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Apple TV Subtitles: How To Turn Closed Captioning On Or Off

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Apple TV subtitles can be enabled on most platforms and devices when watching a show episode or movie. On Apple’s own devices, including the Apple TV player, users can either choose to enable while watching a video or set as the default to ensure all apps, including the Apple TV app, display closed captions when available.

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Many streaming services provide the option to enhance the experience by enabling subtitles or making adjustments to the audio in general. As a company, Apple is no different and actually tends to provide a number of accessibility options to users. This is both at the device and app level and the same dual-approach also applies when using Apple’s own streaming app, Apple TV.

Regardless of whether the device is an Apple device and irrespective of whether it’s a phone, streaming player, smart TV or any another device, subtitles can be enabled directly within the app while watching a video. As long as it is an officially supported Apple TV device, then the instructions for turning closed captioning on or off will be largely the same, albeit with slight variations.

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Turning subtitles on or off in the Apple TV app

To turn subtitles on, swipe down or click down on the remote to open the audio menu. The exact style and look of the menu may be different depending on the device, but the menu will include a “Subtitles” section with the option to select one of the available languages. To disable the subtitles again, simply swipe down or click down on the remote to access the same menu and deselect whichever language was previously turned on.

Again, there are some variations to these instructions. For example, if watching on an iPhone or iPad, the user will need to tap on the screen and then on the speech bubble to access the closed captioning menu. Likewise, the same instructions apply when watching on a Mac or a PC with the audio menu accessible by either tapping on or hovering over the video and then tapping/clicking on the speech bubble. For reference, if using a 3rd Gen Apple TV device, the user will need to hold down the Select button on the remote for three seconds while playing a video to launch the closed captioning menu.

The same menu can also so be used to make adjustments to the audio experience in general. For example, the user can change the audio language, turn on full dynamic range, or change the speaker output.

Apple TV player and other Apple devices

Besides the ability to turn closed captioning on or off while watching a video, Apple TV player, iPhone, and iPad users also have the option of enabling subtitles at the system level. This route will automatically enable subtitles as the default making this a good option for those that want closed captioning on permanently.

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As this is by default, the change will actually apply to all apps on a device and not just Apple TV. The option to make this change can be found in the device’s general settings menu.

Enable subtitles by default:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Navigate to and click/tap on Accessibility
  3. Select “Subtitles and Captioning” (under “Hearing”)
  4. Turn on “Closed Captions + SDH”

When enabling closed captioning and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) in this way, the user also has the ability to customize how the captions and subtitles appear by selecting “Style” and choosing an option. Again once enabled and a style selected, the language and style will be automatically used for all apps accessed on the device.

Apple TV subtitles summary

The easiest and quickest way to turn closed captioning on or off is directly through the Apple TV app. To do this, start playing a video and then swipe or tap down to open the audio menu and select a language. On some devices, the user may need to tap on or hover over the video and tap/click on a speech bubble to access the audio menu.

If it is an Apple device being used to access the Apple TV app, including the Apple TV player, the user can enable subtitles by default. This option can be found in the device’s settings by navigating to Accessibility and then Hearing. Unlike the in-app option, enabling subtitles through the device’s settings menu will apple to all apps and not just Apple TV.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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