Is subtitling possible with Shotcut?

I have been a fairly happy user of Windows Movier Maker for a few years. It was simple, but it did most of what I wanted (cut out unwanted intros and outros) and more importantly, allowed me to use the text option as a means to subtitle my songs with the lyrics. That’s important to me, because many of my youtube subscribers are not native English speakers and that helps them follow the lyrics. I am a singer songwriter trying to get my songs heard beyond my little town in Catalunya.

Recently, I have had problems with WMM that I thought I could solve by re-installing it. As you guys no doubt know, but I didn’t until yesterday, that is now impossible directly from Microsoft and I don’t know if I trust the free sites to offer a version that won’t be loaded with spyware or worse.

So, I turned to Shotcut after reading a good review of it in an article on Alternatives of WMM.

The download and install were easy, although the unfamiliar environment puzzled the hell out of me. However, a visit to your excellent tutorials resolved many initial issues.

However, I still can’t figure out if it is possible to use Shotcut to add subtitles.

I did find the Text Filter - but there were two problems. When I attempted to make the text size smaller, the text simply disappeared altogether.

If I left the text at the default size I could not figure out how to tell the programme the start and end positions (or duration) that I wanted the text to appear for. A task that was simple and easy on WMM.

So, am I attempting the impossible?

If so, that’s a shame, because I can see that Shotcut might be a very versatile and useful tool to improve my video skills on. But if it can’t do subtitles, I’m going to have to look elsewhere.


Berni Armstrong

PS For example of what I am trying to do, see my youtube channel:

Just re-size the text bounding box manually.

Add the video to the Timeline, split the video into selections/clips [Press ‘S’ at the playhead position] then add the subtitle to each clip as required.

Thanks for a prompt reply, Steve.

I tried to resize manually, but when I entered smaller values than the default values, the text simply disappeared.

Your suggestion of dividing the entire video into clips would probably work, but it sounds much more labour intensive than the WMM option.

I’ll give it a go though and let you know.

No need to enter any text size values. Just resize the text bounding box with your mouse.

It really isn’t. :slight_smile:
You’re simply marking the in/out points with a split.

Here is a screenshot of what happens when I attempt to add a text (or subtitle) to the video I am working on.

In the main area where the video is currently visible, the text appears at the default setting. I can see no “text bounding box” that I can resize or move, just the options on the left. If I attempt to resize using different values to the default settings the text simply disappears.

How do I do that? I tried pausing the video and clicking on the split tool, but it did absolutely nothing.

I think I am missing some fundamental concept of how the programme works here, probably due to my familiarity with WMM and my advancing years :wink:

You didn’t read my first post or the subs on my example video carefully.

Add the video to the Timeline, split the video into selections/clips [Press ‘S’ at the playhead position] then add the subtitle to each clip as required.”

You can’t do this from the preview window only.

Resizing text is very easy, provided one understands that the text bounding box is initially the size of the whole screen.
As for me, I avoid as much as possible spoiling the image with embedded text: I prefer adding a MKV subtitle track with MKVToolnix.

I went to their website and they say the tool is designed to work with Matroska Files… What are those? I read their definition of them and was none the wiser. Would I have to convert my video into their format, add subtitles and then reconvert it into a youtube friendly format like mp4?

MKV is a container, not a format: it can use the same codec (eg. AVC/HEVC+nearly any format for video, ac3/aac/+nearly any format for audio). It is THE universal Open Source container, with more features than mp4. It is nearly the only one I use for my videos, which I watch on my TV from an ordinary blu-ray player or the USB reader of the TV or a mini-PC.

But Youtube does not seem to support MKV.

I wrote a small app (which is a simple FFMpeg GUI) to help my grandson to convert his MKV files for Youtube and his iPhone:
The site is in Portuguese, the explanations in French, but the app is in English;) Download MKV2mp4.exe if you use Windows and don’t know which version to choose.

Copy the MKV2mp4.exe (Windows 32-bit) file to any folder, and at first launch right-click on the gearing icon at right, select “ffmpeg path”, then browse to c:\Program Files\Shotcut\ ore anywhere with Shotcut or ffmpeg inside before using. Then drop the file to convert into the listbox and click “convert”.

The first aim being a simple remuxer which would convert my grandson’s files, if you don’t change anything, it will convert any MKV to mp4 and any mp4 to MKV without overwriting. Other options have been added later for my own use (keep same container, convert to MOV. TS, FLV, convert audio to AAC, remux multichannel audio without drowning the dialogues…).

I can make an installer if needed.

Would I have to convert my video into their format, add subtitles and then reconvert it into a youtube friendly format like mp4?

If youtube is the final destination I would suggest using youtube’s built-in subtitle/caption tool. This is how I caption all my videos. I simply load a text file with the script and let youtube’s speech recognition algorithm position the text, then make edits (because it usually needs a little tweaking).

I wonder if subtitles is something that can be done with an HTML imports into Shotcut? I don’t know much about how HTML and Shotcut work, but I suspect there might be a way.


Hi Stanglow,

I thought they had scrapped that tool on one of their periodic “upgrades”

I’ll have to give that a go. I had used it for corrections occasionally, but not as my main subtitler. I had no idea it could use speech recognition technology to fit the subtitles to the text. Can it do that with sung lyrics, I wonder. Must give it a try.



[quote=“Berni, post:1, topic:1886”]
However, I still can’t figure out if it is possible to use Shotcut to add subtitles.
[/quote] Perhaps it is a moot point here but the term “subtitle” usually refers to a separate DVD track that can be turned on or off in the player (and Shotcut doesn’t support that function). It seems to me that people have a hard enough time understanding one another that we ought to agree on commonly accepted terminology.

In your post with the full-screen photo of your Shotcut project with the title “The Tipping Point” you should easily see the frame “markers” (and in this case I’m not sure of the terminology) in all four corners of the Player screen. Grab any one of those “markers” and drag toward the center. Once you’ve done it - it will seem more obvious.



(Actually that was Berni’s quote, not Kenj69’s. Sorry, Ken if it looks like you said it…)

Yes, it is!! - apologies for any self-promotion here (non intended, just trying to help) but I recently made a tutorial which shows how to add text and resize/fade in/out etc. The tutorial is HERE.
In the tutorial I used over 100 subtitles. Maybe I should do a tutorial on how I made the tutorial .!!!..:confused: which I would gladly do if I had the time :disappointed_relieved:

The biggest problem I had with the subtitles is the fact that the text size changes dependent on the amount of characters in the text edit field. I and several others have posted on this forum on this topic…
Good luck with your subtitles, I am a fellow musician…

Jon, that is an outstanding tutorial! Bookmarked :slight_smile:


Gee, thanks Ken! It took a few (enjoyable) hours but I hope it helps someone out there… :slight_smile:

I concur. That excellent video showed me the potential for the programme to be able to do what I want.
However, when I tried it, the original video disappeared and despite following your instructions, when I turned opacity down to “0” it appeared to have no effect on the video as shown in the main screen. I still think I have not grasped some basic concept about how the programme works.

Incidentally, you say “Home” at one point without illustrating it. What does that refer to?

BTW, would you have to follow that procedure for every single subtitle? Also, would you have to define a new track for every single subtitle? I can see that getting unwieldy very quickly.

I suspect the developers could simplify the process by making a “Subtitle Filter” which pre-prepared a text box (that you could define - or choose from some options) as the standard for your project. So each time you needed a subtitle, you would simply click on the subtitle filter again and the settings would be the same. All you’d need to do would be to type in the new text.

Copy/Paste filter…
Type new text.

[quote=“Berni, post:18, topic:1886”]
Incidentally, you say “Home” at one point without illustrating it. What does that refer to?
[/quote] Every application has its terminology. Home means the beginning of the Timeline. Think of it as going back home, to the starting point. I had a problem with the PageUp and PageDown keys. As it turns out going UP the Timeline means heading toward Home, and going DOWN the Timeline means going away from Home. So I held my head sideways to the left… and eventually wrapped my head around that! -=Ken=-

Not too different from the river analogy of ‘UP Stream’ = Towards the source/start.