How To Use Live Captions On MacOS Ventura, And Why You Might Want To

One of the upgrades included in the recently released MacOS Ventura is the ability to get audio captions in real-time whenever conversations are happening, or when there's audio and video playback ongoing. The "Live Captions" feature, which is currently still in the beta stages of development, automatically detects speech and transcribes it into readable text on your Mac computer. You can use it when you use your device to listen to podcasts, play videos, or even participate in FaceTime video calls.

Since the Live Captions functionality is still in beta, there may be some limitations in terms of translation accuracy, so relying on what you read onscreen during critical activities or situations is not recommended. For now, it is only accessible on Mac computers running on MacOS Ventura and equipped with an Apple silicon chip. In addition, Live Captions' language compatibility is also limited and may not be available in certain countries or regions.

How to set up Live Captions on a Mac computer

The first time you upgrade your Mac computer to run on MacOS Ventura, Live Captions will not be enabled by default. However, you can easily turn it on by tweaking your computer settings. Here are the steps:

  1. Launch the Apple menu and go to "System Settings."
  2. From the side panel, choose "Accessibility."
  3. Scroll down and click on "Live Captions (Beta)."
  4. Switch the "Live Captions" toggle to the on position. If you are turning on Live Captions for the first time, the appropriate language pack will need to be downloaded to your computer, so internet connectivity will be needed.

If you'd like to modify how captions appear on your screen, switch the default setting for the font family, size, color, and background color to one of the other available options while you're in this settings page. You can go back at any time to make caption style changes.

If you would like to try Live Captions during FaceTime video calls, enable "Live Captions in FaceTime." While a video is ongoing through the FaceTime app on your Mac computer, pull up the window sidebar and select "Live Captions (Beta)." If you're using the feature for the first time in FaceTime, you may be asked to download language data.

How to efficiently use Live Captions on a Mac

Enabling the feature on your Mac computer will keep the Live Captions window onscreen so that any audio detected is automatically transcribed. You can change the window size or its position on the screen by dragging its edges (via Apple). To restore the window back to its original size and position, click the Live Captions icon in the menu bar that runs along the top of your computer screen and hit "Restore Default Position." Alternatively, you can hide the window from view when there's no sound to be deciphered by hitting the Live Captions icon from the menu and making sure "Keep Onscreen" isn't selected.

Once Live Captions is enabled, you should start seeing text transcriptions through the window onscreen whenever speech is detected from audio or video content accessed on your Mac computer. You can easily scroll up to review already translated captions — if you see any word with a blue underline underneath, it means that there may be translation inaccuracies associated. You can temporarily stop captions without turning the feature off by hitting the pause button and clicking play when you're ready to restart captioning. You can also pause and play through the Live Captions icon in the menu bar.

Live Captions transcribes speech detected from your Mac computer's audio output (aka speakers) by default. However, you can also use the feature to translate audio picked up by the microphone, like when you or someone in your vicinity speaks, by hitting the microphone icon in the top-right corner of the Live Captions window. Simply hit it again to go back to transcribing your computer's audio output. Again, the same controls are available through the Live Captions icon in the menu bar if you prefer to access it that way.

The perks of enabling Live Captions for MacOS Ventura

Even though development for Live Captions is still an ongoing process, and certain functions may not perform accurately, there's a lot of merit to it. Users who are deaf or have some difficulty in hearing will be able to follow along with more ease when someone is speaking on screen. If you are in a location or situation that prohibits you from turning the volume up on your machine, you can be aided by the ability to read dialogue instead. It can also be great for people who regularly multitask and need a way to catch up on a conversation at their own leisure.

Apart from being able to read vocal dialogue transcribed into text, you can also use Live Captions to have your Mac computer speak aloud words you have typed: Just click the "Type to Speak" field in the Live Captions window or hit the Live Captions icon in the menu bar to get to "Type to Speak," type something, then hit the return key. This added MacOS Ventura functionality is useful for situations where you are required to respond in a conversation and would prefer to eliminate distractions from your own voice, like a stutter or a tendency to use filler words too much. It's also great for when you'd like to respond without missing a beat while you do something else — like take notes or use another app on your computer — at the same time.