How To Get Subtitles On Your Digital Movies

How To Get Subtitles On Your Digital Movies

Subtitles on movies are easily accessed on DVD, but if you’re ripping or downloading, things get a bit tougher. Here’s how to include subtitles woth all your digital movies, regardless of where you’re getting them.

For this process, we’ll utilise our favourite DVD ripping tool Handbrake, because it’s easy to use and free. Let’s get to it, starting with ripping your DVDs with the subtitles included.

Rip Subtitles With Your DVDs


By default, Handbrake doesn’t include the subtitles when you rip DVDs so it can keep the ripped movie’s file size small. Thankfully, it’s really easy to keep the subtitles on when you rip the DVD:

  1. Put your movie in your disc drive and wait for Handbrake to scan it.
  2. Click over to the “Subtitles” tab.
  3. You have two different options here. Select the language you want, and then the “Burned In” checkbox to lock the subtitles to the movie, or select Closed Captions from the drop-down list to get the subtitles in the original language of the film.
  4. Click “Start” and you’ll rip the movie.

That’s essentially it. There are a few quirky exceptions with certain DVDs, so check out Handbrake’s subtitle wiki for more information if you need it.

Add Subtitles To Other Digital Movies


If you don’t have the disc, fear not: you can still add subtitles to the movie file. You’ll just need to find the subtitles online. For this we’ll be using Handbrake again.

  1. Search for the movie’s subtitles online at Opensubtitles or Subscene (you have other options, but we’ve had the best luck with these two) by searching for the movie’s name and the language you’d like. You’re looking for a SRT file (other subtitle formats exist but SRT is best for Handbrake). When you find the file, click the name to download it.
  2. In Handbrake, click the “Subtitles” tab.
  3. Select, “Add External SRT” and find the subtitle file you just downloaded.
  4. Click “Start” to add the subtitles to the movie.

It’s a simple process, but it can take a little trial-and-error to find the right subtitles, so don’t expect to always get the right subtitles on the first shot. If you have a massive collection you’d like to add subtitles to, we like Filebot as a way to automatically seek out and add any missing subtitles to your movie library.


  • if you use XBMC just press the subtitles button. It searches the net and presents you with a list of possible matches. click the one you want and away you go!

    • Cool! thanks for that tip.
      Might look at throwing out the wdlive and getting something to run xbmc.

      Does it download the subs to a local drive or stream them live?

      • XBMC has a whole bunch of really useful features, and is easily extend-able. There are plugins for just about every conceivable purpose.

        I run it in on an Ubuntu HTPC, that also serves up: a Samba server (it’s also the ‘NAS’ for the house), an Apache server, an ftp server, a Calibre book server, and a Transmission server (for downloading Linux distros, of course!)

        Best thing ever!

        • Can I ask, do you have a tutorial, or can you link to some on how to get a setup like that? I’ve run xbmc on a linux machine before, but I had no idea it was practicable to run all that stuff at once. Also, out of curiosity, what kind of machine are you running it all on?

          • I was a total Linux n00b till about two years ago. My desktop PC was around 4-5 years old, and XP was running soooooo slow that I couldn’t really play games on it. I’d built it myself, and was really attached to it, so I thought that I’d re-purpose it as a home server/media centre. It’s running:
            1. A 2007 Intel Core2 Pro-Duo
            2. NVIDIA GT9500 about the same age
            3. Two 1tb SATA drives
            4. A digital HD TV tuner
            5. 500W psu

            The beautiful thing about unix type systems is the modular nature of the software and the low system overheads. I started with a vanilla install of Ubuntu 12.04. For each type of server I just installed the software, and it’s all free. Free I tells ya. You sometimes do have to spend a few hours messing around with txt files to configure some of the servers, but it’s more tedious than hard. The PC running on Linux is super quick though. Quicker than it ever was on Windows, even brand new. Boot time is around 30 seconds, but I only turn it off for maintenance.

            For example, for the samba install, start with sudo apt-get install samba or go to the Ubuntu software centre. I went with vsftpd and apache for ftp and web servers, because they were the best documented that I could find.

            Tutorials for each are available from :
            1. XBMC’s home page –
            2. Youtube
            3. Canonical’s Ubuntu forums/help documents. –

            The guys on the Ubuntu forums were really helpful. It’s a great community over there. I drop by every now and then to give back a little.

  • Any tips on places to find accurate subs? I recently downloaded subs for a french film and the two subs were not the same (slight differences in phrasing etc.). Where do the different translations come from? Obviously reading a shonky translation is going to detract from the film.

    • Not so relevant to French, but it’s worth remembering that some languages, like Japanese, can’t be directly translated to English, so there’s always some degree of personal interpretation on the part of the translator.

  • I’m more interested in getting dubs. As in for childrens animated movies (Disney).

    iTunes Australia only sells in English, and iTunes Finland only sells in Finnish. Why can’t they let us buy one, and choose what to download?

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