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Hulu Tips That'll Make Streaming Even Better

The Netflix rival has eight tricks that can make your streaming experience more hassle-free.

Hulu logo on a phone
Hulu has some lesser-known features that may enhance your streaming experience.
James Martin/CNET

Hulu houses an impressive array of originals, films, current episodes from major TV networks and even a live TV option. Thanks to this and its over 45 million subscribers, the service has secured a spot among the streaming giants alongside Netflix, HBO Max and Disney Plus

Now, we know Netflix has a stack of obscure settings, but did you know Hulu comes with a few perks, too? Stream live news channels on any plan. Host a remote watch party. Or take your subscription to the next level: In addition to Hulu's basic $7 tier, you can pay more to remove ads or step up to Hulu Plus Live TV, which comes with an unlimited DVR and access to Disney Plus and ESPN Plus

Read more: The Best Movies to Watch on Hulu Now

But what about Hulu's features? Though the platform isn't as intuitive to use as I'd like, I found plenty of ways to enhance the viewing experience. I'm sorry to say that Hulu lacks secret codes that unlock genre menus and other categories of content like Netflix, but with these tricks, you can still add a little razzle dazzle to your streaming flow. 

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One thing before we dive in: I learned the hard way that Hulu's functions don't work the same across all devices. That inconsistency may be frustrating, but you can check which supported devices work best with these tips by visiting Hulu's help center.

Use widgets for your mobile phone

Are you accustomed to watching the Hulu app on your phone? Android and iPhone users can switch to a customized Hulu widget that offers a one-click ride to content you were already watching or suggestions for new titles.

iOS users can tap and hold an empty space on their screens and when the add sign pops up, type in Hulu. You'll be prompted to choose one of two widgets: "Jump Back In" or "Discover."

If you have an Android phone, tap an empty spot on your screen and then click the widgets icon. Search for Hulu in the search bar and then click which widget you want to use. You'll have the option to pick from "Keep Watching" or new content.

Add and remove channels in your lineup

This tip applies to live TV and Hulu basic subscribers. You know how you select your favorite networks when you first set up your Hulu profile? Well, that doesn't have to be set in stone. If you want to add a channel to your viewing lineup, you'll need to store your preferred networks in the "My Stuff" tab in Hulu.

From the main screen, find the TV tab and scroll down to find the "All TV Networks" row. Click on the channel that has a constant stream of content you want to watch. For example, if you like ABC's shows, select its icon and in the upper corner, click "Add to My Stuff." You'll now see ABC content in your Hulu main page rotation. Repeat the process for other networks. When you navigate to the My Stuff tab, and hit Networks, you'll see a list of all the channels you've added. Fast-track yourself to your favorite shows or movies by clicking on the channel's icon. 

Comedy Central offerings in Hulu

Add specific channels to your main Hulu lineup.

Screenshot by Kourtnee Jackson/CNET

Live TV subscribers follow a different set of steps. Open up the Hulu app and click on Hubs. Scroll down to the A-Z section to select the network channels you want, and then tap Add to My Stuff, or choose them from one of the other rows for entertainment, sports, etc. To verify that they're part of your channel lineup, hit the Live tab and click on My Channels.

To remove any of these networks from your main Hulu page, simply find the network icon in My Stuff and click remove.

Customize your subtitles

Like Netflix, Hulu gives you the ability to tailor subtitles on the screen. You can alter the font, background and window appearance for your programming. Open the app on your TV and navigate to your profile icon. Click Settings and open the Subtitles and Captions menu. You can change the font color, opacity and shadowing, and make the same adjustments to your background and window.

This formatting process will only work on supported devices that run the latest version of Hulu. Certain models for Roku, Android TV, Samsung TVs and Apple TV (pre-fourth generation) may not have this function.  

However, if you're watching from a web browser, you can toggle the subtitle font settings. While a video is streaming, click the gear icon. Choose Subtitles. In the subtitles menu, tap Settings, and a box will open that allows you to choose font type, color, size and opacity. Click Done after you've made your selections.

Save your eyes with Night Mode

For those who watch Hulu late at night on a laptop, there's a feature that will make your ophthalmologist happy: Night Mode. It changes your screen from a light, white background to a dark one to reduce blue light strain on the eyes.

To enable it, hover the cursor over your profile until you see the dropdown menu. Toggle Night Mode to the on or off position. Though this option is only available on computers, you can use the cast feature to stream Hulu from your laptop to Chromecast or your smart TV.

Hulu screen with night mode selection

Lower blue light exposure with Hulu's night mode.

Screenshot by Kourtnee Jackson/CNET

Pause your subscription

Heading out on a trip? Need a break from one of your monthly bills? You can temporarily put Hulu on ice for up to 12 weeks. Go to your account page and find your subscription column. Click Pause on the Pause Your Subscription bar and choose how long you want to stop Hulu. 

You won't be billed during this time but note that the freeze kicks in on the first day of your next billing cycle. Additionally, know that if you've bundled Disney Plus and/or ESPN Plus with your Hulu subscription, access to those apps will be on pause, too.

Unless you restart your subscription manually, your account will automatically be reactivated on the date your pause expires. That will become your new billing date.

Disable autoplay

If you use Netflix regularly, then you're probably accustomed to its autoplay feature that rolls into the next episode or preview. Hulu does the same thing, and you're able to turn it on or off.

For TV and mobile devices, click on your profile icon and then select Settings. Toggle Autoplay to off for videos or previews. If you're streaming Hulu on a web browser, click the gear icon during playback to open up Settings. Toggle Autoplay to off.

Clean up your watch history

Did you finish binge-watching your way through every season of a few shows? What about that horror movie spree from last Halloween? If you want to rewatch a piece of content from the beginning or have the urge to declutter your watch history, there's a way to remove what you've already seen. 

On your TV, go to a series or movie's details page. Click the gear icon that says Manage Series. You'll be asked to confirm whether you want to remove the title from your watch history. Choosing Remove will not only delete it from your history and Keep Watching list, but it will also erase your viewing progress for an entire series or movie. This is handy if you want to watch something all over again. 

Mobile and web users should start on the home page and find the Keep Watching section on Hulu. Locate the title's thumbnail to open up menu options. Click X or Remove from Watch History and verify your selection. 

Lost remote? Let your phone guide you

If a gremlin hid your TV's remote control, fear not, you can still watch Hulu on your big screen by using your phone. How? If you have Chromecast or Airplay on your TV,  install the Hulu app on your phone (or other mobile device) cast it. 

Be sure your phone and TV are connected to the same Wi-Fi, and then open the app on your phone. Choose the content you want to watch and tap either the Airplay or Cast icon. Select Chromecast or your smart TV from the menu and enjoy streaming. You can control playback functions with your phone.

For more, check out CNET's review of Hulu and Hulu Plus Live TV. You can also take a look at our list of the best streaming services for 2022. Plus, here's how Netflix and Hulu compare

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