How to enable Microsoft Teams live captions and transcriptions

Transcribing and live captions can help you see the text of a Teams meeting conversation. They can help you keep track or understand what others are saying. Here are some ways to use them.

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The problem with virtual meetings is the fact that audio quality may not be perfect. Sometimes, the audio quality may be poor or you might not hear what another person has to say. Even if you have the audio in good quality, it is still a good idea to have the text of the conversation as a reference. No matter your reason, live captions and transcriptions can be accessed in a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Microsoft Teams: A cheat sheet


Transcribing and live captions look similar, as they both show the text of a Teams meeting conversation. However, they are different in how you can access them as well as how they work.

You can access live captions for both personal and business accounts. This feature will show you the text spoken and the person’s names. It is useful for if someone has missed a word.

However, only two lines are displayed on the screen at a given time. This means that you cannot see or read previous captions during the conversation. Plus, live captions text disappears once the meeting is over.

Transcriptions only are available for business Teams accounts. You’ll need the right Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription to access the backend. Only scheduled meetings can have transcripts, and not those that were started using the Meet Now option. Anyone can see the transcript after they have enabled it. The transcription can be saved and downloaded so you can reference it in the future.

These are the options.

How to use Microsoft Teams live captions

After you start your Teams video meeting click the ellipsis button for More Actions and select the option for Turn on Live Captions. Each participant can turn on live captions at their own end.Figure A).

Figure A


Each participant now speaks and their conversation appears on the screen as text.Figure B).

Figure B


If necessary, you can modify the spoken language of the meeting. Click on the ellipsis symbol in the lower right corner of your captions window to select Change Spoken language. Select the desired spoken language from the window and click Confirm.Figure C).

Figure C


Click the More Actions icon and choose Turn Off Live Captions to stop the captions.

How to use Microsoft Teams transcriptions

To use transcriptions in a Teams Meeting, either you or your administrator must enable them via your Microsoft 365/Office 365 administration console. Open and sign in to your account Microsoft Teams administration center. In the left pane select Meetings, then Meeting policies. If you want to allow transcriptions in your entire organization, choose the policy for Global (or-wide default). At the settings screen, look for the section for Recording & Transcription, turn on the switch for transcription, and then click Save at the bottom. It may take several hours for your policy changes to spread throughout your organization.Figure D).

Figure D


Start a meeting by scheduling it. Click on the ellipsis symbol for More Actions at top of screen, and then select the option to Start Transcription. As long as everyone in the meeting has permission to start transcriptions, they can do so provided that they comply with the meeting policy.Figure E).

Figure E


To display the transcript of the conversation, a pane appears on the right-hand side of the screen. The text of the conversation is followed by each speaker’s name. You can see more text as the conversation progresses because it appears in vertical panes.Figure F).

Figure F


Scroll up to see any text from the transcript.Figure G).

Figure G


The live transcript can be viewed by any participant. Click the ellipsis icon to show the transcript. To hide the transcript click the icon and select Hide TranscriptFigure H).

Figure H


To stop the live transcription click the icon and choose Stop Transcription. The transcript can be accessed after the meeting has ended. You can access the transcript by going to Calendar view within Teams, clicking the meeting event, then selecting the Edit button. At the top of the screen for that meeting, select Recordings & Transcripts. If you don’t see the option for Recordings & Transcripts, expand the width of the window or select the down arrow next to More (Figure I).

Figure I


The transcript will appear. Click the Download button to save it. Select whether you want to save it as a Word document (DOCX), as well as as a Web Video Text Tracks file (VTT). Microsoft Word can open the Word file and VTT files in any text editor.Figure J).

Figure J


Also, see

  • Microsoft Teams 101: A guide for beginners and tips for experienced users (TechRepublic)
  • 10 best Microsoft Teams tips for business pros (TechRepublic)
  • How to deploy Microsoft Teams in your business (TechRepublic)
  • TechRepublic – How to add guest account to Microsoft Teams
  • TechRepublic: How to allow guest accounts for Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Teams: How to connect apps to your collaboration platform (TechRepublic).
  • Checklist: Securing Windows 10 systems (TechRepublic Premium)
  • Additional Microsoft-related coverage is a must-read (TechRepublic on Flipboard)