Enabling Subtitles in Kodi for the Hearing Impaired

What are Subtitles

Subtitles are text derived from either a transcript or screenplay of the dialog or commentary in films, television programs, video games. These are usually displayed at the bottom of the screen, but can also be at the top of the screen if there is already text at the bottom of the screen. They can either be a form of written translation of a dialog in a foreign language, or a written rendering of the dialog in the same language. In addition, there may or may not be added information to help viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing to follow the dialog.

Three Types of Subtitles


Also known as Hard Subs or Open Subtitles, is irreversibly merged in original video frames, and so no special equipment or software is required for playback. Hence, complex transition effects and animation can be implemented, such as karaoke song lyrics using various colors, fonts, sizes, animation (like a bouncing ball) etc. to follow the lyrics. However, these subtitles cannot be turned off unless the original video is also included in the distribution as they are now part of the original frame, and thus it is impossible to have several variants of subtitling, such as in multiple languages.


Also known as closed subtitles, are separate video frames that are overlaid on the original video stream while playing. Prerendered subtitles are used on DVD and Blu-ray (though they are contained in the same file as the video stream). It is possible to turn them off or have multiple language subtitles and switch among them, but the player has to support such subtitles to display them. Also, subtitles are usually encoded as images with minimal bitrate and number of colors; they usually lack anti-aliased font rasterization. Also, changing such subtitles is hard, but special OCR software, such as SubRip exists to convert such subtitles to “soft” ones.


Also known as soft-subs or closed subtitles, are separate instructions, usually a specially marked up text with time stamps to be displayed during playback. It requires player support and, moreover, there are multiple incompatible (but usually reciprocally convertible) subtitle file formats. Soft-subs are relatively easy to create and change, and thus are frequently used for fansubs. Text rendering quality can vary depending on the player, but is generally higher than prerendered subtitles. Also, some formats introduce text encoding troubles for the end-user, especially if different languages are used simultaneously (for example, Latin and Asian scripts). (Source)

Installing Subtitles Program

If you have a clean 17 install, you will have to enable unknown sources first.

  1. Click Settings (cog)

  2. Choose System Settings

  3. Select Add-ons

  4. Toggle Unknown Sources

  5. A warning pop-up will appear

“Add-ons will be given access to personal data stored on this device. By allowing, you agree that you are solely responsible for any loss of data, unwanted behaviour, or damage to your device. Proceed?”

This is your choice, if you wish to install 3rd Party add-ons you must agree.  We strongly advise against installing headline grabbing “the best add-on ever….” etc. and use only official developers with a proven track record.

There are a number of providers of Subtitles, some of the most popular ones are OpenSubtitles, SubScene and MovieSubtitles just to name a few. Because OpenSubtitles is the most used, we’ll use it here as an example in this blog. You will have to join the site, it’s free of charge, but this must be done prior to continuing. You may join by clicking this Link.  The screenshots used are from the Luxury Build, Kodi Krypton 17.6 but the same process is used whether you have a build installed or not:


  1. Open Kodi.

  2. Select Settings.

  3. Click Add-ons.

  4. Select Install from repository.

  5. Scroll down to Kodi Add-on Repository.

  6. Click to continue.

  7. If not using a Build, select Add-ons, Click the “open box” icon. (top left corner) Continue from Step 4 above.


Select Subtitles.


Scroll thru the list shown until you locate your preferred choice. As shown above, we have selected OpenSubtitles.org. Select to continue.


Click Install.


As a result of a successful installation, you will be returned to the previous page. Select it again, then click on Configure to continue to the next steps.

Configuration Guide



Now that you have opened Configuration, a new window will appear asking for your Username and Password.

  1. Please use the information you received after joining the site from the link provided earlier.

  2. Using the pop-up keyboard, enter your information. It will appear as shown above.

  3. Select OK to continue.



Return to Settings and select Player. If not using a Build, select the Cog Icon and then select Player to continue.


Scroll down to Language, then move the cursor to the right to access the list as shown above. Here is a description of what these represent. All of the settings shown are the Default for Kodi:

  1. Audio: If you prefer another language, that can be set here.

  2. Subtitles:

  3. Preferred Subtitle Language – sets the default subtitles when different languages are available.

  4. Subtitle Position on Screen – location of subtitles on the screen. This does not affect stylized subs such as SSA/ASS. The options available are:

  5. Fixed Position (default) – Use this position as defined in the video calibration screen. By default, this is near the bottom of the screen.

  6. Above Video – place subtitles in the black area above when the video does not fill the upper and lower areas of the screen. (letterbox)

  7. Below Video – same as above but located below the video.

  8. Top of Video – show subtitles near the top of the video.

  9. Fonts – personal choice, change the size or type of font if you wish.

Default TV Show & Movie Service


The remainder of the list shown are self explanatory. I would suggest enabling “Pause when searching for subtitles”. This option will allow you to resume where you left off, we will touch on this a bit further on. Click on Default TV show service to continue.


A new window will appear, due to this being the first time you have accessed this option, you may not see your service listed. Select Get more: where you will see a new list of providers. In the photo above, I had selected OpenSubtitles some time ago. Consequently, OpenSubtitles had changed their site and required users to join. Select the lower of the two options shown from the list for the correct version.


After selecting your service, you will be returned to the previous page. Take note that the Default TV show service indicates your selection. Repeat for Default Movie service.



Because Accessibility is one of the most unknown features in Kodi, it is also the least utilized. You may know someone or perhaps you have a Audio Disability that prevents the use of Kodi as a media player. Well there is an easy solution.

  1. Scroll down to Accessibility.

  2. Move the cursor to the right.

  3. Under Subtitles, click “Prefer subtitles for the hearing impaired.

  4. This will allow subtitles to appear Automatically when viewing either TV Shows or Movies.

Downloading Subtitles While Viewing Media


Once you have started to view a media file, scroll to the right and select the icon that represents Subtitles. These vary from skin to skin and will be discussed in upcoming blogs on skins. Click to open, then click Download.


A window will appear giving you a wide selection of choices. However, make sure you select the correct version that matches the resolution currently being viewed. The best are usually rated with “stars” and are always listed near the top. You will notice that the movie file has been paused while you make your selection. Therefore, once you have made your choice, the media file will resume right away.


Finally, subtitles are now enabled as shown in the photo above when the icon is selected. If you wish to disable subtitles, select the icon again, click on Enabled to disable. It’s that easy.

In Conclusion

To have this option enabled is entirely up to you the user. But most of all, for those who have any type of an Audio Disability, this feature can open a new world of entertainment that may have been near impossible to enjoy previously. I hope this article has been helpful, please pass this on if you know someone that could benefit from using this information.

#kodi #krypton #subtitles