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How to download Netflix shows and movies

How to download Netflix shows and movies
© Mohamed Ahmed Soliman | Dreamstime

There's no denying it, one of America's favorite pastime activities now is Netflix. In fact, more than one-third of data usage consumed during peak hours in the U.S. is attributed to Netflix video streaming.

There's nothing like chilling at home, searching for that perfect flick to pass the night away. With a solid home internet connection and generous data caps, you can stream to your heart's content.

On mobile, it's a different story. Irregular mobile data connections, scarce Wi-Fi hotspots, and limited data caps are some of the factors to consider before taking Netflix on the road.

Thankfully, Netflix changed that when it finally introduced downloads for offline playback late last year.

With this feature, subscribers can download a large selection of TV shows and movies straight to their gadget for offline viewing.

As long as your gadget's storage space allows it, you can hoard your favorite Netflix originals such as "Stranger Things," "Narcos," "Black Mirror" or "Defenders" and a growing selection of movies.

In this age of mobile streaming, why does this matter, again? Well, it will be a most convenient feature to use on that long commute or road trips where mobile connections are irregular and unreliable.

Preparing for content to watch on those long airplane flights will also be easier with this option, just queue everything up on your gadget while on Wi-Fi and away you binge.

Parents will surely appreciate this feature too. Just download the old reliable shows that your kids enjoy and they will always be available for viewing regardless of the data connection quality.

How to download Netflix shows and movies on iOS and Android

Tap on the three-striped Menu button in the upper-left corner and you'll see a new "Available for Download" section.

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If a TV Show or a movie is available for download, a download icon will be displayed on the movie page or alongside it if it's a TV series episode.

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You can check your content's Download progress by going to the My Downloads section.

Netflix settings

There are two video quality settings you can choose from: "Standard," which uses a slightly lower resolution, and less storage space so it downloads faster, and the "Higher" setting, which has better quality but takes more space and downloads longer.

To set your download quality, tap on the three-striped Menu button in the upper-left corner, scroll down to and select App Settings >> Video Quality.

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Other download options you can tweak under App Settings are "Wi-Fi Only" downloads, which will prevent you from downloading on your cellular data connection. It's an important setting to review, especially if you have a mobile data cap.

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How to download Netflix content on the Windows 10 app

To use this feature, look for the new download button for supported content, click it and it will start downloading to your Windows 10 machine's local storage. Once it finishes, you can view all your downloaded content by clicking the hamburger menu in the top-left corner of the app then select "My Downloads."

On the same menu, you can also view a list of all the content that supports offline viewing by clicking "Available for Download."

Note that "Download and Go" only works on the Windows 10 Netflix app and it is not supported on the web browser version of Netflix.

Your mileage may vary

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I tested a Standard quality download of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and it took about 10 minutes to complete the 407.7 MB download (the movie is about an hour and 48 minutes long). For that file size, the quality of Standard is actually good.

And the best thing is, I could watch it without eating through my data plan each time.

There's one caveat, though. You have a limited time to watch content that you've downloaded. The times vary for each piece of content but they're usually from 48 hours after you press play.

You can view how many hours you have left on a particular download on the My Downloads page. However, you can watch a downloaded title as many times as you’d like before it expires.

If a title has expired, you can redownload it. Unfortunately, due to licensing constraints, keep in mind that some titles can only be downloaded a limited number of times.

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