For Genealogy Presentations, Turn on Closed Captioning for YouTube Videos

by , under How To, Military Research, WWI, WWII, YouTube

Last evening, I presented a talk, “Digging for Data on Your WWI and WWII Ancestors,” at the October meeting of the Cuyahoga West Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, at the Westlake Porter Library.

As part of my presentation, I decided to present a YouTube video on “Veterans Personnel Records at the National Archives, St. Louis.”

YouTube NPRC image with captioning

When I played the video on my desktop computer, it appeared with closed captioning (CC) as in the screen capture above. I hadn’t seen this before and thought it was something special built into this particular video. Having captions available relieved my concern about my Dell laptop pumping out the soundtrack loud enough for the audience to understand.

After finishing the PowerPoint presentation on my desktop computer, I copied it to my laptop and checked it out. I was able to call up the YouTube video from the hotlink in the PowerPoint presentation, BUT no closed captioning showed up during playback. This was just before I needed to leave for the meeting, so to there was no time to troubleshoot or research this mystery. Instead, I to hope for the best with only the sound from the laptop computer.

Today, I did a Google search for “closed captioning on YouTube” and found an article provided provided by Google, owner of YouTube, with the title “Turn Captions on and off” at

From reading this article, I learned that there is a CC button or icon at the lower right of the main viewing screen (see screen capture below) that can be used to toggle closed captions on–or off–IF captions are made available by the producer of the video.

YouTub NPRC image CC icon

In this case, NARA did provide the captions and I had turned them on somehow on my desktop–but not on my laptop. Today, when I tried using the CC button on my laptop, it worked and I was able to viewthe captions during the YouTube playback. Mystery solved!

I am giving this WWI and WWII research presentation again in three weeks–this time to the Geauga County Chapter, OGS. After following the instructions on the Help page article mentioned above, I will be able to make sure the YouTube CC feature is turned on on my laptop and my audience will benefit from the on-screen text, along with the audio, when I call up this YouTube video.

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