Netflix is great for when spending the night binge-watching the latest season of Stranger Things using the Wi-Fi connection emitted by your awesome new router, but how do you tune in when you’re facing the world’s longest plane ride? You could chance it with the on board Wi-Fi, but most of the time it isn’t even fast enough to browse Facebook, let alone stream a show in 4K. So, what’s the solution? Download all the movies and shows you’ll need for the trip for offline viewing, of course.
That’s right — you can actually download movies and shows from Netflix to watch offline. The process itself is relatively straightforward (and completely legal). All you need to do is open the Netflix app on Android, iOS or Windows 10, choose your download quality, then select the download icon next to the title you want to save for offline use.
There are a couple of caveats, though. First, to take advantage of the feature on Windows 10, you’ll need to be running Windows 10 Anniversary Update or later. Second, you can’t download Netflix’s entire catalog of content — certain titles are off limits at the request of the networks that own the rights to them.
Read on for more details on how to download movies from Netflix onto all of your devices. The following instructions should work for iOS, Android, and Windows 10, despite being specific to the latter.
Getting your download on
Step 1: Get up-to-date
First things first, you’ll need to make sure your Netflix app is up-to-date. If you don’t have your device set to auto update, simply click on the app in the App Store for iOS devices (you’ll need version 9.0 or later), or do the same in the Google Play Store for Android devices. If you plan on using the Netflix app for Windows 10, select Store in the taskbar or Start menu, click your user icon, and select Downloads or Updates. Finally, select Check for Updates, and the Netflix app will begin updating.
Step 2: Choose your download quality
Netflix offers two quality levels for downloads: Standard and High. The latter seems to be high definition — somewhere between 720p and 1080p resolution — though Netflix doesn’t specify. Standard uses less space on your device and allows you to download content more quickly, whereas High takes a bit more space and patience. Which one you’ll want to use will depend on how much free space you have on your device, and what kind of device you’re using. Standard mode may look fine on your new phone, for instance, whereas a higher resolution may be preferable for your tablet or laptop.
To choose, select the menu icon on the left and scroll down to App Settings. From there, under the Downloads heading, click or tap Video Quality and select your preferred quality. We’ll get into more details on how much space Netflix downloads take up later in this article.
Step 3: Pick your poison
Not everything on Netflix is available for download, but the company has made downloadable titles easy to find by arranging them in a special section aptly named “Available for Download.” To find this category, click or tap the Menu button in the upper-left corner — it will be the first option below the Home section. If you’re searching for specific titles, you’ll know if a title can be downloaded by the download icon, which is a downward arrow with a horizontal line beneath it.
Step 4: Start downloading
To begin downloading a title, select the Download icon affixed to the show or movie you want to watch. There is one thing Android users will need to be aware of here: You can only download titles to the same storage device on which the Netflix app is stored. This means that, if you want to download content to an SD card, you’ll need to make sure Netflix is installed there as well.
Step 5: Watch your downloaded titles
Once downloaded, all Netflix content will appear in the My Downloads section, which can be found by selecting the menu button in the app’s upper-left corner. The My Downloads folder is located just above the Home section. The title’s running time, as well as how much space it uses, is listed directly beside it. To play an episode, simply click or tap the video thumbnail.
How much space do I need?
Just how much space a download takes up depends on how long the title is and, of course, the playback quality. We know that’s a bit vague, though, so we downloaded Netflix’s The Ritual and the first episode of Stranger Things in both Standard and High quality to see how they weigh in.
The Ritual has a runtime of 94 minutes. The Standard version of the film used 542MB of space, while the higher-quality iteration took up 1.8GB. Stranger Things‘ first episode is 48 minutes long and takes up 197.1MB of space in Standard quality and 310.1MB in High.
To reiterate, Standard should be fine for most phones, but if you’re picky — or watching on a bigger screen — you’ll want to use the higher resolution.
As noted previously, not all of Netflix’s library of streaming titles is available for download. One group of titles you can always count on being available, however, are Netflix Originals. Every Netflix title we looked at was immediately available for download, including episodes of Stranger Things, The Punisher, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Narcos, Jessica Jones, and The Crown.
Other titles available at the time of writing included TV shows like Arrow, Breaking Bad, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Colony, Designated Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Office. Movies available for download included Anon, Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell, Bright, The Imitation Game, Triple Frontier, Polar, Shrek the Third, and Moon.
There are some restrictions on how many times you can download some titles and how long you have to watch them, however. You can’t, for example, download the same episode of Friends more than three times in a single billing cycle. You’ll also need to watch it within a month of being downloaded before it expires for offline viewing.
But that’s a generous example. Occasionally, you’ll stumble upon a title that can only be downloaded once — as a result of the licensing agreement Netflix has with the network that owns it. Such titles also tend to expire after a week if you fail to show them any attention, if not 48 hours after you first hit play.
We’d suggest checking out downloaded titles sooner rather than later, especially since you can only download some a limited number of times. Oh, and if you downloaded something only to later notice it vanished into thin air, it’s likely because Netflix pulled it from its catalog.
How do I delete titles?
Whether you’ve already watched downloaded titles or simply want to make room for other things, you’ll eventually want to get rid of them. Thankfully, there are two ways to go about this, depending on how much content you want to delete at once.
Step 1: Deleting a single title
If you only want to delete a single title at a time, you can do so via the My Downloads section. In Windows 10, for example, just open the title, click on the Downloaded button, and select Delete Download. You can also click on the pencil edit icon and select the titles to delete. Titles will be deleted without a second confirmation, however, so be careful.
Step 2: Deleting all titles
You could delete everything in the My Downloads section individually, but if you’re looking to clear everything all at once, there’s an easier way. Go to Settings, then simply click on Delete All Downloads.