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Transcribing directly into Zoom's "Closed Caption" box using TypeWell Everywhere

IMPORTANT:  While this article provides technical assistance for using the integrated Zoom captioning window, we actually discourage transcribing directly into Zoom because it creates more work for the meeting host (instructor), the reader (student), and the transcriber!  Plus, it's just clunky.

Here are some good alternatives:

Enable Closed Caption feature in Zoom account

The Zoom account owner needs to enable the Closed Caption feature under the Account Settings in their Zoom web portal.  This is done at the account level, not for each specific meeting:

Getting started with closed captioning (in the Zoom Help Center)

zoom settings for closed captions

With this account setting enabled, the host will see a "CC - Closed Caption" button in their meeting controls, where they can assign another participant (i.e. the TypeWell transcriber) to type captions.

Zoom meeting controls show the host's ability to assign captions to another participant

To assign another participant to type, find their name on the Participants list and click More, and then "Assign to type Closed Caption."

assign to type closed caption

If you are a TypeWell transcriber participating in a Zoom meeting, once you've been assigned to type captions, you can type into the Closed Captioning window using TypeWell Everywhere.

host has assigned you to type

Click on the Closed Caption button (in the meeting controls bar or under the "More" menu) and you will see a window appear that you begin typing into, like this:

actively typing into caption window

IMPORTANT:  Each viewer must select "Show Subtitle" in order to see what the transcriber is typing.

Click on the Closed Caption button (or the "More" menu) and select "Show Subtitle."  Otherwise, you won't see what the transcriber is typing.

You can also select "View full transcript" to see a record of everything that's been typed, along with some time stamps.

Here's a screenshot of a Zoom meeting where the host has shared their screen displaying the homepage, with the closed caption window near the upper right and the subtitle bar near the bottom.

Zoom window showing a web browser, the closed captioning box, and the subtitle bar

What about the "3rd party CC service" option?

The "Use a 3rd party CC service" feature is not needed if you're going to transcribe directly into the caption window using TypeWell Everywhere. However, you would need that API token in order to link TypeWell with Zoom via StreamText.

Are there limitations with TypeWell and Zoom?

Yes, there are some limitations you should know about.  That's why we wrote this article!

Zoom's "Getting started with closed captioning" article is quite comprehensive, but we found some of the info to be outdated when we did our own testing.

Here are the limitations we discovered:

In Zoom, only the host can assign a participant to type captions.

The host can assign another meeting participant to be a "co-host." However, even though Zoom's documentation states that co-hosts can manage captioning, this was not the case when we tested it. It seems that only the "true" host can assign other participants to type.

Teaming in Zoom is cumbersome.

Only one Zoom participant at a time may be assigned to type captions.  So, for two different transcribers to team the same class or meeting (typically switching off every 15-30 minutes), the host would have to remember to periodically reassign the captioning feature from one transcriber to the other.  This is typically not feasible for most hosts/instructors to remember while they're lecturing or delivering a presentation.

If you need to team a Zoom class, we recommend teaming with Web Linking instead, so both transcribers can be linked to the same channel and switch off seamlessly.  In this case, the live transcript would appear in a separate browser window.   The reader would need to position their Zoom window and the browser page side by side on their screen (or use a separate device to view the live transcript in the browser).

Even if the host has started closed captions, each individual viewer must click on the Closed Caption button and select "Show subtitles" and/or "View full transcript."

These settings are controlled on a per-user basis.  They can:

  • show subtitles (which appear a few lines at a time in the bottom-middle section of their window)
  • view the full transcript (which appear on the right-hand side of the screen), or
  • both of the above
The transcriber's experience differs from the viewer's experience.

Even though the caption box might say, "press Enter key to broadcast," any text typed into the caption box is actually immediately visible to other viewers. It appears in a subtitle bar near the middle-bottom portion of the viewers' screen, displaying up to three lines of text at a time, and it auto-scrolls as you continue to type.

When you (the transcriber) press the Enter key, then whatever you just typed will disappear from other viewer's subtitle bar, but it will now appear in the subtitle bar on your screen.

When you (the transcriber) press Enter, whatever you typed will also be added to the full-transcript section of the Zoom window on the right-hand side of the screen, along with a time stamp. Unfortunately, these timestamps are not formatted such that they could be easily converted into a "caption file" for a video editor.

When the host records the Zoom meeting, the subtitles may not be included in the recording.

In our own testing, we were not able to see subtitles in the recorded MP4 video.  However, we've heard of other users being able to record Zoom meetings with subtitles.  Please let us know if you are aware of a special setting that has to be enabled for the subtitles to appear in Zoom recordings so that we can update this section!

What other limitations or workarounds have you discovered?  Please notify us so we can keep this article up-to-date for all our users to benefit.