This article explains how to convert YouTube videos to text on iPhone and iPad.
A huge number of people use YouTube every day, whether it’s for trailers, new music, or gameplay walkthroughs. But according to Pew Research Center, over half of U.S. adults use YouTube to figure out how to do things. If you belong to that crowd, adult or not, sometimes it’s good to have written instructions to follow along with the video or in lieu of it completely.
Well, it’s now possible to read YouTube videos instead of just watching them, all thanks to the free Videoticle service. With the power of the Shortcuts app on your iPhone, you can turn any video you’re watching into a Medium –style article that you can browse, read, and follow along with, complete with screenshots. Instead of pausing and playing a video in an attempt to learn a complicated topic, you can read it first and use the video as an example of how things look — if you even need to. The articles are sometimes more than good enough on their own.
Converting YouTube videos into text can also come in handy if you want to watch something but don’t want others to see that you’re watching it, like when you’re at work or school. After converting the YouTube video into an article, you can read it quietly without anyone taking notice (unless they’re right behind you, of course).
Transcribe YouTube Videos on iPhone
Step 1: Add the Shortcut to Your iPhone
After tapping the above link, a page will launch automatically in your Shortcuts app that will let you review the contents of the shortcut’s workflow before adding it. If you are redirected to Safari first, tap “Get Shortcut” to view the workflow in Shortcuts. If you see an error that says that it can’t be opened, Head over to Settings –> Shortcuts, then toggle the “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts” switch on, and try again.
Once you’ve reviewed the shortcut’s workflow and are satisfied that it is safe, tap “Add Untrusted Shortcut” located at the bottom to add it to your My Shortcuts list.
Step 2: Open the Share Sheet for the Video
Now, whenever you’re watching or wanting to watch a YouTube video in the YouTube app or in your favorite web browser such as Safari — one that you want to get a transcription of — open up the Share sheet. If you know how to do that, great. If not, it can vary depending on where you’re at.
Option 1When You’re in the YouTube App
If the video is currently playing in the YouTube app, tap it to unhide the playback controls, then tap the Share button overlayed on the video. If you don’t see that, make you’re in portrait orientation, then tap “Share” under the video. Next, tap “More” to open the Share sheet.
If you haven’t started the video yet, i.e., you’re in the list view, you can tap the vertical ellipsis icon next to the video’s name, then choose “Share,” followed by “More Options” to reveal the Share sheet.
Option 2When You’re in a Web Browser
If you found a YouTube video in Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or another web browser, and you have the video playing in the full-screen view, “X” out of it to return to its main page. Then, tap the “Share” button under the video’s title, or the Share button in the browser’s menu bar, to reveal the Share sheet.
Alternatively, if you are on iOS 14 or higher, you can minimize the full-screen video instead of exiting it so that it continues playing in the picture-in-picture window in the corner of your screen.
You could also long-press a video in a list view on the YouTube site, then select “Share” from the quick actions menu that appears.
Step 3: Convert the Video into a Readable Article
With the Share sheet open, scroll down and find the “Read Video in Videoticle” shortcut, then tap on it. This is all you need to do to convert a YouTube video into an article. The shortcut accepts URLs, so that’s why it works in the YouTube app and in a browser.
Step 4: Read the YouTube Video in Videoticle
An in-app webpage will open overtop the video with the article ready to read on the Videoticle website. At the top of the article, you’ll see the title of the video, the creator, and how many subscribers they have. The transcription appears below, complete with screenshots at different intervals.
If the video has official English language captions, Videoticle will use those to create the written article. If not, it will use the auto-generated ones that YouTube provides, and it’ll try to add punctuation as appropriate to make it easier to read.
To make the video easier to read (though, it may be harder for some people), enable “Line Breaks” near the top of the page, which breaks up paragraphs into smaller lines. If you tap on “Try another format/language,” you can see if there are other languages for you to read the article in or different captions you could try.
Tap “Done” at the top whenever you want to go back to YouTube or the video’s browser page.
If, for some reason, there are italicized captions, the HTML tags () will appear in the text too, as pulled from the user-created captions. Aside from that, the article should be easy to read, with a few random screenshots pulled from the video sprinkled in between every few paragraphs.