Subtitles can be distributed in different ways; as stand-alone SRT files, embedded information in a media file, hardcoded subtitles, or subtitles added to an online player like the YouTube player.
Most of these methods are restricting in nature, except for the SRT file method. When subtitles are embedded or hardcoded, they can only support a few languages. Embedded subtitles are more flexible but hardcoded ones can cover one language at best.
Embed subtitles in a video
Embedding subtitles in a video is an easy way to distribute subtitles. You can add subs for different languages, the subs can be turned on or off at the viewer’s discretion, and there is only one file to copy as far as the end-user is concerned.
The easiest way to embed subtitles in a video is to use Handbrake.
- Download and install Handbrake (it’s free).
- Open Handbrake.
- Drag & drop the media/video file you want to add subtitles to on to the app.
- Go to the Subtitles tab.
- Click ‘Import subtitle’.
- Select the subtitles file (SRT file). Repeat for multiple subtitle files.
- Click the Browse button at the very bottom.
- Select a save location and enter a name for the output file.
- Click the Start Encode button at the top.
Playing embedded subtitles
Not all video players can show/play subtitles with a video. The stock Movies & TV app on Windows 10 is an egregious example of an app that can’t play embedded subtitles. Thankfully, there’s still VLC player that can play embedded subtitles and, if there are several subtitles embedded in a file, the app will allow you to choose which one to play.
- Open the video with embedded subtitles in VLC player.
- Right-click inside the player.
- Select Subtitle>Sub track from the context menu.
- Select the subtitles you want to play and they will appear on the video.
Other media players
Other media players that can be used to play a video with embedded subtitles are;
- Plex player.
The method for enabling subtitles in the above three apps will differ but they can show subtitles from one of multiple files that have been embedded.
VLC player is not the only media player that can play a video with embedded subtitles. You will find plenty of third-party video players that support it. The Movies & TV app, as well as the Windows Media Player, are unable to display embedded subtitles. Handbrake generates a new file and adds subtitles to it. You can save the output file in MP4 format but the app also supports other formats like MKV.