How to use subtitles with The Criterion Channel

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(Image credit: The Criterion Channel)

Considering that The Criterion Channel has a massive roster of classic foreign films as part of its streaming lineup, subtitles are a key feature for the streaming service. However, subtitles can be a key part of the viewing experience for some viewers whether the movie is foreign or not.

Those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities benefit greatly from the availability of subtitles so that they can enjoy many of the classic and essential movies available on The Criterion Channel. Heck, even some viewers who are not hard of hearing employ subtitles to make sure that they don't miss or mishear anything being said by the characters. 

Unfortunately, subtitles may not be available on all videos on the streaming service. If you do not see a captions icon in the lower right corner of the player, then there are no subtitles for that movie.

Another quick FYI, if a video automatically plays subtitles but you want to turn them off, that a caption icon is again necessary to do so. If it's not there then the subtitles are part of the video and cannot be disabled.

In all other cases, if you want to have subtitles appear on for capable Criterion Channel movies or change the language that the subtitles are in, here's what you need to know.

How to turn on subtitles on Criterion Channel — computer/browser

To check if subtitles are available for a specific Criterion Channel movie on your computer or browser, see if there is a "CC" icon in the lower right corner of the player bar. If yes, then subtitles are available. To start using them, click on the "CC" icon and choose the language you want for the subtitles.

You can customize other subtitle elements within "CC" settings, including font size, font color, font edge styling, background color and background opacity. To do this, click the "CC" icon, then select "Customize;" there are separate "Font," "Background" and "Window" menus for each customizable setting. You can also choose to reset to go back to the default subtitles setting.

How to turn on subtitles on Criterion Channel — iOS & Android app

On The Criterion Channel iOS and Android app, finding the subtitles feature is basically the same, though the icon is a little different. Still located in the lower right-hand corner of the players bar, instead of the "CC" icon it is now a chat bubble with three dots inside it.

Depending on the platform you're using, customizing your subtitle settings differ. Here is a breakdown on how to edit the settings on each available platform:


  • Load the video
  • Swipe down on the touch surface on your remote
  • If available, the subtitle option will appear and a list of the subtitles available will appear below it
  • Select the subtitle option


  • Press the Home button on Roku remote
  • Scroll to the Settings option and select it
  • Scroll to the Accessibility option and select it
  • Select Captions Mode and select your preferred subtitle mode

Amazon Fire Devices

  • Select a video to watch and start playback
  • Press the Menu option
  • Select Turn Subtitles On
  • Press Menu again to go back to the video

How to download videos with subtitles

If you have purchased a video that is available for download, you can download that video with subtitles. To do so, visit the video page via the Browse page, then open the Subtitles Downloads dropdown menu.

More information on using subtitles on Criterion Channel is available on the streaming service's website.

More on The Criterion Channel

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.

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