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Everything you need to know about ripping DVDs with subtitles

Kirk McElhearn | Feb. 17, 2015
If you're a fan of both foreign films and ripping the DVDs you own that contain subtitles, Kirk McElhearn offers this must-read guide.

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If you like watching foreign movies, you may find that, when seeking out new films, you can only get the movie you want in a version without subtitles. This is great if you're bi- or multi-lingual, but if not, you really need to know what the actors are saying.

In this article, I'm going to look at subtitles: how you can play them in movies that already contain them, how you can add them to movies you rip from DVDs, and how you can create your own subtitles or captions.

Switch languages with iTunes Store movies

Some movies you buy in the iTunes Store come with multiple language tracks and subtitles. You can access these in iTunes by starting to play a movie and then clicking the speech balloon button. From this menu, select the audio or subtitles language (or closed captioning) you want. You can also use iTunes' Controls > Audio & Subtitles command.

On an iOS device, tap the similar button at the bottom of the Videos screen to choose from the same options.

On the Apple TV, these options are hidden. To access them, press and hold the Select button (the center button) on your remote. You'll see three tabs: Chapters, Subtitles, and Audio. Select the tab you want, then choose your language.

Add subtitles to your DVD rips

If you buy foreign movies on DVD and you get them from the country where they're produced, they may not have subtitles for English or for another language you speak. If you rip these DVDs (see our guide to ripping DVDs with Handbrake), you can add subtitles to them.

First, let's take a DVD that already has subtitles. In Handbrake, after you've chosen your ripping settings, click the Subtitles tab. Under Track, click on the pop-up menu. If subtitles are available, select your language.

If there are no subtitles, then you need to find them. There are a number of crowd-sourced subtitle repositories you can check, such as Find your movie or TV show and then download the subtitles. These will be in an .srt file.

In Handbrake, click the Track pop-up menu in the Subtitles tab and then choose Add External SRT. Select your file, and then click OK. You have three options. Enable Forced Only if your subtitles are for a film that has some sections in a language different from the audio track. For example, in a James Bond movie, when characters are speaking Russian, you'll see subtitles (unless you're listening to a Russian audio track). Enable Burned In if you want the subtitles to be permanently planted in the video; in this case, you can never turn them off. Finally, check Default if you want the subtitles to be turned on by default.


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