How to get captions to play in embedded Windows Media Player
February 09, 2004
Closed Captioning

Creating SAMI files for Windows Media Player is now quite easy, using Subtitle Workshop, but I had a lot of trouble getting captions to play correctly. They would play just fine locally on my hard drive, but once I put them on a webserver, they wouldn't play at all.

That made me think it was a path problem, but finding the exact solution was tough.

Here's my canned solution for embedding a windows media player in a web page, adapted from Microsoft's instructions which do not seem to work for me. The example shown here is for a Windows2K web server, with the video being streamed off a windows media streaming server.

I started with instructions from this page.

I tried using their clever little selector which lets you change styles and languages, but got a lot of javascript errors, although it mostly worked. I gave up on it after a while, and simplified things. You need 4 files:

  • index.html - the html file that people will use to view the embedded movie
  • movie.wmv - the windows media file
  • movie.smi - the caption file
  • movie.asx - the file that refers to the windows media file with a path

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Posted by ellen at February 09, 2004 12:56 PM

Place the html file, the sami file and the asx file together in a directory. The .wmv file of course goes on your streaming server.

Here is the code for the html file:

Here is the code for a typical sami file:

Here is the code for the asx file

  • See also "A Quick Start to captioning with Subtitle Workshop"

  • New Article: Complete guide to captioning embedded Windows Media and Quicktime!
    And if you are a member of the elearning Guild, download my more complete article there: A Guide to Captioning Windows Media and QuickTime Using Subtitle Workshop

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    Hi Ellen!
    I'm dealing with similar woes. Maybe I'm missing something that you could easily spot...
    I have an .asf file that I have captioned with SAMI (actually used a product called Hi-Caption for help with the SAMI). The WMP isn't embedded in the page, rather opens up separately. My issue is that the captioning will display correctly when the linking web broswer in IE, but won't display when Netscrape is used. Do you have any thoughts on this? The code in the webpage is:
    Any thoughts on how to fix this? I was thinking of embedding the file, but then would a screen reader be able to access the captioned text correctly?

    Thanks for any thoughts you may have!


    Yes -
    Make sure you have "Show captions" turned on.

    On the mac, I was able to get it to play the captions starting with both Safari and Mozilla by waiting for them to open up Windows Media player, then selecting View:Show Captions.

    I'll try it tomorrow at work on Firefox for PC and Netscape for Mac.

    hi, I tried to use the similar code for my firefox browser but it did not display the close captions. Is there any plugin I need to install with firefox? How do I turn on close captions while viewing on the browser?
    Thanks for the assistance.

    Firefox may need the windows media plugin to use all the functionality of windows media. Captions are definitely a windows-media specific function.

    I am not certain this will fix your problem, but please see this page:

    Dear Ellen,

    On my intranet website - a videoblog - I'm using smi files to play subtitle in the windows media player embedded in the post page. Now, we can only read subtitles in windowed mode but not in full screen mode. Do you have any idea how to have subtitles in full screen mode ?

    Thanks for you time and you possible help.



    When you are playing in full screen, I believe you are no longer playing in the embedded player. Therefore you no longer have a div to fill with captions. So you must rely on the Windows Media Player to provide the captions. This means that captions must be turned ON in windows media player by the user. You will need to provide the user with instructions for turning on captions, and hope they notice them by the time they click "full screen".

    For Windows Media Player 11:
    1. Start playing the video in Windows Media Player
    2. Enter full-screen mode (for instructions, see above)
    3. Right-click anywhere within the player
    4. Select the "Lyrics, Captions, and Subtitles" option
    5. Select the "Subtitles" option
    6. Right-click within the player again
    7. Select the "Exit Full Screen" option
    8. Enter full-screen mode again, and the captions will now play

    For Windows Media 9 or 10:
    1. Click on the Start Button
    2. Select All Programs>Accessories>Entertainment
    3. Open and maximize Windows Media Player
    4. Select the "Play" option at the top of the window
    5. Select Captions And Subtitles - "on if available"
    6. Close Windows Media Player and return to your video

    ("how to turn on captioning" instructions come from


    Here is a tutorial to add closed captions or subtitles with Windows Media Player or Silverlight:

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