Syncing subtitles with the use of Amara editor is easy, but includes a few fine points that may make it a bit challenging for novice users. We strongly recommend you to take a few minutes and get familiar with the text below and the instructional video.

The recommended way to sync subtitles is to do it in two passes. During the first pass, you need just to roughly set start and end times for each subtitles without caring too much about positioning them precisely. After all the subtitles in the set have become timed, you can make a second pass through the video and fine-tune the timing where necessary. 

Important: the editor behaves differently depending on whether you are going through untimed text (pass 1) or reviewing and editing timed subtitles (pass 2)! We'll consider these differences below.

Syncing untimed subtitles (pass 1)

You can sync untimed subtitles as follows:

1. Press TAB to play the video. The video will play and the black timeline under the video player will scroll to the left. Your current time position will be indicated on the timeline with a vertical red line:

2. When the first subtitle should appear on the screen, press ARROW DOWN keyboard key. Keep playing the video.

3. When the next subtitle should appear, press ARROW DOWN again -- this key ends the current subtitle and starts a new one. Keep tapping on ARROW DOWN key to start new subtitles.

4. As you keep tapping, the current subtitle will be displayed in the video player. The next ("on-deck") unsynced subtitle will appear in a darker shade of gray in the far right area of the timeline -- this will help you to get prepared for the text that comes next.

5. If you need to end the current subtitle before the next one starts, press ARROW UP. This will end the current subtitle without starting a new one. When the next subtitle must start, press ARROW DOWN again:

6. Please do not pause unless you absolutely need to! If you pause, this will also end the current subtitle. When you are ready to resume, press TAB to play the video and then press ARROW DOWN when the next subtitle should start. Keep playing the video and tapping arrow keys with as few stops as possible.

7. If you feel you have totally messed it up, do not panic! Just clear all the timing and start from square one - on your next attempt, it will get better.

8. When you are done or have to stop and take a break from work, make sure you save subtitles.

Important: We do not recommend to pause and skip back the video in attempt to correct any syncing errors at this step, particularly if you have little experience working with the subtitle editor! If you pause and skip back, you may find that the editor starts to behave by the rules of editing timed text and the change may be confusing. Just leave any errors as they are until pass 2, when they will be quick and easy to correct.

The video below explains how to sync untimed text by playing the video and tapping on a keyboard key. To watch this video with YouTube closed captions, please click CC button at the bottom right-hand corner of the video, select your preferred language, and click OK.

Editing timed subtitles (pass 2)

Now, that you have all the subtitles synced, it is time to make a second pass and fine-tune all the timestamps. Make sure you have saved the subtitles then skip back to the beginning of the video by clicking on the time bar in the video player.

1. Press TAB to start playing the video.

2. Any time you need to pause, press TAB key again. Now you can do it as often as you need -- at this step, pausing does not end the current subtitle.

3. If you need to skip back a few seconds, do it! 

  • SHIFT+TAB keys skip 2 seconds back. 
  • CONTROL (or COMMAND)+SHIFT+, (you can think of it as CTRL+<) takes you 4 seconds back. 
  • Press the shortcut keys multiple times to skip back further.

4. Contrary to pass 1, ARROW DOWN key changes the start time of the current subtitle: 

  • If you press ARROW DOWN while inside of a subtitle, its start time will move to your current position - vertical red line on the timeline bar, making the subtitle duration shorter.

Before:          After:   

  • If you press ARROW DOWN while in a gap between subtitles, the start time of the next subtitle will move to the current time, extending the duration of that subtitle.

Before:         After:  

5. ARROW UP key adjusts the end time.

  • If you press ARROW UP while inside of a subtitle, it ends the current subtitle at the time when it is pressed.

Before:       After:  

  • If you press ARROW UP while in a gap between subtitles, it extends the previous subtitle to the current time.

Before:       After:  

6. You can also drag the vertical edges of subtitles on the timeline to change the start time. The adjacent subtitles will give way as you drag. However, you cannot make a subtitle shorter than .07 sec.

7. When you are done or need to stop and take a break, make sure you save your hard work!

Tip: If you are unsure what ARROW DOWN and ARROW UP will do if you press them now, please note the position of the help fly-outs to the left and right from the editing panel - they will point to the subtitle they apply to.

  • First pass:

  • Second pass:

Also check out new features for shifting all subtitles at once in our new feature Timing Tools (clock icon)