Netflix tips and tricks: How to master your binge-watching experience

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Think you already know all about Netflix? Think again. 

There are dozens of hidden tips and tricks out there — everything from removing embarrassing titles from your history, to an option that lets you adjust the look of subtitles. We’ve rounded up several 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. 

The very best Netflix tips and tricks

Circumvent regional restrictions

Some regions get a better Netflix service in that they get a wider range of TV shows and movies. However, you can circumvent any regional restrictions in the UK, or anywhere else, by using a VPN, like ExpressVPN. There are also services like Media Hint. It works on computers and costs $3.95 a month, but it will essentially allow you to access Netflix libraries in other countries.

If you want a free option, consider the Hola unblocked plugin for Chrome, Firefox, or Android OS. If you want to access Netflix in other countries via your Xbox, PlayStation, Apple TV, or iPad, then just manually change your DNS settings to trick your system into thinking you are based elsewhere. You can also use a paid-for service such as Unblock Us ($4.99/£3.20 a month).

Keep in mind accessing Netflix in other countries is a violation of its user agreement.

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.

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.

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

Kast is a group chat service that allows 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. It syncs playback between participants, allowing everyone to follow the action and chat via a side-screen box.

Stop auto-playback of episodes

Netflix auto-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.

Get more subtitle languages

For households that speak more than one language, you can add dual subtitles using a Google Chrome extension. Just add the extension here, and you can choose two different languages to be displayed at the bottom of your screen. 

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).

Find what’s new or leaving 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 Netflix’s Facebook page in your country or check What’sNewOnNetflix.com and whats-on-netflix.com – the latter of which keeps an updated list of everything that is getting ready to leave Netflix. Check it out now and stream your favourite films before they’re gone. 

Instantwatcher

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 of 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 for Netflix’s Trial programme to try new features. Go to your Account and then under Settings click on Test Participation. On the next page, flick on the Test Participation. Most of the new stuff should be things you’ll never notice, though, like 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 in to 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 fullscreen
  • 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 

Rate everything

Netflix used to use a five-star rating system that allowed you to give feedback on what titles you liked and didn’t like, but that has since changed to a thumbs up or down system. It’s still important to rate shows you like so that Netflix’s suggestions are tailored to you. If you find that Netflix is never suggesting anything you actually like, you can check out and edit your ratings here

Set up profiles

You don’t want your kids or parents to skew 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.

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. 

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 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 Stranger Things 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 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.

Request a title

Have a movie or show that you’d really to see on Netflix? Let them know. You can suggest titles for Netflix to add here.

Audio Descriptions

Netflix is paving the way for accessibility in streaming services with its audio descriptions.

These descriptions tell the story of the action happening on the screen. It’s kind of like how subtitles work for the hearing impaired, but this is for the blind and visually impaired. Audio descriptions are available on most Netflix Original content and some select other titles. You can access audio descriptions in the subtitles menu for each title. You can see more on audio descriptions here

Stop previews from autoplaying

Netflix will automatically start playing a preview if you stop on a title for a moment while browsing. While this seems like a nice feature, it can quickly get annoying for some. If you want to stop previews from autoplaying, click on Account in the drop-down menu in the top right of the desktop version of Netflix. Then, scroll down to the profile section and select playback settings and toggle off autoplay previews.

Ask Reddit

If you’re looking for advice on what to watch next, head over to r/NetflixBestOf. The community offers recommendations and you can ask for recommendations based on titles you’ve already enjoyed.   

Access a secret menu and eliminate buffering

If you’re on a smart TV, Blu-ray player, or game console, you’ll need to reset your Netflix app. 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.

This secret menu will let you see information about your account and device, as well as show you the strength of the connection.

Want to know more tips and tricks?

Check out Pocket-lint’s complete Netflix guide:

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