Netflix 101: How to Download Shows & Movies to Your Phone

How to Download Shows & Movies to Your Phone

To those of us with limited data plans, or folks who want to stream in places without an internet connection, it was a miracle when Netflix brought offline playback to mobile. Finally, you could watch a Netflix movie on a plane or catch up on Daredevil when you don't know the restaurant's Wi-Fi password.

If you're excited to watch Netflix wherever you want without worrying about eating through your monthly data cap, this guide is for you. Or if you've heard about the new feature but you aren't sure exactly how to use it, simply follow these steps.

Step 1: Find Content That You Can Download

So, this news might be a little hard to stomach, but here it goes — not everything on Netflix can be downloaded. I know, when I encountered my first non-downloadable title, I was devastated.

Luckily, there's a way to avoid that devastation — Netflix has included "Available for Download," a section of the app that lets you browse titles that are 100% downloadable. To try it out, just tap the hamburger icon in the top-left corner of the Netflix app, then look for the "Available for Download" section.

If you see a show or movie here that interests you, you'll be able to watch it offline after downloading! You will face no uncertainty nor disappointment here.

How about when you've found something you'd like to download? Here's what to do next:

Step 2: Choose Quality

Netflix understands that not everybody has the same storage situation, so the app even gives you the option to download a video at a lower quality to save storage space. In fact, this option is the default — if you'd like to see your downloaded videos in the highest quality Netflix will allow, you will have to change this setting:

  1. Tap the hamburger icon in the top-left corner.
  2. Scroll down and tap on "App Settings."
  3. Tap "Video Quality."

From here, you can choose whether you'd prefer to save on storage by selecting the "Standard" option or watch in better quality with the "Higher" option.

One note for Android users — you can download episodes to external storage. If you have a large enough SD card, you shouldn't feel the need to compromise your quality for storage. Sorry, iPhone users — we don't have this luxury.

Step 3: Download Movies & Shows

Okay, so you've found your title and you've chosen your video quality, now it's time to download your show to watch wherever you'd like. Remember, if your goal is to save on mobile data, make sure you're connected to Wi-Fi while downloading shows or movies.

  1. Tap the down arrow next to the movie or show you'd like to download.
  2. Wait until the message at the bottom of the screen says "Download complete."
  3. Tap the blue bar at the bottom of the screen to view downloaded titles.

Alternatively, you can access downloaded titles at any time by choosing "My Downloads" from the hamburger menu. From here, you can watch all the titles you've downloaded, and mobile data will not be used. In fact, you don't need any type of internet connection to watch your downloaded titles.

So to try it out, just tap on the title you want to watch, and Netflix will play the video just like it would normally. That's it! You're ready to watch your shows no matter where you happen to be. Nothing will stand in your way!

(Except for an empty battery. Should've thought about buying that portable charger, huh?)

Cover photo and screenshots by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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