Zoom: Manage Automatic Live Transcription

The University of Minnesota's Zoom web conferencing includes a feature that uses automatic transcription to turn the spoken word into text, in real-time. It should be used for accessibility, but not for accommodation (learn more about accessibility vs accommodation).

Note: The Automatic Live Transcription feature does not work with breakout rooms, or in the Zoom for Linux app.

In this article:

Using Automatic Transcription for Accessibility

Automatic transcription can increase access to your material for people who:

  • are in a loud or public space
  • do not have access to headphones or speakers
  • are English language learners
  • benefit from hearing and reading content simultaneously

Note: Auto-generated transcripts are not a replacement for accommodations (changes to an environment based on a person's needs in that environment). If students who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have an auditory processing disorder have an accommodation letter from their system campus' Disability Resource Center (DRC), they are eligible for accommodations beyond automatic transcription. When an instructor receives such an accommodation letter from a student, or when notified by the DRC, the instructor should be aware that the DRC will arrange for a live captionist to attend scheduled Zoom session(s). It is the instructor's responsibility to coordinate necessary access to Zoom with their campus' DRC.

See system campus Disability Resource Center Contacts.

Learn more about accessibility vs accommodation.

Viewing Subtitles and Transcript

When Automatic Live Transcription is enabled, users can decide whether they want to display the words as: 

  • Subtitles, which appear at the bottom of the Zoom interface, or
  • In a transcript, which appears off to the right of the Zoom interface.
    A screenshot showing Zoom with both subtitles and transcript enabled, for comparison.

As a Zoom meeting host you can enable automatic live transcription in your meetings, then decide whether you want to view subtitles and/or the transcript.

As a Zoom meeting participant: If the host enables the automatic live transcriptions, you can turn on subtitles and/or view a transcript.

Using the Zoom Apps for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS

For the best experience, follow these steps to install the Zoom for Meetings desktop application for macOS or Windows, or download Zoom for Android or Zoom for iOS. Automatic live transcriptions will work when joining Zoom calls via the Chrome web browser even without the application, but there can be a 20 to 30 second lag between the words being spoken and the text appearing on screen.

Enabling Automatic Live Transcription within a Zoom Meeting (for Hosts)

  1. When in the Zoom meeting as the host, select the Live Transcript button in your host control bar.
    The Live Transcript button in the Zoom host menu controls
  2. Under Live Transcript, select Enable Auto-Transcription.
    • Above the CC / Live Transcript button, participants in the meeting receive the note "Live transcript is available."
      The Live Transcript menu in the Zoom host controls; Enable Auto-Transcription is selected.

Managing Subtitles and/or Live Transcript (for Hosts and Participants)

When live transcriptioning occurs, subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen as the speaker talks. Subtitles update in real-time to provide accurate context.

Turning on subtitles or viewing the live transcript

  1. In your meeting control bar, select Live Transcript.
    Live Transcript options from the meeting control bar: Show subtitle, View Full Transcript, or Subtitle Settings
  2. Show Subtitle will display subtitles on the screen.
    Subtitles on the screen say "Welcome to the meeting. Thank you for joining us on this gray March day."
  3. View Full Transcript will display subtitles in real time in the transcript window. The speaker's name and a time-stamp will be displayed.
    Screenshot of the transcript display window, showing the speaker's name and profile picture and a time stamp.
  4. Subtitle Settings:
    • You can view subtitles and the full transcript at the same time.
    • To turn off these features, select Live Transcript in the menu and choose "Hide Subtitle", "Close Full Transcript", or both.

Editing the Font Size of Subtitles

  1. On your computer, open the zoom.us desktop application.
  2. From the Zoom window, go to the Settings gear icon (in the upper right corner).
    The Settings gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the main Zoom window
  3. Select Accessibility.
    The Zoom settings menu. Accessibility is at the bottom.
  4. Drag the slider to adjust the text size.
    Closed Captioning font size slider is 2/3 of the way between small and large, showing font size of about 18.

Tips for Meetings with Automatic Live Transcription Enabled

Use an External Microphone

Consider using an external microphone/headset when participating in Zoom meetings. This generally results in better audio quality, so when automatic transcription turns your words into text, that text will more accurately match what is being said verbally.

If you have a mobile phone headset that works with your computer (or whatever device you are using to connect to Zoom), try using that headset when connecting to Zoom.

Speak Slowly 

This makes it easier for others to follow the automatic transcript or subtitles.

Take Turns to Make It More Clear Who is Speaking

Zoom's active speaker tracking is used to mark who said what. If one person is talking and then another person starts talking right after them, it can take a second or two before Zoom updates the transcript with who is speaking at that time. Pause briefly before taking your turn.

Monitor the Participants Panel's Slow Down Function

Zoom's Reaction menu includes nonverbal feedback options including Slow Down. Nonverbal feedback appears in the participant's video thumbnail and in the Participants panel. When using automatic live transcription consider keeping the Participants panel open to monitor feedback.

Everyone in the meeting can see nonverbal feedback selections next to participant names, but only the meeting host can see how many people have made a nonverbal feedback selection.

Zoom Participants panel. One participant selects slow down, another user raised hand. Each selection is displayed with a number 1 at the bottom of the host's view.

Note: Hosts can enable nonverbal feedback in their Zoom settings.

System Campus Disability Resource Center Contacts

Video Resources

Check out this short video on Managing Automatic Live Transcriptions, which appears in the Zoom Tutorial Videos Playlist.