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Customizing Subtitle appearance in Plex Media Player (PMP)

OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

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 document explains the location of the folder: https://support.plex.tv/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.

Move subtitles from the black borders over the picture

This may matter to people who use a video projector and screen masking, so the subtitles don't appear in the masked area below the picture:
add the line --sub-use-margins=no

This setting has only an effect, if the video is stored without black margins (not 'letterboxed')


edit history:
2017-08-27 first revision, Thank you to @shopgirl284 for help!
2018-01-21 added how to move subs away from the black borders
2018-05-11 updated link to the Plex knowledge base

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Comments

  • phenianphenian Posts: 73Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Impressive. Nice. Thanks.

  • Trovon_17Trovon_17 Posts: 3Members, Plex Pass Plex Pass

    Is it possible to do so in the android or android tv?

  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    @Trovon_17 said:
    Is it possible to do so in the android or android tv?

    No. Plex Media Player only runs on Mac or Windows or Linux.

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  • riemannnriemannn Posts: 3Members

    Hi, trying to fix the positioning of subtitles on Plex because my TV has horrible overscan. I've been trying to follow your instructions and locate the "plexmediaplayer.conf" file to no avail. I searched .conf extension in all Plex related folders but only thing that returned was "fonts.conf" which doesn't seem related. Also is the program called "Plex Media Server" nowadays? Because there is no mention of "Plex Media Player" in my PC (Windows 10). Thank you in advance.

  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    Plex Media Player is a separate download.
    You install it additionally to Plex Media Server.

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  • riemannnriemannn Posts: 3Members

    @OttoKerner said:
    Plex Media Player is a separate download.
    You install it additionally to Plex Media Server.

    Thanks for the clarification. Is Play Media Player a paid service? I can't seem to find a free download option of Plex Media Player in this page.

  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    @riemannn said:
    Thanks for the clarification. Is Play Media Player a paid service? I can't seem to find a free download option of Plex Media Player in this page.

    https://www.plex.tv/downloads/
    choose "3. Get an app"

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  • riemannnriemannn Posts: 3Members

    Thank you, I managed to find it and followed your instructions, and even added some choice commands from mpv.io. However, the resulting changes are only visible on Plex Media Player (local PC) and not on my TV screen (connected with Plex Roku app). Is that to be expected? Any chance I can manipulate subtitles on my TV as well? As I mentioned, the specific action that I'm looking for is re-positioning the subtitles to a fixed position in relation to my screen, as my TV has overscan. By means of testing, I used "--sub-pos=50" to shoot for the middle of the screen but, again, it only worked when I tried to play the video on my local computer, not on Roku. I almost exclusively use .srt subtitles, if it matters. Thanks again in advance.

  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    @riemannn said:
    However, the resulting changes are only visible on Plex Media Player (local PC) and not on my TV screen (connected with Plex Roku app). Is that to be expected?

    Yes.

    Any chance I can manipulate subtitles on my TV as well?

    No.

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  • Fresh4KFresh4K Posts: 9Members ✭✭

    @OttoKerner said:

    @Trovon_17 said:
    Is it possible to do so in the android or android tv?

    No. Plex Media Player only runs on Mac or Windows or Linux.

    Shouldn't that be main thing to resolve for Plex developers? Probably 90% of users here watch movies on TV and we don't have simple option to move subtitles to bottom of screen?

  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    @Fresh4K said:
    Shouldn't that be main thing to resolve for Plex developers? Probably 90% of users here watch movies on TV and we don't have simple option to move subtitles to bottom of screen?

    This is a HowTo thread that deals with Plex Media Player. Please stick to the topic.

    You are welcome to discuss what you think should be priority in the appropriate subforums for the Smart TV app:
    https://forums.plex.tv/categories/smart-tvs

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  • Eryk AndradeEryk Andrade Posts: 7Members ✭✭

    Thank you so much!! Can you tell me if it is possible to change the position of the subtitles using this same method? Well, apart from the settings you explained, I could not apply others. (Detail: I'm using Plex Media Player's full-screen mode).

  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    @Eryk Andrade said:
    Thank you so much!! Can you tell me if it is possible to change the position of the subtitles using this same method? Well, apart from the settings you explained, I could not apply others. (Detail: I'm using Plex Media Player's full-screen mode).

    Other 'position' settings are available directly within PMP.

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  • Eryk AndradeEryk Andrade Posts: 7Members ✭✭

    @OttoKerner said:

    @Eryk Andrade said:
    Thank you so much!! Can you tell me if it is possible to change the position of the subtitles using this same method? Well, apart from the settings you explained, I could not apply others. (Detail: I'm using Plex Media Player's full-screen mode).

    Other 'position' settings are available directly within PMP.

    I've already tried using the other position settings in the PMP, but nothing happens, you know what it can be?

  • Eryk AndradeEryk Andrade Posts: 7Members ✭✭

    @Eryk Andrade said:

    @OttoKerner said:

    @Eryk Andrade said:
    Thank you so much!! Can you tell me if it is possible to change the position of the subtitles using this same method? Well, apart from the settings you explained, I could not apply others. (Detail: I'm using Plex Media Player's full-screen mode).

    Other 'position' settings are available directly within PMP.

    I've already tried using the other position settings in the PMP, but nothing happens, you know what it can be?

    I'm sorry I mistook abbreviations. I was referring to what is in the MPV, because the PMP settings do not allow customization of the height of the subtitles and I wanted it to be in the center and a little higher and not at the top of the screen, however when using "--sub-pos = <0-100> "of the MPV, nothing happens. You know why?

  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Posts: 30,229Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    @Eryk Andrade said:
    I'm sorry I mistook abbreviations. I was referring to what is in the MPV, because the PMP settings do not allow customization of the height of the subtitles and I wanted it to be in the center and a little higher and not at the top of the screen, however when using "--sub-pos = <0-100> "of the MPV, nothing happens. You know why?

    Because PMP overrides those with its own 'position' instructions.
    Nothing you can do about it.

    Got help? Help others too - by reporting back with your results!
    Have you checked the Documentation before posting a question in the forums?
    Use the SEARCH function before starting a new thread!
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  • Eryk AndradeEryk Andrade Posts: 7Members ✭✭

    @OttoKerner said:

    @Eryk Andrade said:
    I'm sorry I mistook abbreviations. I was referring to what is in the MPV, because the PMP settings do not allow customization of the height of the subtitles and I wanted it to be in the center and a little higher and not at the top of the screen, however when using "--sub-pos = <0-100> "of the MPV, nothing happens. You know why?

    Because PMP overrides those with its own 'position' instructions.
    Nothing you can do about it.

    I did not know it worked that way. Many thanks for explaining :)

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