How to Merge Subtitles With Video Permanently Using VLC

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

When we speak of merging subtitles with videos, we essentially refer to a process known as “hardcoding”. Hardcoding subtitles onto a video means to permanently embed the text into the video frames themselves. Unlike soft subtitles, which can be turned on or off, hardcoded subtitles become an integral part of the video, viewable on any device or platform.

VLC Media Player, renowned for its ability to play various media file types, also holds a powerful capability to hardcode subtitles into videos. This open-source software offers numerous functions beyond media playback. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of utilizing VLC to merge subtitles with your videos permanently.

How to Merge Subtitles With Video Permanently Using VLC

Note: This guide presumes you already have VLC Media Player installed on your computer. If not, you can download it from Please ensure your VLC Media Player is updated to the latest version for maximum compatibility and to access all features.

Also see: How to Add Subtitles to Video in Windows 11

1. Preparing your video and subtitle files you want to merge

Before you begin, you need to have both your video file and your subtitle file ready.

Video file: VLC supports a broad range of video formats including but not limited to MP4, AVI, and MKV. Therefore, your video file can be in any of these formats. The video file should be clear and high-quality as the conversion process does not enhance the video quality.

Subtitle file: The subtitle file is the text document that carries the transcriptions or translations of the dialogues in the video file. The most common format for these files is SRT, although VLC also supports other formats like SSA and ASS. Ensure that your subtitle file is accurate, with dialogues matching the speech in the video at the correct timing.

Useful tip: How to Download Subtitles in VLC on Windows 11

Preparing video and subtitle files to merge

2. Loading your video and subtitles

Start by opening VLC Media Player on your computer. Then navigate to the “Media” menu located at the top left corner of the VLC window. In the drop-down menu that appears, click on “Open File”. A dialog box will open, allowing you to browse through your files and select the video file you want to merge the subtitles with.

After selecting the video file, you need to load the subtitle file. Navigate to the “Subtitle” menu at the top of the VLC window. Click on “Add Subtitle File…” from the drop-down menu, and then browse your files to find the correct subtitle file.

Add subtitles file to video in VLC

Once loaded, press the play button to verify that the video plays with the subtitles. However, remember these subtitles are not yet hardcoded into the video. For that, we need to use VLC’s conversion function.

Handy guide: How to Move Subtitles in VLC Player

Video with subtitles

3. Setting up the conversion

Now, with your video and subtitles loaded, it’s time to set up the conversion process.

Go  to the “Media” menu and select “Convert / Save…”. This will open a new dialog box titled “Open Media”. In this box, under the “File Selection” section, you should ideally see your loaded video.

Convert and save in VLC

However, in case the loaded video does not automatically appear in the list, don’t worry. You can manually add it by clicking on the “Add…” button and navigating to the location of the video on your computer.

Choose a video to be converted in VLC

Once your video is listed, you will see an option labeled “Use a subtitle file” at the bottom of the “File Selection” section. Check this box, and then click on the “Browse” button next to it. This will let you manually locate and select the subtitle file that you want to merge with the video. By enabling this option, you ensure that VLC includes the subtitle file during the conversion process, thus hardcoding the subtitles onto the video.

Hardcode subtitles into video using VLC

However, note that if your video file and subtitle file are located in the same folder and share the same filename (with different extensions, of course), VLC will automatically detect and include the subtitles during conversion. Therefore, if this is the case, you can skip the above step.

Once your video and subtitles are set, click on the “Convert / Save” button at the bottom of the dialog box to proceed to the “Convert” settings.

In the “Settings” section, you need to select the desired Profile for your output file. If you’re unsure, “Video – H.264 + MP3 (MP4)” is a widely compatible choice that works well for most devices.

Next, to set up the hardcoding of subtitles, click on the “Edit selected profile” button next to the profile drop-down list. This will open a dialog box named “Profile edition”.

Edit selected profile in VLC

In the “Subtitles” tab of the “Profile edition” dialog box, ensure you check the box that says “Overlay subtitles on the video”. This action instructs VLC to merge the subtitles with the video during conversion.

Merge subtitles with video using VLC

While still in the “Profile edition” dialog box, navigate to the “Audio codec” tabs. In this tab, you might want to check the box that says “Keep original audio track”. By enabling this option, VLC will retain the original audio quality and format during the conversion process. Without these settings, VLC might re-encode your audio, potentially leading to a loss in quality or compatibility issues.

VLC Keep original video and audio track

Once you’ve done this, click on the “Save” button to apply the changes. Now, you’re ready to begin the conversion process.

Pro tip: Convert SRT to 3D Subtitles and Add them to 3D Movies

4. Starting the conversion to merge the subtitles with your video

Once the conversion process is set up correctly, the next step is to specify the destination for your output file.

Click on the “Browse” button and choose where you want your newly merged video file to be saved. You can also choose a name for your output file at this point.

Merge subtitles with video permanently

When you’re satisfied with all your settings, click the “Start” button to initiate the conversion. VLC will then start to merge the subtitles with your video. During this process, you’ll see a progress bar in the main VLC window.

VLC Conversion Progress

After the conversion process finishes, navigate to the destination you specified earlier. You should find your new video file with the subtitles permanently hardcoded.

Related resource: How to Cut Video Using VLC in Windows 11

Troubleshooting common issues

If you encounter issues during the conversion process, such as missing subtitles or subtitles appearing out of sync with the video, there are several potential causes:

  1. “Keep original video track” is selected: When setting up the conversion in VLC, there’s an option labeled “Keep original video track”. If this option is selected, VLC will not alter the video during the conversion process. As hardcoding subtitles is essentially a form of video alteration (overlaying text on the video frames), having this option selected could prevent VLC from hardcoding the subtitles, resulting in an output video with no subtitles. If your output video doesn’t have hardcoded subtitles, make sure to uncheck this option before you start the conversion process.
  2. Incorrect subtitle file: Check your subtitle file again. It might not match your video file, particularly regarding dialogue timings.
  3. Unsupported subtitle format: VLC supports most subtitle formats, but if yours is not in SRT, SSA, or ASS format, you might need to convert it to one of these supported formats using a subtitle converter tool.
  4. Outdated VLC version: Always ensure you have the latest version of VLC installed. An outdated version might not process the subtitle file correctly, leading to issues during the conversion.

Final thoughts

Hardcoding, or merging, subtitles with videos is a valuable practice that comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

On the positive side, hardcoded subtitles guarantee that your audience will always have access to the subtitle content, regardless of the platform they’re using to watch the video. This is particularly useful when the video is being viewed on devices or platforms that do not support soft subtitles, such as Android or iOS devices. Hardcoding also ensures that your subtitles stay exactly where you want them and exactly how you want them to look, offering a degree of control that soft subtitles might not provide.

On the downside, hardcoded subtitles are permanently embedded into the video and cannot be turned off. This could be a disadvantage for viewers who prefer watching videos without subtitles or in a different language. Also, any errors or typos in the subtitles become a permanent part of the video and cannot be corrected without re-encoding the entire video.

While this guide has focused on using VLC Media Player to merge subtitles with videos, it’s important to remember that VLC is not the only tool capable of this. There is a range of other software and tools, both online and offline, that can accomplish the same task. The choice of tool largely depends on your specific needs, your level of technical expertise, and the resources at your disposal.

Categories: VideoVLCWindows 11

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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