During COVID-19 lockdown many of us will be binge-watching Netflix, but when the internet is unable to take the increased load we’re going to be left wondering what to do. Downloading movies to watch offline is an excellent way to get around internet issues. 

Netflix allows users to download TV shows and movies via its app for iOS, Android and PC for offline viewing. 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, available via the Netflix app for smartphones and PC, automatically deletes episodes of the series you’ve watched and downloads the next one, making watching your favourite series offline 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 Wi-Fi, so you don’t eat up all your data.

Downloading content via the Netflix app

Launch the Netflix app and select the Downloads tab. Ensure that Smart Downloads is turned on at the the top of the screen (if it is not, tap this and slide the toggle to enable it). Now tap ‘Find Something to Download’.

This is a shortcut to the ‘Available for Download’ section in the menu. You should see a huge selection of shows available to download, as well as some of the most popular movies. 

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 Download Video Quality and choose the option that suits you.

But what about unsupported Netflix 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 that 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 on a PC or Mac but it’s really the best – and only – way of doing it. It’s a workaround, really. If that’s of interest, follow the steps below.

Install a screen-capture program

Get ready to record

Configure audio recording

Minimise CamStudio

Hit record

Save your downloaded Netflix file

Recording Netflix on phones and tablets


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