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For more information see how to enable / use subtitles

There are a lot of different types of external subtitle files. Most contain textual data. That is the subtitle and a timestamp at which this subtitles is to be shown. Some of these allow for additional formatting, others don't.

There are also subtitles which are essentially pictures instead of text. These kind of subtitles are used in DVDs, VCDs and the external VobSub files.

There are also some fileformats to which you can add subtitles. These include:

It is not easy to stream subtitles. DVB or DVD subtitles encapsulated in a TS MPEG stream is your best bet.

Different kind of subtitles

1) Burned-in subtitles (or "hard subs") Which can be compared to "hot iron cow branding" Now that they're burned in the image, there is no way to make them disappear properly, as they're totally part of the image. These burned-in subtitles won't appear in VLC subtitle menu and there is no way to hide them

2) Soft subtitles Imagine our movie is a single AVI file. Those "soft" subtitles are hidden somewhere within the AVI file, but they're not burned in the image. You may find different languages for these soft subtitles (for example up to 8 different languages in the same AVI !) Those soft subtitles will appear in VLC subtitle menu (one menu bar = 1 language) and you can tick the one you want (or untick all if you don't want to see any subtitle) At least, you know they are embedded in the movie and you can make them appear or disappear at your wish.

3) External subtitles These are external individual files: most usual are .srt files (which contain only 1 language) or the couple of files .sub + .idx that may contain up to 32 different languages !)

If you want those external subtitles files to be opened automatically when you double click a movie in Windows Explorer, then you'll have to give those external subtitles files the same name that your movie, for example :

Dark Star.avi <= the movie file

Dark <= the external subtitle file

If both names match, then VLC will automatically open the subtitle file and display subtitles, as soon as you double click the movie file name. This 3rd kind of subtitles (external files) will appear in VLC subtitle menu, and you can tick /untick them, at your wish.

Subtitles support in VLC


Container format

VLC can decode this container.
The module name to use at the command line is subtitle.

The subtitles module is used to read subtitle text files.

  • sub-fps (float)
    Override the normal frames per second settings. This will only work with MicroDVD and SubRIP (SRT) subtitles. Default: 0.0 (get from file).
  • sub-delay (integer)
    Apply a delay to all subtitles (in 1/10s, eg 100 means 10s). Default 0.
  • sub-type (string)
    Force the subtiles format. Valid values are :
    • microdvd
    • subrip
    • ssa1
    • ssa2-4
    • ass
    • vplayer
    • sami
    • dvdsubtitle
    • auto (default)

Source code

See also and VLC