.
    Image of YouTube Studio open on a single video
  2. Choose the Auto-Sync option.
    YouTube Studio Subtitles dialog with red arrow pointing to the Auto-sync option

  3. Copy and paste the double spaced script into the Auto-sync box and wait while the AI automatically syncs the subtitles to the sound in your video. It should only take a little while (this varies on what time of day it is and how busy the system is).

What to Do If the Auto-Sync Fails

Occasionally the auto-sync fails - it just hangs and never manages to create the subtitles correctly or gives the message "Auto-sync is taking longer than usual" and still never gets there. I have found there are usually one of two reasons for this:
  1. The video has not finished the checking process. In that case I close the subtitle window using the X and choose the "discard changes" option. This means we can start the process over again once the checking of the vid is done and the processes won't interfere with each other.
  2. It's a large script file and it just can't do it. I use the same method of leaving and discarding changes, then I check my file to make script file to make sure there's nothing in it that could be pasting in incorrectly and try again. It usually works the second time.

What to Do If There Are Existing Subtitles and Auto-Sync is Not There

If there are already subtitles on the vid but we wish to add a whole new set, either because they are incorrect or incomplete, we need to first remove the existing subtitles before we can use the Auto-Sync option.

Hence we need to open the subtitles window as usual and choose the clear subtitles option. There are three vertical dots next to the EDIT AS TEXT option at the top of the subtitles screen. Click this and a drop down will appear with the "Clear Subtitles" option. This will delete all subtitles on the vid, so as a precaution, I would download the subtitles first from the same menu. Then if you decide you want them back again for any reason you can just reupload the file.
YouTube Studio Subtitles dialog with a red arrow pointing at the clear subtitles option.

Once I discovered the double spacing the paragraphs trick I have not had a subtitle set fail to sync correctly, whereas before it could be a bit hit and miss. I use it for my shorts and my long form and I hope this info will be able to help someone else out if they are having problems.

If you have tips for dealing with some of YouTube's quirks, I would love to hear them in the comments.

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