How to Add Subtitles to Video | 6 Free Easy Tips and Tricks

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

Parasite, honoring the Best Picture, Directing, Original Screenplay, International Feature Film in the 2020 Oscars, is a dark thriller directed by Bong Joon-ho.

The story talks about social inequality between the wealthy and those who serve them in Korea.

Gonna watch this Oscar-winning flick at Friday night but don't know Korean? No worries.

Thanks to decades of development on digital entertainment, subtitles are easily accessible to us. And you can enjoy the film without effort.

But do you know how to add subtitles to videos as a content provider, freelancer, marketer, etc.?

Parasite with English Subtitles
Parasite with English Subtitles

Subtitles vs. Closed Captions

Get confused about subtitles and closed captions?

Subtitles translate or transcribe the dialogue or narrative of foreign movies, television programs, animations, etc. for local population and are usually displayed at the lower of the screen.

Subtitles Example
Subtitles Example

Closed captioning puts the audio portion of a program as the form of text on the screen.

That said, all the audio information of a video may be presented, covering dialogue, audio effect, relevant musical cues like background music, applause, cheering, and much more.

Closed Captions Example
Closed Captions Example

So, how to choose which one to use?

Generally, subtitles are preferred to foreign movies or television programs that require translation of dialogue or narration.

While closed captioning is usually used for online streaming. You can turn it on or off anytime.

Anyway, they are substitutional for each other most of the time.

Why Add Subtitles to Video

Apart from watching Oscar-winning film effortlessly, you have these reasons to subtitle your video.

  • Subtitling makes your content accessible to those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Subtitling opens up your content to international populations, ESL (English as a Second Language) students, new readers, etc.
  • Subtitling allows your audiences to watch your video with the sound off, which is a workaround when one is in a place where there is noise, crowded.

How to Add Subtitles to a Video Permanently

To add subtitles to a video permanently, you need to use hard burn subtitles as the output format instead of using soft subtitles.

Hard Burn Subtitles VS. Soft Subtitles

Hard Burn Subtitles: Video and subtitles are merged in a single track, so subtitles are displayed on the video permanently and cannot be turned on or off.

Soft Subtitles: Subtitles can be turned on and off as a standalone track.

But the problem is soft subtitles are not available without a compatible media player, especially in online video-sharing platforms.

If you are looking for an app to add subtitles to video, we've carefully picked 3 applications for you.

The first one is VideoProc. It owns plenty of practical functions in subtitles and is easy to master.

More so, it has bonus features that can help you cut, split, crop videos, and so on.

VideoProc - The Best Way to Add Subtitles to a Video

  • Ease of use. Add subtitles to MP4, MKV, MOV, AVI in a few clicks.
  • Customization. Enable you to adjust the hard subtitles' position, font type, font color, and font size displayed on the video.
  • Intelligence. The built-in subtitle downloader allows you to download subtitles of any programming and add to the video.
  • Speed. Supported by Level-3 hardware acceleration technology, VideoProc speeds up the subtitle encoding and decoding process to the fullest extent possible.

Adding Subtitles to Videos Using VideoProc

1. Prepare at least a video and a subtitle file

VideoProc supports a wide range of video coding formats and three types of subtitle file – ASS, SSA, and SRT.

2. Launch VideoProc and Load a video file

After downloading VideoProc on either Windows or macOS, Launch it on your computer.

And then click Video at the main screen > To import video files, you can click +Video or +Video Folder at the top ribbon or drag and drop the video file into the window directly.

Choose an output format according to your needs in the lower area.

Import Video Files to VideoProc
Import Video Files to VideoProc

3. Add subtitles to video file

Click Subtitle on the editing toolbar and a subtitle editing panel pops up > Select Add Subtitle File and choose a subtitle file you prepared.

To hardcode subtitles to a video, place a checkmark in the box of Burn-In > Click Done at the bottom right corner.

Add Subtitles to Video Permanently in VideoProc
Add Subtitles to Video Permanently in VideoProc

4. Export the video

After subtitling the video, select an output directory and Click RUN to get the conversion started.

Export the Captioned video in VideoProc
Export the Captioned video in VideoProc

Adding Subtitles to Videos in HandBrake

HandBrake is a free and open-source tool that can add subtitles to a video permanently.

However, there are some things I dislike, such as you cannot adjust the subtitle font, position, color; cannot preview the output video; conversions can be very slow, etc.

Anyway, it's a free application worth trying. Let's check the how-to guide in the following.

1. Download and install the HandBrake to your computer

2. Launch HandBrake and select the options at the sidebar to import a folder or an individual video file, or drag and drop a file into the window to import.

Load Video Files to HandBrake
Load Video Files to HandBrake

3. Select an output format from Presets in the upper area > Click Import SRT to import the subtitle file you've prepared.

Put a checkmark in the box of Burn In > Click on Browse button to set an output directory > Start Encode.

Hard Code Subtitles in HandBrake
Hard Code Subtitles in HandBrake

Adding Subtitles to Videos in VLC

1. Free download and install VLC media player on your machine.

2. Open VLC > click Media in the upper left corner of the toolbar.

Select Convert/Save from the dropdown list (or simply use the shortcut: Ctrl+R).

And there comes a dialogue box for adding subtitles.

3. Click on the +Add button to import your video file.

Check the box of Use a subtitle file and click Browse to add the subtitle file you will hardcode.

And then select on Convert/Save for the next step.

Add Subtitle File to VLC
Add Subtitle File to VLC

4. Click on the wrench icon in the Profile entry to modify subtitle mode.

Click Subtitles tab > check the box of Subtitles > and choose a DVB subtitle in the codec entry.

Check the box of Overlay subtitles on the video > Save.

Hard Code Subtitles in VLC
Hard Code Subtitles in VLC

5. Set directory up and click Start to get the conversion started.

How Do I Fix Delayed Subtitles in VLC?

If you happen to VLC subtitle delay during playback, you can:

Press G key to speed up subtitles by 50 ms.

Press H key to delay subtitles by 50 ms.

Or you can turn to Track Synchronization by clicking Tools at the upper ribbon.

And input an accurate delay value in the field of Subtitle track synchronization.

Note: The troubleshooting of VLC subtitle delay mentioned above only works with soft subtitle/external subtitle.

How to Add Subtitles to Video in iMovie

Considering the fact that you are unable to upload subtitle files to a video via iMovie, yet you still get a chance to caption your video using iMovie (for macOS) Titles feature.

1. Launch iMovie and build a new project using Movie template

2. Import your source video and drop it to the timeline.

3. Navigate to the Titles tab above the browser. Choose a title and drag it to the timeline, above the frame where you want the subtitles to display.

4. Change the duration, font, font size, font color and, others in the Title settings above the viewer.

5. Share the finished video to social networks or save it to your computer.

iMovie Titles feature
iMovie Titles feature

How to Add Subtitles to YouTube Videos

YouTube allows all content providers to have their videos captioned, which is a good way to make content more accessible, improve traffic, and rankings.

YouTube does support automatic captions that are generated by algorithms on the basis of the video's audio.

However, auto-generated subtitles are not always accurate as you expected.

This follows a complete guide of how to put subtitles to a video in 3 different ways on YouTube Studio.

Add Subtitles to YouTube Videos in 3 Ways
Add Subtitles to YouTube Videos in 3 Ways

Upload a Subtitle File for YouTube videos

1. Sign in your YouTube Studio. On your YouTube Studio, click Subtitles under the sidebar on the left.

Choose the video you will add subtitles to > click ADD on the right.

2. Now, you've got two options to upload a subtitle file.

If your subtitle file only has texts of the speech without timecode, go for Transcript (and go to Step 3).

If your subtitle file has timecode, select Subtitles file (and go to Step 4).

Upload a Subtitle File YouTube
Upload a Subtitle File YouTube

3. If you upload a subtitle file without timecodes, you will be directed to the Transcribe and auto-sync page.

Check if there is something wrong of your subtitles in the box. Let's say everything's OK, click on Set timings.

Subtitles and video will be synchronized in a few minutes.

Note: the transcript must be in a language supported by YouTube speech recognition technology and in the same language of your video.

It is recommended to make a transcript file (without timecode) like this:

>> [Music]

>> Hi guys welcome back to my channel.

>> I hope you guys are having a great day.

Line up your Subtitles Automatically
celluloid animation

4. If your subtitle file uploaded has both text and timecode, YouTube will automatically organize your subtitle file according to the timecode you set.

Furthermore, you can adjust the subtitle position on the timeline by dragging the handles on both side to ensure that subtitles synchronize with their corresponding spoken sound.

Fine-tune the Subtitle File with Timecode
Fine-tune the Subtitle File with Timecode

It is recommended to make a subtitle file (with timecode) like this:

00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:07,259

[Music]

00:00:04,040 --> 00:00:06,750

Hi guys welcome back to my channel

00:00:06,750 --> 00:00:7,490

I hope you guys are having a great day

Type and Auto-sync Subtitles in YouTube

The second mode to add subtitles: Transcribe and auto-sync.

It's Similar to the way that you add a subtitle file without timing to your video.

However, here you have to type all the things that are spoken in the box on your own.

You don't have to care about formatting if you don't have a transcript file.

Once you have already inputted everything, click on Set Timings. Subtitles and videos will sync automatically in a while.

Create Subtitles for your YouTube Videos

The third mode of captioning: Create new subtitles or CC.

It's Similar to the way that you enable a subtitle file with timecode. Move the play head to the place where you will add subtitle.

Type what's spoken in the video and click on the plus button next to the field. And subtitles will be added to the timing you set.

Note that subtitles timing could not be accurate as you expected.

While you can hover the cursor over the subtitle in the timeline and drag the handles on both sides to adjust subtitles timing.

Once captioning is done, click Save changes and subtitles will be published in a while.

How to Add Subtitles to Facebook Videos

Let's say your Facebook video has no subtitles displayed, your content could lose a lot of engagement and impression because people won't be able to hear what you are saying with the sound off.

To make your video get more accessible, you can catch up with the way of captioning your Facebook video in this section.

1. Log in your Facebook and upload your video to Facebook by clicking Photo/Video at the very beginning.

2. Click Subtitles & Captions (CC) at the right side in the pop-up window.

3. Choose a language of your video and click Auto-Generate, Write or Upload.

It's suggested that go for Auto-Generate. Facebook will automatically add subtitles to video very quickly.

4. Once the auto-captions is added, you can modify the detail and timing of the caption. Then click Save Draft to confirm changes.

5. At last, choose your default language and click Publish. Subtitles will be uploaded to Facebook in a while.

Add Subtitles to Facebook Video
Add Subtitles to Facebook Video

How to Add Subtitles to Video Online

Browser-based subtitle makers have their fans either. The significant edge that online subtitle adder has is convenience.

You don't need to download extra apps to your computer. And they are accessible anywhere as long as there is strong internet.

This part has gathered two useful and free subtitle makers that can help you add subtitles to video easily. They are Clideo and Kapwing.

Adding Subtitles to Videos with Clideo

1. Navigate to the Clideo via a browser like Chrome, Edge, Foxfire, etc.

2. Upload your video from your hard drive, a cloud, or paste a link if it's already on social media platforms.

3. If you already have a subtitle file for the video, you can upload it to Clideo and modify subtitle timings.

Also you can make it from scratch. When there is necessary, you can modify the font position, font, font size, etc. in the Styles tab.

4. Once editing is done. Select a proper format and click Create in the lower right corner.

After a while, you are free to download the captioned video.

Add Subtitle to Video Using Clideo
Add Subtitle to Video Using Clideo

Adding Subtitles to Videos with Kawping

1. Go to the browser-based subtitle editor Kapwing.

2. Upload a video file or paste a link to import video.

3. In subtitle editing panel, you are allowed to create subtitles from scratch, upload a subtitle file, or enable auto-generator.

Plus, you can use the tools in the sidebar to polish the subtitle styles.

4. Click Create to hard-code the subtitles to video or download an SRT file and upload it to social platforms.

Add subtitle to Video Using Kapwing
Add subtitle to Video Using Kapwing

How to Add Subtitles to Plex

Plex is a media serving application allowing you to stream your personal content from your computer to any device and access Plex's content of video on demand.

Whether you are affected by hearing loss or just simply need subtitles to watch a match in a noisy place, Plex makes it easy to download and add subtitles to all of your media.

Auto Download Subtitles in Plex

1. Launch and log in Plex Media Server's web interface.

2. Click on the Settings icon in the upper right corner and select Languages in the sidebar.

3. In the Languages menu, place a checkmark in the box of Automatically select audio and subtitle tracks.

Select your preferred audio track, subtitle mode, subtitle language. It's recommended to pick Always enabled mode.

Language Menu in Plex
Language Menu in Plex

4. Navigate to the Agents menu and click on Movies > Plex Movie.

Check the box of OpenSubtitles.org and drag it to the top of the list.

Click on the gear at the far right of this entry for preferred subtitles downloads.

Repeat this process as previously described in the Show category to enable subtitles for Plex's TV shows.

Agents Menu in Plex
Agents Menu in Plex

5. If auto download subtitles aren't turned on, you will have to trigger a refresh of your library for activating the OpenSubtitles agent on all your media.

Trigger a Refresh in Plex
Trigger a Refresh in Plex

6. Enable a subtitle track before watching.

Plex Enable Subtitles
Plex Enable Subtitles

Adding Local Subtitle Files in Plex

Let say OpenSubtitles.org does not come with a proper subtitle file you need in Plex, you could check out other subtitle download sites and download your needed subtitle files.

Note that you should download the subtitle files that are compatible with Plex media player, including SRT (.srt), SMI (.smi), SSA or ASS (.ssa or .ass), WebVTT (.vtt).

1. To enable local subtitles in plex, you have to check the box of Local Media Assests (Movie/TV) and top it to the in the list within the Agents menu as mentioned above.

2. Put the downloaded subtitle file together with the associated video in the same directory.

3. Refresh your media library and Plex will automatically link the subtitle file to the related video.

Do remember to name the subtitle files in this way:

Movie_Title (Release Date).[Language_Code].[file extension]

e.g. Weathering with You (2019).eng.srt

Show_Name SxxEyy.[Language_Code].[file extension]

e.g. Chernobyl - S01E01.eng.srt

Wrap-up

Adding subtitles to videos has not been a hot potato as long as you choose a right subtitle maker and have some knowledge.

If you plan to add hard burn (embedded) subtitles to video, you can opt for VideoProc, HandBrake, VLC, and iMovie.

For closed caption, you can make it on YouTube, Facebook, or other free online subtitle adders like Clideo, Kawping, etc.

Less noted but equally significant, Plex's subtitle feature allows you to auto download and add local subtitle files for your media.

About The Author

Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

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