So you’re stuck…

While Captionista is an extremely quick way to add subtitles to your videos, it may not be obvious at first how its interface works because it is so different from other apps.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we get.

If your question isn’t listed here please contact us by one of the methods shown here.

“I can’t add another subtitle”, or “How do I split text into subtitles?”

Captionista is different from most other subtitling apps. You don’t add a single subtitle at a time.

Instead, you type all the text that you will need in the subtitles at the beginning, and yes you can go back and edit it and it will update the subtitles you’ve split. Then you move on to the next step to split that text into subtitles. Here’s an example:

@captionistaapp Captionista is a free subtitles and caption app for iPhone. Easy to add and edit captions for your TikToks. #classy #subtitlesforthedeaf #fonts #aesthetic #ios ♬ CAP - Burrell

Step 1

Type all the text for all your subtitles into the text editor, while watching the video (if you are transcribing the audio). You can slow the video down using the tortoise button, and you can long press that to choose other speeds.

Once you’re done, go to Timeline mode.

On iPhone: Press Next to get there from the Script editor screen.

On iPad: Tap the Timeline button to switch to timeline mode.

Step 2

Play the video and tap a word in the text on the subtitle card where you want to split into a new subtitle.

Captionista uses the current video playback time when you tap the word to also set the start time for the new subtitle you just created, all in one action!

“How do I make the first subtitle start later?” or “How do I create gaps?”

Each subtitle card has a start and end time shown, and these are buttons you can use to adjust the timing.

To make a subtitle start later than it currently does, in Timeline mode, play the video and press the start time on the subtitle card to set it to show at the current time in the video. This will create a gap before it if you change the time to after its current start, or it will shorten the previous subtitle if you tap the start time before the subtitle currently starts.

Here’s an example:

@captionistaapp Captionista is the best way to add captions and subtitles to videos yourself. See how to change timing and create gaps in your TikToks so they hit different #subtitlesforthedeaf #iphonetricks #iphoneapps #captions #subtitles #deafawareness #deaf #accessibility #aesthetic ♬ original sound - Captionista

If your new start time means that the subtitle overlaps in time a later subtitle, it will merge the two automatically for you so you can split them correctly again.

Gaps between subtitles can improve how your subtitles feel. Keeping the same text on screen for a long period of time can feel strange if no other text is to be shown for while

To solve this, while watching the video you tap the end time button on the subtitle card when you want it to stop showing. This will automatically create a gap consisting of the remaining time until the next subtitle starts.

Is there a version for macOS?

Not yet. We haven’t ruled this out but the needs of professional Mac users would not be well met by the current Captionista timeline UI which is designed for touch.

It’s not just about using a mouse or trackpad — Mac users will need different considerations, like support for very large (long) video files and this changes the nature of the UI and document formats required.

Many other apps are available to deliver automatic subtitles, and the value Captionista adds is in the better subtitling experience you can produce for your viewers and how you can subtitle short videos in a matter of seconds.

Why is there no A.I. Speech-to-Text?

Now this is a great question! Captionista is “opinionated software”. It was designed from the start to provide a great fast experience adding subtitles or captions without any need for A.I.

Quality issues

The best subtitles use good timing and careful splitting of text. This is typically missing if you use A.I. transcription, and it can take a long time to achieve this with conventional subtitling software after using the A.I. to transcribe. This can cancel out the benefits of not having to type most of the text.

Assuming you care about the text matching what is said, Just correcting errors in the A.I. transcript can be very time consuming and itself prone to error. It can take as long as it would to type it yourself.

Most A.I. Speech-to-Text subtitling systems try to match timing of spoken text exactly, but this often results in an unnatural reading experience that lacks nuance in delivery. Typically this is handled by using “rolling” subtitles that show a word or line at a time, moving up the screen as new text appears. This is generally a poor reading experience.

Furthermore, A.I. tends to not capitalise or punctuate text properly, often including correctly spelled but nonsensical words which can be hard to see when reviewing, leading to embarrassing mistakes.

Audio issues

A.I. transcription struggles with noisy audio, and very many social videos are recorded in noisy environments or without special microphones to capture a clear audio track. Correcting an A.I. transcription of “misheard” audio, you might as well start from scratch.

Language limitations

We’re an international product. Most A.I. systems cannot transcribe many languages, so manual text entry is superior here.

Network access

Most A.I. Speech-to-Text solutions require network access that slows down your transcription process, uses up mobile data and by definition cannot work when you have poor data connectivity.

Captionista always works, even if you have no internet access at all. You can subtitle in a bunker, on a plane, or in a Faraday Cage if you wish.


We cannot make our own A.I. Speech-to-Text system. Very few companies actually do, and as a result we would have no control over the quality of the results and so a poor product makes our product look worse and we have no way to improve it. We’re not prepared to do that.

Costs & Privacy

Most A.I. solutions require data centers to process the audio and they are expensive services to use. We’d have to charge you the customer a much higher price and/or charge per minute of transcription like a lot of other subtitling apps do.

Furthermore, any services that don’t charge are likely to be using the audio for other purposes and this can have privacy issues for our users.