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’ve got season 3 of Friends streaming on your computer or TV. Easy said, and even easier done.
Netflix has reaped massive rewards from this tried-and-true formula, and the need to improve it is scarce. The old adage says “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but we believe even Netflix’s excellence can use some enhancing, and we’ve got 20 ways to prove it. From taking advantage of in-depth algorithms to improving the browsing experience, these tips will help you get the most out of your Netflix subscription.
Rate everything you watch
Every time you finish a television or movie stream, Netflix asks you to give the content a 1-5 star rating. While most people tend to blow past any sort of survey, it greatly benefits you to take the time to rate your Netflix activity.
The streaming service’s in-depth algorithm takes note of your ratings and tailors its suggested titles based upon those ratings. By using the rating system, you can save yourself from spending 30 minutes browsing titles in the back corners of Netflix’s catalog. This spot-on algorithm can cut out search time by suggesting selections related to what you’ve rated highly.
Conversely, the system also takes note of shows and movies you’ve rated low, and will avoid making similar suggestions in the future. Consistently rating what you watch helps fine-tune Netflix in the best way possible.
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 what you really want is good sci-fi.
Add Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB rankings
If you’re a fan of combing through reviews before deciding on a movie, then adding both the Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB ratings to your Netflix profile is crucial. Google Chrome users can download the Netflix Enhancer extension to have both ratings show up when browsing through Netflix selections.
The extension also adds the ability to view trailers of any movie selections, but these features are only accessible via the PC/Mac browser version of Netflix and not on the mobile, over-the-top (Roku/Apple TV) mobile app, or game system versions.
Stay on top of what’s new
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 streaming universe.
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. 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, the streamer has assigned codes to each genre and subgenre, and you can access the full list of movies or programs manually.
In order to do so, you must type the following URL into your Internet browser: http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/INSERTNUMBER. After that, just swap out the “INSERTNUMBER” 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 to 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.
Instead of manually inputting links, Google Chrome users can also install the helpful FindFlix extension to easily search these lesser-known genres. For an in in-depth list of codes, and to learn more about how this feature works, check out our article on the subject.
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, 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.
If you’re feeling lucky, 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 pick whether you want 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.
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.
A couple things to know: You can only download on mobile devices, and the files are only playable through the Netflix app. Want to know more? We’ve written a step-by-step guide to teach you how to save your favorite content for offline viewing.
Manually adjust streaming settings
Those with slower connections can sometimes struggle with constant buffer times — the spinning icon always interrupting whatever you’re trying to watch is bothersome. Sometimes, manually adjusting the streaming bit rate of what you’re watching to a lower setting can help alleviate these issues. Simply press ctrl-shift-alt-s on Windows, or ctrl-shift-option-s on a Mac, and choose a lower number from the middle section of the pop-up menu that appears. Problem solved.