12 Netflix Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

updated Sep 23, 2019
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Credit: Lula Poggi

Welcome to Watch Week! In honor of fall TV season and the newly minted Emmy winners, we’re streaming new content daily about watching television—because after all, watching TV is one of the best parts about being at home. Catch up on all of our episodes articles here.

Netflix is a many-splendored thing. Along with supplying tens of thousands of popular film and TV titles at your fingertips, the beloved streaming service provides a slew of tricks and shortcuts to improve your viewing experience to boot.

To prove our point, we did a little digging and rounded up some of the smartest hacks the site has to offer.

1. Set up different profiles

You probably know this one, but just in case: every Netflix account comes with five different profiles you can use to customize your (or your friends’ and family members’) Netflix viewing experience. Since Netflix recommends titles based on each unique profile’s viewing habits, you can set up different ones to produce different suggestions. For example, if you’re a big fan of indie films, you can set up a profile that is devoted solely to Sundance debuts and artsy documentaries so that Netflix will generate suggestions based on that specific algorithm. 

2. Check and edit your viewing history

Nothing screws up a Netflix session like an embarrassing “Continue Watching” queue. Do yourself a favor and make a habit of checking and editing your viewing history to keep your queue clean and clear of titles you don’t want to show up on (or influence) your Netflix feed. To do this, go to your Netflix “Account” and under “My Profiles” click on “Viewing Activity.” This will pull up a list of everything you’ve ever watched on Netflix and give you the option to delete any title you see fit. 

3. Turn on Audio Descriptions

Prefer to experience your films audiobook style? Netflix has a an audio option called “Audio Description” that actually narrates the film you’re watching—including facial expressions, physical actions, and scene changes—so that you can essentially turn your movies and TV shows into podcasts.

4. Know some common keyboard shortcuts

If you’re a fan of keyboard shortcuts—and who isn’t?—then Netflix has you covered. From tapping your spacebar to pause or play while streaming to pressing “F” to switch to full screen, get familiar with this list of Netflix keyboard shortcuts to streamline your viewing experience. 

Credit: KateMaxStock

5. Switch up your subtitles

Not only does Netflix allow you to you to enable or disable subtitles, captions, and alternate audio for many TV shows and movies, they also let you alter the appearance of your subtitles—think font style, size, and shadows—too. Just click on “Account” and under the “My Profile” category pick “Subtitle appearance” to customize your subtitles however you see fit.

6. Sort movies alphabetically or chronologically

If you thought Netflix titles were only sortable by genre, then it’s time to think again. Simply go to a category page, like comedy or documentary, and click on the small box with four dots on the upper righthand side of the page and voila: A dropdown menu will emerge with the option to sort titles alphabetically or by year of release. 

7. Watch movies offline

Looking for a few movies to watch on your next cross-country flight? Netflix offers a download feature so you can watch some titles on your smart devices even when you’re offline. Search for downloadable titles by clicking on the “Available for Download” category under the menu option or look for the download icon next to a certain title before you lose your internet connection. 

8. Request titles

Can’t find a title you’re dying to watch? Netflix is constantly looking for new content, and created a handy online request form that allows you to reach out to the streaming service directly about a movie or TV title you’re hoping to see.

9. Access hidden categories with genre codes

Who knew Netflix had secret category codes that allow you to access an assortment of hidden movies and shows? Per The Telegraph, all you have to do is log onto Netflix and enter “www.netflix.com/browse/genre/XXXX”  into your browser’s toolbar and enter one of these four-digit genre codes in the “XXXX” field to unlock a slew of secret titles. 

10. Add an add-on

Having trouble deciding on a movie or show to watch on Netflix? The super popular Netflix Roulette tool at ReelGood helps you pick a title at random based on genre and critic scores and then sends you straight to Netflix for viewing. Also, browser extensions like FindFlix allow you to search for the above-mentioned hidden categories without entering each code separately.

11. Always know what’s streaming

Every month, Netflix adds (and removes) hundreds of titles due to factors like viewer interest and licensing agreements. Luckily, Apartment Therapy releases a monthly list of what titles are coming and going, so you can plan your binge sessions accordingly.

12. Rely on Reddit

When all else fails, you can always count on the good folks at Reddit to supply all kinds of Netflix-related tips and recommendations. Can’t decide what movie to watch tonight? Head over to r/NetflixBestOf/ for suggestions. And if you want to hear what advice other Netflix viewers have for altering algorithms and other queue-related issues, r/Netflix should have you covered.