Four Ways to Download Movie Subtitles and Translations

October 17, 2018 • Shannon Flynn


Today, watching digital versions of movies and TV shows is the norm. Gone are the days of renting DVDs and gathering around the television. Though you can certainly still buy hard copies of your favorite entertainment, we understand if you don’t want to.

Unfortunately, though, there are some unique downsides to purely digital entertainment. Depending on how you’re getting your media, you may not have instant access to movie subtitles or translations.

All sorts of people rely on subtitles. They help the hearing impaired, people watching films in different languages and even those hoping to catch all the tech jargon in the latest sci-fi flick. If you prefer to read along with your movies, missing subtitles can be a huge bummer. For some people, a lack of captions could even make a film unwatchable.

You shouldn’t miss out on movie subtitles just because you’re watching the digital version. Here are four ways to download subtitles and translations so that you can enjoy your viewing experience wherever and however you want.

1. Rip Subtitles From the DVD

If you’re ripping the digital file of your favorite movie from a DVD you own, getting subtitles is easy. All you have to do is specify that you want to rip subtitles along with the rest of the movie files. The popular and free DVD ripping tool Handbrake doesn’t download subtitles by default, but you can change the settings to suit your preferences.

After you pop the DVD into your disc drive — assuming you still have one — wait for Handbrake to scan it and navigate to the subtitles tab. There, you can choose either translated subtitles in the language of your choice or closed captions in the movie’s original language. Then, start the download as usual.

This method may seem a little outdated, but if you have access to the DVD with subtitles already, it could be a simple solution.

2. Download Subtitles From an Online Database

If you don’t have the hard copy of your film or TV show, accessing subtitles can get a little more complicated. Some digital versions come with subtitles, but others may not. And if you happen to be torrenting films, you’ll most likely have to provide your own subtitles.

Luckily, there are plenty of online resources you can use to find a wide variety of movie subtitles. Open Subtitles is the most-used subtitle database, and it allows you to download subtitles in dozens of languages for tons of titles you won’t find anywhere else. However, the interface can be clumsy, and there are other options available like SubScene and The Subtitles that are at least as good if not better.

Once you’ve found a safe site that you like, search for your movie, and download the subtitles in your preferred language. Then, all you have to do is set up the subtitles to sync with your film. Usually, all this step requires is saving the subtitle file in the same location as the movie file, but some digital media players might require a little trial-and-error. Look up specific instructions for your device and media player if necessary.

3. Use Built-In Subtitle Features

If you prefer to get your entertainment from YouTube or streaming services like Netflix, your options for subtitles may be simple.

Many websites have subtitles or closed captioning available, and streaming services are no exception. Netflix, for example, has increasingly high standards for subtitles and closed captioning on its hosted content. You can turn on closed captioning in Netflix and even use simple hacks to change the appearance of the text so that it’s easier to read.

4. Use a Subtitle App

Let’s be honest — most people today do the majority of their viewing on mobile screens. Though mobile devices make digital viewing easy, the same can’t always be said for adding subtitles. Luckily, there are a number of apps to simplify the process.

Apps like Sub Loader and GMT Subtitles will scan your device for existing movie files to search for available subtitles. This feature is great because it keeps you from having to search around for the file on your device, which can be cumbersome on mobile, to say the least.

Download Subtitles Without the Fuss

For many viewers, movie subtitles aren’t just useful — they’re necessary. Subtitles and closed captions should be easy to access no matter how you choose to view your media, but finding subtitles for digital downloads requires creative workarounds. Luckily, by using some of these options, you can find subtitles for digital downloads in multiple languages and formats — without all the fuss.