When it comes to watching videos or listening to music on your computer or through an internet stream, there's no better option than VLC, the open-source video platform that makes it easy to play any type of file you may have saved on your device. VLC works on almost every platform imaginable, from Windows and Mac, Android to iOS, and even support for Linux distributions like Ubuntu. Even better than OS compatibility is VLC's vast library of codecs and supporting file types. As a media player and platform, VLC is capable of playing almost any video or audio file, and can even play content from DVDs, CDs and online streaming platforms with a compatible URL.
Now that almost everyone has an HD video camera (in the form of their smartphone), making our own home movies is easier than ever. What was once the preserve of those with expensive Handycams or even bigger VHS monstrosities is now available to all of us. For better or worse, anyone can make a home movie with decent picture quality.
Subtitles are useful for many things, including understanding foreign language movies, adding clarity to muffled speech, or adding drama or comedy. Adding them to the VLC media player is simple.
Add subtitles in VLC media player
You might not know it, but it's actually very easy to add subtitles to any video in VLC by just uploading a file online. So, if you happen to have a folder that contains a movie or TV episode, you'll probably be able to find them online. Let's see how to do it.
Download subtitles and use them in VLC media player
If you watch foreign language movies or TV shows, not all versions will have subtitles available. Luckily, third-party websites offer downloadable subtitle files that you can add in VLC. Two that I know of are Substage and Opensubtitle. There are others too.
- Visit the subtitle website of your choice and download the movie or TV file you need.
- Move it or save it in the same file as the video.
- Either open VLC separately, right click on the video file and select “Open with…”.
VLC should grab the subtitle file and automatically add it for playback. If it doesn't initially understand the file name or something isn't working as it should, you can manually add the file.
- Open the video file in VLC.
- Select Subtitles from the top menu.
- Select Sub Track and the appropriate file from the list.
VLC should now display subtitles along with the video. If they don't see the subtitle file, select "Add Subtitle File" from the Subtitles menu and manually select your downloaded file. VLC should pick it up and play it.
If your captions aren't playing correctly, before or after the video, you can adjust the playback delay of your captions by using the G and H keys on your keyboard to toggle between 50ms delays.
Add subtitles to your own movies
If you create your own movies and want to add subtitles, you can. You can use a text editor or a specific subtitle creation application. You will need to save the file in .srt format, which is the standard for subtitle tracks. Let's create our own subtitle file in Notepad++. You can use any text editor as long as you save it as an .srt file. Notepad++ is my go-to text editor because it automatically saves everything you type in memory, which is handy for creating larger files.
When creating your caption track, use the following format. This is a universal SRT format that most media players should be able to understand. It certainly works in VLC. The number alone is the reading order of the titles. The timestamp is in minutes, seconds and milliseconds. This controls when and for how long subtitles are displayed. The first time is when he appears and the second time is when he disappears from the screen. The third line is the text you want to display.
To create your own subtitle track: You can use HTML in an .srt file if you want to add effects to the subtitles. If you know your HTML, you can have a lot of fun! Otherwise, the subtitles will appear as plain white text on the screen.
- Open Notepad++ or your favorite text editor.
- Paste the above format into a new file and save it as .srt.
- Play your video and add subtitles corresponding to the timestamp in the player.
- Add a new line, new timestamp, and new caption for each individual caption you want to display on the screen.
- Rinse and repeat until you are at the end of where you want the subtitles to appear.
Manually creating your own subtitles is laborious but is necessary if you are making your own o lives and want to add subtitles to them. Even if you're using a captioning app, you'll still have to manually enter captions, but you view and write in the same window. There are a few free captioning programs out there and Google is your friend for this one.