Digital Video Tip: Turn On The Closed Captions

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Lately I’m getting a lot of visits from folks looking for information about using closed captions on their digital videos. I’ve written on the topic of closed captions in general before, but today I’m focusing on the how.


How To Turn On Digital Video Closed Captions

First, closed captions must be available for your specific video. While the closed caption feature is now commonplace on new-release digital videos, and most older-release movies have been updated with closed captions in their digital editions too, closed captions won’t always be available on all digital videos.

The studios seem to be prioritizing their updates of past releases based on how popular a given movie is, so older, less popular films are going to be last to get closed captions added. The product description page on the site where you bought the video will indicate closed captions are available with a “CC” designation.

Assuming your video does have closed captions, the specific how-to depends on the device or app you’re using to watch it. The closed caption item is usually a menu option.

In whatever app you’re using to watch your digital video, go to the screen that serves as the ‘main menu’ for the specific video you want to watch. If there isn’t a specific menu item for closed captions there, look for a menu item of “Other”, “Set-Up”, “Options”, or something similar. Tap or select it to see where the link for closed captions is located.

I watch my digital videos on my Kindle Fire HDX and also through a Roku streaming box attached to my TV.

On a Kindle Fire I have to actually start the movie. On my Fire HDX, little “cc” icon appears in the bottom menu bar right when the video starts up (I can bring that menu bar back at any time by tapping the bottom of the screen); tapping the icon opens the closed captions pop-up, where I can select from the available languages, fonts and lettering sizes. On my Fire HD, the icon appears at the right-hand side of the screen when the video starts up. Again, I can bring that sidebar menu back at anytime by tapping the right-hand side of the screen.

On my Roku, the last menu item shown on the main “menu” page for a specific movie usually says something like, “View Trailer, Other Purchase Options, more…” but when closed captions are available it says something like, “Turn Captions On/Off, View Trailer, Other Purchase Options”. I just select that first menu item to turn captions on or off. As an added convenience, once I turn captions on for a given digital video on the Roku box, captions are automatically turned on for ANY digital video I watch through the Roku that has captions available. To turn them off, I can just go back to the main “menu” screen for the video I’m currently watching.


Note that not all streaming video players or devices support closed captions, so if this is an important feature to you (it sure is to ME!), be sure to check out the product details to verify closed caption support before buying any digital video streaming device.


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