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The best Netflix tools: Use these 10 tricks and tips to get the most out of your subscription

By Jared Newman | Jan. 5, 2015
Don’t be satisfied with the content that bubbles up to the surface of the Netflix user interface. Use these tools to dig down to the good stuff.

Figure out what's on with your phone
Most Netflix power tools live on the Web, but that makes them cumbersome if you don't have a home-theater or easy access to a laptop. For powerful Netflix searches on your phone, check out Upflix for iOS or Android. The free app lets you sort movies and shows according to their ratings on Netflix, IMDB, TMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, or Flixster. You can also browse through dozens of genres and use a "roulette" feature to get spontaneous recommendations. When you're ready to watch, you can even jump straight into the Netflix app to begin playback.

Search beyond Netflix
Searching on Netflix can be a waste of time if you're looking for something specific that the service might not even have. Instead, broaden your search with WhereToWatch, a video search engine that includes several legal online sources, including Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu. You can search by title, actor or director, and while it has a few holes, it'll save you the disappointment of coming up empty on Netflix.

Manage your profile
If you're ever felt let down by Netflix's recommendations, it might be because you haven't fed it enough data. Start by visiting the Edit Profiles section of Netflix's Website, and make sure everyone in your family has their own profile. (Don't worry, it's free to have several profiles tied to a single account.) Now head to theYour Account section of Netflix's Website and click onTaste Preferences, where you can rate how much you care for various genres. You can also use the Ratings Wizard to give star ratings to the movies and shows you've already seen. It's a good way to ensure those banal direct-to-DVD horror movies are permanently banished from your menus.

Learn some keyboard shortcuts
Watching Netflix on a laptop isn't quite as comfy as kicking back with a TV and remote control, but using keyboard shortcuts are the next-best thing. Some of these controls will work on other video sites such as YouTube and Hulu, so they're worth remembering:

  • Enter or Space: Toggle pause/play
  • Left Arrow: Rewind
  • Right Arrow: Fast Forward
  • Up Arrow: Volume Up
  • Down Arrow: Volume Down
  • M: Mute
  • F11: Toggle Full Screen (Chrome only)

Tweak a few settings
For those who watch a lot of foreign fare, Netflix's Subtitle Preferences menu is worth a visit, as it'll let you change the color, size and font of all subtitles and captions. (It works on all devices except those running iOS, which havetheir own instructions. You should also check out the Playback Settings menu, which lets you manually adjust video quality--useful when you're on a limited data plan--and turn off auto-play of the next video in a series. And if you're perturbed by Netflix's auto-sorting of your "My List" queue, you can turn on Manual Ordering to arrange them by hand.


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