How to Enable Live Captions in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura

No more straining your ears trying to understand what is said on screen.

Live Caption Mte Hero

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?

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.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
Live Caption Settings App
  1. Scroll down and select “Accessibility” from the menu.
Live Caption Accessibility
  1. Scroll down once more to the submenu labeled “Hearing” and tap on “Live Captions (Beta).”
Live Cap Menu Ios
  1. Tap on the switch next to “Live Captions” to turn on the feature.
Live Cap Switch Ios
  1. A green switch indicates that you have successfully enabled Live Captions.
Live Cap Switch Ios Green

Personalize In-App Live Captions on iPhone/iPad

  1. Go to the “Live Captions (Beta)” section as demonstrated above and find the “In-app live captions” section.
Live Cap In App Menu
  1. Enable Live Captions during phone calls by tapping the toggle labeled “Live Captions in RTT” where “RTT” stands for “Real-Time-Text.”
Live Cap Rtt Ios
  1. To automatically activate Live Captions during FaceTime calls, tap on the switch labeled “Live Captions in FaceTime.”
Live Cap Ft Ios

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

  1. Go to “Live Captions (Beta).”
  2. Select “Appearance.”
Live Cap Appearance Ios
  1. To make your Live Caption text appear in Bold format, select “Bold Text.”
Live Cap Bold Button
  1. Tap “On” to enable or disable bold text by selecting “Off.” To revert back to the default boldness level, select “Default.”
Live Cap Bold Options
  1. To make Live Captions appear smaller or larger, start by tapping on “Text Size” in the “Appearance” screen.
Live Cap Text Size
  1. On the next screen, drag the slider to the right to make text larger or drag to the left to make text smaller.
Live Cap Size Slider
  1. To restore Live Captions to their default text size, select the “Reset Font Size to Default” button beneath the font size toggle.
Live Cap Font Reset

Adjust the Color

  1. Select “Appearance” again from the “Live Captions (Beta)” menu.
Live Cap Appearance Ios 1
  1. Underneath the header labeled “Color options,” select “Text Color” or “Background Color” to view a list of colors for Live Captions.
Live Cap Color Op Ios
  1. When the “Text Color” menu appears, tap on any of the preset colors to set a new Live Caption color.
Live Cap Text Color Menu Ios
  1. Alternatively, you can select “Spectrum” from the “Text Color” or “Background color” menu for more granular color customization options.
Live Cap Color Spectrum
  1. 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.
Live Cap Spectrum Sliders
  1. Drag the red, green, and blue sliders to generate the color that you would like to use.
Live Cap Spectrum Generator
  1. 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.
Live Cap Hex Color Number
  1. To reset to the default colors, select the blue “Reset Colors” button in the “Appearance” menu.
Live Cap Reset Color

Adjust the Opacity

  1. Go back to “Appearance” from the “Live Captions (Beta)” menu.
Live Cap Appearance Ios 2
  1. Drag the slider under “Idle Opacity” to customize the transparency of the Live Text toggle icon while it is not in use.
Live Cap Idle Oppacity Slider 1

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

  1. 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.
Live Cap Widget Waves 1
  1. After you tap the Live Caption icon, it will expand to reveal a wide canvas for spoken dialog.
Live Cap Dialog Box
  1. Tap anywhere on the dialog window to reveal four new control buttons.
Live Cap Control Buttons 1
  1. 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.
Live Cap Minimize Button 2
  1. To enter full screen mode for Live Captions, select the expand arrow on the right.
Live Cap Full Screen Button

Pausing the Live Captions Widget

  1. Tap anywhere on the Live Text widget to toggle the four control buttons.
Live Cap Control Buttons 2
  1. Tap the pause icon to temporarily pause Live Captions without closing out of it entirely.
Live Cap Pause Button

Switching Between Active Captions and In-App Captions

  1. 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.
Live Cap Control Buttons 3
  1. Tap on the microphone icon. It will turn white, and the dialog below will state “Microphone/Listening.”
Live Cap Microphone Button

How to Enable Live Captions on Mac

  1. To enable Live Captions on your Mac running the macOS Ventura beta, first open the System Settings app.
Ventura System Preferences
  1. 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.

Ventural Live Cap Accessibility
  1. Click on “Live Captions (Beta)” under “Hearing.”
Ventura Live Cap Hear
  1. Click on the switch next to “Live Captions” to turn on the feature.
Ventura Live Cap Enabled

Customize In-App Live Captions on Mac

  1. In the “Live Captions (Beta)” section, identify the “In-App Live Captions” header.
Ventura In App Live Captions
  1. Enable the “Live Captions in FaceTime calls” toggle.
Ventura Live Cap Facetime

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

  1. Identify the font and color options in the same “Live Captions (Beta)” section.
Ventura Live Cap Font Color
  1. Click on the text button labeled “Default” next to “Font Family.”
Ventura Live Cap Font Family Default 1
  1. Scroll through a number of built-in system fonts and click on the one you’d like to use.
Ventura Live Cap Sytem Fonts
  1. 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.
Ventura Live Cap Font Size Numerical

Change the Color of Live Captions

  1. 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.
Ventura Live Capfont Color Default
  1. Click “Choose custom color” from the drop-down menu, and a color picker window will appear.
Ventura Live Cap Custom Color 1
  1. Select your preferred color.
Ventura Live Cap Color Spectrum 1

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

  1. Click and drag anywhere on the Live Captions widget to move it just as you would any floating window on the Mac.
Ventura Live Cap Move
  1. Click and drag diagonally on any one of the four corners of the Live Caption widget to resize it.
Ventura Live Cap Resize 1
  1. Pause activity in the Live Captions widget by selecting pause in the upper-right corner of the window.
Ventura Live Cap Pause

Switch Between Active Captions and In-App Captions

  1. 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.
Ventura Live Cap Control Buttons
  1. 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.
Ventura Live Cap Mic

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

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