How to Add Subtitles to Your Favorite TV Series

Is it worth going through the process of adding subtitles to a series you like? Yes! Being able to catch the jokes while the volume is low—so you don’t disturb your housemates—is just one of many reasons why adding subtitles has become common. It’s no longer only associated with foreign films!

There are different ways of how to add subtitles, since it depends on what resources are available. We’ve compiled a user-friendly guide to help you add subtitles in the easiest way possible.

Reasons to Get Skilled at Adding Subtitles

Apart from the reason you’re browsing this article, do consider how adding subtitles could be a valuable skill:

  • Friends or family members who in the past felt isolated during TV time because of their hearing problems can now join in the fun. 
  • For educational purposes, adding subtitles to recorded lectures helps provide quality learning experiences to a wider audience. 
  • Parents with a newborn baby can still enjoy their favorite shows.
  • TV shows with a low-quality audio track become more enjoyable to watch. 
  • Where once you could have misheard a word or phrase, reading the exact subtitles could break open new understanding of the dialogue.
  • With fast-paced dialogue, reading could make it easier to follow the details of what’s taking place.

Subtitles vs Captions—What’s the Difference?

The terms ‘subtitles’ and ‘captions’ are often used interchangeably, but they’re NOT the same. Here are explanations for clarity, so you have more insight into what type will enhance your viewing experience:

  • Closed captions: Verbatim representation of the spoken dialogue, and you can select to have it displayed or not. 
  • Open captions: Verbatim representation of the spoken dialogue. These are hard-coded into the footage, so you can’t remove it. 
  • Subtitles: Can be translated captions of a foreign film. Apart from standard subtitles, there are also enhanced subtitles for those who are hard of hearing or deaf. In movies and TV subtitles, these will also describe details of relevant background noises.

Different Ways to Add Subtitles

Adding subtitles to your favorite show can take anywhere from a few seconds to a very long time. And thanks to free subtitle editor apps, it doesn’t have to cost you anything. But, which of the following can help in your specific scenario?

Activate Existing Movie Subtitles

The subtitles to a popular TV series may already be available via modern devices or applications you use for daily viewing. You simply need to activate it. However, it’s possible that viewers battle to find it in Settings menus that are often confusing. Here are some examples:

  • Some TV sets enable you to activate closed captioning. On the remote, look for a ‘CC’ button or one that’s labelled ‘subtitles’. 
  • With newer model TVs that have a menu containing ‘Settings’, look for the ‘close caption’ option and turn it on. 
  • Most streaming devices and services have a ‘Subtitles’ option in the Settings menu. You can also check your remote for shortcuts to the Menu or one that takes you directly to the ‘Subtitles’ options.
  • If you’re watching a DVD, search for subtitle options in ‘Settings’ or ‘Language’ in the menu. 

Devices and programs do differ, so you’ll need to browse your home entertainment system’s menus to locate the appropriate settings. When you want to turn off the subtitles feature, you’ll follow a similar process as mentioned above. 

Download and Add Subtitles to Your Show

It’s not a given that your favorite TV show’s subtitles are accessible via a streaming device or TV, but it may be out there on the World Wide Web somewhere. After all, if you love a TV show, chances are someone else also likes it enough to have turned the dialogue into text. 

Here are simplified processes to put subtitles with TV show footage.

Adding Subtitles Using Your PC

Start with the TV Show File

You’ll need the TV show files on your computer in one of the following formats:

  • .mov
  • .avi
  • .mp4

Name the file so it contains the show’s name. 

Find the Subtitle File

Search online for the TV show’s subtitles by using search criteria that include the show’s name, the language you’re interested in and ‘subtitles’. The files are fairly small, and the higher-ranking sites displayed in search results are usually virus free and trustworthy. 

Best is to opt for .srt or .sub files. 

Download the srt or subs file and name it exactly the same as the video file, except that it ends in .srt.

Place Files in One Folder

Move the files into one folder on your PC. Because of the matching titles, they should automatically link once you play them via a media player. 

Play Your Show

Use popular apps like VLC media player to watch your show. The application should pick up both files and insert the subtitles automatically. 

Adding Subtitles Using Editing Software

In editing software, you have the capability of modifying subtitles, so you can decide how they should look, rather than just using the default settings of a PC’s movie player. Although features like dragging dialog boxes speed up the process, this is a long, manual process.

Adding Subtitles on Your Mobile Device

On either Apple or Android devices you can add subtitles to video. Here you’ll also use srt files along with apps for playing video files. By uploading the .srt file, it should display the text along with the video.

Manually Generate and Add Subtitles to a TV Show

In the event of you not finding an existing subtitle file from other sources, you’ll need to create your own. Thanks to modern AI technology and machine translation, you can leave it up to technology, which is especially helpful if you want to translate dialogue from a foreign language.

The alternative is creating the text yourself, which is a long process, but worth the effort for reasons stated above. 

In either scenario, you need to create an .srt file with the information in the following order:

  • Subtitle number
  • Duration of subtitles in the ‘hours:minutes:seconds:milliseconds –> hours:minutes:seconds:milliseconds’ format
  • Subtitle
  • Blank line before the next subtitle

There are free subtitle editor tools in the form of subtitle creation websites. It will display footage so you can create the subtitles, and it helps you create the .srt file correctly. Alternatively, use Notepad on your PC and save the file as follows:

  • The file name must end in SRT e.g. FavoriteTVShow.SRT
  • Set the encoding to ANSI or UTF-8 (the latter is for non-English subtitles)

With your manually generated .srt file you can follow one of the processes above to watch the show with subtitles on your PC or phone.

Final Thoughts 

Thanks to innovative programs, there are DIY methods of customizing your favorite movies and TV shows so you and others can enjoy them more. Details are vital, such as naming files correctly and creating .srt files that follow a specific format.

Have fun watching, and please share your .srt files with others, so they can enjoy it too!

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