The temperature is dropping, and we’re getting ready to hibernate indoors for the season. It’s time to make sure your home is fully furnished with everything you need for a cozy movie night or TV series marathon. Step one? Optimize your Netflix game. There are a number of little-known hacks that can greatly improve your viewing experience. Read on and prepare for an epic binging session.
1. Set up user profiles. If you share your home with family members or roommates (or you simply share your Netflix login with a friend), set up individual profiles within your Netflix account for everyone (up to five people) who uses it. One of the best features of Netflix is its personalized movie and TV show suggestions, but if you’re into House of Cards and your kid’s into Curious George, you won’t get optimal results. Set up profiles and each profile will have its own suggestions, ratings, reviews, taste preferences, and lists.
2. Use keyboard shortcuts. If you stream Netflix on your laptop, you may miss the convenience of a television’s remote control—a mouse or trackpad just doesn’t compare with the ease of the ol' clicker. Thankfully, Netflix allows you to control your viewing experience directly from your keyboard. See below for a list of supported keyboard shortcuts.
Space: Toggle play/pause
Enter: Toggle play/pause
Esc: Exit full-screen
Shift + Left arrow: Rewind
Shift + Right arrow: Fast forward
Up arrow: Volume up
Down arrow: Volume down
M: Mute toggle
3. Play Flix Roulette. Feeling uninspired about what to watch? Delegate some of the decision-making with Flix Roulette. As Netflix’s equivalent of Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky,” this robot-run website will randomly select a TV or movie for you. You can make selections completely random by simply “spinning,” or you can use its filters to drill down your options. The first time we played, it suggested one of our all-time favorite films: Barbarella.
4. Get better quality. Are you getting the best image quality from Netflix? If you feel like what you’re seeing is far from "Super HD," you may be right. There are a few things that could be tampering with your experience.
First: your connection. If your downstream speeds are less than 10 Mbps, your image quality won’t be optimal; test your speeds at TestMy.net. Two: your ISP. Make sure your ISP and Netflix are on friendly terms; rumor has it certain ISPs are slowing down their users' connections when they use Netflix. Comcast, which announced a partnership with Netflix last year, is not one of them. Three: your viewing time. Quality falls during peak viewing hours, so if you really want to have the best experience, after dinner is probably not the best moment to watch your favorite show.
5. Install a plug-in. If you watch Netflix on your laptop, Chrome plug-in NEnhancer is a must-have. This handy tool allows you to watch trailers, read IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes ratings, and show or hide rows. Game-changer!
6. Get unrestricted international viewing. If you’re traveling outside of your home country, you may notice that your choices for streaming—including selections of movies and TV shows and audio/subtitle options—will vary from those of your home country. Your access to features like star ratings and reviews may also not be available, and maturity ratings may differ. To get around this, use Hola!, a peer-to-peer HTTP overlay network that will enable you to browse the web freely (and privately and securely) without the restrictions of the country you’re visiting.
New to Netflix? Any of the devices below will allow you to stream Netflix directly to your TV.