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Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu? 2 Dead Simple Tricks to Find Your Movie or TV Show Every Time

In just 30 seconds, you can determine where to stream practically any series or flick.

Tom Cruise lit by golden sunlight in Top Gun: Maverick
Want to find out where to watch the original Top Gun on streaming before you see Top Gun: Maverick? It's easy.
Paramount

I'll be the first to admit I subscribe to way too many streaming services: HBO Max, Netflix, Amazon Prime VideoDisney Plus (it had a multiyear deal!), even BritBox. My family experiences the perks of this firsthand -- we can watch almost anything we want, when we want. But with all these catalogs of media at our disposal, how do we find the movies and TV shows we're looking for?

There are plenty of apps and sites that claim they'll help with this. But I'm old and cranky and lazy. I don't want to download any app or join any site to get the info. I just want to know where to watch the original Top Gun before I see the sequel, or how to get nostalgic with old episodes of Quincy, M.E. And I want to get the answer in seconds.

Here's what I do.

JustWatch.com

First, I bookmarked JustWatch.com and put it in a prominent space on my bookmarks bar. I've tried other search-for-streaming-programs sites and this is by far the simplest. You don't have to join anything or download anything. I barely even look at the site, I just go right to the search box in the upper right corner and type in my movie or show title.

Bam, JustWatch.com spits back an answer. It tells me that because I have Amazon Prime Video, I can watch the original Top Gun for free. (So I did. I felt the need for speed, and a little shirtless Tom Cruise playing volleyball.) If I didn't have Prime Video, the site told me, I could watch it free on Paramount Plus, or I could pay a couple of bucks to rent it from any number of streaming services, or buy it for more.

Just Google it

This seems almost too obvious to state, but here goes. You can just Google the movie or show name with the word "streaming" attached. You can save yourself wrong answers if you put the show or movie name in quotes, too. 

Generally, this sends me to a bunch of news stories telling me where to stream whatever it is. I find this more annoying than JustWatch.com, but if I'm not getting a quick answer from JustWatch, this also works. Sometimes better.

I was dying (Get it? Dying? Because he's a coroner?) to watch some old episodes of Quincy, M.E. on any streaming service. JustWatch.com informed me that the classic Jack Klugman drama isn't streaming anywhere. It allowed me to sign up to be notified if that changes, though you need to make a free account on the site for that. 

But when I used the Google method, I learned that Quincy, M.E. episodes air on nostalgia channel Cozi TV, which I get via YouTube TV. So I set it to record future episodes. Not as satisfying as being able to watch it on streaming right now, but better than nothing. I'm all set to settle in later this week and catch up with Quince, Sam and the regulars at Danny's restaurant.