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How to download Netflix shows and movies on your phone

Netflix continues to make it easy to binge your favorite shows, wherever you are.

Downloading a series or movie from Netflix so you can watch it on your phone or tablet without worrying about your data plan -- or having an internet connection at all -- has been possible since late 2016. More recently, Netflix added a feature called Smart Download to its mobile apps to automate the process and help eliminate the need for you to remember to delete shows you've watched and download the next few episodes. 

According to Netflix, downloading is available on Android devices running Android 4.4.2 and up, as well as iPhones running iOS 9.0 or later.

Now playing: Watch this: Download Netflix shows and movies on your phone or tablet

Download time!

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The first time you sign into the Netflix app, it displays a dialog showing the down arrow symbol used to initiate a download. More importantly, at the bottom of the popup is a link that takes you to all of the movies and shows you can currently download. Select it! Don't worry if you close the prompt before reading it, there's a new Available for Download category located in the search section of the app.

Downloading a show is as easy as tapping on the download button and letting the app take care of the rest. Ideally, you'll want to have a Wi-Fi connection when doing so. Alternatively, you can always look for the download button when browsing the Netflix catalog.

You can set the download quality by opening the menu and going to App Settings and choosing between standard and high Video Quality. High quality will, of course, take up more storage space on your phone.

Smart downloads

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android and iOS users have a Smart Downloads setting that, when enabled, will automatically delete episodes you've watched and download more episodes without any action on your part.

You can enable (or disable) the feature by opening the Netflix app and going to App Settings. Next, move the Smart Downloads switch to the on or off position.

The feature works on a one-in, one-out basis. If you binge-watch three episodes of a series that has been downloaded, the next time you connect to Wi-Fi, Netflix will delete those three episodes and download the next three.

Manage downloads

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

If you'd rather not use Smart Downloads, you can manually manage your downloaded content.

To delete content, select the Downloads tab at the bottom, and then tap on the show you want to manage. Remove a single episode with a tap on the blue icon to the right, followed by Delete Download, or tap the Edit pencil icon to remove multiple episodes at the same time.

To delete all downloads in one step, go to App Settings and select Delete All Downloads.


To view and manage your downloaded shows, visit the App Settings and look for the Downloads section. There you can see just how much space your Netflix apps are taking up on your device.

The only limitation to the amount of storage Netflix will use is the amount of storage your phone has. In other words, if you have a 128GB phone, you can use as much of that as you want to store shows you normally binge-watch.

For those Android users who have a device with microSD support, Netflix now allows you to store shows on external storage. In the Netflix app go to App Settings > Download Location. Select your SD Card, then press the back button.

Originally published Dec. 2, 2016.
Update, Feb. 11, 2019:  Updated to reflect new download features for iOS and Android.

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