How to Set Up & Use Live Captions on iPhone (iOS 16)

The Live Caption feature on iPhone released with iOS 16 is a helpful tool for the Deaf and hard of hearing, as well as anyone who prefers to be able to read captions off a screen instead of relying solely on listening. Learn how to add captions to videos on your iPhone for apps like FaceTime or supported video players.

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How to Turn On & Use Live Captions on iPhone

In iOS 16, Live Captions is a new feature that has your iPhone automatically transcribe audio and list it out on the screen in caption format. Beneficial for both Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities, as well as those who prefer to read along with audio they're hearing, this feature is easy to turn on and worked surprisingly well when I tried it out. The feature is currently in Beta mode, so it might not yet be widely available or bug-free, but it seems to be off to a solid start. You can turn on Live Captions by going into your Accessibility settings and toggling on Live Captions. Here's how to do that.

For more ways to get the most out of iOS 16, check out our Tip of the Day. Before you begin, make sure you have updated your iPhone to iOS 16.

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Related: How to Unsend iMessage After You’ve Sent It

How to Turn On Live Captions on iPhone

  1. In your Settings app, tap Accessibility.

  2. Scroll down and under the Hearing header, tap Live Captions.

  3. Toggle on Live Captions. The slider will be to the right, and the bar will be green when it's on.

  4. Toggle on Live Captions in FaceTime to show captions while you're on a FaceTime call.

How to Change Live Captions' Appearance on iPhone

  1. In your Settings app, tap Accessibility.

    Tap Accessibility
  2. Scroll down and under the Hearing header, tap Live Captions.

    Tap Live Captions
  3. Tap Appearance.

    Tap Appearance
  4. From here, you can choose when to bold text, your text size, your text color, your background color, and the opacity of the background the text appears on.

    Customize Live Captions

How to Use Live Captions

Once Live Captions are enabled, you'll see a box at the bottom of your screen titled Live Captions, and you'll see "Listening..."  at the bottom. This means your microphone is listening for internal sounds to caption.

  • If you want to stop it from listening temporarily but not fully disable the feature, tap the pause button.
  • To listen for external sounds, tap the microphone button.
  • To fullscreen the Live Captions box, tap the arrows on the far right.
  • To minimize the Live Captions box, tap the arrow on the left.
  • If your Live Captions are blocking the way or a keyboard or something you want to see, just drag it to a different part of your screen, and it will stay there.

Once your iPhone begins picking up Live Captions, you'll see them displayed in this box. There is currently no way to edit or scroll through them, but choosing the full-screen option allows you to see more at once before they disappear.

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Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both

Amy Spitzfaden-Both is the Managing Editor for iPhone Life magazine and an award-winning novelist, with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. She specializes in Apple news and rumors, health and fitness tech, and parenting in the digital age. She graduated from MIU with a BA in Literature and Writing.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.