How To Open Edit and Create a Custom SRT File For Captioning

I just want to do a quick tutorial on how to open an SRT file and show you how you can create your own from scratch as well. They’re not that difficult to create and have a lot of benefits if you are in any way involved in video related stuff. If you do the YouTube thing or create content in just about any social media platform for example.

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You can create your own captions and upload them with your videos. There are many benefits to creating your own captions especially if you have the need for multiple languages, it’s easier to create and translate an origin SRT file once you have already created the subtitles for one specific language.

Even if you don’t feel you have the need to catering to multiple languages, the benefit of having subtitles in multiple languages can be good for SEO and searchability. You are most likely to rank your video better doing so.

In this article:

  1. How to open an srt file
  2. How to convert text to srt
  3. What srt file editor can you use?
  4. The srt format
  5. Example srt file
  6. How to create an srt file on a Mac
  7. Saving the srt file
  8. Srt file download – example template

Before going further please note that I am using the word “captions” and “subtitles” interchangeably, many people don’t know the difference but in reality they are slightly different:

Captions – A transcription of the spoken words on a video. Open Captions – Also called hard-coded captions which are permanently fixed to the video. Good when the video player doesn’t have native [CC] capability, a good example is Instagram where you cannot upload a captions file but you can add hard coded captions on top of your video. Subtitles – More associated with translation. Assumes viewers can hear and are typically used when the viewer doesn’t speak the language used by the speakers in the video.

You can use something like Google Translate as it is far easier and faster to already have existing text in one language that you can readily translate into multiple languages. So that’s one of the big benefits, but let’s get to learn more.

Having captions helps search engines detect context for your content and this means it can help to be found on search engines and also be found when people search for content within each Social Media platform or video platform that has search capabilities.

It’s not hard to open an SRT file once you know how simple it is.

How to open an srt file

So let’s take a look at this, in the bottom of this is an SRT file and normally you won’t be able to open this in a standard application so the easiest way is to right click on it, and select where you can open with notepad or what I recommend is to use this next app, it’s actually free. Search it up on the internet, it is called Notepad + +.

So this is the one we’re going to be selecting here:

srt file

This is the easiest way to open it. normally the .SRT extension is not going to be recognized but you can always use a regular text editor for that and open it up, this is how it looks like:

srt file sample subtitles and format

How to convert text to srt

How can you convert a text transcript that you might have into an SRT? The easiest way is to use the text editor like the one I just mentioned (Notepad ++) and just simply rename the .txt file extension into .srt.

The .srt format is just plain text formatted a specific way to then be readable as a captioned file.

Lets just say that you have your transcript already, I’ll give you a more specific example of how the format looks, but just to show you this particular point on how you can convert your regular text from regular text into an SRT, let’s say that you have a blank notepad document and you have all your transcripts here, unformatted. Just lines of text of what was spoken on your video.

The easiest way to turn this into an SRT is just to save as SRT. Typically you would save it as a text file like: “filename.txt”. Once you have entered a filename, then you just type in the extension, just know that Facebook for example, requires a specific way of how you save the file’s extension. You can see how to name your srt captions file for Facebook here.

What srt file editor can you use?

If you have a Windows machine, just use Notepad or the other application I mentioned, Notepad ++ as you can also get for free. Notepad of course, comes in already built in with Windows. For the Mac. I just use TextEdit, it pretty much functions the same as Notepad.

What is Notepad ++ ?

It’s like an enhanced version of the barebones text editor included on Windows:Notepad. It supports many programming languages, which makes it awesome if you’re familiar with code editing because it highlights the syntax and it makes things just a lot better to scan visually. You can read more about it here.


The srt format

Now here this is where the srt format comes in.This is the format that allows the captions to be displayed as an SRT file.

Line #1 in the very top, you have a the number representing the section of the subtitle. It is the actual number of subtitle.

Line # 2 is the actual time where the subtitle begins and where it ends. Notice that between them is a dash, dash, greater than symbol ( –> ). This is very important, it needs to be formatted that way for it to work.

Line # 3 is the actual subtitle text itself. Some people use all caps, some people use punctuation and others not. I would say you try to use punctuation whenever possible. Also using Capitalized Text when appropriate makes the experience and usability of reading a lot better.

The Time format is in hours, minutes, seconds and milliseconds. Like this:


Time format example: 01:02:05,420 which is one hour, 2 minutes, 5 seconds, and 420 milliseconds.

1. [Section of subtitles number]

2. [Time the subtitle begins] –> [Time the subtitle ends]

3. [Subtitle Text]

Example srt file

And here is the simplest example of how an .srt file looks. As you can see, it basically only requires 3 lines. In this example however, I have included 2 subtitle sections, notice there is also an empty line between them:

00:00:00,000 –> 00:00:02,350
this is a cool subtitle text that starts at zero

00:00:02,350 –> 00:00:04,000
a second subtitle that starts right after two seconds

So as you can see, it’s pretty easy.

Pretty common sense so far. This is the second section subtitled starts where the previous subtitle ended and ends at four seconds and zero milliseconds. Notice how there are three zeroes after the end in the milliseconds place. Well that’s simply because one millisecond is one thousandth of a second so one more above 999 is one second.

How to create an srt file on a Mac

N how do you create an SRT file on the Mac? Of course, I know we touched briefly on that, but basically you can use the built in TextEdit application. That’s the easiest fastest way to do it and it’s basically the same thing on as what we’re doing here with Notepad on Windows, or this other application that I mentioned Notepad ++ which renders the .srt file in an easier to read format. The sad thing is that it’s not avaiable for Mac 🙁

Same thing with with the Mac you would open it the same way and and then you rename it the same way so it’s recognized as a .srt file before you upload it to either YouTube or Facebook or one of those other places where you are going to upload your videos with their captions.

Saving the srt file

I’m saving the SRT file for use on Facebook. So here’s the specific way and how you actually save it.

You’re going to need a language code in addition to the .SRT extension of course, and here is an example of the English language code that you will have to include.

You can look up online to see what the different language are for the different languages.

Remember that after this language code comes the extension which is just .SRT so you have the file name, dot language code, dot SRT and that immediately formats your regular text file into an SRT once you have the transcripts in the right format.

Srt file download – example tamplate

I’ll be providing a free srt template that you can just download and you can edit it. But you can also copy the following we used earlier into a text file to get started:

00:00:00,000 –> 00:00:02,350
this is a cool subtitle text that starts at zero

00:00:02,350 –> 00:00:04,000
a second subtitle that starts right after two seconds

Once you get get the simple template just type in all your transcripts in there and then upload that into YouTube or Facebook.

Sometimes it’s easier to create your own SRT from scratch because even though you have the option to auto-generate your captions, many times on YouTube and Facebook will often generate captions that are not always perfect especially if there’s a lot of background noise going on or original video, or there are multiple voices overlapping.

Then the auto-generating software gets confused and so this is one of the ways you can just create it from scratch by going through the video and typing it all up manually, rather than trying to go in after the fact and correct everything that was automatically generated. You’ll find out many times, that takes longer than just doing it from scratch.

Now here’s a very cool tool I use to save me literally hours when doing transcription jobs. It’s called Happyscribe, (thank me later) this will help drop the tedious work of transcribing and subtitling. Heck, it actually makes it more fun:

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