The Live Captions feature in iOS/iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura will allow those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to harness the power of machine learning on compatible models of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac to automatically generate and transcribe captions for on-device multimedia content and real-world conversations in real time.
- What Are Live Captions?
- How to Enable Live Captions on iPhone/iPad
- Personalize In-App Live Captions on iPhone/iPad
- Customize Live Captions Appearance on iPhone/iPad
- Manage the Live Captions Widget on iPhone/iPad
- How to Enable Live Captions on Mac
- Customize In-App Live Captions on Mac
- Change the Appearance of Live Captions on Mac
- Manage the Live Captions Widget on Mac
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Live Captions?
Using on-device intelligence, Live Captions will quickly generate captions inside apps, on websites, or other experiences where closed captions may not be available or supported.
Live Caption Pros
- Highly accurate speech-to-text engine
- Robust integration with video chat apps including FaceTime
Live Caption Cons
- Captions are not visible when sharing device screenshots.
- Lack of vocal clarity or excessive background noise may negatively impact performance.
- No dedicated API for developers can make performance feel slow.
How to Enable Live Captions on iPhone/iPad
Before you proceed any further, know that Live Captions are only available on the iPhone 11 and later and iPad models powered by the A12 chip and later. Furthermore, the device needs to be running either iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 (available in beta at the time of writing). All Mac models with Apple Silicon can also run Live Captions. Follow the steps below to enable the Live Captions beta on your iPhone/iPad.
- Launch the Settings app.
- Scroll down and select “Accessibility” from the menu.
- Scroll down once more to the submenu labeled “Hearing” and tap on “Live Captions (Beta).”
- Tap on the switch next to “Live Captions” to turn on the feature.
- A green switch indicates that you have successfully enabled Live Captions.
Personalize In-App Live Captions on iPhone/iPad
- Go to the “Live Captions (Beta)” section as demonstrated above and find the “In-app live captions” section.
- Enable Live Captions during phone calls by tapping the toggle labeled “Live Captions in RTT” where “RTT” stands for “Real-Time-Text.”
- To automatically activate Live Captions during FaceTime calls, tap on the switch labeled “Live Captions in FaceTime.”
Customize Live Captions Appearance on iPhone/iPad
If you find the default Live Captions difficult to use, you can take steps to make the caption text more legible using controls for font color, size and more.
Configure Rich Text Editing Options
- Go to “Live Captions (Beta).”
- Select “Appearance.”
- To make your Live Caption text appear in Bold format, select “Bold Text.”
- Tap “On” to enable or disable bold text by selecting “Off.” To revert back to the default boldness level, select “Default.”
- To make Live Captions appear smaller or larger, start by tapping on “Text Size” in the “Appearance” screen.
- On the next screen, drag the slider to the right to make text larger or drag to the left to make text smaller.
- To restore Live Captions to their default text size, select the “Reset Font Size to Default” button beneath the font size toggle.
Adjust the Color
- Select “Appearance” again from the “Live Captions (Beta)” menu.
- Underneath the header labeled “Color options,” select “Text Color” or “Background Color” to view a list of colors for Live Captions.
- When the “Text Color” menu appears, tap on any of the preset colors to set a new Live Caption color.
- Alternatively, you can select “Spectrum” from the “Text Color” or “Background color” menu for more granular color customization options.
- For true color enthusiasts looking to customize Live Caption colors based on precise red, green, and blue levels, tap on the Slider” icon in the Text Color menu.
- Drag the red, green, and blue sliders to generate the color that you would like to use.
- If you know the color code that you want to use, tap on the text input field to the right of the “Display P3 Hex Color #” text and enter the color code using the onscreen keyboard.
- To reset to the default colors, select the blue “Reset Colors” button in the “Appearance” menu.
Adjust the Opacity
- Go back to “Appearance” from the “Live Captions (Beta)” menu.
- Drag the slider under “Idle Opacity” to customize the transparency of the Live Text toggle icon while it is not in use.
Manage the Live Captions Widget on iPhone/iPad
Unlike live caption browser extensions, Live Captions work by displaying an easily-accessible widget throughout the entire system that can be dynamically adjusted and resized to remain as unobtrusive as possible. This uniquely integrated interface offers a surprising degree of user customization highlighted in the following steps.
Minimize, Drag, and Expand the Live Captions Widget
- To begin using Live Captions, you will need to wake the Live Captions widget from its idle state by tapping the grey circular icon with sound waves.
- After you tap the Live Caption icon, it will expand to reveal a wide canvas for spoken dialog.
- Tap anywhere on the dialog window to reveal four new control buttons.
- If you want to return Live Captions to its idle state, collapse and minimize the dialog window by tapping the back arrow button to the left.
- To enter full screen mode for Live Captions, select the expand arrow on the right.
Pausing the Live Captions Widget
- Tap anywhere on the Live Text widget to toggle the four control buttons.
- Tap the pause icon to temporarily pause Live Captions without closing out of it entirely.
Switching Between Active Captions and In-App Captions
- By default, Live Captions will monitor on-device audio to generate and transcribe in-app captions. To generate Active Captions for spoken content in real time, start by tapping anywhere on the Live Text widget to toggle the four control buttons.
- Tap on the microphone icon. It will turn white, and the dialog below will state “Microphone/Listening.”
How to Enable Live Captions on Mac
- To enable Live Captions on your Mac running the macOS Ventura beta, first open the System Settings app.
- From the left menu, select the “Accessibility” option.
Tip: read on if you’re curious about the Accessibility options that are available in Windows 11.
- Click on “Live Captions (Beta)” under “Hearing.”
- Click on the switch next to “Live Captions” to turn on the feature.
Customize In-App Live Captions on Mac
- In the “Live Captions (Beta)” section, identify the “In-App Live Captions” header.
- Enable the “Live Captions in FaceTime calls” toggle.
Change the Appearance of Live Captions on Mac
A variety of font-styling choices and background color options for the Live Captions widget on the Mac can help make Live Captions even easier to use. This ensures that users who are both hearing- and visually-impaired can still take advantage of the convenience of Live Captions.
Configure Fonts and Font Size
- Identify the font and color options in the same “Live Captions (Beta)” section.
- Click on the text button labeled “Default” next to “Font Family.”
- Scroll through a number of built-in system fonts and click on the one you’d like to use.
- To adjust the font size, go to “Font Size” and type in the point size that you desire or use the up or down arrow keys to get to the desired number.
Change the Color of Live Captions
- Select the text button labeled “Default” to the right of either “Font Color” or “Background Color.” We are changing the font color in this example.
- Click “Choose custom color” from the drop-down menu, and a color picker window will appear.
- Select your preferred color.
Manage the Live Captions Widget on Mac
To prevent the Live Captions widget from constantly obstructing onscreen content or unnecessarily disrupting other multimedia content, you can move the widget or pause its functionality in just a few clicks.
Move, Resize, or Pause the Live Captions Widget
- Click and drag anywhere on the Live Captions widget to move it just as you would any floating window on the Mac.
- Click and drag diagonally on any one of the four corners of the Live Caption widget to resize it.
- Pause activity in the Live Captions widget by selecting pause in the upper-right corner of the window.
Switch Between Active Captions and In-App Captions
- By default, the Live Captions feature uses in-app audio to generate and transcribe captions. “Active Captions,” which generate real-time captions for spoken content in the real world can be enabled by clicking anywhere on the Live Text widget. Two control buttons will appear in the upper right of the Live Captions widget.
- Click the white Microphone icon to turn on “Active Captions.” A strikethrough will appear on top of the icon to indicate that “Active Captions” have been successfully enabled.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Live Caption widget keeps disappearing on my Mac. How do I get it to stay?
Navigate to the left of the menu bar and click on the icon that looks like a speech bubble. Under the new drop-down menu, select the item labeled “Keep Onscreen.”
Why do I not see the option to enable the Live Captions beta on my device if it is compatible?
You must be running the iOS 16 beta on your iPhone, the iPadOS 16 beta on your iPad, or macOS Ventura on your Mac. To join the public beta ahead of Apple’s major software releases this fall. visit beta.apple.com
Can Live Captions auto-transcribe podcasts and YouTube videos?
Yes, Live Captions work inside all third party applications, including the Podcasts app and video streaming apps like YouTube. Note, however, that Live Captions work in real time and cannot instantly turn the audio content from podcasts or videos into instantly-readable articles.
Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots and photos taken by Brahm Shank