Microsoft has been considerately adding accessibility features to its latest operating system, Windows 11. Live Captions are one such addition to the Windows environment. Automatic transcriptions make it easier for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or in a noisy environment to understand the audio content better.
It’s extremely easy to enable Live Captions in Windows 11 with multiple ways of doing it. Here’s everything you need to know about them, including how to enable them.
How Do Live Captions Work?
Live Captions are available in Windows 11 only with version 22H2 or later. Currently, they only support audio content in English (United States).
Live Captions can detect all audio in the supported language and transcribe it automatically, although only speech is detected and transcribed. Other audible cues such as applause or music aren’t detected or transcribed. It can also detect and transcribe the lyrics in a song, but the transcription isn’t as reliable as it is for speech.
Additionally, with respect to privacy, there’s nothing to worry about. Microsoft processes all the audio and generates captions on your device only. Any data never leaves your device, isn’t uploaded to any cloud, and is not shared with Microsoft.
Moreover, live captions can not only transcribe the speaker (or headset) audio but also the audio from the microphone. However, the audio from the speaker gets precedence over the audio from the microphone. For example, if you’re in a meeting, and you and another participant end up speaking at the same time, Live Captions will transcribe the meeting participant and not you.
Captions can lag or even drop entirely when you have resource-intensive apps running. You might need to limit app functionality in this case to make sure Live Captions can work properly. For example, if you’re in a meeting and you have virtual background or other special effects turned on, turn them off to make live captions work smoothly.
Enable Live Captions
There are multiple ways to enable live captions in Windows 11. We’ll list all the methods so you can decide which you find the most convenient.
The quickest way to enable live captions is either through the Quick Settings flyout or the keyboard shortcut.
Go to the right corner of the taskbar and click the ‘Battery, Network, and Volume’ tile to open the Quick Settings.
From the Quick Settings flyout, click the ‘Accessibility’ option.
Then, turn on the toggle for ‘Live Captions’.
Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Windows + Ctrl + L to enable the Live Captions if they’re more your speed.
You can also enable them from the Start Menu. Open the Start Menu and click the ‘All Apps’ option.
Then, click the ‘Accessibility’ tile.
From the options that expand, click the ‘Live Captions’ option.
Lastly, Live Captions are accessible from the Settings app. Open the Settings app on your computer and click the ‘Accessibility’ option from the navigation menu on the left.
Then, scroll down on the right panel and click the ‘Captions’ option.
Turn on the toggle next to ‘Live Captions’ to enable them.
When you enable the Live Captions for the first time, no matter using which method, you’ll need to set them up. Click the ‘Download’ button on the Live Captions floating window to proceed.
Wait for the download to complete and Live Captions will be ready to use.
Change the Position of Live Captions
When you enable Live Captions, they’ll appear in a floating window by default. You can drag and drop this floating window anywhere on the screen. You can also change how the live captions are displayed. Click the ‘Settings’ icon on the right of the Live Captions window.
Go to ‘Position’ from the settings menu.
Then, select ‘Top’ or ‘Bottom’ from the Position sub-menu.
With the Top or Bottom setting, live captions are docked to the selected position that is reserved specially for captions. They don’t block any apps in this position as Windows rearranges the screen to start below (or above) the captions only.
To go back to the Floating window, select ‘Floating on Screen’ at any time from the Position sub-menu.
From the settings, you can also make other changes such as changing the style of captions, tweak profanity settings, include microphone audio, etc.
Live Captions can prove to be extremely useful in certain circumstances and make the device more accessible. And Windows 11 makes it extremely easy to enable them in just a few clicks.