So, you’re about to board a plane or jump in the car for the world’s longest trip. You already know Wi-Fi won’t be available, so how can you watch your favorite movies and TV shows on Netflix?
As it turns out, Netflix now allows you to download a lot of their content for offline viewing — this way, you can still bring your favorite TV shows and must-watch movies with you on long trips and plane rides.
Read on for more details about how to download content from Netflix onto all of your devices. The following instructions should work for iOS, Android, and Windows 10, despite being specific to Windows.
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 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, select 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 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 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.” 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. Here’s a quick pro-tip for Android users: The Netflix app allows you to specify which storage location you want for downloads. Previously, Netflix would default to the storage device on which the app exists but you can pop a microSD card into your smartphone and you’ll now see an option to set it as your default download location in the settings menu.
Step 5: Watch your downloaded titles
Once downloaded, all Netflix content will appear in the Downloads section, which can be found by selecting the menu button in the application’s upper-left corner (or the bottom-right navigation bar on mobile devices). 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 storage space a download takes up depends on how long the title is and the resolution it was downloaded in. So you can get a sense of the numbers, we went ahead and download 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, on the other hand, is 48 minutes long and consumed 197.1MB of space in Standard quality and 310.1MB in High. It’s 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, and that’s because the networks that own them have requested they be left off the list. There is one network that has offered up all its content, however — Netflix. Every Netflix Original we’ve come across has been available to download, including Stranger Things, The Punisher, 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, New Girl, The Good Place, That ’70s Show, Jane the Virgin, Schitt’s Creek, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Office. Movies available for download included The Incredibles 2, Hitch, Bright, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Triple Frontier, Tarzan, She’s Out of My League, 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. You’ll also need to watch each one within a month of it being downloaded before it expires for offline viewing.
But that’s a generous example. Occasionally, you’ll stumble upon a movie or show 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, and have the tendency 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. 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.
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.
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