It doesn’t take an engineering degree to use Netflix for its intended purpose. You navigate to the user-friendly website, choose what you want to watch, and in no time flat, you’re watching the latest Netflix content streaming on your computer or TV. Easily said, and even more easily done.
Netflix has reaped massive rewards from this tried-and-true ad-free formula, without much need for improvement, but we’ve researched the best customization and improvement options for users that really want more. From taking advantage of in-depth algorithms to downloading videos for offline viewing, these Netflix tips will help you get the most out of your subscription.
Additionally, take a look at our picks for the best movies on Netflix and the best TV shows on Netflix.
Search smarter, not harder
Understandably, one user found himself fed up with the Netflix interface, which looks great but runs slowly (depending on your hardware). So, he built Flixable, a website to help you quickly find stuff to watch and to keep tabs on recently added (and soon-to-be-removed) content. Currently, the platform only supports Netflix in the U.S., UK, Australia, and Finland, but more countries are on the way. The search function is useful and quick, allowing you to filter in a number of different ways, and there’s even an entire subsection for Netflix Originals.
Download movies to watch offline
For years, Netflix subscribers dreamed of the ability to download movies or episodes of their favorite TV shows to accompany them on a long trip off the grid. The dream has finally arrived, and we’re here to help you make that transition go as smoothly as possible, so you can sit back and enjoy the disconnected life.
Want to know how? First things first: You can currently only do so on a mobile device (phone or tablet) or in the Windows 10 app (Anniversary Update or later). Make sure your Netflix app is up to date, then head to App Settings (located under the menu in the upper left corner) and select a video quality — Higher for better resolution and slower downloads, Standard for the opposite.
Next, tap the same menu and choose Available for Download. Everything displayed there can be downloaded and viewed offline. Select a program then hit the download button (you’ll need to download TV episodes individually). Careful, though — space is limited, especially on smartphones.
Hit up our step-by-step guide for a more in-depth walkthrough.
Rate everything you watch
To get tailored suggestions, you can “rate” titles with either a thumbs up or a thumbs down (Netflix scrapped its star rating system, for better or worse).
While much more limited without star ratings, Netflix’s algorithm takes note of your preferences and tailors its suggested titles based upon those ratings. By using the rating system, you can save yourself some time when it comes to searching.
Conversely, the system also takes note of shows and movies you’ve given thumbs down, and will avoid making similar suggestions in the future. Consistently rating what you watch helps fine-tune Netflix, making your viewing experience that much easier.
Set up multiple profiles
If more than just one person uses your Netflix account, setting up other profiles helps keep everyone’s preferences separate. Netflix allows for up to five different profiles and keeps everyone’s taste preferences and ratings specific to their profile. This is a particularly handy feature for those who have kids. The last thing you need is a row full of Dora the Explorer-related suggestions when you really want good sci-fi. Get carried away and now you want to remove one or more of these new profiles? Here’s our guide to delete profiles from your account from almost any device.
Add IMDb rankings and trailer links
If you’re a fan of checking review scores before deciding on a movie, then adding IMDb ratings to your Netflix profile is crucial. Google Chrome users can download the Enhancer extension from Simkl to have ratings show up when browsing through Netflix selections. You will need to set up a Simkl account and link it to your Netflix profile, then you’ll see IMDb ratings (and rankings!) on each title, as well as a little video camera icon, which will link to a trailer.
The extension also adds the ability to view trailers of most selections, and a”Simkl Browse” dropdown menu at the top of your Netflix window, which allows you to filter titles more thoroughly than you would be able to otherwise (it’s actually very useful). These features are only accessible via the PC/Mac browser version of Netflix and not on the mobile app, over-the-top (Roku/Apple TV/Fire TV) apps, or gaming system apps. It also works for Hulu and Crunchyroll, for what it’s worth.
Sort your queue
The algorithm-created recommendations provided by Netflix in the My List section of your library can be helpful, but those who wish to take a more hand-curated approach can easily do so. On your computer, simply go to the My Account tab in the upper-right-hand corner, then scroll down to My Profile, and select the Order In My List link. From there, you can choose whether My List is curated by the computer, or hand sorted by you.
Search hidden subgenres
As it turns out, Netflix has assigned codes to each genre and subgenre, and you can access the full list of movies or programs manually. To do so, you must type the following URL into your internet browser: http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/X. After that, just swap out the “X” component with the code that corresponds to the genre you hope to browse, and you’ll get to see all of the options available.
The categories range from fairly general (i.e., anime, drama, and TV series) to extremely specific (i.e., movies for ages 5-7, teen comedies, and werewolf horror movies). With how quickly and easily they can be popped into a browser, they serve as a useful tool — in addition to Netflix’s home page and existing browsing options — for finding exactly what you want to stream.
Alternately, instead of manually inputting links, Google Chrome users can install the aforementioned Enhancer extension, link an account, and pick from the “Simkl Browse” dropdown menu, or try the FindFlix extension.
Stay up to date and get recommendations
Each month, we publish an updated list of what’s new on Netflix and what’s going away, so you can easily keep your finger on the pulse of the latest TV shows and films, as well as old favorites you want to catch before they leave the streamer.
Don’t know what to watch? There are a lot of dedicated viewers who offer helpful recommendations for people with a bad case of watcher’s block. We publish two lists, including one of our favorite TV shows and another of our favorite movies on Netflix, and Reddit even has an entire subreddit dedicated to the cause.
Get a handle on data usage
On-the-go streaming can take a hefty toll on your phone bill, but Netflix does have a way to curb that usage. In the iOS or Android application, go to App Settings and then Cellular Data Usage. From there, you can choose how many GB of data per hour you are willing to allow Netflix to use. Settings range from allowing nothing to stream over data — Netflix will only stream on Wi-Fi — to Unlimited, where the streaming service will always stream at the highest possible quality while you’re on the go.
Adjust playback speed
It’s been a bumpy road, but Netflix has finally rolled out the ability to adjust playback speed for any title that you’re watching. Access your playback controls when watching a title, and then look for a speedometer icon or similar symbol. Select this, and you can adjust playback anywhere from 0.5x to 1.5x. This is helpful for a range of users, from those who may have trouble understanding shows when they are played at normal speeds, to those who really want to binge through the early seasons of a show as fast as they can. However, it may not be available on all platforms — try it on your computer or phone for best results.
If you’re feeling lucky, or you simply want a more traditional TV experience, there is a way to randomly choose a film or TV show to watch. Netflix Roulette is a stand-alone site that allows you to randomly watch a movie or TV show. Those not looking for something completely random can tighten up their options by only watching films with a certain rating window, director or actor’s name, or keyword. May the odds be ever in your favor.
However, shuffling content is getting a whole lot easier in 2021, as Netflix has announced that it will bring a native shuffle function to its app. When you first log into your profile, you will see an extra option that says Shuffle Play, as well as a menu option that says Play Something. Both will immediately start playing a title that Netflix thinks you will like. Expect the feature to roll out sometime in the first half of 2021 (although possibly under a different name).
Watch real-time TV
Some streaming platforms have begun offering an option to go into a real TV mode, which acts like a more traditional TV channel that streams constant shows related to a particular theme as an alternative to binge-watching. It makes streaming a more viable alternative to lobby TVs that always need to have something playing, or for filling the background when you want something on but don’t really care what it is. Instead of playing shows consecutively throughout their seasons, channels alternate between a variety of different shows and movies.
Netflix is bringing a similar TV channel service to its platform, called Direct. The downside is that it’s currently only available in France. However, keep an eye on Netflix updates for when it rolls out to the rest of the world (or see if a VPN allows you to take a closer look).
Change those subtitles
Love watching foreign films, but have a hard time keeping up with the automated subtitles that Netflix puts on your screen? The size, style, and color of subtitles can be adjusted by going to the Your Account menu in the upper-right drop-down menu of your internet browser, then selecting Subtitle Appearance. Changes you make on your computer will also affect what you see on mobile devices.
Bonus: If you’re not seeing a language that you want subtitles for, check out SubFlicks — the website allows you to search for subtitle files and integrate them into Netflix via the Super Netflix application for Chrome. Unfortunately, these extra subtitles will only be available on PC and Mac. Did someone turn on subtitles and now you’re super frustrated? Here’s how to turn Netflix subtitles off — on every kind of device you may be using.
Search by language
Those looking to expand their non-English vocabulary have a great — albeit somewhat hidden — way to do so. If you go to the Details section of any show, you can see a selection of subtitle languages. Click on a link for a given language, and you will then be transported to a page with all shows and films that are available in that language. You can then sort those listings by suggestions for you, rating, and in various other cool ways.
Have a favorite movie or TV series that you aren’t seeing on Netflix? You can go to the company’s handy-dandy help page to suggest up to three titles at a time that you’d like to see added. Netflix looks for licenses for this suggested content, and upon occasion, adds them to its vast streaming library.
Learn the hotkeys
As with any quality internet App, Netflix offers users a series of hotkeys to save you clicks. Here is a full list, so that you can easily toggle things like full-screen mode and volume without moving that mouse. For more info, check out the quick keys homepage.
PgUp: Play (PC only)
PgDn: Pause (PC only)
F: Full Screen
Esc: Exit full screen
Shift+Left arrow: Rewind
Shift+Right arrow: Fast forward
Up arrow: Volume up
Down arrow: Volume down
M: Mute on/off
Delete your history
Those who are tired of getting suggestions based on the one time they let some tiny tots watch kiddie TV shows on their account have an easy option: Delete the record of it. Go to the My Activity menu to see everything you have watched in chronological order, then press the X on the right side of a particular title to delete it from your viewing history.
Kick off your ex
Those with an ex-partner or extended group of friends who are logged into your account in their browser can quickly sign them out remotely. Simply go to the upper-right drop-down menu on Netflix, select My Account, and then choose Sign Out of All Devices. Voilá! No more moochers. Of course, if they know the password, you’ll need to change it in the My Account menu as well.
Become an early adopter of new features
If you love being on the cutting edge of new features, go to the upper-right menu, select My Account, and then click on the Test Participation link. By opting in, you’ll be allowed to participate in tests to help improve the Netflix experience for others, as well as be the first to see potential new changes before they roll out to the masses.
Put your account on hold
Netflix’s subscription fee for online streaming is a low price to pay for access to its deep library of movies. But what if you’re hitting the road for an extended vacation, or summer has arrived and you’ll be spending less time indoors?
Netflix allows you to easily suspend your subscription for up to 10 months without paying extra charges. To do so, just head to your account settings, then click the “Cancel Membership” button (located just under the “Membership & Billing” subhead). Keep in mind, though, that if you leave your account untouched for more than 10 months, all your information will vanish.