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Customizing Subtitle appearance in Plex Media Player (PMP)

OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 24,546Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja
edited August 27 in Tips, Tricks & How-Tos

By default, Plex Media Player only allows you to customize the look of subtitles for size, color, and placement. But the internal AV engine in PMP (called 'MPV') supports a lot of parameters including tuning the subtitles to your liking.

All the info below applies to text-based subtitles with no formatting only. (e.g. SRT, TX3G)

This means it does not apply to ASS/SSA subtitles, because these usually come with very elaborate formatting already applied. There are however special formatting commands available which apply exclusively to ASS subtitles. Look them up in the mpv documentation.

It also does not apply to image-based subtitles (VOBSUB, PGS), like you find them on DVD and BluRay.

Customize Subtitles in PMS with MPV Parameters

You just have to create a text file named mpv.conf and put it in the same folder as the main configuration file for PMP plexmediaplayer.conf.
The Advanced Configuration support documents explains the location of the folder: https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/207338798-Advanced-Configuration

Here is the full list of subtitle parameters for MPV: https://mpv.io/manual/master/#subtitles

NOTE: you cannot set a color for the subtitle letters themselves in the mpv.conf file. This is overridden in PMP by the color selection in Settings - Subtitles

The following example (which mimics the default appearance of subtitles in MPC-HC) is achieved with these parameters:

--sub-border-size=3
--sub-bold=yes
--sub-spacing=1
--sub-ass-force-margins
--sub-shadow-offset=3
--sub-shadow-color=0/0/0/0.5

I have attached this as a ready-made mpv.conf file to the bottom of this post. You just need to unzip it and place it into the appropriate folder.

Now we will break this configuration file up, line by line, to show what each line does:

--sub-border-size=6
This defines the border around subtitles to be 6 pixels thick.

Normally, this option doesn't apply to ASS subtitles, because they define their own border style. If you want to treat ASS subs with the same black border, you need additionally the line --sub-ass-force-margins

--sub-bold=yes
This makes the subtitles use the bold font face.

--sub-spacing=1
This increases the letter spacing a bit, which makes it better readable from a distance, IMHO.

--sub-shadow-offset=3
--sub-shadow-color=0/0/0/0.5

these 2 lines activate the text shadow
and define the color and opacity of the shadow

NOTE: Don't mind the black borders on top and bottom of the included images, my screen is 1200 pixels high, instead of 1080.


edit history:
2017-08-27 first revision, Thank you to @shopgirl284 for help!

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