5 MORE tricks to get more out of Netflix

June 29, 2015

5 MORE tricks to get more out of Netflix
By Justin Ferris

If you're streaming online video to watch TV shows or movies, there's a good chance you use Netflix. It's the largest streaming service around. In fact, it has more than 100 million hours of video, and during peak hours it makes up more than one third of all Internet traffic.

One of the reasons Netflix is so popular is how easy it is to use on every gadget. You can quickly find videos you want to watch, they automatically stream at the best quality for your connection, and, as you watch more videos, Netflix gets better about suggesting new ones you might like.

That isn't to say you can't improve your Netflix experience. I've told you before about three tricks you can use to improve your video quality and recommendations.

Now, I'm going to give you five more tricks that will take your Netflix experience up a notch, from improving your recommendations even more to saving money while you travel.

One obstacle to enjoying online video is buffering. Buffering is actually a good thing because it lets you load part of the video before it starts playing. That means on a slower connection you can watch at a higher quality than you could with real-time streaming.

However, if your Internet connection isn't steady, the video can stop to buffer at the worst possible moments. And if you have a steady but slower Internet connection, Netflix can take more time buffering than it really needs.

If you're watching Netflix on a computer, start playing the movie and hold the keyboard shortcut Shift + Alt and then left click the video (Shift+Option+Click on a Mac). Select the stream manager to see the buffering rate.

Click the "Manual selection" checkbox, then set the buffering rate to the same number as the "Playing" number. Then click "Apply." You should notice a drop in the amount of time Netflix spends buffering.

As you watch more videos, Netflix gets better at recommending videos you might like. However, it isn't perfect; it has nearly 77,000 genres to match you up with, after all. Plus, Netflix it gets confused if you have more than one person using a single Netflix profile.

Handy Tip: If you have several people in the house using one Netflix account, be sure to set each person up with their own Netflix profile to avoid these kinds of conflicts. On the Netflix website, click Manage Profiles in the top right corner to get started.

The way to change your recommendations is by rating what you watch. When you're first starting Netflix, you'll see a lot of surveys called Taste Preferences that ask you to rate movies, shows and genres you've watched recently.

Taste Preferences are important to fill out so Netflix can build your Taste Profile. After a while, you won't see as many of these, however. If you want to revisit your preferences, go to the Netflix site and under Your Account load the Taste Preferences survey. Or click this link and log in.

If you want to get away from Netflix's interface, there's another way to find videos. The site What is on Netflix? lets you see the top-rated movies from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB and other review sites that are streaming on Netflix. These aren't just new movies, but can range all the way back to the 1930s.

If you're watching Netflix through a streaming box, such as a Roku, or on a smart TV, you know how annoying it can be to control with a standard remote. Searching for titles, for example, means a lot of button presses to select each letter.

It would be nicer if you could use your smartphone or tablet as a remote, and you can. If it's newer, it's likely your streaming gadget has its own custom control app in the Google Play or Apple store.

Roku, for example, has one that gives you the ability to navigate with the touch screen and type with the on-screen keyboard. If you're using a PlayStation, you can load up a video on your smartphone, or tablet, and then start it playing in the Netflix app on the console.

Have you ever cranked up the volume on a video because you can't quite hear what the actors are saying? Maybe they're talking too softly, the soundtrack is too loud or they have an accent that's nearly impossible to understand.

Instead of straining yourself or constantly rewind the scene, you can simply turn on the subtitles. OK, I say simply, but the steps actually vary depending on the streaming gadget you're using.

Fortunately, Netflix provides handy instructions for every streaming gadget you might own. It also lets you customize the subtitle font and color so it's easier for you to read.

You're going to be going on a long trip and aren't going to be using your Netflix account. Why keep paying for it?

If you cancel your Netflix account, Netflix keeps your information for up to 10 months. You can restart it at any time within that 10 months with no penalty.

To cancel your account, log in to your Netflix account and click "Cancel Membership." You can keep using Netflix until the end of that billing cycle, then it will stop working.

To restart Netflix when you come back, log in to you Netflix account and tell it you want to restart. You'll be back up and running in no time.

Even if you aren't going on vacation, you can save a little money for a month or two with this method. It's also handy if you have a project you're working on and you need to remove the temptation to binge watch some TV shows instead.


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