Netflix, in my view, is the ultimate TV service for cord cutters – with thousands of hours of TV and movies, and an easy to use interface, you can always find something interesting to watch.
But as much as the interface is easy to use, there are still a lot of things you can do to improve it, or to discover some hidden nuggets. Here are some of the best hacks, tricks and tips you can use to improve your Netflix experience. (And you can read my full Netflix UK review right here).
1. Add the “Super Netflix” Chrome Extension
There are a lot of Netflix-related Chrome extensions out there – but this one solves some of the most annoying Netflix problems.
The extension (which can only be used while you’re watching Netflix on your Chrome browser), adds things like:
- The ability to add custom subtitles that will sync to what you’re watching
- Change the streaming video quality on the fly
- Change the video speed rate of what you’re watching
- Blur images and episode descriptions (finally, no spoilers!)
- Change the brightness, saturation, and contrast.
With so many useful options, there’s no wonder this extension has so many users.
2. Download Netflix Content To Your Mobile and Watch Anywhere
Up until a few years ago, Netflix refused to let people download content to their mobile, stating that it would be… “too confusing.”
Well, thankfully we all got smarter – and back in 2016, Netflix have added a Download option, so now you can watch stuff on a plane, or on the tube…
Once you access the Netflix app on your mobile phone (or tablet), you will see a small arrow next to episodes or movies you can download. Alternatively, you can go to “Available for Download” from the app’s main menu, where you’ll get a list of all the content you can download.
Note that due to licensing issues not everything is available for download, and the content you download EXPIRES after a set number of days. Once it expires, you need to go online with the app again, and “Renew” episodes/movies you still want (but thankfully you don’t need to actually download them again.)
Another interesting bit is that content you download while abroad, will still be available to watch on your device when you come back home – even if that content is not normally available in your region. (But once the show expires, you won’t be able to “renew” its download.)
Pro Tip: If content downloaded abroad doesn’t work, try switching your phone to Airplane Mode.
3. Use Netflix’ “Smart Downloads” Feature So You’ll Always Have Something To Watch
Go into your App Settings and make sure “Smart Downloads” is enabled. Now, after you finish watching episodes of a series you downloaded to your phone, Netflix will automatically delete the episode you watched, and download the next one (over WiFi only), so it’ll always be ready for you on your next tube journey.
4. Use Secret Netflix Category Codes To Find Hidden Movies
Netflix have thousands of movies and TV shows (even in the UK – though the US selection is bigger) – and often, the problem becomes FINDING what to watch.
Well, remember those weird Netflix categories that show up – and randomly change – every time you open Netflix? (Things like “American U.S. Thrillers”, “Political Comedies”, etc’) – turns out Netflix has THOUSANDS of them, and you can access those categories manually with “secret” codes and a special url.
The categories are truly endless, from “Westerns” (7700) to “Asian Action Movies” (77232), from “Cult Sci-Fi & Fantasy” (4734) to “Foreign Gay & Lesbian Movies” (8243) – you’re bound to find content you never knew was ON Netflix.
The URL you need to use is:
Where you replace THECODE with the ID number of the category you want. So for example, this URL:
Will show you the “Asian Action Movies” category. You can find a list of all the Netflix ID codes over at WhatsOnNetflix.
5. Make Sure You’re Using The Right Playback Settings
There’s no point in paying for 4K, UltraHD quality if you’re not getting it. Then again, you might be travelling to a slow-broadband area, and don’t want Netflix to use-up too much bandwidth, or you want to minimise buffering.
Well, the Playback Settings page is you friend. Go to your account settings, or use this direct url.
You will find four Streaming Levels which you can change:
- Auto: This setting will let your streaming quality fluctuate on the fly according to your broadband speed and the quality of your connection. It will automatically minimise buffering (and bandwidth usage), but can also lead to a drop in picture quality.
- Low: This level will use up about 0.3 GB per hour, and will limit you to Standard Definition picture quality.
- Medium: This streaming level uses up to 0.7 GB per hour, but is still limited to Standard Definition.
- High: High quality is where you get HD and UltraHD (4K) streams (as long as you’re paying for the appropriate plan). This level will use up to 3GB per hour for HD, and 7GB per hour for UHD. Keep in mind that if your broadband connection isn’t fast enough, you might go into the buffering-zone…
In most cases, choosing “Auto” is your best bet, as it’ll be smart enough to change picture quality according to your broadband’s speed and connection quality. But if you often find the picture quality getting worse, or if you experience a lot of buffering, you might want to change the settings manually and see if it helps.
Plus, don’t forget Data limits – if you’re using a mobile data plan, or a limited-data home broadband plan, High quality content will dry up your data plan pretty quickly.
6. Use Netflix Keyboard Shortcuts
If you’re watching on your computer, these shortcuts can help:
- Spacebar – Pause and Play
- F – Go to (and from) Full Screen
- M – Mute the sound
- Up Arrow / Down Arrow – Toggle the volume
- Shift + Right Arrow (then Enter) will Fast Forward. Shift + Left Arrow (then Enter) will Rewind.
7. Disable Netflix’ Autoplay
There are two “Autoplay” features on Netflix – “Autoplay next episode in the series”, and the annoying “Autoplay preview while browsing”. Thankfully, you can disable either one of them in the Playback Setting screen. We have full instructions on how to disable autoplay here.
8. Stop Watching Netflix on Chrome if you want more than 720p
Google Chrome is a great browser, but it has an ongoing issue with Netflix – you can only watch Netflix content on a 720p resolution with Google Chrome – no 1080p or 4K.
So if you’re watching on a computer, you’re better off either downloading the native Netflix App from the Windows Store on a PC, use Safari on a Mac, or use Microsoft’s Edge browser.
9. Change the Netflix Subtitles Appearance
Watch a lot of foreign films? (Or maybe you just prefer to watch regular content with subtitles as well, for all sorts of reasons?) – You can change the size, font and even colour of the subtitles, via the Netflix Subtitle Appearance settings screen.
10. Change Netflix’ Language
Setting your regular profile to “English” will not only affect the Netflix interface (and the names of the shows/movies), but will also change the subtitle languages available to you. However, since Netflix is available in nearly 200 countries worldwide, the language selection is actually quite big.
If you want to see subtitles in other languages (for your native language for example, or to use as a language-learning tool), you’ll need to change your profile’s language. Remember, this will change the interface language and the names of titles as well – so instead of changing your regular profile, you can also create a new Netflix profile, and change the language for that special profile.
First, go to the Manage Profiles page in your Netflix’ setting on the browser. Now you can either add a new profile, or click on an existing one – and change its language settings.
11. Watch And Interact Together With Remote Friends
Your husband is on a business trip, and you don’t want to watch the next episode of Stranger Things without him? Remember the days when we sat around the telly and a DVD player to watch movies with friends?
With services like Netflix Party, you can host Netflix “Watching Parties”, where the video is synced across all the devices watching around the world, and there’s even a “Party Chat” where you can talk about what you’re currently watching together.
12. Watch Netflix Without Using Mobile Data
Mobile company “Three” is offering the “Go Binge” service, where streaming Netflix on your mobile does not count towards your data plan. So as long as you’re on the right plan with Three, you can binge Netflix without WiFi and without worrying about using up your data. (Keep in mind, you still need a Netflix subscription, of course. AND good mobile reception…)
13. Remove titles from your Watch History
So, you were weak one day, and decided to watch The Ridiculous 6 (which has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). A day later, you don’t want your whole family to know your shame – but it’s plastered right there on Netflix, on various “Watch Again” lists, and for anyone who wonders into the title itself.
No worries! Just visit Netflix’ “My Activity” page, and you can remove anything – movies or episodes – from your watch history. (Just remember that if you remove an episode, and not the whole series, Netflix will show that episode as Unwatched – and you just might “have” to watch it again…)