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6 Netflix tricks to supercharge your streaming

Disable those pesky auto-playing previews, browse super-specific genres, block content by title, listen to Netflix like a podcast, and more.

6 Netflix tricks to supercharge your streaming
[Photo: Giordano Rossoni/Unsplash]
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Up until this point, you’ve probably found that Netflix works just fine without too much tinkering.

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However, there are a few things you can do—none of which requires much time at all—to make Netflix a little less clunky and a little more fun. Here are [some quick tricks for your next Netflix fix.

No Netflix? No problem. Get hooked for free

Not sure if you’re ready to commit to a full-blown Netflix subscription? You can watch the first episodes of a handful of Netflix’s popular shows to see if anything tickles your fancy.

Just head over to Netflix.com/Watch-Free and click the red Watch Now button under a show that looks interesting to you—no signup, no credit cards, no commitment.

The selection rotates every so often: as of the time this article went live, you can check out the first episodes of Stranger Things, Elite, Boss Baby: Back in Business, When They See Us, and a few other Netflix-exclusive titles.

Get really specific with category codes

Maybe you’re looking for a “Screwball Comedy—that’s category 9702. Something for your two- to four-year-old? Category 6218. Ah, perhaps a Canadian Christmas film suitable for the whole family? Why that’s category 1721544, of course.

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There are several sites that break down all the categories and sub-categories Netflix has to offer, but Netflix-Codes.com is about as straightforward as it gets.

You can link off directly to each category if you’re watching from your computer, or type the name of a specific category into the search bar of your mobile or smart TV apps to see available titles.

Disable the auto-playing previews

Fun fact: it takes my wife and I longer to find a movie to watch than the actual run time of some movies. So browsing through a nearly never-ending list of watchables and having each one start auto-playing unless we’re fast enough to move onto the next one gets old, fast.

Thanks to a recent settings update, there’s an easy way to turn this off right from your Netflix account.

Log in from a web browser, click your little account avatar in the upper-right corner, followed by the Account link from the dropdown (or just head straight to Netflix.com/YourAccount).

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From there, choose the profile you’d like to tweak and, from its dropdown, click the “Change” link next to the “Playback settings” option.

Uncheck the second checkbox on the Playback Settings page to disable auto-playing previews. Click Save, and you’re all set.

While you’re there, you can also tweak your data usage settings. If you’ve got a fast internet connection, try choosing High to make sure you’re watching everything at optimal quality.

Limit what your kids can watch

You can set up a dedicated Netflix profile for your kids and limit it to only content at or below a certain rating level. We have ours set to TV-Y: content meant only for young children.

However, our kids are getting older. Maybe it’s time to let our parental hair down a bit and up the threshold to TV-Y7 or TV-G.

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To do that, follow the same steps from the previous tip to get into your account settings, and then from the Kids profile dropdown, click the “Change” link next to the “Viewing Restrictions” option.

From there, choose a different rating limit and hit the Save button.

You can specifically restrict shows and movies by title in this section as well. Maybe some of them aren’t inappropriate, per se, but maybe Mom and Dad can’t stand to watch another episode starring a talking train named Thomas ever, ever, ever again.

Netflix and chill chores

Maybe you like to fire up a podcast while you’re doing the dishes or tidying up. But maybe you’re really into a particular show on Netflix at the moment—and you kind of resent the podcast for taking you away from your show.

Well, have I got a weird but wonderful solution for you. There’s a limited but growing selection of titles that support Netflix’s “Audio Description in English” feature. You can find the available titles here.

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Start playing an episode, and then click on the subtitles icon (it looks like a square word bubble) in the lower-right corner. Under the Audio heading, select the “English – Audio Description” option.

With that option enabled, even if you can’t keep your eye on the screen the entire time, a helpful narrator will verbally explain to you what’s visually happening in each scene. What a time to be alive!

Get lost in a sea of Chrome extensions

If you primarily watch on your computer, you have a wide, wild world of Netflix-enhancing Chrome extensions at your fingertips. Here’s the link to all of them.

Want to watch remotely with friends? There are a bunch of extensions for that. Want to leverage movies and shows to learn a new language? Yep, that’s a thing. Want to watch Netflix in a little window while you surf the web? Have at it.

Keep scrolling in the Chrome Web Store and the Netflix extensions will keep loading. If you can think of a way to tweak Netflix, chances are someone’s developed an extension for it.