Roku is one of the most user-friendly streaming devices on the market, but that doesn't mean that everyone is born knowing how to tweak settings and manage different features on their Roku devices. If you're wondering how to enable closed captioning on Roku devices, never fear: we're here to explain how to go about tracking down the closed captioning feature on Roku and on various Roku Channels (Roku's term for apps).
How to turn closed captioning on, Roku style
There are two basic ways to turn closed captioning on (or off) on Roku devices: you can access the setting on Roku's device-level menus, or you can toggle things back and forth within individual Roku Channels (apps). We're going to cover both options here. First, we'll walk you step-by-step through the process of turning closed captions on and off on your Roku device. Then, we'll talk about individual Channels. We can't give you a step-by-step guide for every Roku Channel in existence, but we can give you a basic sense of how to go looking for your closed captioning options in Roku Channels.
First up: how to turned closed captioning on device-wide.
Step 1: Starting at the Home screen, navigate to Settings
If you're not already looking at your home screen, go ahead and press the Home button on your Roku remote (it's, uh, the one with the picture of the home on it). Then, on the left-side menu bar, highlight Settings and press OK.
Step 2: Navigate to Accessibility
Your next step on this little journey through the menus is Accessibility (if you don't see Accessibility on your Roku, try looking for “Captions” instead). Highlight it and hit OK.
Step 3: Select Captions Mode
We've finally arrived at the captions settings! Highlight Captions Mode and press OK. You'll now be able to select your ideal captions setup from a short list of options. In addition to the rather familiar On and Off settings, Roku allows you to have captions appear only when your Roku device is muted or only when you replay bits you might have missed (note that you have to use Roku's “Replay” button – that's the one with the little circling arrow – for this to work).
Enable closed captioning on Roku using in-channel options
Roku's general closed captioning settings play nice with many major apps, but you may still find that you want to toggle captions on and off within individual apps. Doing so can be pretty quick and convenient, but the process may vary from app to app.
Some streaming apps have closed captioning as a basic option alongside things like Pause and Rewind. Try tapping a directional button on your Roku remote, which will usually bring up basic commands. Then, if it's available, navigate to the closed captioning icon and hit OK to see your options.
If the closed captioning options aren't immediately available on super-simple screens like this, try hitting your Roku remote's Options button. That's the one that looks like an asterisk (*). You may find closed captioning in the resulting array of more in-depth options.
Still not seeing closed captions?
If you turn on closed captions using our first method, most Roku Channels will play along nicely. You can also toggle closed captions using the specific Channel in question, as we covered above. But if you aren't seeing closed captions after using method one, and aren't seeing options using method two, then it's possible that the app you're using simply does not support closed captions.
Roku's overall closed caption option is a feature that app developers can use, but not all apps allow your overall Roku settings to control the closed captions, and some apps don't offer closed captioning at all. Unfortunately, there is no real solution for closed captioning on such apps.
If you're having trouble hearing the audio, though, you could consider using Roku's various audio features. Roku remotes with headphone jacks can enable private listening, which might be the best way for you to crank up the volume without disturbing the neighbors. If you don't have one of those fancy Roku remotes, try using the Roku app and your mobile device's headphone jack.
Roku also has a Night Listening mode, which evens out the volume of dialogue and other sound effects to avoid that infamous “whispers and explosions” effect that some movies have. If you're having trouble hearing the dialogue but don't want other sounds to be any louder than they already are, then this might be your best solution!