How To: Add Subtitles into to video files for iPhone and iPad playback (Mac-Only)

“I recently taught myself how to ‘hard-encode’ subtitles into .mp4 and .m4v video files so I can watch them on my iPhone or iPad. I tested this out from some trial and error and found a pretty quick and simple method. Enjoy” – Ben

How to hard-encode subtitles into .mp4 or .mv4 files


  1. A Mac (sorry windows people – I hear that VirtualDub is a good option).
  2. A video file in .mp4 or .m4v format (if not, I’ll how you how to convert them in Step 1)
  3. Handbreak for Mac – Download Link (needed if your video file is any other format than .mp4 or .m4v).
  4. Subler for Mac – Download Link or their official Page


  1. If your video file isn’t .mp4 or .m4v; Encode your video file to a mac-device friendly format (.mp4 or .m4v) using Handbreak. This is pretty simple, but you open up video file via ‘Source’, select your format type from the ‘presets menu’ on the right. If that menu isn’t there, go to your menubar and click Window > Presets Drawer. I prefer using the ‘High Profile’ option by default. This step will take some time depending on your machine and the size of the file being converted. For me an episode can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Pro-tip: if you are doing more than 1 file, say a whole season, use the ‘add to queue’ function and let Handbreak run overnight.

    Step 1: Make sure your video file is in .mp4 or .m4v format (use Handbreak to encode)

  2. If your video file is .mp4 or .m4v; open up the Subler app and do the following;
  3. Go to your menubar and click File > Open and find your video file. Subler will now look something like this; 
  4. Click on the little + sign on the top-left of the Subler window (add content to video file) and find your subtitle file (.srt).
  5. It might launch a little window asking about subtitle file, just go with the default settings and click ‘Add’.
  6. Click on the ‘Export’ arrow (top-right) and it will place that ‘job’ into a queue.
  7. Click ‘Start’ and it will quickly add the subtitle file to your video.
  8. Enjoy your subtitled video on your iPhone / iPad

Note: During playback (whilst watching) you will have to manually turn on the subtitles. This is done by tapping the screen once to bring up the playback menu (play, next, etc)… there should be a ‘text / subtitle’ icon and you just turn it on.

2 thoughts on “How To: Add Subtitles into to video files for iPhone and iPad playback (Mac-Only)

  1. There´s a much easier way Ben!
    It goes like this,
    – get an Android Device, Smartphone or tablet
    -drag and drop the folder with the vid + srt file into any directory of the android device.
    See! So much easier :p

    • Thanks Paul. I must admit my guide is very Apple-centric. I was actually writing it for a friend who specifically asked me if I knew how to do this… and by happy coincidence I had recently taught myself how to do it.

      I haven’t really been sold on Android devices yet; though in fairness I haven’t really played with any of them. Next time I get a chance I’ll check it out.

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