So you’re about to board a train or jump in the car for what feels like the world’s most extended trip. You already know Wi-Fi won’t be available; how can you watch your favorite movies and TV shows on Netflix?
As it turns out, Netflix lets you download a lot of content for offline viewing — you can still bring your favorite TV shows and must-watch movies with you on long trips, in other words. Read on for more details about how to download content from Netflix to all of your devices.
The following instructions should work for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices. Of note: While Windows PC users can download episodes to watch offline, they must use the version of the Netflix app from the Windows Store to do so.
Getting your download on
Step 1: Get up to date
First things first, make sure your Netflix app is up to date. If you don’t have your device set to auto-update, simply click the application 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 Netflix for Windows 10, select Store in the taskbar or Start menu, click your user icon, and select Downloads or Updates. Finally, choose Check for Updates, and the Netflix application 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 will depend on how much free space you have and what kind of device you’re using. The standard mode’s appearance may look fine on your new phone, for instance, whereas a higher resolution may be preferable for your tablet or laptop.
To choose, locate the App Settings menu. It could be called More or found under your profile icon on Android or iOS smartphone apps. From there, under the Downloads heading, click or tap Video Quality or Download Video Quality (Android) and select your preferred quality. We’ll get into more detail 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.” This category can be found among the other genre options, as a sub-menu when you select TV Shows or Movies. On Windows 10 devices, it will be the penultimate option underneath the Home section. If you’re using the Netflix app for iOS or Android, under the Downloads tab you can also select Find More to Download or Find Something to Download, respectively, to view the available titles.
If you’re searching for a specific title, you’ll know that it 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. Here’s a quick pro-tip for Android users: The Netflix app lets you specify which storage location you want for downloads. Previously, Netflix would default to the storage device on which the app exists. but a recent update means you can pop a microSD card into your smartphone and you’ll have an option to set it as your default download location in the App Settings menu.
Step 5: Watch your downloaded titles
Once downloaded, all Netflix content will appear in the Downloads section. Tap the Downloads menu on mobile devices or the menu button in the application’s upper-left corner on Windows. The title’s size and rating are listed directly beside it. To play an episode, simply click or tap the video thumbnail.
How much space do I need?
Just how much storage space a download takes up depends on how long the title is and the resolution quality. To give you a sense of the numbers, we went ahead and downloaded the first episode of Stranger Things and Netflix’s The Ritual in both Standard and High quality.
The Ritual has a runtime of 94 minutes. The Standard version of the film used 542MB of space, while the high-resolution variant took up 1.8GB. The first episode of Stranger Things is 48 minutes long and consumed 197.1MB of space in Standard quality and 310.1MB in High. It’s always a good idea to see how much available space you have on your device before choosing between Standard or High quality.
Not all of the shows and movies on Netflix are available for download, usually because the networks that own them have requested they be left off the list. But the good news is, every Netflix Original we’ve come across has been available to download, including Stranger Things, Norsemen, The Witcher, Cobra Kai, Lucifer, The Umbrella Academy, and Orange Is the New Black.
Non-Netflix Original titles available at the time of writing included TV shows like Criminal Minds, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, The Good Place, Jane the Virgin, Schitt’s Creek, and The Office. Movies available for download included Uncut Gems, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Triple Frontier, Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, The Bounty Hunter, Angel Has Fallen, Pineapple Express, The Croods, Sin City, and The Hateful Eight.
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 The Office more than three times in a single billing cycle. (Weird, we know.) You’ll also need to watch each one within a month of downloading it before it expires for offline viewing.
Not every property is so generous when it comes to downloading content. Occasionally, you’ll stumble upon a movie or show that can be downloaded only 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 and tend to disappear 48 hours after you first hit play.
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, especially considering you can only have 100 things downloaded at a time. 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 want to delete a single title, you can do so via the My Downloads section. For iOS and Android apps, just tap the pen icon, which will give you the option to select the title or titles you want to delete. 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 choose the files to delete.
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.
Having a library of downloaded movies and shows on your device the next time you find yourself out and about or on the road, and without a Wi-Fi connection, will make for a much more pleasant and entertaining time-killing situation.
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