How to watch Netflix offline

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The new Netflix app reveals your internet speeds.
Finally, watching Stranger Things on the subway is a reality.
Photo: Photo: Shardayyy/Flickr CC

If you’ve been dying to watch Netflix offline, your life just got better. An update to the official Netflix app lets you download TV shows and movies so you can view them without munching through your data allowance.

Anyone who’s dreamed about watching Stranger Things or The Crown on the subway to work, or at 35,000 feet, this is your lucky day! Here’s how to get in on the action.

The update is available at no extra cost to subscribers. Just download the latest version of the Netflix app, which is available for iOS and Android. Then you can download “select TV shows and movies” to watch when you’re offline.

How to watch Netflix offline

Find and download Netflix video

Not all titles are available for download,” according to Netflix. “If you have a particular title in mind, you can search for that title and look for the download icon. If you are interested in browsing downloadable titles, select Available for Download from the Netflix menu.”

Once you find a movie or an episode of a TV show that you want to watch offline, tap the download icon on that video’s page. Once you’ve transferred the video to your device, you can find it in the My Downloads section of the app. You’ll be able to watch your video regardless of whether you have an active internet connection.

Select video quality for Netflix downloads

To speed up your downloads and save storage space, Netflix defaults to “standard” video quality. If you’re not worried about those things, you can select “higher” video quality.

To do that, tap the Netflix app’s Menu icon. Scroll down. Then tap App Settings. Under Downloads header, tap Video Quality. Select Higher to opt for bigger, better video files.

Delete downloaded Netflix videos

After you’ve watched the video, you’ll probably want to delete it because the files are so large they will quickly clog your iPhone or iPad. To do that, go to the Netflix app’s Menu icon. Tap My Downloads. Tap Edit on the upper-right (for Android devices, tap the edit icon). Tap the red X icon to delete the title from your device.

You can also delete all downloaded Netflix videos in one fell swoop. Just tap the Menu icon. Tap App Settings, then tap Clear All Downloads. A confirmation screen will pop up. Simply tap Delete to bulk-delete your downloaded Netflix videos.

Netflix downloads: A long time coming

The new feature comes at a time of massive disruption in the television industry, as traditional models for content production, distribution and consumption evolve for the internet era.

Video consumption on mobile devices is soaring, with nearly half of all viewing done on smartphones and tablets.

Meanwhile, cord cutters are ditching cable and satellite TV subscriptions as they move to on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which serve up binge-ready series through smart TVs and streaming devices like Apple TV or Roku. (DirecTV Now, a streaming service offering various “skinny bundles” of content for cord cutters, launched today with a free Apple TV offer.)

Aside from new content, the ability to watch shows and movies offline has been Netflix’s most requested feature. While the company promised that the ability to watch Netflix online was on its way, CEO Reed Hastings previously remained quiet about its release date.

Last summer, industry insider and Penthera COO Dan Taitz promised that “download-to-go” would be available on Netflix by the end of the year. Rival service Amazon Prime Instant Video added similar functionality last September, a move that pressured Netflix to match the feature.

Will you download Netflix video?

Does offline viewing availability have any bearing on your likelihood of subscribing/staying subscribed to Netflix? Leave your comments below.