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Windows Vista and 7
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in 2009. We have recently added an update that may work for Windows 8 computers. Scroll to the end of the article to see.
Subtitles are generally available as .SRT or .SUB files that you can download from one of the many subtitle websites on the internet. You can just search for a subtitle with the name of the movie on Google, and you will likely find what you need in the first five results. Some of the popular subtitles sites where volunteer translators provide free subtitles are:
1. Open Subtitles Database - http://www.opensubtitles.org/
2. My Subtitles - http://www.mysubtitles.com/
3. DivX Subtitles - http://www.divxsubtitles.net/
4. Movie Subtitles - http://www.moviesubtitles.org/
To display subtitles when playing video, you can use video players like VLC or GOM. Windows Media Player doesn't support playing SRT subtitles by default, but we'll show you the easiest way:
Just install the DirectVobSub codec!
DirectVobSub is a Directshow filter which allows you to display subtitles in Windows Media Player. It is also compatible with all Direct Show players. The latest version of Direct Vob Sub is 2.39. You can download it from here - http://www.free-codecs.com/download/DirectVobSub.htm. It is a 450 KB download. After downloading it, just install it.
Now when whenever you want to view any subtitles, copy the SRT file to the same folder as your video and rename it to the same file as the movie but with the SRT extension. If your movie file is ABC.avi, then you should have your subtitle file ABC.srt in the same folder. Now, open your video file in Windows Media Player. Go to Play → Captions and Subtitles and select "On if Available." (It's perfectly safe to leave this option selected - WMP will look for the subtitle file and use it only if it's present.)
Now whenever you play that video, you should see the subtitles near the bottom of the display window. The procedure is exactly the same for SUB subtitles as well.
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This update was provided to us by Ryan Tetzlaff. Let us know how it works for you!
Many people have reported issues getting DirectVobSub to work with their Windows Media Player videos and subtitles in Windows 8. I have performed an investigation attempting to use newer versions of DirectVobSub – both 32bit and 64bit – and have had little success getting this method to work. My setup includes Windows 8.1 64bit, DirectVobSub version 2.41.32.
After downloading DirectVobSub and registering the DLL manually (and successfully) I placed a movie file called ABCD.wmv and subtitle file called ABCD.wmv in the same directory. I enabled Subtitles within Media Player by going to the Play menu and selecting “Lyrics, captions, and subtitles" and selected “On if available". Then, I attempted to view the movie with subtitles…. No luck. The movie played fine but subtitles never showed up. I manually created a set of subtitles just for fun and again they failed to show up.
In the interest of getting something working for you I quickly downloaded VLC Media Player – a free, open source video player which has great support for modern codecs and subtitles. After installing I loaded up my movie file and it automatically detected the subtitle. As you can see below it played perfectly.
I hate to tell people not to use their favorite piece of software but I’ve been a fan of VLC for a long time now – it’s quick, easy to use and already includes most of the codecs you would ever want without the need to go find a new codec pack and manually register dlls. Give it a try!