How to open, edit, & convert SRT files
SRT (SubRip file format) SRT File is a simple subtitle file saved in the SubRip file format with the .srt extension. It contains a sequential number of subtitles, start and end timestamps, and subtitle text. SRT files make it possible to add subtitles to video content after it is produced.
SRT file Structure
Each subtitle has four parts in the SRT file.
- A numeric counter indicating the number or position of the subtitle.
- Start and end time of the subtitle separated by –> characters
- Subtitle text in one or more lines.
- A blank line indicating the end of the subtitle.
This article explains what an SRT file is, how to edit one or make your own, which programs can play the file along with a video, and how to convert one to a different subtitle format.
What Is an SRT File?
A file with the .SRT file extension is a SubRip Subtitle file. These types of files hold video subtitle information like the start and end timecodes of the text and the sequential number of subtitles.
What is an SRT format file? SRT, or SubRip File Format, is one of the most popular subtitle file formats for video content. These plain text files include the text of the subtitles in sequence, along with the start and end timecodes. However, an SRT file does not contain any video or audio content. That’s why the file sizes are so small.
We’ll be covering the .SRT format here, but it’s not your only option. Other subtitle file formats include:
- and more
It’s important to note that SRT files themselves are just text files that are used along with video data. This means the SRT file itself doesn’t contain any video or audio data.
Why Do People Use SRT Files?
Viewers seek out subtitles for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes, they may have a hearing impairment and an SRT file allows them to still enjoy their favorite social media content. Families may not usually use subtitles, but like having the option when there’s a movie night with elderly relatives. Their grandparents can supplement what they are able to hear by reading the text on the screen.
People who are learning English as a second language may use subtitles paired with media like their favorite TV series. In this case, the on-screen text gives them a little extra support. It helps English language learners keep up with rapid speakers and figure out the vocabulary that their lessons haven’t yet covered.
Another major group includes people who work on a very different schedule from the rest of the household. They may watch videos muted, with the subtitles on. SRT files allow them to unwind without disturbing their sleeping family.
How to Open SRT Files
Any text editor can be used to open SRT files since they’re just plain text files. See our list of the Best Free Text Editors for some options, or consider using a dedicated SRT editor like Jubler or Aegisub.
However, the most common reason someone wants to open an SRT file is to use it with a video player so that the subtitles will play along with the movie.
In that case, you can open an SRT file with programs like VLC, MPC-HC, KMPlayer, MPlayer, BS.Player, or Windows Media Player (with the VobSub plugin). The SRT format is supported for YouTube videos as well, meaning you can even use the subtitles in one of your YouTube videos.
For example, when you have a movie open in VLC, you can use the Subtitle > Add Subtitle File menu to open the SRT file and have it play with the video. A similar menu can be found in all the other video players mentioned above.
Some of those multimedia players probably can’t open an SRT file unless a video is already open. To open an SRT file without a video, just to see the text, use one of the text editors mentioned above
However, remember that because most video players that support SRT files probably have a special menu for opening it, like with VLC, you might have to open the program first and then import the SRT file instead of just double-clicking it.
How to Convert an SRT File
Some of the SRT editors and video players above can convert SRT files to other subtitle formats. Jubler, for instance, can save an open SRT file to an SSA, SUB, TXT, STL, XML, or DXFP file, all of which are different types of subtitle formats.
Video audiences who want to open SRT files can usually do this through media player programs like VLC, Windows Media Player, KMPlayer, etc. You can queue up a downloaded SRT to play through the Subtitle > Add Subtitle File menu. Meanwhile, many social media sites such as Youtube have a toggle to enable closed captioning.
What about reading the actual file? Or creating and editing one? This can be done in any text editor. You probably already have one of these on your computer. Look for applications like:
More comprehensive word processor programs like Microsoft Word also have text editor functionality. However, these can be more complicated to use for making SRT files. A basic program like Notepad may be more beginner-friendly.
There are also a variety of online subtitle creators and video editing programs that can be used for this, however you may need to pay to use most of these options. These tools have varying quality and reliability, and it may be harder to master them as opposed to creating a basic file in a text editor (see below). However, if you’re making a large number of subtitle files or are interested in other tools in the software package, this could be worth your time to learn.
You can also convert SRT files online at websites like Rev.com and Subtitle Converter. Rev.com, for example, can convert the SRT file to SCC, MCC, TTML, QT.TXT, VTT, CAP, and others. It can do so in batch and will even convert the SRT file to multiple formats simultaneously.
An SRT file is just a text file, not a video or audio file. You can’t convert SRT to MP4 or any other multimedia format like that, no matter what you read elsewhere!
Finally, you’ll come across subtitle auto-generation programs. These take much of the work off of your hands. However, they can add work if you need to clean up the file. These programs are only as accurate as their speech transcription, which can be an issue if you talk rapidly or have an accent.
Still Can’t Open the File?
If you can’t open your file in the ways described above, double-check the file extension. Some files use a similar extension even if the formats aren’t at all related.
SRF and HGT are just a couple examples.
How to Create an SRT File
You can build your own SRT file using any text editor, so long as you keep the format correct and save it with the .SRT file extension. However, an easier way to build your own SRT file is to use the Jubler or Aegisub program mentioned at the top of this page.
An SRT file has a particular format it has to exist in. Here’s an example of just a snippet from an SRT file:
1097 01:20:45,138 --> 01:20:48,164 You'd say anything now to get what you want.
The first number is the order that this subtitle chunk should take in relation to all the others. In the full SRT file, the next section is called 1098, and then 1099, and so on.
The second line is the timecode for how long the text should be displayed on the screen. It’s set up in the format of HH:MM:SS,MIL, which is hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds. This explains how long the text should display on the screen.
The other lines are the text that should show up during the time period defined right above it.
After one section, there needs to be a line of blank space before you start the next, which in this example would be:
1098 01:20:52,412 --> 01:20:55,142 You want to feel sorry for yourself, don't you?
More Information on the SRT Format
The program SubRip extracts subtitles from movies and displays the results in the SRT format as described above.
Another format that was originally called WebSRT, uses the .SRT file extension, too. It’s now called WebVTT (Web Video Text Track) and uses the .VTT file extension. While it’s supported by major browsers like Chrome and Firefox, it’s not as popular as the SubRip Subtitle format and doesn’t use the exact same format.
You can download SRT files from a variety of websites. One example is Podnapisi.net, which lets you download subtitles for TV shows and movies using an advanced search to find the exact video by year, type, episode, season, or language.
MKVToolNix is one example of a program that can delete or add subtitle files from MKV files.
What is SRT? The .SRT file format is one of the most common methods for creating closed captioning or subtitles for a video. You can write these files in any common text editor. Just make sure the timestamps are formatted correctly.
SRT files let you create more inclusive content, reaching varied audiences such as the deaf and hard of hearing communities, or people who are not fluent in English. Your wider audience may also have higher engagement. Finally, your SEO rankings can climb if the search engine’s bots detect subtitles.