HTML track tag

The HTML <track> tag is a critical element for embedding text tracks into media content such as video or audio files. This tag plays an essential role in providing additional information like subtitles, captions, descriptions, chapters, or metadata, enhancing accessibility and enriching the user’s media consumption experience. This resource page delves into the capabilities, essential attributes, usage, and best practices for the <track> tag, serving as a comprehensive guide for web developers and content creators aiming to make their multimedia content more accessible and engaging.

Introduction to the Track Tag

The <track> tag is a self-closing element that is used as a child of the media elements <video> and <audio>. In the modern web, accessibility and internationalization are of paramount importance, and the <track> tag is fundamental in addressing these aspects by allowing for the inclusion of subtitles, captions, and other supplementary textual content in multiple languages. It supports WebVTT (Web Video Text Tracks) format, which is a standard for displaying timed text tracks.


The <track> tag supports several attributes that control its behavior and define its relation to the media it accompanies.

  • src: Specifies the URL of the track file. This attribute is mandatory for the <track> tag to function properly. The track file should be in WebVTT (.vtt) format.

  • kind: Defines the kind of text track. Valid values are subtitles, captions, descriptions, chapters, and metadata. Each serves a different purpose, from providing dialogue for hearing-impaired users (captions) to offering descriptive narration for visually impaired users (descriptions).

  • srclang: This attribute signifies the language of the track text data. It’s used together with the kind attribute to inform the user of the language of the subtitles or captions. The value must be a valid BCP 47 language tag.

  • label: Provides a readable title for the track. This is not displayed but can be used by user agents for the selection of subtitles or captions.

  • default: This boolean attribute indicates that the track should be enabled if the user’s preferences do not indicate that another track would be more appropriate. This can be useful for content that defaults to a specific language or for accessibility features like sign language.

Usage and Implementation

Integrating <track> into your media involves adding it as a child element of your <video> or <audio> tags. Below is a typical implementation showcasing how to include subtitles and captions into a video element.

<video controls>
  <source src="movie.mp4" type="video/mp4">
  <track src="subtitles_en.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="en" label="English" default>
  <track src="subtitles_es.vtt" kind="subtitles" srclang="es" label="Spanish">
  <!-- Additional tracks can be added here -->

In this example, two <track> elements are provided for subtitles in English and Spanish. The English subtitles are marked as default, instructing the browser to use them if no user preference is detected.

WebVTT Files

WebVTT files (.vtt) are plain text files that follow a specific format to synchronize text with the media playback. They include cues that comprise of start and end times followed by the text that should be displayed at that interval. Creating a properly formatted WebVTT file is essential for the proper function of the <track> tag.

Accessibility Considerations

The use of the <track> tag is a significant boost to the accessibility of video and audio content on the web. By providing subtitles and captions, content creators can make their media accessible to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Descriptive tracks benefit visually impaired users by offering additional context. It is crucial to ensure the accuracy and readability of the track content to maximize its utility.

Best Practices

  • Always provide captions or subtitles for media to improve accessibility.
  • Use label and srclang attributes to enhance the user experience by enabling easy selection of the appropriate track.
  • Test your track files thoroughly to ensure synchronization with the media.
  • Consider the default attribute wisely to match the primary audience of your content but also offer alternatives to accommodate diverse audiences.

In conclusion, the <track> tag represents a powerful HTML element that brings significant benefits to multimedia content accessibility and user engagement. By adhering to the guidelines and best practices outlined in this resource page, web developers and content creators can effectively utilize this feature to enhance the viewing experience across diverse audiences.