How to Optimize Zoom Closed Caption Settings

This article is current as of February 4th, 2022.

A few months ago, Zoom announced that auto-generated captions (also known as live transcription) were now available for all Zoom meeting accounts. The development has been a long-awaited feature for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

As popular and ubiquitous Zoom has become, it can be overwhelming to understand its multiple meeting features and options – especially in regards to closed captioning. Here at Aberdeen Broadcast Services, we offer live captioning services with our team of highly trained, experienced captioners with the largest known dictionaries in the industry. CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) captioning is still considered the gold standard of captioning (See related post: FranklinCovey Recognizes the Human Advantage in Captioning). Our team at Aberdeen strives to go above and beyond expectations with exceptional captioning and customer service.

Whether you choose to enable Zoom’s artificial intelligence (AI) transcription feature or integrate a 3rd-party service, like Aberdeen Broadcast Services, the following steps will help ensure you’re properly setting up your event for success.

Step 1: Adjust Your Zoom Account Settings

To get started, you'll need to enable closed captioning in your Zoom account settings.

  • Go to the Zoom Web Portal –
  • Sign in with the account that will be used for your event.
  • From the My Account homepage, look to the lefthand panel under “Personal” and select Settings.
  • In the Meeting tab, choose the In Meeting (Advanced) group of settings.

Scroll down to the “Closed captioning” options.

In the top right, enable closed captions by toggling the button from grey to blue to “Allow host to type closed captions or assign a participant/3rd-party service to add closed captions.”

Below is a detailed description of the additional three closed captioning options here in the settings...

Allow use of caption API Token to integrate with 3rd-party Closed Captioning services

This feature enables a 3rd-party closed captioning service, such as Aberdeen Broadcast Services, to caption your Zoom meeting or webinar using captioning software. The captions from a 3rd-party service are integrated into the Zoom meeting via a caption URL or API token that sends its captions to Zoom. For a 3rd-party service such as Aberdeen to provide captions within Zoom, this feature must be enabled.

Allow live transcription service to transcribe meeting automatically

As mentioned earlier in this post, auto-generated captions or AI captions became available to all Zoom users in October 2021. Zoom refers to auto-generated captions as its live transcription feature, which is powered by automatic speech recognition (ASR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology. While not as accurate, ASR is an acceptable way to provide live captions for your Zoom event if you are not able to secure a live captioner. If you will be having a live captioner through a 3rd-party service in your meeting, do NOT check “Allow live transcription service to transcribe meeting automatically.”

Unless you expect to use Zoom’s AI live transcription for most of your meetings, it is best to uncheck or disable live transcription as Zoom’s AI auto-generated captions will override 3rd-party captions in a meeting if live transcription is enabled.

Allow viewing of full transcript in the in-meeting side panel

This setting gives the audience an additional option to view what is being transcribed during your Zoom meeting or webinar. In addition to viewing captions as subtitles at the bottom of the screen, users will be able to view the full transcript on the right side of the meeting.

Check or enable this feature to provide additional options for accessibility.

Save Captions

The meeting organizer or host can control permission of who can save a full transcript of the closed captions during a meeting. Enabling the Save Captions feature grants access to the entire participant list in a meeting.

Transcript options from 3rd-party services may vary. At Aberdeen Broadcast Services, we provide full transcripts in a variety of formats to fit your live event or post-production needs. For more information, please see our list of captioning exports or contact us.

Step 2: Start your meeting and obtain the caption URL (API token)

Once the webinar or meeting is live, the individual assigned as the meeting host can acquire the caption URL or API token.

As the host, copy the API token by clicking on the Closed Caption or Live Transcript button on the bottom of the screen and selecting Copy the API token, which will save the token to your clipboard.

By copying the API token, you will not need to assign yourself or a participant to type. Send the API token to your closed captioning provider to integrate captions from a 3rd-party service into your Zoom meeting. We ask that clients provide the API token at least 20 minutes before an event (and no earlier than 24 hours) to avoid any captioning issues.

Step 3: Test Your Captions and Go!

Once the API token has been activated within your captioning service, the captioner will be able to test captions from their captioning software.

A notification in the Zoom meeting should pop up at the top saying “Live Transcription (Closed Captioning) has been enabled.” and the Live Transcript or Closed Caption button at the bottom of the screen will appear for the audience. Viewers can now choose Show Subtitle to view the captions.

Viewers will be able to adjust the size of captions by clicking on Subtitle Settings...

Can you also caption breakout rooms in Zoom?

Yes! Captioning multiple breakout rooms occurring at the same time is possible using the caption API token to integrate with a 3rd-party, such as Aberdeen Broadcast Services. Zoom's AI live transcription option is currently not supported in multiple Zoom breakout rooms, which is why it is important to consult with live captioning experts to make that happen. Contact us to learn more about how it works.

Enjoy this post? Email for more information or feedback. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!