During COVID-19 lockdown many of us will be binge-watching Netflix, but when the internet is unable to take the increased load we're going to be left wondering what to do. Downloading movies to watch offline is an excellent way to get around internet issues.
Netflix allows users to download TV shows and movies via its app for iOS, Android and PC for offline viewing. It isn't immediately obvious how to make the most of the feature, so here's our guide to downloading your favourite Netflix titles - including a workaround for the shows and films not included in the official download programme.
Smart Downloads, available via the Netflix app for smartphones and PC, automatically deletes episodes of the series you've watched and downloads the next one, making watching your favourite series offline much easier.
Not everything is available to download, and circumventing this restriction isn't legal. If you are planning to download any shows, the file sizes are going to be quite large - we recommend doing this over Wi-Fi, so you don't eat up all your data.
Downloading content via the Netflix app
Launch the Netflix app and select the Downloads tab. Ensure that Smart Downloads is turned on at the the top of the screen (if it is not, tap this and slide the toggle to enable it). Now tap 'Find Something to Download'.
This is a shortcut to the 'Available for Download' section in the menu. You should see a huge selection of shows available to download, as well as some of the most popular movies.
Once you've found a show you're interested in and want to watch offline, perhaps on your commute or on a long flight, select it and then tap the Download icon next to the episode you're after. You will then see a blue progress bar along the bottom of the app. Once downloaded, you'll see a blue icon next to that episode.
You can find your downloaded shows by navigating to the menu and tapping My Downloads. Simply press play and watch away.
If you have enough space on your phone or tablet and some time before you'll be disconnected from the internet, you might want to download in higher video quality. To do so, go to the menu and scroll down to App Settings. Under Downloads, tap Download Video Quality and choose the option that suits you.
But what about unsupported Netflix content?
For shows that aren't available using Netflix's official download feature, there are workarounds, but be warned; just like watching US Netflix from outside America, this method is not something that users are freely allowed to do. It violates the firm's terms and conditions. You do this at your own risk.
There is no official way of 'downloading' Netflix content that isn't available through Netflix's built-in feature, but what you can do is watch the TV show or film you want to view offline and capture the screen as you do it.
This does mean playing it from beginning to end on a PC or Mac but it's really the best - and only - way of doing it. It's a workaround, really. If that's of interest, follow the steps below.
Install a screen-capture program
Get ready to record
Once you've installed the software of your choice, fire it up and get Netflix ready in your browser.
By default CamStudio will record a fixed region, so in the Region menu select Full Screen. This will capture Netflix video in its entirety.
Configure audio recording
You'll also want to change the audio settings as the software will not record anything by default. Click Options and choose Record audio from speakers. We got a message pop up, but audio records without a problem.
Select Options > Program Options > ‘Minimize program on start recording’ to automatically minimise CamStudio before your recording starts.
With Netflix ready to go with the TV show or film you want to capture, hit record (the round red button) and switch to Netflix. Hit play on the video and go full screen.
You will have to let the episode or movie run to the end but when it's done go back to CamStudio and hit stop.
Save your downloaded Netflix file
Now give the file a name and save it where you want. Annoyingly Windows will automatically play the video back.
Recording Netflix on phones and tablets
The above method will result in files that you can then transfer to Android, iPhone, or iPad (and most devices) which is probably the easiest thing to do. However, you can record the screen on your iOS or Android device if you wish to 'download' Netflix content.