Captioning your videos #1: Windows Movie Maker

May 14, 2007

Lots and lots of videos on the web out there, and a TINY fraction of them are captioned. All those news clips on CNN and other media websites, many amateur and professional videos on YouTube and Google Video, many many vlogs (whether hearing or deaf), lots of movies available for instant watching via Netflix and its ilk, etc. Just about all of them aren’t captioned. Sad, because there are so many resources — FREE ones — out there where one can caption these videos.

Over time, I plan on doing a series of posts covering some of these free resources — computer programs as well as Internet web services — where you can add captions. If you know of any other free program or web service that you use to caption videos, please let me know in the comments and I’ll test ’em out as well.

Without further ado, here’s the first resource:

Windows Movie Maker logoWindows Movie Maker (XP or Vista version): This is a free, downloadable computer program made by Microsoft for PC computers. There is no actual “captioning” function. Instead, I had to click on the “Title and Credits” feature (using the “Subtitles” transition) and then on the “Title on the selected clip” link each time I wanted to add a line of captions. In its favor, it was easy to move a line of caption back and fro on the movie time-line, and stretch or shorten the period each caption would appear. You can also modify how the title appears onto the screen (altho I wished I could have it appear a bit lower on the screen), as well as how it looks — including its font, color, size, and transparency.

A left-hand thumb up for the ease of customizing these captions, and a right-hand thumb down due to having to press several buttons for each line of captions.

As an example, I used a video of my daughter announcing her “campaign” for President. Yes, she’s speaking gobby-gook. But that’s par for the course for politicians, eh?


53 Responses to “Captioning your videos #1: Windows Movie Maker”

  1. Alison Says:

    Zora is the best part! :)

  2. Karen Says:

    LOL! Loved that clip!

  3. daveynin Says:

    cute daughter.. and this video part made my day.

  4. IamMine Says:

    Oh good god… I laughed so hard and giggled with tears!!!

    You are one of a kind, Seek Geo!!!

    And your daughter, too!!!

    That is an awesome way of getting us to learn on how to caption our video clips as an optional.

    I’ll refer back to your cute little girl as a template!

    \m/ rock on, Zora! \m/

  5. IamMine Says:

    Oops, not SeekGeo! LOL!!

    Darn my eyes… :D

    Republicans, you know…they mess with your eyes!

    Warn Zora about that!! ;)

  6. Proud Geek Says:

    IamMine – LOL! No problem! I’ve tried to warn Zora, but she’s stubborn!

  7. Nick Says:

    *shakes head at Iammine*

    heheh Maybe Zora can have Iammine run for VP. Just don’t shoot anyone while quail hunting. Iammine! :)

  8. Dennis Says:

    Loved it!

    And, speaking as an interested party who isn’t able to sign well enough for vlogs yet, captioning will greatly increase the amount of knowledge I can absorb. Thank you.

  9. moxie_mocha Says:


    Check out the following websites that provide captioning: and

    Harkle provides English captioning for the deaf. What you do is submit the media to James Short, and he will ask permission from the producer to see if he can get it captioned. Then he uses volunteers to caption the media clip and post it on this website. His email address is jshort at harkle dot com.

    dotSUB provides subtitles in many languages. You also submit the media to Michael Smolens at michael at dotsub dot com.

    Check out these two blog posts that I wrote a while back:

    Questions — feel free to contact me at moxiemocha at aol dot com

  10. drmzz Says:

    Hello, I use Windows Movie Maker pgrm a lot since last year. Yes, it is convenient and presumably easy for any one to handle. I agree that one negative aspect is the placement control of the text and the ending of a sentence will disappear once I try to bring the text at the very bottom of the screen. So it is typical to see a lot of captions at the mid-bottom part of the screen of most videos. For Google or offline video productions, I use Subtitle Workshop. On and Off option is nice on their player. Offers better control of text placement at least at the bottom of the screen. Online, sites like Overstream and Google can provide subtitling too. The last time I talked with Harkle, he said he likes Overstream. See here for overstream sample vlogs by a deaf guy I met at youtube back then.

  11. Jenny Says:

    Hope you’ll be able to review some Mac-friendly options too in the future. :) Thanks for taking the time to do this for us.

  12. […] 15th, 2007 Yesterday, I wrote about captioning videos on a PC computer using Windows Movie Maker. I’ve gotten a number of […]

  13. Harkle Says:

    Nice work! Open captions like the ones you made in Windows Movie Maker have their merits because they are a permanent part of the video and for now, open captions are the only way to get captions on YouTube (unless you go to third party sites like,,, etc.), but they can get a little blurry when the video gets compressed. If anyone wants to try “closed captioning” for web video, here’s what I recommend, with lots of caveats.

    Caveat 1: Captions are like sausage: if you like them, you’re better off not knowing how they’re made. Keep reading at your own peril.

    Caveat 2: Like everything on the web, things keep changing. One reason I like the strategy described below is that you will have a “master file” that can be easily reformatted to work with most everything that will be available for the foreseeable the future.

    There are a growing number of options for creating closed captions for the web, especially if you’re posting your videos to shared video sites like YouTube or Google Video. For the greatest of ease, you can go to the sites mentioned above. My only concern with these great sites is will they be around as long as your YouTube video?

    For speed and accuracy but less ease, you can also try WGBH’s free captioning software MAGpie:

    Caveat 3: At the moment (like I said, things keep changing) MAGpie is a good strategy if you post videos to Google Video. Hopefully now that YouTube is part of Google, this will also be a good strategy for your YouTube videos once YouTube hurries up and implements the captioning feature. Come on YouTube!

    Once you get over the fairly easy learning curve, it’s probably one of the fastest ways to do your own captions. It works well on PCs but not so well on Macs :( (Caveat 4).

    There’s a good MAGpie tutorial at

    Caveat 5: MAGpie is in serious need of an update to catch up with the online video revolution, but it’s still valid if you’re willing to take an extra step to create an output that works . Once you create your caption file, export a version to Windows Media and convert it to the Subrip format in Subtitle Workshop (also free).

    Caveat 6: I’ve left out a lot of caveats, but if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at and I will try to answer any questions you have and give you some tips that will help you work faster.

    And please, if you make any captioned videos, please tell me about them at You don’t need to fill out the form completely. A simple URL will do.


  14. […] 16th, 2007 Got this helpful comment about captioning from James, who’s part of Harkle. Harkle is a cool website that links to / […]

  15. staz Says:

    LOL. best and cute. :)

  16. […] on a tip from commenter drmzz, I tried out Subtitle Workshop by URUSoft. In a nutshell: this is a […]

  17. […] 18th, 2007 On a tip from, again, commenter drmzz, I checked out Overstream. And yes, I captioned a third […]

  18. […] and they appreciate donations if you like their work. Looking at the comments of this Proud-post, MAGpie probably was the best way to go, but I don’t really love the idea of install Java on […]

  19. Bill Says:

    Movie Maker was tedious compared to Overstream. And I did not like the results (and not just because it was me or the lousy original quality of the video)

  20. proudgeek Says:

    Hi Bill — perhaps when you saved the video via Windows Movie Maker, you used a “save” option that ended up with a lower quality video? I recall that Windows Movie Maker gives you a wide range of options for saving videos, from email-able quality up to DVD quality …

  21. Gena Says:

    Someone was asking about a Mac option. I found a program called Mov Captioner at This is a lot closer to what I want to work with but it is for Mac Users. (Drat!)

    I am searching for an easy method to create captions/subtitles. I’m a PC User but I need something that I can work with on a regular basis for videos I’ll want to post in the weeks to come.

    I’m trying to learn MAGpie but if I could find a windows equivalent of this application I’d be a happy camper.

  22. proudgeek Says:

    Hi Gena – thanks for the Mac option. You’re right, I’m still looking for an “easy” captioning / subtitling option for PC users. I’ll keep you all up to date with what I find …

  23. Amanda Says:

    I am trying to take a dvd and save it on my hard drive so that I can cut it up and make a movie on windows movie maker. How do I do this?

  24. proudgeek Says:

    Hi Amanda — Windows Movie Maker should have some import function where you can import a DVD movie into Movie Maker. Alternatively, you may need software that reads DVDs and converts them to another format. I use Mmplayer to read DVDs and convert them to a format I can view on my Palm Treo, but it also works for movies that I can then watch on my PC:

  25. Phil Collins Says:

    I have Windows Movie Maker V 5.1 (OS Windows XP Pro). Is Windows Movie Maker 2 a newer version?

    While I use computers all the time, I need some kind of very simple instructions/guidelines how to use Windows Movie Maker. I will be capturing from Canon Optura 50.

    Phil Collins

  26. avi Says:

    I tried to download so many times from internet but after complete downloading when I tried to open it, I could not succeed.

  27. avi Says:

    Please guide me how I can free download window movie maker.I have window XP. Can I have X pro movie maker

  28. Dipali Says:

    Can I use this content for educational purpose?


  29. John Says:

    I too find that the Windows method in Movie Maker is really cumbersome. Does anyone know how to import .smi or .srt captioning files into movie maker? I’ve tried serveral different closed captioning file types. Yet, this would be nice to accomplish because then you could make DVD’s with the CC embedded onto the video. The only other ways treat standard CC files as an external element, and there is a lot of magic required to get a DVD’s .ifo and .vob files to combine CC into a movie.
    I’m not writing this very well – but anyway, does anyone know how to embed CC into a movie without this method above?

  30. proudgeek Says:

    John — how about checking out this related blog post and see if this helps you with importing of .srt files?

  31. Cristoph Says:

    Thank you a ton! I’ll send you the link once I’ve finished this video. I really needed this help, and now that I’ve got it, I just gotta say thanks a ton!

    [And your daughter is adorable!]

  32. rebecca Says:

    Hi, umm cute girl

    So, i try posting windows movie maker on youtube, but it tells me to export it to wmv.. How do i do that? do you know any websites i can post windows movie maker videos??

  33. Anna Says:

    Love the movie! Sooo cute! One question tho. HOW did you get the caption to be so low? I’m trying your approach, but the captions are appearing right over where the face would be. I’m wondering if it’s just the version of Window Movie Maker that I have that doesn’t let me adjust the placement. (I just downloaded it this month.) THANKS!

  34. Lynn Says:

    I am hoping that you can help me with a technical question…Microsoft offers nothing without having to pay for it! I have searched the web to find out what’s going on & found your blog. So here goes…

    I am working in Windows Movie Maker for the first time and have had no problem until I shot a few video clips with a Sony Hard Drive Digital Handycam. When I try to import the file into the program it tells me that I don’t have the right codec. The Sony produces the video with MPG-2. So now what???

    Any insight??

  35. proudgeek Says:

    Hi Lynn — I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you much with this. But it sounds like the Sony Handycam is making videos in a format that’s slightly different than the more conventional mpeg / avi formats. Try seeing if the Handycam has settings where you can modify the output. Also, see if you can upgrade Windows Movie Maker or download some codec’s for it?

  36. […] Adding Captions to YouTube: Resource Links 7 11 2008 ProudGeek Reviews of some captioning methods Captioning Your Videos #1: Windows Movie Maker (Software) […]



  38. Top of my list of movies to see are Transformers and public enemies and despite myself I would quite like to see Harry Potter, lol.. Doesn’t it just make you want to be a wizard!

  39. Petruha2 Says:

    So amazing site design. What CMS do you use ?

  40. Joseph S Says:

    I never thought that caption could be so fun as in your sample posted here. Thanks for share this knowledge About – caption technique. by the way Love You..About.

  41. Tiffany Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I did a video in sign language and didn’t realize it either had to be captioned or voice over… so this worked perfectly! … it is to bad you can’t lower the text a little…

  42. Pat Says:

    MovCaptioner is at a different web address now. Go to to download a fully functional trial version. There is also a Windows version in the works that will hopefully be out within a few months. Easy to use and can both import and export a variety of formats. Cost is $39.95, so it’s inexpensive compared to most other captioning apps.

  43. […] Captioning Your Videos #1: Windows Movie Maker […]

  44. Sarah Parker Says:

    That was too cute! I love the part when she was like “Yes dad, a republican! Accept it” LOL Too cute!!!

  45. Friv Says:

    How can I convert flv to wmv file ? Windows Movie Maker does not support .flv file :(

  46. […] Captioning Your Videos #1: Windows Movie Maker […]

  47. Kyle Says:

    hello, I can’t find to seem the video “subtitles” or “titles and Credits” function on the Windows Maker 2011 version. Anyone can help?


  48. Veronica Says:

    I’m having a problem with my captions (titles and credits). I made the caption be at least 1 second long and now I can’t make it any longer than one second…

    • proudgeek Says:

      Im afraid I don’t know the answer – has been a long time since I used it. Perhaps drag the handles of the caption / title clip and make it longer?

      • Veronica Says:

        Tried that. It’s not moving at all. But thanks anyway, I’ll figure it out sooner or later! :]

  49. Retha Says:

    Do you have any suggestions if I want to put captions with a song file? I tried converting it from mp3 to a video format, and then add the words, but Movie maker then are willing to save changes to a project file, but not to accept the converted mp3 as a movie file, and so refuse to make a song that shows pictures and words as it plays. I know this can be done by first uploading to you tube, but my Internet is slow (I live in Africa) and I prefer to do video-related things without involving the Internet.

    Thanks in advance!

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