CUSTOMISE AND ENHANCE
Watch Netflix with friends
It’s often a lot more fun watching movies with friends than on your own, but it isn’t always possible – especially if they live some distance away. Showgoers ( showgoers.tv) is a Chrome extension that lets you watch Netflix with people you know, and chat with them in real-time while the film or programme is playing. Assuming all participants have a valid Netflix account and have installed the add-on, all you need to do is navigate to the show or movie you want to watch, hover over the Showgoers logo and click Start Watching Party. This generates a unique viewing URL that you can share with your friends for simultaneous viewing.
Control how much data Netflix uses
Streaming or downloading TV shows or movies on Netflix consumes about 1GB of data per hour for standard-definition video, and up to 3GB per hour for HD video. That can quickly add up, especially if you’re binge-watching one or more series. If you have a capped broadband account or are using mobile data instead of Wi-fi, you can easily run into problems. Fortunately, Netflix offers some ways of controlling how much data the service consumes.
Open Netflix in your browser, go to your account page ( bit.ly/ youraccount431), select Playback Settings and change the quality. Low reduces the amount of data used to 300MB an hour.
On your phone, you can adjust your mobile-data usage. In the Netflix app, tap the three-line menu button and scroll down to App Settings. Select it, then tap Mobile Data Usage. There are six settings available – Off (you can only stream when on Wi-fi), Auto (Netflix will try to balance quality and data usage), Low (four hours of viewing per GB), Medium (two hours of viewing per GB), High (one hour of viewing per GB) and Unlimited (high quality all the time – at a rate of around 1GB per 20 minutes of viewing).
Improve your streaming quality
If you want better quality video, be prepared to pay for it. Viewers on the Basic plan (£5.99 a month) can only view content in standard definition, while Standard-plan subscribers (£7.49 a month) can enjoy HD. Premium members (£8.99 a month) get the red-carpet treatment and have access to 4K Ultra HD content. Netflix has made switching plans very easy – just go to bit.ly/plan431 and pick a new option.
By default, Netflix will serve up videos in the best quality possible for your plan, but if your internet speed drops below a certain threshold, then playback may suffer. To fix this, go to bit.ly/hd431 and change the playback settings as required.
Add useful new features to Netflix
If you watch Netflix through Chrome, you can change various settings and unlock new features by installing the Super Netflix add-on ( bit.ly/supern431). This offers several useful tools, including the ability to change the video quality, upload custom subtitles and control the volume. You can also set your own video bitrate (the higher the better for improved quality) and blur episode thumbnails so they don’t accidentally reveal any spoilers.
The add-on’s developer offers users the opportunity to test new beta features before they are ready to be rolled out to everyone.
Improve Netflix by tweaking its interface
Flix Plus ( bit.ly/flix431) is a Chrome add-on from Lifehacker that offers 18 handy tweaks for Netflix. It can add or remove elements from the interface, insert a random episode button, provide ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB, hide potential spoilers, introduce additional keyboard shortcuts and much more. It’s designed for the US version of Netflix, but we’ve found it works fine in the UK edition too.
Customise subtitles and language
Whether you enjoy foreign-language movies or you’re just hard of hearing, subtitles can be an essential part of your viewing experience. To find out which Netflix shows and movies support them, go to bit.ly/subs431.
You can customise the look of subtitles at bit.ly/subpref431 by altering the typeface, colour, size, shadow and background and window options. Your
changes will be applied to all supported devices. Alternatively, when a Netfilx video is playing, you can select the Dialog button and choose the settings you require.
Prevent Netflix from playing the next episode
Netflix has a feature called Post- Play that automatically plays the next episode of a show when you finish watching the current one. This is a useful tool when you want to ‘binge watch’ a series because it saves you having to return to the main menu to manually select the following episode. However, in some circumstances, Post-play is more of a hindrance than a help – perhaps you’re deliberately viewing a show out of sequence, or you’ve got an early start the next day and should go to bed!
To turn off this feature on the Netflix website, click your name in the top-right corner, select Your Account and click ‘ Playback settings’. Under Preferences, deselect the option ‘ Play next episode automatically’ and click Save. This setting will also be applied when you next watch Netflix via your mobile or smart TV app.
Add extra features to Netflix by installing the Super Netflix extension
Make sure you’re getting the streaming quality that you’re paying for
Adjust your mobile- data usage to avoid exceeding your monthly limit
Tweak Netflix’s rather basic interface to tailor it to your viewing needs
Showgoers lets you watch Netflix with your mates
Make Netflix subtitles easy to read by customising their appearance