Netflix is one of the few internet services that is hard to improve upon. For a small fee you can binge watch a huge library of movies and television shows in a slick interface on just about any device you own. This won’t stop us from trying, though. Here are some of the best ways to improve on an already great Netflix experience.
Use “My List” as a Shortcuts Bar
This isn’t so much of a tip as it is a paradigm shift. In August of last year, Netflix revamped the instant queue you’ve been building over the last half-decade into a feature called “My List” that adds a custom scrolling row of titles to your regular interface. The upshot to this is that now, in addition to saving items for later, you can use My List is an easy way to jump directly to your favorite shows. While this isn’t exactly a revolution, it does warrant revisiting your list if, like certain Lifehacker authors writing this sentence, you didn’t bother touching your cluttered instant queue for the five years prior to this change.
Sort Your List with a Userscript
Netflix may have repurposed the instant queue, but behind the scenes, it still functions largely the same. Fortunately, this means that older userscripts like Netflix Queue Sorter still work just fine. Installing this script gives you buttons to sort your queue based on ratings, year of release, availability, or you can shuffle them randomly. If you don’t want to use My List as a shortcuts bar, this is an excellent way to keep your list fresh.
Get Notified of New Content with Netflix USA
One of the most frustrating aspects of Netflix’s instant streaming library is how often it changes. Netflix occasionally sends you emails for new content it thinks you might be interested in, but if you want to discover content outside of that narrow scope, the Netflix USA blog keeps up with new arrivals to the Netflix streaming library and updates daily with information and links.
Search Better with AllFlicks
Netflix’ built in search options are okay if you know the title of the film you want to watch. Outside of that, though, search is pretty limited. AllFlicks provides much more powerful search criteria. You can narrow down results by the film’s year of release, show only movies, TV shows, or both and sort by ratings. You can choose specific search terms, but it’s not necessary if you’d prefer to just browse.
Add IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes Ratings with Netflix Rate
Netflix’ five star rating system is okay for personalizing preferences, but if you want better at-a-glance information, Chrome extension Netflix Rate adds both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes ratings to the hover-over cards while browsing the site. You can click through either of these to go the movie’s page on their respective sites.
Get Better Suggestions with the Taste Preferences Survey
When you first create a Netflix account, you get the chance to rate a few items to help build a database from which you’ll get recommendations. If your account is older than the foundations of the Earth (or if you just want better suggestions), Netflix’ deeply hidden Taste Preferences survey can help refine the results Netflix gives you.
Utilize Keyboard Shortcuts
You’re reading Lifehacker, so clearly you love keyboard shortcuts, right? Well, Netflix has plenty of its own. In addition to hitting Spacebar to play/pause like every other video player on the planet except Windows Media Player (for some reason), Netflix has a host of keyboard shortcuts built into the player including fast forward, rewind, and mute. Check out this post for even more advanced shortcuts. Including one of the most notable examples…
Access Hidden Streaming Options
As we’ve highlighted before, Netflix has some super advanced options for streaming video in a hidden menu. You can access it on the desktop by pressing Shift+Alt+Left Click, or on the Xbox 360 and PS3 with the Konami code. Both menus provide secret options with varying options based on your platform. The PS3 allows you to deauthorize your device and swap accounts, while the Xbox 360 and PC incarnations of the menu let you see a wide range of A/V stats as well as manually adjust the streaming rate.