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Everything you need to know about Amazon X-Ray for TV shows and movies

Who's that actor? Who sings that song? Here's how to access the super-cool X-Ray feature nearly anywhere you're watching Amazon Video.

You've seen that face before. That actor... so familiar, yet it's driving you nuts because you can't place the face. Wasn't he in that thing? With that gal?

And that song! The one playing in the background while the two characters meet-cute. It's so great! But what is it? Sure, you might be able to Shazam it -- if not for all the onscreen dialogue getting in the way.

X-Ray to the rescue. I consider this feature one of Amazon's unsung heroes, as it's equal parts interesting, informative and practical. And it's available almost everywhere Amazon Video can play.


Most Amazon X-Ray features are just a tap or two away.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Officially known as X-Ray for Movies & TV Shows, the tool instantly provides extra information about what you're seeing onscreen at any given time: the names of actors and other shows or movies they've appeared in; the name of whatever music is currently playing; even trivia about a particular scene, location, bit of dialog and so on.

Where does all this data come from? X-Ray is powered by IMDb, and it's integrated into the following devices/platforms:

  • Amazon Fire tablets (excluding first-generation Kindle Fires)
  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Android phones and tablets
  • iPhone and iPads
  • Nintendo Wii U console
  • Web browsers that support HTML5

Yes, sadly, Roku doesn't appear on that list. Although IMDb's X-Ray info page indicates support for both Roku and Xbox, Amazon either hasn't deployed that support yet or has decided not to. (I double-checked my Roku box and, sure, enough, no X-Ray.)

For everything else, the service is activated by default, though it requires a live internet connection. Thus, if you're watching, say, an Amazon Video download on your next flight and you're not connected to Wi-Fi, you won't get the feature.

But when you're online, activating X-Ray is as easy as tapping the screen on your phone or tablet. If you're watching in a browser, just move the mouse. And Wii U users can select the X-Ray menu on the GamePad.

Those actions cause the X-Ray overlay to appear, at which point you can tap or click any actor or song name to get more information. (Surprise: You can also purchase songs directly, provided they're available from Amazon.) Once X-Ray is visible, hit View All for a wider selection of options, including a list of scenes, a complete list of actors and music and any available trivia.

That scene-list option can be useful, as it lets you quickly jump to a particular scene rather than trying to manually scan the timeline.

Beyond that, X-Ray is just a cool little extra that people tend to forget exists. Next time you're having trouble placing that actor's face, just X-Ray it!