Netflix is a great service when you want to spend a night on the couch, but what if you have a long plane ride ahead of you? For years, Netflix subscribers have dreamed of the ability to download movies or episodes of their favorite TV shows to accompany them on a long trip off the grid. That dream has finally arrived, and we’re here with a guide on how to download Netflix movies and TV shows to help you make that transition offline go as smoothly as possible.
For now, downloading titles for offline playback is limited to the Netflix app, which is currently available for iOS 9.0 or later and Android 4.4.2 or later. The functionality is also built into the Netflix app for Windows 10, assuming you’re running Windows 10 Anniversary Update or later. Read on for all the details.
Getting your download on
Step 1: Get up to date
First things first, you’ll need to make sure your Netflix app is up to date. If you don’t have your device set to auto update, simply click on the app in the App Store (you’ll need version 9.0 or later) for iOS devices, or do the same in the Google Play Store for Android devices. If you plan on using the Netflix app for Windows 10, select Store in the task bar or Start menu, click your user icon, and select Downloads or Updates. Afterward, select Check for Updates and the Netflix app will begin updating.
Step 2: Choose your download quality
Netflix offers two quality levels for downloads: “Standard” and “Higher.” The latter seems to be high definition — somewhere between 720 and 1080p resolution — though Netflix doesn’t specify. Standard uses less space on your device and allows you to download content quicker, whereas Higher takes a bit more space and patience. Which one you’ll want to use will depend on how much free space you have on your device, and what kind of device you’re using. A Standard title may look fine on your phone, for instance, whereas a higher-resolution title may be preferable for your tablet or laptop.
To choose, select the menu icon on the left and scroll down to App Settings. From here, under the Downloads heading, click or tap Video Quality and select your preferred quality. We’ll get into more details on how much space Netflix downloads take up later in this article.
Step 3: Pick your poison
Not everything on Netflix is available for download, but the company has made downloadable titles easy to find by arranging them in a special section called simply Available for Download. To get there, click or tap the menu button in the upper-left corner — it will be the first option housed below the Home section. If you’re searching for specific titles, simply look for the download icon, which depicts a downward arrow with a horizontal line beneath it.
Step 4: Start downloading
To begin downloading a title, simply select the download icon affixed to the show or movie you want to watch. There is one thing Android users will need to be aware of here: You can only download titles to the same storage device on which the Netflix app is stored. This means that, if you want to download content to an SD card, you’ll need install the Netflix app there as well.
Step 5: Watch your downloaded titles
Once downloaded, all Netflix content will appear in the My Downloads section, which can be found by selecting the menu button in the app’s upper-left corner. The My Downloads folder is located just above the Home section. The title’s running time, as well as how much space it uses, is listed directly beside it. To play an episode, simply click or tap the video thumbnail.
How much space do I need?
Just how much space a download takes up depends on how long the title is and, of course, the playback quality. As an example, we downloaded the Netflix original, Mascots, as well as the first episode of Stranger Things, in both Standard and Higher quality.
Mascots has a runtime of one hour and 35 minutes. The Standard version of the film used 487MB of space, while the higher-quality iteration took up 749.4MB. Stranger Things‘ first episode is 48 minutes long and takes up 197.1MB of space in Standard quality, and 310.1MB in Higher. As mentioned above, Standard should be fine for most phones, but if you’re picky — or watching on a bigger screen — you’ll want to use the Higher resolution.
As noted previously, not all of Netflix’s library of streaming titles is available for download. One group of titles you can always count on being available, however, are Netflix Originals. Every Netflix-helmed title we looked at was immediately available for download, including episodes of Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Narcos, and The Crown.
As with Netflix streaming, many of these titles will only be available for a limited time, and once they’re gone from the service, you won’t be able to access their downloaded iterations, either. There’s also no way to move the files from your mobile device to your PC, so if you were planning to fill a hard drive with Netflix titles, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
How do I delete titles?
Whether you’ve already watched downloaded titles or simply want to make room for other things, you’ll eventually want to get rid of them. Thankfully, there are two ways to go about this, depending on how much content you want to delete at once.
Deleting a single title
If you only want to delete a single title at a time, you can do so via the My Downloads section. Just tap Edit in the upper-right corner, and tap or click the “X” icon next to any titles you want to get rid of. Titles will be deleted without a second confirmation, however, so be careful.
Deleting all titles
You could delete everything in the My Downloads section individually, but if you’re looking to clear everything all at once, there’s an easier way. Select the menu icon in the upper-left corner, then scroll down to App Settings. From here, tap Clear All Downloads and confirm your decision. That’s it!
Update: Refreshed and verified information.