How to Add Captions to VLC Media Player Videos

VLC Media Player is a free, open-source multimedia player compatible across platforms. Its user-friendly interface allows users to easily add captions and subtitles to videos and movies. In fact, there are several ways of doing so, whether you’re on Windows, Mac, or Linux. Here’s how.


Get Captions for VLC Videos



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How do I add captions & subtitles to VLC?

There are two ways of adding captions and subtitles to videos and movies in VLC Media Player. You can either embed captions into the video file itself or open a sidecar captions file alongside your video file. In fact, choosing the right method depends on your goal.

Opening a sidecar captions file allows to view it alongside the video. Use this method to check subtitles and captions at the beginning of your editing phase. This is also the preferred option for players/platforms requiring subtitles to be uploaded in a separate file.

Rev now offers burned-in captions (open captions). Just check the “burned-in captions” box at checkout and you’ll receive a video with permanent, hard-coded captions added straight to your videos. Also available for foreign language subtitles!

Burned-in Caption pricing

Watch the video below to learn how to easily order a professional, 99% accurate caption sidecar file from Rev (most popular format is an SRT file)


Now that you have your caption file here are a few methods for adding your caption or subtitle file to VLC:

Method 1: Embed Captions into Your Videos

To permanently add subtitles to a video, you can use a service like Rev, who will send you a fully captioned video with the captions permanently hardcoded. This way, they will automatically be enabled on any player, including VLC.

You can also encode the SRT file with Handbrake, a free open-source video transcoder. To do so, order a professional caption file from Rev and download it in the SRT file format. On Mac, open the video in Handbrake, then go to the Subtitles tab. Expand the Tracks drop-down menu and select Add External SRT. You can now add as many subtitle files as you want – also in multiple languages.

There is also an option to add your subtitle file to your video directly in VLC. However, as this is a media player and not an editing tool, its encoding options are limited. To encode subtitles in VLC on Mac, go to the File tab, then select Convert and Stream:

A dialog box will open, indicating the selected video file. Add the subtitle file by clicking on Open Media. Then, in the Choose profile section you can select your desired profile. Click on Customize to select the additional subtitle options. A new dialog box will open, allowing you to choose a subtitle file format. There are only two options available: DVB Subtitle, and T.140. Choose DVB Subtitle, then check the box next to Overlay subtitles on the video.

Click on Apply, next on Save File, then on Browse.

Once you’ve selected the folder in which you want to save your file, you will be able to save the file. That’s it – you’re all set!

Method 2: Automatically Open a Sidecar Captions File in VLC Media Player

To automatically open a sidecar captions file in VLC Media Player, you just need to follow two simple conventions. First, name both video and subtitle file in the exact same way (it’s ok for them to have different extensions). Secondly, place them in the same folder. That’s it! By opening the video file, VLC will automatically recognize the presence of a related subtitle file, and open it at the same time. You can also do this on VLC for iOS, iPhone and Android.

Pro tip: order a professional caption file from Rev here.

There is also the option to manually select the subtitle file. To do so, open the video in VLC. Go to the Subtitles tab and select “Add Subtitle File”. Pick the file from the resulting dialog box to display your captions/subtitles. To switch between languages, go to Subtitles Track and select the preferred option. If you still can’t view your subtitles, check the procedure at the end of this article.

What caption formats can I open in VLC Player?

In VLC Media Player, you can use several different caption formats. Here is the complete list of supported formats:

  • DVD
  • MicroDVD (.sub)
  • SubRIP (.srt)
  • SubViewer (.sub)
  • SSA1-5 (.ssa, .ass)
  • JACOsub (.jss)
  • MPsub (.sub)
  • Teletext
  • SAMI (.SAMI)
  • VPlayer (.txt)
  • Closed captions
  • VobSub (.sub, .idx)
  • Universal Subtitle Format (.usf)
  • SVCD / CVD
  • DVB
  • OGM (.ogm)
  • CMML
  • Kate
  • ID3 tags
  • APEv2
  • Vorbis comment (.ogg)

How do I turn on subtitles in VLC Media Player?

Your video is finally ready – you’ve correctly added your subtitles and closed captions file, either in a sidecar captions file or by encoding it in the video itself. But how do you turn them on in VLC Media Player, so that they get displayed? On Mac, go to VLC > Preferences > Subtitles/OSD, and check the box next to Enable OSD.