Netflix now lets you download some of its best TV shows and movies to watch offline. This follows Amazon's lead after it introduced offline viewing for Prime Video back in 2015. All you need is an active Netflix account, an up-to-date Android or iOS phone and an internet connection.
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, announced in July and coming to Android imminently and iOS later in 2018, will automatically delete an episode you've watched and download the next one, making watching your favourite series offline so 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 WiFi, so you don't eat up all your data.
Get the Netflix app
To download Netflix shows and movies to watch offline, you'll need to first have a compatible phone or tablet running iOS 8 or later or Android 4.4.2 or later, and then ensure that you have the Netflix app installed and up-to-date.
You can also download content on Windows 8/10 with the latest version of the official app, but you can't download if you're watching through your browser on a Mac or PC.
You'll need to sign in to your Netflix account and navigate to the 'Available for Download' section in the menu.
There, you'll see a huge selection of shows available to download including Netflix Originals like Narcos, Stranger Things and The Crown as well as some of the most popular movies and programmes like The Hunger Games and Poldark.
Netflix has said that there are "more on the way" so expect many more popular titles in the catalogue to appear over time.
Click the Download icon
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 Video Quality and choose the option that suits you.
Downloading other 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 which 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 but it's really the best - and only - way of doing it. It's a workaround, really. Also see: How to avoid the latest Netflix scam.
Install a screen-capture program
Download and install a screen-capture program. There are many to choose from, both free and paid, including CamStudio (free), Audials Moviebox (approx £20), Camtasia Studio (approx £250) and Screencast-O-Matic (free).
For this tutorial, we're going to use CamStudio, which is available for Windows.
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 which 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 Android device if you wish to 'download' Netflix content.