Unlocking Plex Subtitles: A Comprehensive Guide

Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by Tim Wells

Plex media server is a great way to organize our digital audio, video, and photo collections and access those files from their phone, tablet, PC, or television from anywhere. However, as good as it is, using Plex out of the box does not give subtitles to your videos.

This article will show how to add subtitles to your existing Plex content and set it up so Plex automatically adds them in the future.

Subtitles in Plex Media Server

Subtitles are important to people who are deaf or have hearing loss. They can also be helpful when watching something with heavy accents or even if someone in the room needs to take a phone call.

There are a couple of ways to add subtitles to your Plex videos. In this article, you will learn how to:

  • Automatically download subtitles
  • Add subtitles to videos you already have
  • How to embed subtitles to the file
  • Turn on and configure subtitles in Plex

Many people never think about the subtitle track of a video file until they need it, so it’s good to have subtitles available for all your content.

Subtitles on playback

However, your video files may not include subtitles, so you must search them out separately.

Whether subtitles are integrated into your video file or in a separate file, Plex can take your video file and your subtitle track and assemble them for you.

How to Automatically Download Subtitles for Plex Content

When adding content to your Plex server, you can get third-party subtitles that Plex can simultaneously scrape while adding new content.

One of the best places to get free subtitle tracks is OpenSubtitles.org. They have captions for thousands and movies and TV shows. There is a chance that they won’t have what you’re looking for, but they are a great place to start your search.

These instructions are for OpenSubtitiles.org, the best and most up-to-date site available.

However, Plex will work with any subtitle file with extensions .srt, .smi, .ssa, .ass, or .vtt. So if you don’t find what you’re looking for, find another site that might. Some additional sites to get captions from are:

  • TVsubtitles.net
  • Addic7ed
  • SubScene
  • Podnapisi.NET

First, you’ll need to create an account at OpenSubtitles.org if you don’t have one already.

Create an OpenSubtitles.org account

Once complete, head back to Plex and go to your Settings menu to automatically add subtitle tracks.

Adding Movie Subtitles in Plex

Click on Agents.

Plex Settings menu. Click on Agents

Go to the top of the page and click on Movies, then on Plex Movie (Legacy).

Select Movies & Plex Movie (Legacy)

Scroll until you see OpenSubtitles.org and check it.

Then you can move it to the top of the list to make it easier to find later.

Select OpenSubtitles.org

Click on the gear icon to access the OpenSubtitles.org settings menu.

OpenSubtitles.org settings menu in Plex

Enter the username and password for your OpenSubtitles.org account that you created earlier.

You have to let Plex know what language to use for the subtitles. However, you can change this later if you need to.

For example, if you download a foreign film, you can check if English subtitles are available.

Click Save when you’re finished.

Adding Subtitles for TV Shows in Plex

In the Agents menu, click on Shows and TheTVDB.

Again, check off on OpenSubtitles.org and move it to the top of the list.

Click on Shows and select TheTVDB

Finally, click the gear icon to enter your OpenSubtitles.org account information and click Save when complete.

Your Plex server is set up to scrape OpenSubtitles.org when adding new content to your library.

When you add new content to Plex, it’ll automatically connect with OpenSubtitles.org to download any available subtitles.

You can turn the subtitles on or off while you watch the episode.

How to Add Subtitles To Existing Videos in Plex

Once you know how to scrape the files for a new video, the rest will be a breeze.

Scraping from a third-party site with those instructions only works if you do it when you first add a video or file to your Plex server.

More than likely, you already have a lot of files on your server. If you want captions for those films or shows but can’t find them, you can add them yourself.

  1. Go to the library on your Plex server, where you want to add captions.
  2. Click on the three dots next to it to open the menu.
  3. Go to Manage Library.
  4. Click on Refresh All Metadata
Refresh all Metadata to add subtitles to existing content in Plex

Plex will start contacting the third-party site you chose and adding subtitles to everything in that library.

That will probably take quite a while, depending on how much there is.

If you want subtitles for just one video and don’t want to wait for all the others, go to the horizontal dots, click on them, and click Refresh Metadata.

How to Embed External Subtitles To The File

The instructions we’ve shown you so far will work to add subtitle files to Plex and access them when you access the video. 

However, if you are ripping a DVD or Blu-ray to a digital file, it may already include subtitles. When you create and name the videos for Plex, they won’t require an additional subtitle file.

Alternatively, you can take the captions available from OpenSubtitles.org and embed them right into the video. Stitching these into the video file will let you access them no matter what media player you use.

To do this, you must download some third-party software that will allow you to add videos and subtitles tracks. Some of these programs are free, and others require a one-time payment. WinXDVDHappyscribe, and VLC Media Player will all do this.

  1. Add the video to your software. Most programs will accept 4k, MOV, MKV, WMV, MP4, HEVC, and DivX.
  2. Select the video format that you want as your output. You’ll probably want it to be the same.
  3. Go to the subtitle section and click to add external subtitles.
  4. Specify the folder where the output file will be delivered and run it.

Turn on and Configure Subtitles in Plex

Once the subtitles are loaded into Plex or stitched into the video, you can access them whenever needed.

Choosing subtitles in Plex when starting a movie

You can set Plex to play subtitles automatically or turn them on while watching the movie or show.

You can switch the subtitles on by default if you want the subtitles to load automatically.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click on Languages.
  3. Disable the checkbox that says Automatically select audio and subtitle tracks.
  4. Beneath that, click on Subtitle mode.
  5. Click on Prefer subtitles in.
  6. Set it to Always enables and then save changes.

If you want to access your subtitles while playing a movie, go to the Settings icon in the lower right corner of the screen and select the subtitles track available for that file.

Tim Wells