Think you already know all about Netflix? Think again.
There are dozens of hidden tips and tricks out there -- everything from Chrome extensions that boost your viewing experience from the laptop by serving up IMDb and Rotten Tomato ratings, to an option that lets you adjust the look of subtitles from the default yellow colour. We've rounded up over 30 of them right here and plan to continually update this piece as we discover more.
So, sit back, grab the remote, and be prepared to totally maximise your binge-watching experience from any device.
Netflix tips and tricks
Circumvent regional restrictions
Some regions, such as the US, get a better Netflix service in that they get newer TV shows and a wider range of movies. However, you can circumvent any regional restrictions in the UK by using a network service like Media Hint. It only works on computers and costs £2.50 a month (or £25 a year), but it will essentially allow you to access Netflix libraries in other countries.
If you want a free option, consider the Hola unblocker browser plugin, which works with Chrome, Firefox, or Android OS. If you want to access Netflix in other countries via your Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, or iPad, then all you have to do is manually change your DNS settings to trick your system into thinking you are based elsewhere. On an Apple TV, go into your Settings, go to General, then Network. Select your Network Name, then select Configure DNS, and Manual. Then, enter a new DNS code (Netflix Fixer and Droidkit regularly update a list of valid codes).
You can also use a paid-for service such as Unblock Us, which does the same for $4.99 (£3.20) a month. Just keep in mind accessing Netflix in other countries is a violation of your user agreement.
Is House of Cards buffering continuously? Netflix automatically calibrates your streaming depending on your connection -- but you can skip that. On a computer, click on any video while pressing Shift+Alt (Shift+Option+Click on a Mac), and then under “Stream Manager” you can manually adjust the bandwidth usage. There is also an option to adjust how the audio and video syncs.
If you’re on a Smart TV, Blu-ray Player, or game console, you’ll need to reset your Netflix app (this requires a code). Then, launch Netflix, and on your controller or remote, press the following combination: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up. You'll then have access to a secret debug menu of your general information. Tweak the settings from here, including eliminating buffering.
Adjust video resolution
You can check the resolution of what you’re actually watching by going to Your Account page, then select Playback Settings, and under Data Usage, select High. After, click Save. You can also navigate to Netflix.com/HdToggle on your PC and select "High" to make sure you're always set up for HD viewing by selecting. Just keep in mind that HD content eats through cellular data, so be conscious when using Netflix on your phone.
Avoid spoilers online
Use the Flixplus Chrome browser extension, which was created by the Lifehacker website team, to root out annoying Netflix features on the web. Flixplus can hide spoiler images and text snippets, remove duplicate recommendations, disable the Facebook integration prompt, and it can even show IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
Download it from here.
Change the look of subtitles
You can change subtitles from the default yellow sans-serif font. All you need to do is go to Your Account > Your Profile > Subtitle Appearance. In the pop-up box, you will see options to change the look as well as preview it until you're happy.
Get more subtitle languages
You can get more subtitles not included in the content directly. Go to Subflix and download the Netflix-friendly subtitles in your language of choice. From there, cue them up via the Super Netflix Chrome extension. It only works on PCs and Macs for now.
Use bonus features on Apple TV
If you’re watching Netflix via Apple TV, tap the Up arrow twice on the Apple TV remote while viewing to bring up a banner with a thumbnail image, description, and rating. If you press down, you'll see a progress bar with chapters. If you hit the left or right arrow, you can jump forward or back two to six minutes depending on the length of the program you're watching.
Watch Netflix with friends anywhere
Rabbit is a group chat service that allows you you and your friends to watch and discuss Netflix together in real time. It actually works for anything you’re watching through a browser, such as YouTube, Hulu, etc. The Chrome extension Netflix Party does the same thing as Rabbit. It syncs playback between participants, allowing everyone to follow the action and chat via a side-screen box.
Access Netflix’s internal catalogue
Netflix suggests recommendations to you via several categories that are offered by default or formed based on your lists and ratings. But Netflix has secretly created a huge number of category IDs that you can type into the search bar to access broad groups like Cult TV Shows (74652) or Visually-striking Martial Arts movies (3196) or French dramas (3949). You can find updated ID lists here, here, and at Netflixcodes.me.
You can also check via a PC or Mac. Copy and paste this URL: http://www.netflix.com/WiAltGenre?agid=, then add a code from this document to see films from such categories as “drama based on books". The FindFlix Chrome extension also lets you search Netflix's many hidden sub-genres, like Asian action movies, via your PC or Mac.
Stop auto-playback of episodes
Netflix automatically plays the next episode of whatever you're watching, but if you don't like this, you can switch it off: open up the drop-down menu in the top right corner of the web interface, then choose Your Account, and select Playback settings.
See IMDb and Rotten Tomato ratings
Netflix’s built-in star rating sometimes isn't very accurate. If you want to see what more people think, you must tediously check IMDb or Rotten Tomato. An easier way is the Chrome extension Netflix Enhancer. It allows you to see a film's Rotten Tomato score and IMDb rating. If you're watching via smart TV or a set-top box, you can download the Upflix app for iOS or Android to filter titles by rating, actor, director, etc.
Try Netflix Roulette
Instead of indecisively flicking through Netflix, try Flix Roulette. Pick a genre, actor, director, or keyword, then hit spin, and watch whatever comes up. Or, you can ditch the keywords and spin wild on all Netflix content (but you may end up spinning 200 times).
Randomise your viewing
With thousands upon thousands of TV shows and movies to choose from, Netflix can be a little overwhelming. If you'd like to mix things up, the AllFlix Chrome extension will add a randomise button to your browser. Click this control and watch whatever show is suggested.
Find what's new on Netflix
It's worth following @NewonNetflixUK on Twitter for alerts on what's new and what's about to get axed. You can also like the Netflix’s Facebook page in your country, or check What’sNewOnNetflix.com and whats-on-netflix.com.
What's leaving Netflix
The Now Streaming Pod website has a section called “Stream ‘em and leave ‘em” that shows all the titles being taken off Netflix every week.
Do you find it hard to keep track of everything new on Netflix, or do you just want to see the most popular content? The Instantwatcher website can help with all that and more.
Let Reddit help you find stuff to watch
There's another way to find something good to watch without scrolling for hours: Reddit has a subpage dedicated to the Best of Netflix. Up-voted and down-cast by near 300,000 users, it can help you find something really great in no time at all.
Netflix and chill button
Netflix has published instructions for a DIY button that will order takeout, dim the lights, turn on the TV, launch Netflix, and silence your phones. It's basically a "Netflix and Chill" button you can make.
Use socks to pause Netflix when you fall asleep
Netflix devised a pair socks that have a sleep detection system based on an activity-monitoring method known as actigraphy. It uses an accelerometer to determine when the wearer has stopped moving for a prolonged period of time. When it detects that the wearer has dozed off, an LED light in the sock will flash red, warning anyone nearby that it is about to pause the TV.
To make these, you'll need components like an Arduino microcontroller, infrared LEDs, a battery, etc (all of this is required for a monitoring unit that'll be wrapped in a wool felt and slipped inside on of the socks). Netflix's guide outlines everything you need to know. Don't forget you'll also need tools, like a soldering iron. It's all really complex, to be honest. But cute nonetheless.
Test new features before everybody else
You can sign up to Netflix's Trial programme. Just go to your Account in Settings, then flick on the Test Participation toggle. However, most of the new stuff will be things you'll never notice, like new recommendation algorithms.
Kick people off your account
So you shared your Netflix password and now your Recommended list is loaded with crap. No worries. You can sign out of all the devices signed into your account simply by going to Account > Sign out of all devices in Settings. You can also check your recent activity (Your Account > Viewing Activity > See recent account access) to see if any of the device locations look unfamiliar to you.
Remove embarrassing titles from your history
You can selectively delete your history. Go to this page, where you'll see everything you've watched in chronological order, and you can remove anything you don't want others to see.
Learn the computer shortcuts
There are keyboard shortcuts that will boost your laptop-viewing experience:
- F will give you full screen; Esc will take you out of full screen
- PgDn pauses; PgUp will play
- The spacebar will also pause and play
- Shift + Right arrow will fast-forward; Shift + Left arrow will rewind
- M will toggle your mute button, depending on your computer
This one might seem obvious, but it's essential. Netflix’s algorithms use both your viewing history and ratings to serve up the best suggestions. However, unlike most rating systems, which show averages fom all users, Netflix shows off ratings based on viewers with similar tastes to you. So, go to Netflix in a web browser, then head to Profile, and go to Viewing History to rate what you've watched.
Set up profiles
You don't want your kids or parents skewing your recommendations. Having separate profiles for everyone in your house means that none of their ratings and viewing habits will mess up your recommendations. Each account can have up to five active profiles for no extra cost, so, on average, there should be enough for at least one per family member or flatmate. You can set them up on your PC via this Netflix settings page.
Manually rearrange your list
You can manually rearrange the My List section, which is ordered automatically by default. Go to this link and select to order your list manually. Once finished, go here, and drag around to rearrange your content. Any edits you make will sync across all devices.
Use a Netflix bot
Facebook Messenger has an AndChill bot that serves up recommendations with trailers - all based on things you tell it you like.
Download TVs and movies
To download shows to iOS or Android devices, browse the Available for download section or press the download icon next to the show. To find your offline shows, go to Menu then My downloads. There’s a limit to the number of devices you can download content on, ranging from one to four devices, depending on your plan. Downloads have an expiration and may need to be watched with 48 hours of hitting play.
Downloads will eat up storage space on your device. To keep track, go to App settings. To quickly free up space, press Delete All Downloads. Also, if have an Android phone with a microSD slot, there are two workarounds that'll let you download to an SD card:
- Download a file browser, set it to view hidden files, and copy over downloaded content to the microSD card. Content cannot be played off the microSD card -- you need to copy it over to the correct folder on your phone to play it.
- Merge your microSD card with your phone’s internal storage, tricking your Android into thinking the microSD card is an internal part of the smartphone. Remove and re-insert your microSD card, then tap Set Up once a notification pops up, and tap Use as internal storage. Once you’re prompted, select the option to migrate your data over to your new storage. If you use this method, never remove the card unless you feel like doing an entire phone reset.
Share your Netflix without giving away password
The Chrome extension AccessURL (free) lets you share a link with a built-in expiration date, so you can let friends watch stuff on your Netflix without sharing your password -- and you can prevent them from abusing your generosity.
Use Google Home voice control
If you have a Chromecast device and a Google Home speaker, go to More Settings in the Google Home app, tap on TVs and Speakers, and then tap the plus sign in the bottom right corner of the screen. The Google Home app will search for voice-supported TVs on the same Wi-Fi network as your Google Home. From there, you can ask Google Home to play Netflix movies and TV show or even YouTube videos.
You must connect third-party services -- like Netflix -- to your Google account using the Google Home app (Settings > More Settings > Videos and Photos). After doing this, you can simply say things like “Okay Google, play House of Cars from Netflix on TV". You can even also Google Home to pause playback or rewind a minute to something you might've missed.
Watch Netflix in VR
Netflix has a VR app for Gear VR and Google Daydream View headsets. Put on a headset, fire up the VR app, and you’ll find yourself in a log cabin with a giant TV and Netflix menu. Just select what you want to watch, hit play, and the lights will dim.
Want to know more tips and tricks?
Check out Pocket-lint's complete Netflix guide: