How to Save Netflix Videos for Offline Viewing

Posted Apr 25, 2017 by  /  Comments  /  Back to Blog

Woman watching Netflix on phone

Netflix is amazing. At any moment — provided you have an internet connection — you can begin streaming movies and TV shows to a mobile device or connected media player. That’s why there are currently over 93 million active subscribers to the service

You can pull out your device, open up the Netflix app and start watching something, anything that piques your interest. This may seem unnecessary until you’re sitting around bored in a doctor’s office, waiting for a delayed flight, or even going on a break at work. But if you don’t have a connection or decent service, you’re out of luck. 

At least, that’s the way it used to be.

Netflix unveiled a super-convenient feature that allows you to download content — yes, movies and TV shows — to your device when you have a connection so you can watch it even when you’re offline. With the feature, you can view a Netflix movie on a long flight or binge-watch TV shows even when you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no Wi-Fi in the immediate area. 

How to Download Netflix Content to Watch Later

The first thing we’d like to point out is that you’ll want to make sure you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network before you download anything, especially if you have a limited data plan. Netflix, in general, uses a lot of mobile data, but downloading content will use it up even faster. So unless you want to hit that monthly data cap early, make sure you have Wi-Fi on and you’re connected to a network.

The process to download content is pretty easy, but there are some limitations you’ll need to understand first:

  • You must have a device running iOS 8.0 or later, or Android 4.4.2 or later
  • You must have the latest version of the Netflix app installed on your mobile device
  • You must have an active Netflix subscription, obviously
  • You must have enough storage space on your device, which means you may have to delete photos, videos or apps to make room

To download a title, navigate to the description page, which shows up before you actually play the content. Keep in mind, not all titles are available to download. Netflix made the service available for select titles. 

Proceeding With Your Netflix Download

If you can download the movie or show you’re looking at, you’ll see an icon that looks like this: . Click that icon, and the content will begin downloading.

You can access any downloaded content from the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app, accessible through the menu.

You can select the video quality of the content you download. This is because on smaller devices, IP video consumes less bandwidth space, and Netflix’s lower-quality content is the equivalent of this: 

  • Standard — lower quality that takes up less storage space and less time to download
  • Higher — HD or high-quality content that takes a considerable amount of space and longer to download

You can adjust the quality of the content based on your current connection and how much time you have before you go offline. You’ll need to have internet access throughout the download process, so plan accordingly beforehand.

To change the video quality of downloaded content:

  • Navigate to “App Settings” under the menu
  • Choose the “Downloads” section and the “Video Quality” sub-menu
  • Select your preferred video quality: “Standard” or “Higher”

How to Watch Downloaded Content While Offline

Any content you have stored on your device will show up in the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app. From here, you can browse and play any of the titles you have available while offline. For TV shows, you’ll need to select the main menu item for the show and then choose individual episodes you’ve already downloaded to your device.

You can also delete downloads to make room for more once you’ve finished viewing the content. Under “My Downloads,” tap the “Edit” button and choose the red “X” that appears next to the item you wish to delete.

Alternatively, you can clear all the downloads at once through the Netflix settings. Navigate to “App Settings” and choose “Clear All Downloads,” from the list. You will be asked to confirm your decision. To do so, just select “Delete” from the next menu. All the content stored on your device for offline viewing will be removed after that.

The ability to watch TV and movies offline can be indispensable if you’re taking a child on a long trip or going somewhere without Wi-Fi. Just be sure to plan ahead so you finish your download before you leave the Wi-Fi area.

Image via Netflix

Kayla MatthewsKayla Matthews writes about technology, data security and tech innovations for publications like VentureBeat, Motherboard and MakeUseOf. You can subscribe to her newsletter here.