Netflix now allows users to download movies and TV shows to an iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet, to watch abroad or when you’re offline. Here’s how to download Netflix content to your mobile phone or tablet, how to change the Netflix download settings, downloading content to a microSD memory card, and the best movies and shows that are available to download.
Netflix has spent a lot of time in the past saying that it wouldn’t offer an offline mode, but in 2017 that has changed. The media streaming service announced via Twitter that you can can update your Netflix app and discover a sexy new download feature for your favourite shows and movies.
It’s not too surprising that this feature was finally added. After all, Netflix is a little behind the curve here, with most streaming companies offering some form of download option. Amazon, Sky, BBC iPlayer and now Virgin’s V6 service can all deliver content in this way, with Amazon adding the feature last year.
Here’s everything you need to know about Netflix’s download mode for offline viewing.
Read next: How to watch Netflix on your TV
How can I download Netflix shows and movies to view offline?
The offline mode is available to access right now. The Netflix app update has already gone live on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store for Android devices. Just head to your app store and hit ‘update’ on the Netflix app and you’ll be able to download movies and shows to your mobile or tablet immediately.
How do Netflix offline downloads work and are there limitations?
You can easily see which Netflix movies and shows are available to download inside the Netflix app.
At the top of the screen, tap the menu button in the left corner; it looks like three horizontal lines. Inside the main menu, head to ‘Available for Download’. This shows you all of Netflix’s movies and TV shows that can be downloaded to your phone or tablet.
If you want to download something, just tap into it and then poke the download icon, which looks like a downwards pointing arrow. Note that with TV shows, you must download each episode separately. When you download a show or film, it will pop up in your My Downloads section for fast access. This is available to view in the main Netflix menu.
Sadly there are limitations, and not all of Netflix’s content is available to download. In fact, not much at all is available from our personal lists, although Netflix Originals like Narcos and Bojack Horseman are good to go.
Thankfully there doesn’t seem to be any iPlayer or Sky-style limitations on how long you have to watch a downloaded show or movie, after you hit download.
How can I change the quality of downloaded Netflix shows and whether they download over WiFi or using my mobile data?
Head to the Netflix app and tap the menu button in the top left corner of the screen. In the menu, scroll down to the bottom and tap App Settings.
In here you’ll see some important download settings. For a start, you can change how your videos are downloaded – by default, this is set to Wi-Fi only, but you can choose to use your mobile data if you have an unlimited allowance.
You can also set the video quality to a higher resolution if you have a Quad HD mobile phone screen that you want to make the most of, or a crisp tablet display. Note that this will take up more storage space on your mobile device.
You can also delete all downloads in one go, to free up vital storage space.
How can I download Netflix movies and shows to a microSD memory card?
If your phone or tablet supports microSD memory cards, then you can download direct to this to save on internal storage space. Apple’s iPhones and iPads don’t have memory card slots, so this applies only to Android mobile devices.
Head to the Netflix app’s main menu and scroll down the bottom, and tap App Settings. In here you’ll find a new ‘Download Location’ setting, added in a recent update. If you can’t see this option, try updating your Netflix app in the Google Play store.
Tap this setting and select ‘SD Card’, which should only be available if you have a microSD memory card inserted into your phone or tablet. Any content that you download in the future will be placed on the card.
What are the best movies to download from Netflix right now?
We’ve compiled a handy list of the best Netflix movies you can download in 2017, to get you started. Whether you’re into action films, animations, thrillers or comedies, we’ve picked our favourite movies which you can download onto your phones and tablets right now.
Why are Netflix downloads such a big thing?
As well as giving the ability to take Netflix shows and movies on holiday, there are plenty of other potential benefits.
One persistent problem in the UK is slow broadband, and while things are getting better there are still places where sub-10mbps broadband are a reality.
For these people, the quality of their Netflix viewing experience might be an issue. Downloads could help to alleviate this, offering a way for people to let their shows stream to their devices overnight, and then watch them buffer-free in glorious 1080p or even-more-glorious 4K the next day. With increasing quality on offer from Netflix, this is something that could be a huge boost for those in rural areas.
The Brexit angle
While we joke about Brexit, there is one definite referendum angle for this development. Currently roaming in the EU is price regulated, with the move to make roaming fees illegal over the next couple of years. With the UK leaving the EU, there is no requirement for the mobile providers to offer cheap roaming any more.
So if you’re going on holiday, you might be very pleased to be able to download some shows before you head out to a European destination. If they’ll even let us in.