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Where to watch free movies online — the legal way

Everyone has those days where they fire up Netflix or Hulu, only to find they’ve already watched every good movie the service has to offer. Few of us have actually seen all the movies on Netflix (is that even possible?) but it’s reasonable to look for other options when you just can’t find anything interesting. If you’re resourceful, you’ll grab your laptop and open your browser, but where do you go from there? There are millions of sites out there that (supposedly) offer high-quality versions of the latest movies, yet most are just as trustworthy as they are legal — i.e. not at all.

Related: Law-abiding music lover? Here are 10 sites for free, legal music downloads

That’s why we’ve put together a list of sites where you can watch movies online for free, without breaking any laws or jeopardizing your computer’s security. The following are some of the most trustworthy video-streaming services on the internet and, combined, they house more movies than you could watch in a lifetime. So get streaming — Jerry Maguire and The Thing will only be available for so long.

The big players

Crackle

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Crackle is owned by Sony, so it features a robust lineup of movies and TV shows in Flash format from Sony Pictures Entertainment. In the collection of full-length movies, you’ll find a good number of blockbuster hits along with a generous smattering of obscure B-movies. There’s a diverse library of freebies, but rather than keeping movies on the site indefinitely, Crackle cycles through them, posting titles online for a limited period. Crackle is a great resource, although the constant interruptions from advertisers can get old pretty quickly.

YouTube

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This one is really a no-brainer. Everyone knows that YouTube is the biggest video-hosting service in town, after all, and you probably already use the site for silly cat videos and footage of people getting hit with exercise balls. But you might not know that YouTube has a sizable collection of feature-length movies as well. Granted, the majority of these are B-list novelties, but there are a few quality flicks hiding in there — you just have to do a bit of digging.

In addition to the free, Google-curated movies, there are thousands of films on the site that won’t show up unless you search directly for them. If you’re looking for a particular flick, especially an older one, it’s worth performing a quick search on YouTube to see if someone has posted it. These aren’t always uploaded by the film’s rights holders, and many of them are divided into episodes and playlists, but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

Vimeo

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YouTube might be the biggest video-hosting site, but Vimeo is probably the best. Yeah, them’s fighting words, but Vimeo has the muscle to back ’em up. The site dons a clean layout that’s devoid of ads and benefits from an active user community that’s widely considered more professional and constructive than YouTube’s. From this community emerges a lot of great original short and feature-length films. Vimeo also has an On-Demand section where users can purchase full-length movies and television shows. The majority of these are independently produced by Vimeo users, but some offerings are produced by major studios as well. Either way, Vimeo is a great place to find free, high-quality movies.

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