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Guide: How to add Kodi subtitles to your streams and movies

Kodi Config example subtitles

written by Alejandro October 25, 2015

I'm not sure if I'm alone on this, but my guess would be I'm not; basically, whenever I watch a movie, I like to have subtitles displayed, even if they are in the same language of the movie. I feel like it increases the enjoyment and makes you aware of all the great quotes and wisdom nuggets present in movies. However, instead of watching media with subtitles directly embedded into it, I wondered if there was a good way to add Kodi subtitles to movies, even if the original movie didn't have them. It turns out it is not only possible to have subtitles on Kodi, but also easier than I had anticipated. [Read: 10 best Kodi movies addons in 2015 for your HTPC]

When I realized you can setup Kodi subtitles for all movies, even if they originally had no subtitles on Kodi, and that, to get subtitles to display, it doesn't matter if you have media on a home server, or if you stream through addons such as Genesis Kodi Addon or Icefilms Plugin for Kodi, I was amazed not only because of this fact, but also because these subtitles are completely configurable to your liking. You can modify their color, size, position on the screen, delay, give them stereoscopic depth, and have them display in any language. So if your native language is not English, or you are learning some other language and using movies as a helpful way to do it, the subtitles bring yet another level of customization and depth to  your Kodi experience that you shouldn't miss.

Okay but, how do I add Kodi subtitles?

First, make sure you are using Kodi Gotham v13 or higher, since lower versions of Kodi won't support this feature. Also make sure you have a pretty up to date skin. For this tutorial, all images are from the skin “Confluence”, but if you want more skin options don't hesitate to read about our 6 best skins for Kodi in 2015 or the 10 top Kodi skins for touchscreen devices. Once you have verified these minimum requirements, we can start the simple process to add Kodi subtitles.

Recommended HTPC / Home Server Builds 2017:

Setup Kodi subtitles language

Add Kodi Subtitles settings

From this dialog you can configure subtitle settings for Kodi.

Head to System -> Settings -> Video -> Subtitles from the Kodi main menu, and you will a screen similar to the one above. In this screen, you can setup Kodi subtitles the way you like. You can change the subtitle language, the service they download from, and even their appearance. Click on Languages to download subtitles for, and select your preferred languages. For this example I'll choose English and Spanish. After you're done selecting the language of subtitles on Kodi, click OK.

Choose a service for subtitles on Kodi

Subtitles on Kodi movies and TV

On the subtitle settings dialog, you can choose default subtitle services for both movies and TV.

Scroll down on that dialog box, until you see Default Movie Service. Click on it, and an empty dialog will appear. On this dialog, click on Get More... in order to add Kodi subtitles services. You will see a Kodi subtitle add on list. For our example, scroll until you get to OpenSubtitles.org and click it, then click Install on the box that appears. You will see a notification similar to the one on the bottom right of the screenshot below, once you have successfully enabled the service to add Kodi subtitles. Keep in mind you can add other services as well from the list, though the OpenSubtitles.org Kodi subtitles service is fairly complete and useful.

Setup Kodi subtitles addon

When you get that notification it means the subtitles addon for Kodi was successfully installed.

After you're done with this, go back, and click on Default Movie Service again, then click on OpenSubtitles.org. Do the same for your Default TV Service if you like. This will add subtitles to your TV shows as well, in case you use addons for TV shows. [Read: 10 best Kodi Live TV addons in 2015 for your HTPC]

Subtitles for movies in Kodi select service

You need to actually click the service on the service selection dialog before you can use it.

Add subtitles to Kodi playback

You're all set now. Browse your addons or media content for a movie or a TV show and click the subtitles button when playback starts. You will see a small menu with a Download button. Click on it so you can add Kodi subtitles to your media.

Download subtitles Kodi playback

You download subtitles directly during playback.

When you click on that button, a floating menu will come up. It will allow you to add Kodi subtitles to the movie you are watching. Ratings are displayed beside the subtitles, so make sure you select one with a good enough rating, for the best experience.

Kodi English Subtitles Kodi Spanish subtitles

Select the subtitles you wish. You can see their language and rating in this floating menu.

After clicking on any of the subtitles, they will start downloading, and shortly after that, you will see the subtitle menu changed. In order to add Kodi subtitles to your movie, these must be enabled here.

Disable Kodi Subtitles from playback

You can enable and disable subtitles for your movie now from the playback menu.

And that's it, now your playback has subtitles!

Kodi subtitles addon successful

Subtitles allow you to never miss a memorable or funny quote on your Kodi movies.

Kodi Subtitles – Final Thoughts

If you don't like their default appearance (which I find rather easy on the eyes and useful, but to each their own, I guess), you can change it on the subtitle menu, the first one we saw on this tutorial. There you can change the font and color, among other things. All of this setup can be done via a wireless HTPC keyboard or a remote app such as Kore, the official XBMC/Kodi remote app, so you won't even have to get up from your couch to add Kodi subtitles.

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34 comments

Martin October 25, 2015 - 7:30 am

I’ve been using the subs for a while. Due to a combination of having the sound low due to a sleeping infant and I’m going deaf.

I wish you could get more English language only subs. Eg. In Narcos I have the Spanish parts hardcoded as English. So I only want subs for the English language parts!

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Alejandro November 22, 2015 - 12:51 am

Hello, thanks for your comment. I’m glad the guide helped you!

Unfortunately I don’t know how would you go about only having subtitles for a certain part of any movie or series; my guess would be it depends on what subtitles you download. I’m sure someone else must have had the same problem sometime and decided to make subtitles as the ones you ask for.

Still, as a personal preference, I would always try to choose the subtitles with the highest rating. I feel they would provide the best experience. But that’s up to taste and, of course, what’s available for download at subtitle sites.

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robb February 13, 2016 - 12:19 pm

you could download the subtitles .srt file, open it in notepad and delete/remove the parts you dont want, save it and that should work ok.

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Alejandro February 13, 2016 - 11:39 pm

Thanks for your input. Indeed sounds easier than I had thought it would be at first!

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G November 21, 2015 - 11:00 pm

thank you for the awesome article/tip

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Alejandro November 22, 2015 - 12:48 am

Hello! Thanks for your comment, I’m glad the guide was helpful!

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bob January 10, 2016 - 10:09 pm

No subtitles are available for me. I click ‘get more’ and it’s blank. have searched forums and no help. should be 2 clicks but for me is a wasted hour of dead ends. using up to date most recent to add ons. The Spirit of God is upon us.
We are called to be God’s people.
The Spirit of God is upon us.
We are called to be the body of Christ.
Come let us worship God, who binds us together in love and service.

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Alejandro January 11, 2016 - 8:26 am

Hello, thanks for commenting. Perhaps you could try installing a subtitle service as an add-on? Go to System -> Settings -> Add-ons -> Get Add-ons, then click on Kodi Add-on repository -> Subtitles and select a subtitle service from the list (Perhaps OpenSubtitles.org), click it, and click the Install button. You should be able to see the subtitle service then and just add subtitles to your playback with the steps provided.

Alternatively, if it still doesn’t work, please head to our HTPCBeginner Support Forum, where our community of HTPC enthusiasts could help you.

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Stacy January 28, 2016 - 6:51 pm

I’ve followed the directions and the installation is failing.

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Alejandro January 31, 2016 - 12:18 am

Hello Stacy, where does the installation fail? Could you provide more details?

Alternatively, you could head to our HTPCBeginner Support Forum and pose your technical questions over there for a better support.

Thanks for commenting!

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Fzdude March 27, 2016 - 12:33 am

under Kodi add—on repo, it’s empty. I have same problem as Bob. Pls help.

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Alejandro March 29, 2016 - 1:45 am

Hello, what version of Kodi are you trying this on? Perhaps it’s better if you post this issue on our htpcBeginner Support Forums so we can assist you better? Thanks.

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Tani February 1, 2016 - 10:20 pm

Hello,

I did this setup and I can see them when I’m using my laptop but when I sync it with my TV I don’t have the subtitle. Is there any way to have it when I’m using my TV too?

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Alejandro February 9, 2016 - 10:18 am

Hello, I’m not sure of what scenario are you experiencing, since if you’re mirroring screen on your TV you should get exactly what you see on your laptop. Could you provide more details about what you’re doing?

You might also want to visit our HTPCBeginner Support Forum, where our commmunity of HTPC enthusiasts might provide to you a better and more effective help with your issue.

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James February 7, 2016 - 2:46 am

Thanks for this. Not a massive fan of subtitles but the rentals can’t seem to function without them. A small tip I have is to not only add OpenSubtitles, but also SubScene as a 2nd source. I’ve found that between the two of them I’m hardly ever without a reliable source. If that fails the manual lookup is reliable. And if subtitles are ever off then the offset feature is brilliant.

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Alejandro February 13, 2016 - 11:32 pm

Hello James, thanks for your comment. Indeed it’s better to have more subtitle services, as that will increase the likelihood of finding one. I personally find the offset feature to be really amazing, though there are some movies where the subtitles are not in perfect sync and I have to adjust the offset from time to time, which gets annoying. However, this only happens with very few movies.

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Maya February 12, 2016 - 6:08 am

Thanks for the great article!
Did all the steps and added SubScene as well but… once I select subtitles and they start downloading I get the “Failed to download” error message.
I am using MXIII – G TV Box Android 5.1 1000M LAN with pre-installed Kodi on it.
Do you maybe have an idea of the problem? thanks in advance!

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Alejandro February 13, 2016 - 11:33 pm

Hello, this might have something to do with the subtitle service you’re using. Are you only adding one service? Which one?

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Pieter March 12, 2016 - 6:05 pm

i also did all the steps, worked fine in the beginning but after a few streams it said failed to download subtitle.
I used more than 1 subtitle service and none of then work.
i use a windows vista computer with kodi “jarvis”.

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Alejandro March 13, 2016 - 3:20 pm

Hello, thanks for commenting. What services are you using? Lately I have had some issues as well with subtitles, but haven’t researched much on these. I’d appreciate any information you could provide. Thanks!

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Wil March 30, 2016 - 12:05 pm

Hello. We are lucky to have Alejandro helping us with subtitle issues in Kodi. I activated Movies and TV Default services. I have the external srt file next to avi file both have the same name. Kodi doesn’t see/recognize the companion srt file.

While playing a video and accessing the audio and subtitle settings, the enable subtitle is activated, but the subtitle box below is not activated and says none and I cannot access this box. Activating the box search for subtitles doesn’t find the subtitle that it is located in the same folder as avi video.

Files are in an external drive connected to a laptop running Windows 10. I am using Kodi 16 Jarvis.
on a TICTID MXQ Pro TV Box Amlogic S905 Loaded Android 5.1 Lollipop OS TV Box Quad Core 1G/8G 4K Google Streaming Media Player. Streamer is connected via ethernet to computer.

Thank you for your time.

Regards,

Wil

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Alejandro April 8, 2016 - 11:02 am

Hello, thanks for commenting. Are you holding several movies and subtitles in one folder? If the feature “multiple movies in one directory” is enabled, this might be interfering with your subtitles.

I think we could assist you better at the htpcBeginner support forum. Could you please post about your problem there so we can assist you in a detailed way?

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Sophia April 16, 2016 - 2:34 pm

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you! Your step by step instructions worked flawlessly on my Amazon Fire.

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Alejandro April 17, 2016 - 8:52 pm

Hello, thanks for your input. Glad to see it helped you.

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Johan April 19, 2016 - 6:08 am

Hi,

It have worked for me to display subtitles, but since a few days I’m having trouble.
I can select the subtitle, but it won’t display on the screen.
Any thoughts on what is going wrong.

Grtz

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Alejandro April 21, 2016 - 8:47 pm

Hello, to be honest, many users have reported the same thing and I checked it myself, but it seems to go on and off. Sometimes I have been unable to get the subtitles running, and sometimes they go smooth and without trouble. My advice would be trying another subtitle service, different to the one you’re using, and checking if it lets you download working subtitles. Hope it helps!

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Sarah May 31, 2016 - 12:01 am

This doesnt seem to work for watching Game of Thrones when Dothraki is spoken for translating it to English. Am I doing something wrong there?

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Alejandro June 1, 2016 - 1:35 pm

Hello, unfortunately, the subtitles are not a simultaneous translation service. They are simply text files that are played back in sync with the media. For Dothraki to be translated, the person who wrote the subtitles would have to translate it on the original file, and so they would play in English, but I don’t think that’s what is being done. The star rating at the side of each subtitle might provide you with additional clues about their quality, so take a look at it when you download subtitles!

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Ian August 4, 2016 - 4:41 am

I’ve found if you download subtitles which are from BluRay (usually shows as BluRay in the description) that the Dothraki shows up. Also some of the subtitles have it mentioned that they include Dothraki subtitles in the description (you have to mouseover the subtitle name and let it scroll across the screen to see if it’s mentioned).

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corbin June 13, 2016 - 4:31 pm

Only displays english for me. Won’t display spanish at all, in spanish or in english, whenever they start speaking spanish in the tv show im watching nothing is displayed, however it will display sounds in subtitles during the spanish scenes.

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Alejandro June 14, 2016 - 9:45 pm

Hello, you can find Spanish subtitles (if your subtitle service has them) by scrolling down on the list. I have been able to find subtitles in this language, but using other services instead of OpenSubtitles and similar. Hope it helps

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Beni December 7, 2017 - 8:39 pm

Alejandro, I have a firestick and downloaded Terrarium after getting disgusted with Kodi…it works awesome, but there are no Dothraki subtitles…everyone talks about Kodi here, do you know how to get these for Terrarium? And where do I put them on the firestick? Step by Step would really help! Thanks!!

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lensman1122 September 15, 2016 - 9:35 pm

Worked like a charm. Had to come here when I was using Kodi via laptop to TV. Even though the same movie from same source played with subtitles on my PC (before following the steps here) when using laptop and streamed through TV there were no subtitles! This occurred on a handful of titles I tried. Just could not figure it out. Now, using this method it seems to work pretty good.

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Heather Porter Patoray April 9, 2017 - 8:58 pm

I am unable to sign in my username and password w/ opensubtitles.org while on Kodi. It tells me I need to in order to access the subtitles, but I can’t figure out how to. I’ve followed other tutorials, but can’t find a place on my screen to enter the info. Yes, I’ve already signed on on the actual website… just can’t transfer the info to my kodi app. Any suggestions?

Reply

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