PlexNine PMS Subtitles
General Subtitle Support
Plex supports rich integration of subtitles with your media, whether the subtitle stream/track is embedded within the file or is a separate, external subtitle file. For supported subtitle formats, they can even be transcoded into a video as it is sent out to a mobile or streaming device. The Plex Media Server even includes an OpenSubtitles.org metadata agent source that can automatically find and download subtitles for your content in some circumstances. Subtitles are not currently supported on Windows.
Fully Supported Formats
These formats are supported as either embedded tracks or external subtitle files. They are compatible with being transcoded into a stream to a mobile or streaming client.
- SSA (or ASS)
Partially Supported Formats
Some other subtitle formats may work in some circumstances or with particular clients. For instance, the Plex desktop clients generally support a much larger variety of subtitle formats, but some may only work if the client and Plex Media Server are on the same machine.
We also recommend taking a few minutes to watch the excellent Subtitles Screencast, created by Atrus.
Configuring Language Preferences
By configuring your language preferences appropriately, Plex will be able to intelligently choose whether to display a subtitle track or not as well as which subtitle track to display if multiple are available. The preferences allow you to choose your preferred audio and subtitle languages as well as when subtitles should be displayed.
- Open the Plex Media Server Preferences. On a Mac, this can be done from the OS X menubar or your Plex Media Server's Dock icon. On other platforms or if you're using the web-based Media Manager, you may access it by clicking Preferences at the top right of the Media Manager window.
- Select the Languages tab
- Choose your preferred Audio language
- Choose how you wish for subtitles to be shown with the Subtitle mode option:
- Manually selected: Plex will never show subtitles by default unless you manually enable them for a particular video
- Shown with foreign audio: If Plex doesn't find an audio track matching your preferred audio language, then Plex will try to display an appropriate subtitle track (see below)
- Always enabled: Plex will try its best to always display subtitles and will use the following heuristics
- If a subtitle is found matching your requested language, it will be shown (even if the audio language matches)
- If there is an external subtitle file (i.e. a subtitle file next to the video file) it will be shown even if the language doesn't match
- If there is a single subtitle embedded in the file, it will be used even if the language doesn't match
- Choose your preferred Subtitle language
Limitations on Automatic Selections
In order for Plex to intelligently choose which audio track to play as well as to choose when and how to display subtitles, Plex must also know the language of a particular external subtitle file (see the External Subtitle section) or embedded audio or subtitle track. For embedded audio or subtitle tracks, the language must be tagged within the file, which may not be true depending on how you acquire your files. Analysis apps such as MediaInfo can tell you whether the language is specified for a particular audio or subtitle track
Configure Metadata Sources
You'll need to configure your Metadata Agent Settings appropriately so that your subtitles can be found correctly.
- Open the Media Manager
- Open the Metadata Agent Settings window
- For the web-based Media Manager, open the Preferences window and select the Agents tab
- For the native Mac Media Manager, click the Gear icon at the top of the Media Manager window
Once the Metadata Agent Settings window is open, there are two main areas you may wish to set.
Enable Local Media Assets
The Local Media Assets source is what will pick up and handle external subtitle files (see later section for more information), among other things. To ensure that external subtitle files are enabled:
- Check the "Local Media Assets" source in the right pane for the applicable Metadata Agent selected from the left pane
Most people will probably want to ensure that "Local Media Assets" is enabled for Freebase (the default movie agent) as well as TheTVDB (default television agent) at minimum.
Configure OpenSubtitles.org Metadata Source
The OpenSubtitles.org source can automatically download subtitles for content in particular situations. See later section for additional information. To enable the OpenSubtitles.org source:
- Check the "OpenSubtitles.org" source in the right pane for the applicable Metadata Agent selected from the left pane
- With the OpenSubtitles.org source highlighted on the right, click the Preferences button
- Choose a primary subtitle language to try to automatically download
- You may optionally also choose a second language to try and download
Note!: You must set the OpenSubtitle Language preference to control what Subtitle files are downloaded. Setting the preferred language in the Plex Media Server Language preference only affects which language is selected - not which ones are downloaded.
External Subtitle Files
Plex supports several formats for external subtitle files. You'll want to ensure that you've followed the previous information to set your language preferences as well as to enable the "Local Media Assets" metadata source.
The following formats are currently supported:
- SSA (or ASS)
Naming the Subtitle File
In order to be correctly matched to the library item, external subtitle files need to be named correctly. A correctly-named file will also indicate the language of the subtitle. To name the file correctly:
- Name it the same as the corresponding video file
- Append the language code before the file extension
- The external subtitle file should sit in the same folder as the corresponding video file
- The language codes are defined by the ISO-639-1 (2-letter) or ISO-639-2/B (3-letter) standard
/Movies Avatar (2009).mkv Avatar (2009).en.srt
/TV Shows /Absolutely Fabulous /Season 2 Absolutely Fabulous - s02e03.avi Absolutely Fabulous - s02e03.eng.smi
- Additional Reading: List of language codes
Scanning and Adding the Subtitles
So, once you've named your external subtitle file appropriately and placed it in the correct location, it should be detected the next time that Section is scanned. However, the subtitle isn't actually added during the scan. Instead, the subtitle will be automatically added in one of two circumstances:
- The metadata for the library item is refreshed
- The user attempts to play the library item in a client
As soon as the subtitle is added from doing one of the above, it will be available for selection in the client.
Obtaining Subtitle Files
There are a multitude of sources to obtain subtitle files online. SRT format is the most common available and works well with Plex. Plex does not officially endorse or recommend any subtitle source. For convenience, though, here are some of the many possible sources (in alphabetical order):
OpenSubtitles.org Automatic Downloading
With the built-in OpenSubtitles.org metadata source, it is possible to have subtitles automatically downloaded for your content in many circumstances.
Subtitle files on the website are created for specific video files. The OpenSubtitles.org agent tries to match your specific/exact video file with a subtitle designed for that file. As such, videos that are downloaded from a common source are much more likely to have matches found than a video that was personally encoded from a DVD, for instance. This is one of the biggest limitations to the agent and one of the main reasons that it might not automatically pick up subtitles for you.
No Subtitle Available for the Selected Language
Currently, there is no indication within Plex about Subtitle activity from OpenSubtitles. For example, if there is no SRT available for your language, you will just notice no subtitle is available. This will be addressed in a later version but currently, you can see what's going on by consulting the OpenSubtitles log:
- Navigate to PMS Plug-in Logs/com.plexapp.agents.opensubtitles.log (see info about PlexNine_PMS_TipsTricks#Plex_Log_Files log files
- Open the log file (on a Mac, it should open in the Console app; for other platforms, you can open it in a normal text editor)
- Look for the item you're having trouble with. An easy way to do this is to open the log file, then the Media Manager, right-click the show and choose Refresh Metadata. The last entry in the log will be OpenSubtitles activity for that show.
Note in the example below No subtitles available for language indicates no match was found on the OpenSubtitles site:
2011-03-23 11:49:57,622 (-4faed000) : INFO (core) - Looking for match for GUID 8320d96a482b0bd2 and size 1451430201 2011-03-23 11:49:58,759 (-4faed000) : INFO (core) - No subtitles available for language eng 2011-03-23 11:49:58,760 (-4faed000) : INFO (core) - Looking for match for GUID 8320d96a482b0bd2 and size 1451430201 2011-03-23 11:49:59,893 (-4faed000) : INFO (core) - No subtitles available for language fre
A Mistimed Subtitle File was Fetched
There are many versions of shows available like Extended Versions, Special Editions etc with additional or deleted scenes. A subtitle file intended for the original show will have different timing to the 'Director's Cut'. In this case, subtitles will be displayed at odd or incorrect positions in the show. To fix this, download a subtitle file that you know matches your show's version and then handle it as an external subtitle file (see other section).
Upgrading from Plex 0.9.13 or Earlier
If you're upgrading from a Plex Library created with Plex 0.9.13 or earlier, the Sections need to be refreshed to pick up existing subtitles as well as to fetch them from OpenSubtitles.org. OpenSubtitles allow a certain number of subtitle fetches per day per IP address. If you're upgrading a large library, you may run into this limit. Try again in 24 hours to fetch more subtitles. To update your Library:
- Ensure you have configured the Metadata and PMS Language preferences as before
- Open the Section to refresh
- Perform a Force-refresh of the Section by Shift-Clicking the Refresh button at the bottom right of the Media Manager window.
Once subtitles have been scanned in and recognized by the Plex Media Server, they are available for selection and use from within a Plex client. Consult the Client documentation for details.
Unofficial Subtitle Resources
Oncleben's Guide for TV Show Subtitles
This trick uses TVShows2, Transmission, Plex and eventually Soleol. Set them up once as described and just wait episodes release in your couch ;-). Read 'how to' on this post: Get new TV shows episodes with subtitles in Plex automatically