I’m trying to display closed captioning on the movie "The Terminal" with Tom Hanks. I went to a website that has subtitles for the movie in .srt format and downloaded them. I added them to VLC media player (64-bit) on Windows 7.

I also changed some settings in VLC while the movie is playing:

  1. I added the captions file (.srt) Subtitle->Add Subtitle File...
  2. Tools->Preferences
  3. In the Simple Preferences dialog I clicked Subtitles / OSD
  4. From the Default Encoding drop down I selected Arabic (Windows-1256)
  5. Clicked OK

The sub-titles displayed somewhat correctly, but not entirely; a few of the characters were missing in the subtitles.

So I downloaded Notepad++ and opened the .srt file containing the Arabic subtitles.

To get that file to display correctly, from the menu I had to click Encoding -> Charactersets -> Arabic-> Windows-1256

In Notepad++ it appears to display all of the characters correctly. The only setting I can think of that might need to be changed here is back in VLC, in the Subtitles / OSD settings; and that is the font.

So my question is, what font does Notepad++ use to display the Arabic character set Arabic (Windows-1256)?

I found a font setting that said it the font was Courier New, but upon setting that same setting to this font in VLC the problem with some of the characters not displaying is still occurring.


So my question is, what font does notepad++ use to display the Arabic character set Arabic (Windows-1256)?

It might be that Notepad++ is converting Windows-1256 to UTF-8 on the fly within it’s code for display purposes. The big clue to me is when you say this:

I found a font setting that said it the font was Courier New…

Courier New should be a UTF-8 character set. So one idea to solve the issue is to open the file in Notepad++ and then convert it to UTF-8 via the “file format” menu and save the new file. That way the file and its contents will now be UTF-8 which is pretty much the most digestible encoding standard for extended character set processing.

Another idea comes from this issue report on the official VLC developer’s bug tracker; emphasis mine:

After installing windows 8 , the Arabic subtitle appear like squares even after changing the encoding to windows-1256 same problem on another device with win 8 VLC 2.0.4 or 2.0.5, same issue MPC Player show the arabic subtitle immediately, without adjusting the encoding too the only fix I found is to change the default font "Arial" to an arabic font, "Traditional Arabic" Font is clear and nice and all characters are perfect note: windows 8 has change the default arabic font in general

Looking at this answer on Ask Ubuntu it seems a potential solution lies in using the Tahoma font:

Go to VLC:

  1. Click Tools and next Preferences
  2. Click Subtitle & OSD
  3. In section Subtitle Language and Default encoding
  4. Select Arabic (Windows-1256)
  5. In section font select the Tahoma font
  • 1
    To add to your notes here; and it did work by the way...if you want it to sync up; you have to start the movie from the first track of film; pause the movie; move it all the way back to 00:00; add the subtitles; and then start the film. – leeand00 Nov 9 '14 at 2:20
  • @leeand00 Happy it worked! But what specifically worked? Was it the UTF-8 conversion? Or a specific font? Or a combo of both. – JakeGould Nov 9 '14 at 2:37
  • 1
    Both. There are still a few missing characters, but it isn't too bad. – leeand00 Nov 12 '14 at 14:44

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