Add Subtitles to DVDs Ripped with Handbrake

I’ve long been a fan of Wim Wenders’ early movies, in particular, Kings of the Road, or Im Lauf der Zeit. When I was living in France, I bought a box set of a dozen of his movies, but they only have French subtitles. Now that I’m in the UK, I want to watch some of these with my partner, and she doesn’t speak or read French.

At the same time, I was planning to rip these DVDs to add the films to my iTunes library. While doing this, using the free Handbrake, I also added English subtitles. Here’s how you can do this.

First, find subtitles for your film, or TV series, in the language you want: opensubtitles.org has gazillions of subtitles. These are all made by volunteers, and the translations may not be as good as those made by professionals which are available on DVDs and Blu-Rays with multiple languages, but it’s better than nothing.

Download the zip file and double-click it to decompress it. The folder has an .srt file. This is what you’ll add to Handbrake.

After you’ve selected your disc in Handbrake, and chosen your settings to rip the video, click the Subtitles tab, then the Track menu, and choose Add External SRT.

Screen Shot 2015 01 22 at 1 39 44 PM

Navigate to the file and select it, and Handbrake will display it as the subtitle track. Click Start to have Handbrake rip the disc and add your subtitles.

If you wish, you can add multiple languages to your rips as well. Just select another .srt file and add it in the same way. You’ll be able to choose which subtitles you view when you watch the movie. This is a good way to practice a foreign language: if you watch a movie with subtitles in the original language, it can help you follow the dialog, since it’s often easier to read subtitles than to hear the words that characters say in a movie.

18 thoughts on “Add Subtitles to DVDs Ripped with Handbrake

  1. Thanks for posting about this – I just wish my (2009) iMac’s DVD player still worked!

    But what I’d also like to be able to do is add Mandarin Chinese subtitles to iTunes movies or TV shows. That’s my partner’s first language, and Chinese subtitles are a lot more relaxing for her than English subtitles (and even those often aren’t available in the iTunes store). Is there a convenient and (borderline) legal way to do that?

    • Check the site I link to and see if they have Chinese subtitles. If not, you’ll have to find a Chinese site, and I can’t help you with that.

      • Thanks for the reply, but I didn’t really make myself clear (and I’m going off-topic anyway): what I’d also like to be able to do is add Chinese subtitles (or sometimes even English subtitles) to an **iTunes Store** movie/TV show download/rental, not to DVD-ripped files.

        Answering Paul’s question below: try to choose the file that seems to match whatever medium you’re using – so in that screenshot below, it looks like you’ve got a Blu-Ray set, and a DVD set of subtitles. Unfortunately, yes, they are sometimes out of sync – sometimes you have to try a few different files before finding ones that match. There are also a few programs that you can use to time shift subtitles – Subfix, maybe? – but those are a pain to use. Best just try a different file.

        • Sorry, there’s no way I know of to add subtitles to an iTunes Store video, unless you manage to strip the DRM from it. In that case, you can play it in VLC with a subtitle file.

  2. Thanks for posting about this – I just wish my (2009) iMac’s DVD player still worked!

    But what I’d also like to be able to do is add Mandarin Chinese subtitles to iTunes movies or TV shows. That’s my partner’s first language, and Chinese subtitles are a lot more relaxing for her than English subtitles (and even those often aren’t available in the iTunes store). Is there a convenient and (borderline) legal way to do that?

    • Check the site I link to and see if they have Chinese subtitles. If not, you’ll have to find a Chinese site, and I can’t help you with that.

      • Thanks for the reply, but I didn’t really make myself clear (and I’m going off-topic anyway): what I’d also like to be able to do is add Chinese subtitles (or sometimes even English subtitles) to an **iTunes Store** movie/TV show download/rental, not to DVD-ripped files.

        Answering Paul’s question below: try to choose the file that seems to match whatever medium you’re using – so in that screenshot below, it looks like you’ve got a Blu-Ray set, and a DVD set of subtitles. Unfortunately, yes, they are sometimes out of sync – sometimes you have to try a few different files before finding ones that match. There are also a few programs that you can use to time shift subtitles – Subfix, maybe? – but those are a pain to use. Best just try a different file.

        • Sorry, there’s no way I know of to add subtitles to an iTunes Store video, unless you manage to strip the DRM from it. In that case, you can play it in VLC with a subtitle file.

    • I assume it’s the number of downloads. I chose the ones with the most downloads. I don’t think there’s that much worry about the subtitles aligning; the bigger issue is whether the translations are good.

    • I assume it’s the number of downloads. I chose the ones with the most downloads. I don’t think there’s that much worry about the subtitles aligning; the bigger issue is whether the translations are good.

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