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how to add subtitles to a movieOne of the first things I do before watching a movie is add subtitles. Not just with films in languages I don’t speak well, like Japanese, but even with English films or television series, like House MD.

Especially with a television series like House MD, if I want to keep up when they start throwing around names like pneumothorax or retinoblastoma.

Today we’re going to look at a few different ways of how to add subtitles to a movie or any other video file. We’ll be discussing both the soft and the hard way – overlaying subtitles by means of software, or burning them directly into the videos.

Add Subtitles To A Movie File Using via Overlay Method

We’ll start out with the overlays, as this will be the fastest and most easiest way of using subtitles with your movies. We’ll show you a few alternatives, because contrary to popular belief, I do think people want things to choose from.


Available for Windows

This is an external, minimalistic application that runs from the taskbar and uses a DirectShow filter to overlay subtitles. This means that you can use it with nearly all video players, ranging from Media Player Classic to Real Player.

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The wonderful thing about DirectVobSub is how little you need to do, and how little you notice it. By default, no additional set-up is needed.

directvobsub - add subtitles to a movie file

DirectVobSub automatically looks for subtitles that show the same name, both in the videos as in a subtitles folder. Of course these settings can be tweaked further in the program settings, if thought necessary.

Nowadays DirectVobSub is a standard addition in most decent Codec Packs An Introduction To Codecs, Converters and Rippers An Introduction To Codecs, Converters and Rippers Read More , like K-Lite. Otherwise, it can always be found here.

[NO LONGER WORKS] VLC media player

Available for Windows VLC media player 1 Linux VLC media player 2 Mac

VLC media player is thought to be one of the best media players available.

One of the great things about the VLC media player is its standard ability to overlay subtitles. Besides, the application can be used on Windows, Linux and Mac systems.

There are a few ways to get our subtitles. The first, and probably easiest way, is to put them in the same folder under the same name – VLC media player will then automatically load them when the video is opened.

Additionally, you can always add subtitle files through the ‘Advanced File Opening’ or the ‘Browse for Subtitles…’ options – located respectively in the File and Video dropdown menu’s.

vlc - add subtitles to a movie avi

The application can be freely downloaded [NO LONGER WORKS] from the site. There are also portable versions of VLC media player available. You can find the Windows version here, and the Mac version here.

Subtitle Burning (AVI)

Tutorial for Windows add subtitles to avi

Burning in subtitles means that we’ll put them directly into the video source. This has the advantage of being playable on every platform (even PSPs and iPhones), but the process takes a lot longer and you won’t be able to remove the subtitles afterwards.

Usually, subtitles are burned into AVI files. We’ll show you how to add subtitles to avi movie file in the tutorial below.

Files you’ll need:

Step One: Installing Software

Let’s start out by installing the software.

VirtualDub doesn’t have an installer, so it can be unzipped right on your desktop or in another folder of your choice. No special options are required during the Xvid installation either.

During the VobSub installation, please make sure that you’ve selected both “VobSub for VirtualDub” and “TextSub for VirtualDub and AviSynth” under plugins.

You’ll also need to specify the directory where you’ve unzipped VirtualDub.

Step Two: Preparation

Start by opening the VirtualDub application – open the VirtualDub.exe file in the unzipped folder – and open your AVI file.

Next, we’re going to be enabling the TextSub filter. Navigate to Video -> Filters -> Add… and locate it in the list.

Select the TextSub filter, and press OK.

In the pop-up window, press “Open” and browse to your subtitle file. This file must be in one of the supported subtitle formats (srt, sub, smi, psb, ssa, ass).

When You’re ready, press OK.

Back in the video dropdown menu, make sure you’ve got Full processing mode selected, and go to Compression.

Here you need to select one of the available codecs. Xvid does a great job for a free codec, and that’s the one I used. You can alter some settings, and tweak the quality of the video if you press Customize – however, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’d best leave it be.

Accept everything when you’re done.

Also make sure that the program’s set up to do a Direct stream copy of the audio; this doesn’t need any processing.

Finally, save the video somewhere on your computer, and wait for the process to finish.

This can take quite a while and is quite memory extensive, so you might want to leave your computer alone for an hour or two, and do something else for the time being. If you’ve got big files to process, you can run the application at night.

I hope you found this guide helpful and were able to learn something from it. If you’ve got any hints and tips, or unanswered questions, you can find the comments section below.

  1. James
    January 22, 2015 at 12:29 am

    I use the subtitle option in filebot (

  2. mkmkmk
    January 30, 2010 at 6:16 am

    simon, right?

    for some reason i couldn't find the TextSub 2.23 when i tried to add the filter.
    any ideas why?

  3. techpops
    January 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial. I've just tried it out with a small variation. I had to use the vosub filter in the list of filters rather than the textsub which wouldn't work for me.

    I'm running Windows 7 x64 with a quadcore cpu. A 700mb typical avi is taking me 25 minutes to render using xvids multi core processing. That's with the highest details enabled, including the post processing filters within xvid.

    Very happy with the results. I'm ending up with 1.4gb movies instead of 700mb but I wanted to retain every last bit of quality I could during the recoding of the video so don't mind this. And the CD is dead to me so no cares about trying to match that size heh.

    Again, great tutorial and hope these additional details can help someone in a similar situation as me.

  4. Arman
    January 15, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    jus very good very useful

  5. Arro
    January 12, 2010 at 6:37 am


    Interesting reading... I am looking to add subtitles to a film, is there a step-by-step guide for doing so? The film is 'little Lord Fauntleroy' (1980 - with Alec Guinness) and the subtitles should be in Dutch. How easy/hard is this to do, is there a 'dummies guide' or has anyone done this one before?

    Any help / comments greatly appreciated!


  6. watch movies
    December 31, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    It’s a useful guide!


  7. Rushabh
    December 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Hey thanks buddy....gr8 work...
    i m using it to add english subtitles...thanks a lot!

  8. watch movies
    December 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    It’s a useful guide!


  9. Goons
    December 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

    thank you so much just got my 1st video thanks to this step-by-step

  10. Donata
    December 10, 2009 at 3:50 am

    Thank you very much!))
    i had the DirectVobSub, but then it stop working suddenly without any reason, so i use the VLC now)) thanks

  11. helen
    December 8, 2009 at 10:56 am

    another problem, when i go to virtualdub and go to video-add filter, i dont see the subtext. what am i doing wrong?

  12. helen
    December 8, 2009 at 8:08 am

    and i have windows 7

  13. helen
    December 8, 2009 at 8:04 am

    hi, i did not do the second option. i downloaded the directvobsub. i have tv show episodes on my computer, i downloaded subtitles from a site, i have them now on the computer (compressed) but the WMP and VLC do not find them. so shld i try the second (longer, more complicated)way? i have no internet usually,is that why it wont work?

    thanks for any help.

    • Simon Slangen
      December 8, 2009 at 12:45 pm

      You mean the first option? Overlay them temporarily while watching?

      You should name the subtitle the same as your video file, and put them in the same folder. (everything unzipped)

      With DirectVobSub installed, your video players should now detect it automatically. Otherwise, you can still browse manually to the subtitle file using VLC, as demonstrated in the article screenshot.

      Good luck!

  14. fabien
    December 6, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    after the install of vobsub it need:You’ll also need to specify the directory where you’ve unzipped VirtualDub.when i am click next window show me error and stop the vobsub......any help

  15. sridhar
    November 26, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    gd site....

  16. watch movies
    November 26, 2009 at 4:35 am


    It’s a useful guide!

  17. Bizteck
    November 19, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Just to say Thank you the VLC player works a treat I never knew it was so easy!

  18. Jason
    October 25, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I couldn't find textsub. I still am a problem with it.

    • Simon Slangen
      October 28, 2009 at 11:39 am

      It's included in the VirtualDub installation (just be sure to select it like in the screenshot)

  19. Simon Slangen
    October 10, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Of course it does! :-D Glad to be of help.

  20. Saty
    October 9, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Hey... It really works!! Amazing stuff... Thanks a ton!!!!

  21. Bryan
    October 5, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Thanx !! Great info... A detailed and thorough guide indeed.

  22. watch
    September 22, 2009 at 10:55 am


    It’s a useful guide!


  23. Simon Slangen
    September 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Have you tried other subtitle files?

  24. watch movies
    September 18, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    It’s a useful guide.


  25. Stu
    September 12, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Simon, you're a genius. The only problem is that the link to this site is on page 3 of a Google search. I wasted a lot of time on crappy solutions before I got here!

    For others - Follow the download/install instructions to the letter, especially about choosing the TextSub component at the start of VoxSub installation.

  26. music videos
    September 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for this article...


  27. sid
    August 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Hi, on my website I have a program which is called Sido and you can subtitle .srt subtitle with it. It doesn't require instalation and it's freeware. It runs in a browser window so for char set tweeking you just change the page encoding from the browser. The website is

  28. marwan
    August 26, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanks very much but i have a problem with the language i ont know what is this language i have choosed english sub but it apears in the video in another language like that ( úåøâí îùîéòä ò"é\nr0bert-å )
    plzzzzzzz help me i need help

  29. watch videos
    August 23, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Thanks... It’s a useful guide.

  30. Lajk
    August 12, 2009 at 10:44 am


    It's a useful guide! But i'm having some trouble. The size of the avi-file with subtitle becomes too small. About 300mb? How come?

    • Simon Slangen
      September 18, 2009 at 2:33 pm

      That probably depends on the used video compression codecs.

  31. Bruno
    August 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    It subtitled twice ...
    Have I gotten anything wrong ?

    • Simon Slangen
      September 18, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      I'd think you've got two filters doing the same job, e.g. VobSub and ffdshow. During playback, both of these ought to be visible in the system notification area of your taskbar (bottomright). Right-click one of them and disable functionality.

      Another possibility is that you've got a video player with integrated subtitle support. This would make the use of an external filter like VobSub superfluous.

  32. Andrew
    August 1, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    :(( don't know why but when I add the filter the program will not open my subtitle file :( what could be the problem ?
    the subtitle is a supported file (.sub)

    • Simon Slangen
      September 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

      Have you tried other subtitle files? If that doesn't work, I'd re-install everything, while keeping a very close eye on the steps described in the article. A single missed checkbox could mess up the whole installation.

  33. cas398
    July 20, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for this, it's running now.

    I was using ConvertXtoDVD which is good and very easy to add subs but it only burns to DVD, Quality is very good though, hardly any loss.

    This will save me using a disc, and it's easier than it looks now you have shown me how, so thank you.

  34. watch video
    July 11, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Thank you for this article

  35. Dia
    June 22, 2009 at 10:04 am

    this was by far the easiest , i can not thank you enough

  36. niks
    June 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    i did everythin as mentioned bt i found that after burning the subtitles thier timing was incorrect (title appear way be4 the audio.......) sir ...its really frustrating!!!!!

    • Simon Slangen
      June 20, 2009 at 12:28 pm

      Read the above comment.

      Note that when planning to burn the subtitles, only the first technique will pay off. (the difference lies in adjusting the subtitle timings, or auto-correcting them while playing - obviously the latter is a mere temporary fix)

  37. Roman_Khr
    June 15, 2009 at 6:40 pm


    I was confronted by difficulties with movie subtitles. They display earlier than I need it. Movies assist me in my English studying. I watch and hear but I do not understand all yet. In that case my eyes go down at subtitles. But it relates to next phrase that will be said. And I have to return slider back each time when I need to understand what is said at screen. It is uncomfortable. So I solved this problem. I wrote mega small application to shift subtitles appearance time. Furthermore it resulted simple in use.
    I could provide you this application with exhaustive help for general usage. I thank you for your work that I may get subtitles to any movie. And I want to contribute my share.

    • Simon Slangen
      June 16, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      You can do one of two things.

      a) Edit subtitles
      You can 'delay' (positive or negative) the timing of your subtitles. I recommend using Subtitle Workshop.
      [Picture how-to]

      b) Edit timing - temporarily
      Some media players, like VLC, allow you to adjust the timing of your subtitles - while you're watching - by simply using the hotkeys. Press ctrl+j to decrease, or ctrl+h to increase the subtitle delay.

      NOTE: This can only be done before are burned into the video (using the second technique). You will need to have them in a separate file, like srt or sub.

  38. Lynn LU
    May 21, 2009 at 2:03 am

    For mac users:
    here is a cool freeware ffmpegX which can help you easily add subtitle files ( srt and sub ) to Videos on mac
    just follow this gudie:
    ( How to add srt and sub files to videos on mac

  39. ryan
    May 10, 2009 at 2:47 am

    i cant install vobsub checking the “VobSub for VirtualDub” and “TextSub for VirtualDub and AviSynth” under plugins,causing errors and stops the instalation

  40. Rafael
    April 26, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Just subtitled my 1st video thanks to this step-by-step

  41. Rafael
    April 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Dude... thanks.
    I knew nothing, now I know all I need to do this subtite thing.
    Major thanks

  42. watch movies
    April 24, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you for this article.

  43. vlademir
    April 7, 2009 at 3:08 am

    Thank you for this article , really is very interessent

  44. peter
    March 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    what if there is no TextSub. file? like in Music Video files. using VirtualDub, i opened a music video file and cant seem to locate the TextSub file. now what?

    • Simon Slangen
      March 23, 2009 at 4:28 pm

      The TextSub file does not depend on the type of video, it's there or it's not.

      Are you sure you installed the program correctly? (see instructions)

      • peter
        March 24, 2009 at 2:01 am

        Thank you so much for the quick reply. Yes, i got up to the part where i had to locate the TextSub. None was found. so is it the video? or installaion problem?

        • Simon Slangen
          March 24, 2009 at 1:17 pm

          Installation problem probably.

          You need to check "TextSub for .........." during the installation. This ought to put the plug-in there for once and for all.


        • peter
          March 25, 2009 at 4:50 am

          I redownloaded, reinstalled. stil lthe same problem. im using Vista. The virtaldub version 1.8.8 Ill try a movie instead of music videos. when i unzip, there is no window that allows to to click on plug-ins.

        • Peter
          March 26, 2009 at 12:09 pm

          i cant figure out what to do. i know its a simple thing, but its not working for me. Im using Vista. i downloaded the Virtualdub for vista, installed it and nothing. cant find the "Textsub" file on the video i opened. help!

        • Simon Slangen
          March 26, 2009 at 1:12 pm

          The TextSub file is installed during VobSub installation.

          At the start of the install; - Choose Components - , expand the Plugins list and select TextSub, like in the article picture.

        • helen
          December 8, 2009 at 10:59 am

          i have the same problem, maybe its vista/windows 7?

  45. Marthinus Raath
    March 5, 2009 at 4:55 am

    I never before saw how to do this - but I like the idea thereof. I am slowly but surely getting convinced that VLC is the best out there. I wrote about it on my blog. I often found that other media players would get out of lip-sync, but somehow VLC handles it very well.
    Thanks again for this tip - this rocks.

  46. vasu
    March 3, 2009 at 3:08 am

    this method takes long time to finished.tell me alternative method

  47. Bart Moore
    February 5, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Anyone know how to embed subtitles in an mp4 so they can be toggled on/off with iPhone / Apple TV, etc? We really just want one file, not the video file with a companion .srt text file. I'm not eager to deface my videos with burned 'hard' subtitles (who is?) but I still _need_ subtitles. Can anyone help???

    • James
      January 6, 2010 at 11:17 am


      Bart, Use "Media Player Classic" or "VLC Player" to use soft-subtitles that can be toggled on and off.

      Use "VOBSUB" to overlay subtitles on other media players during playtime. my videos!

  48. Kaushik
    February 5, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Hey man, there is an easier method - using Virtualdub and Subtitle workshop.

    • Simon Slangen
      February 5, 2009 at 1:17 pm

      Looks like the same method to me, just in less detail ;-)

  49. Bill Bell
    February 5, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I haven't tried out this advice but it looks extremely useful. Thanks very much for taking the time to provide it, Simon.

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