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Haven't tried Netflix Party with friends yet? Here's how to watch movies for free

You can pause and play Netflix movies and TV shows simultaneously with your family and friends remotely with this free browser extension.

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Invite your friends to join your Netflix Party remotely.

Angela Lang/CNET

Movie nights and watch parties in the age of quarantine have gotten a little easier with the help of a free extension for the Google Chrome browser called Netflix Party. This tool lets you start, stop and pause a Netflix movie or show so you can watch it at the same time as a group of friends and family -- remotely. 

There's also a side chat bar where you and your friends can discuss what's going on in the movie, much as you would if you were sitting together on the couch. 

Netflix Party helps ease the severe lack of socializing we've all had to deal with in this coronavirus reality. Read on for how to download, install and use the Netflix Party extension to sync your movie-watching with family and friends. And here's more free entertainment to help you get by, as well as tips on how to stay healthy, educated and sane during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make sure everyone in your group has a Netflix account

In order for this to work, everyone you send an invite to will need to have access to Netflix. If they don't have accounts, Netflix is offering a free 30-day trial for new subscribers. If they're not new subscribers, they can reactivate their account for $9 a month and cancel at any time. You can also share your Netflix account with two to four other family members, depending on which subscription you have.

Download the Google extension

After everyone has logged in to Netflix on their computers, they'll need to download the Netflix Party extension. Here's how.

1. Visit netflixparty.com in your Google Chrome browser.

2. Click Get Netflix Party for free.

3. You'll be redirected to the Google Chrome web store page to download the extension. Click Add to Chrome.

4. A pop-up box will open. Select Add Extension. You'll now see a grey NP icon in your browser toolbar. 

Start watching movies with friends

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Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

Now that you've got the extension downloaded, you can begin watching shows and movies with your friends and family. Here's how to get started.

1. Open a new tab in your Google Chrome browser and log in to Netflix.

2. Find a show or movie you'd like to watch and click on it. 

3. You'll now see that the NP (Netflix Party) icon has changed from gray to red. Click the icon and select Start the party. You'll become the host, so you can either select the option for you to be the only controller pausing and playing the show, or you can let anyone take control. 

4. Copy the URL from the pop-up box and send it to everyone you want to invite to the group.

5. The chat room will appear on the right side of the screen. From there, you'll be able to see when someone joins the party.

6. Now you can laugh, cry and howl with your family and friends, and feel a little less on your own.

Need more things to do during this time of social distancing? Here's how to watch YouTube videos at the exact same time as your friendsfree entertainment to help you get through social distancing, free video chat apps to use if you're social distancing, the best two-player board games and ways you can help during the coronavirus pandemic.

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