8 internet TV tricks to make streaming video even easier
Become an internet TV pro with these tips and tricks that will make your Netflix and Showmax experiences smoother, easier and much more enjoyable.
This option pops up once a show starts and allows you to save a few seconds every episode by skipping straight ahead to the action. Those scant seconds can make a big difference, especially when you’re binge-watching back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones, for example (watching every second of every episode would take you 3 days and 16 minutes if you included the opening sequence of every episode, just FYI).
But you might want to be a little more circumspect when using this feature. General consensus is that Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Atlanta, The Sopranos and True Detective are among the shows with opening sequences and title tracks that are so excellent that you’ll actually want to watch them every time.
Opening sequences aren’t the only thing you can skip when you’re in a serious binge-watch session. Don’t wait through the closing credits of your current episode of Godfather of Harlem to find out what happens next in the gangster suspense thriller. Click the Watch Now button that pops up and skip straight ahead to the next episode.
Turn subtitles on/off
A number of Showmax series and movies offer subtitles, which helps when you’re watching, say, Suits with your hard-of-hearing relatives. To find out if subtitles are available, click on the relevant show to play it in the Showmax app and click on the audio button at the bottom right of your screen. It will tell you what language the show is in, if there are subtitles available, and allows you to switch them on or off.
Enable or disable Autoplay
If you’re not sure you’ve got the will power to physically, manually stop watching after a single episode of a show as easy to watch and as gratifying as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for example, it’s a good idea to disable the Autoplay function. Once your show is playing, click on the settings button on the bottom right of the screen (that’s right, the one that looks like a little cog) and select Off under Autoplay. If you don’t do this, Autoplay is on by default.
Try out these hacks on these series
Explore hidden categories
Did you know that Netflix has more than 70 000 hidden and obscure categories? Find out what category your favourite show is by looking for the number at the end of the URL when browsing within a broader genre. Here’s an example: https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/2851 – the 2851 is short-hand for “Visually striking movies for ages 5 to 7”. Yes, they really are as detailed as that. You’ll find a loooong list of Netflix hidden category codes here to use next time you’re browsing for something really specific.
Sort movies by year
This will please your movie buff cousin, but is also really handy when you’re looking for the most recent movies on offer, such as 2019’s Marriage Story, which has scooped multiple Golden Globe nominations for 2020. Once you’ve watched it, go to the box at the top of the screen on the right and click it, then go to Year Released. The box gives you more movies suggested for you, and then when you select Year Released, the movies get sorted with the most recent movies at the top of the screen, so you can scroll down to the older films for that cousin of yours. (This one only works in web browsers.)
Take our word for it, this feature is highly irritating when activated by accident by your techno-challenged father or, say, your four-year-old son. But it’s really handy if you’re trying to take in a show while doing something else and can’t focus all of your attention on the screen (while making the mince pies from scratch for Christmas, for example, when everyone in your family except you has watched The Irishman – yes, it really does take that long to make the pastry and fruit mince yourself). The feature gives detailed descriptions of what’s going on on-screen, as if you’re listening to an audio book. Once you’ve pushed Play on a title, go to the little speech bubble on the bottom right of the screen, and select English – Audio Description.
Clear out your Continue Watching queue
This is nifty at holiday time because you don’t want that racy show you’ve been watching after the kids are in bed to crop up as a Continue Watching when your mom’s browsing on the smart TV for Ryan Gosling movies. On a web browser, go to Account, scroll down to your account and click on Viewing Activity. You can then hide any of the titles from your Viewing History. This is also handy for finding out what your kids have been streaming on their tablets in their rooms while they’re quiet for an unnaturally long time… (Of course, this won’t be necessary if you’ve set up your Kids Profiles properly – here’s a guide for all streaming services in SA.)