Netflix has saved our entertainment lives. For those of us too busy to follow regular network programming, Netflix has served up endless seasons of bygone-era favorites and fresh new takes from Netflix Originals. But sometimes we need tips or some good hacks to get the most out of it.
Sometimes we get lazy. We fall back on our “Watch it again!” list. Or even get stuck with the Netflix recommendations generated when the eight-year-old signed on. As if sitting through The Clones Wars the first time wasn’t bad enough.
Here’re some great Netflix hacks to master your Netflix account:
General Netflix Hacks
1. Use the profiles that Netflix gave you.
You can set a number of profiles with one account. By giving each user their own profile, you can avoid interrupting a family member’s binge-in-progress. You’ll also get personalized recommendations that apply to only what you watch and rate. Additionally, parents can set controls for minors, limiting their access to adult movie titles.
2. Search the secret categories.
If you’re tired of seeing the same recommended titles over and over, check out this directory of hidden categories. You can find a guide online to all the different categories you never knew existed. It’s Aladdin’s cave of entertainment treasures. (Although Aladdin is not currently on Netflix streaming, you can get it on DVD.)
If you also use a Smart TV, you’ll need to check out the categories on your desktop or laptop and add them to your list to access them for viewing.
Click to go to the Netflix Codes Guide and then click on the categories. Add them to your list for watching on other devices.
3. Check out Flicksurfer for better browsing.
This free-to-use guide is so much easier than scrolling through Netflix to find something new to watch. Sometimes, it feels like Netflix has some sort of agenda when it comes to feeding suggestions. So, an independent guide is one of the better hacks. Flicksurfer is a great way to work around that.
Now, if only they had a “Don’t ever suggest this awful TV show again!” button.
4. Get really specific with Netflix genres.
If the list of categories above isn’t specific enough for you, try this list of sub-sub-sub categories and genres.
This guide breaks down Netflix streaming by directors, themes, subgenre, era, and more. For those of us who like “slow-moving North European crime dramas featuring a cynical and divorced detective in his fifties with lots of seagulls in the background,” this guide is essential to our viewing pleasure.
This list breaks down Netflix shows and movies into unique categories like: “British Independent Dramas from the 1980s” or “Cerebral Movies directed by Akira Kurosawa.” In the mood for a Critically-acclaimed Cerebral French-Language Drama? How about a Mind-bending Psychological Sci-fi and Fantasy movie?
5. Tell Netflix what you really want.
If you haven’t done so in a while, revisit your “Taste Preferences” and update your likes and dislikes. If you already have a history of watching shows that didn’t flip your switch, you should also take a few minutes to rate them to avoid seeing their like again.
One of the better hacks is to clear your recent viewing history. That way, Netflix won’t recommend more movies just like that complete bomb you didn’t finish. Go to “My Account” and then “Viewing Activity.” Delete the ones you should have never even started.
Netflix Hacks for Computer Viewing
6. Consult a professional.
You’re not the only one that’s disappointed with Netflix’s decision to remove the star rating system. And you’re probably not the first to end up watching some complete loser of a movie because you didn’t have that helpful rating to guide your decisions.
Check out Netflix Enhancer. This handy extension lets you check IMDB ratings and see trailers before you commit. (It also shows the secret categories.)
7. Stop the judgey-ness.
Tired of that passive-aggressive popup that reminds you of your mother nagging you to do homework? The one that says “Are you STILL watching?” Well, dismiss it summarily like the diva you are with Flix Assist. Don’t let anyone tell you when you’re done watching Grey’s Anatomy! This extension will stop that popup from… well… popping up. It also kills the countdown timer between episodes.
8. Binge with a friend.
Sometimes you just can’t make it to your friend’s Annual Supernatural Rewatch Binge Party. But you can watch together from separate locations with Netflix Party. This Chrome extension will sync playback between viewers and show a chat window so you can talk about the latest episode.
9. Learn these keyboard shortcuts.
Save some time by becoming a keyboard commando. Use these keyboard shortcuts to drive your Netflix viewing on your laptop or desktop.
- Up arrow = volume up
- Down arrow = volume down
- Spacebar = play/pause
- F = Full screen
- M = Mute
- ESC = exit full screen
- Shift + Left Arrow = rewind
- Shift + Right Arrow = fast-forward
10. Choose the right browser for best viewing quality.
Unless you’re using a Chrome extension for one of these other Netflix hacks, it’s not your best choice for watching on a laptop or computer. Electronics news site BGR.com notes that Chrome, Opera, and Mozilla Firefox reduces quality to just 720p HD. For full 1080p HD quality, use Safari, OS X, or Microsoft Edge, instead.
11. Try more extensions for expanded categories.
The extension adds an extra menu that allows you to find the “hidden categories” that let you really narrow down your choices.
12. Download movies and shows for offline viewing.
In some cases, you can download episodes of shows or movies for viewing offline. It will depend on the deal that Netflix has with the distributor, but if you’re tired of endless buffering and fluttering connections to your device, see if you can download it and watch it offline for seamless viewing. This is one of the better hacks for travelers who want to watch while inflight or out of Wi-Fi range.
We hope these hacks make your Netflix viewing easier and more fun.
Feature Image: CC0 Creative Commons by Esther Vargas via Flickr.