The period between Christmas and New Year’s Day could end up being the most popular time for streaming all year, according to Amazon and Netflix data shared with HuffPost.
Maybe you’re off work and in search of easy family bonding. Maybe it just lifts your spirits to watch the depressed, anthropomorphic main character of “Bojack Horseman” drink spirit after spirit after spirit.
In any case, there’s a good chance you could benefit from a few hacks to improve ― or vary the minimalist monotony of ― your experience with Netflix.
Of course, HuffPost’s “Streamline” is itself a hack: Getting weekly suggestions for the best shows streaming services have to offer and keeping yourself from wasting time on mediocre TV is the best trick of all.
But for simple cosmetic changes and browser plug-ins that will improve your viewing experience even more, the list below should help.
This is part of Streamline, HuffPost’s weekly recommendation service for streaming shows and movies. Every Saturday, Streamline ranks the best shows to watch online, including a specific focus on Netflix.
1. Change your subtitles
Subtitles don’t have to be simple white with a hint of drop shadow. All sorts of options await you in your account’s subtitle preferences.
For journalistic integrity reasons, I tried this myself. My subtitles now have a bright pink window with green background and hint of blue drop shadow. The font is “casual” because I’m a casual person. I chose the font size that best represents the way I like to live my life.
Netflix has many expensively filmed original series where much care has been put into each and every detail you see on screen. The above subtitle choices complement such programs, like “The Crown” and “Godless,” very well.
2. Switch to HD
Apparently Netflix doesn’t always automatically switch your account to high-definition, even if you’re paying for that option. You might be on a default setting that looks pretty bad and not even know it. Go to the HD toggle page and select the highest streaming quality available for your price point.
Of course, you could also select “low” quality if you wanted to, as I have to watch the above “Master of None” scene. The characters and “stuff” in the store appear super grainy.
3. Watch at weird times
This remains somewhat of a streaming urban legend without definitive verification, but apparently you get better video quality and faster load times if you watch Netflix at off-peak hours.
This means if you’re trying to stream “The Crown” for its visual beauty, you need to do so around 4 a.m. You might miss out on something if you’re a super fan watching at any other time.
4. Download on your phone
You probably already know that Netflix lets you download shows and movies. But in case you’ve been unsure why you haven’t been able to do so on your Apple laptop, here’s the list of requirements for downloading, according to Netflix:
An iPhone, iPad, or iPod running iOS 9.0 or later
A phone or tablet running Android 4.4.2 or later
A tablet or computer running Windows 10 Version 1607 (Anniversary Update) or later
An internet connection*
An active Netflix streaming account
Then look for the icon next to the content you’re trying to download.
5. Play Netflix Roulette to find something random
There are a ton of amazing movies and television shows right now ― so many that you can’t possibly have enough time to watch them all. Also, movies and TV series are very long. It would take a true glutton for wasting time to just choose something at random to watch these days. Netflix Roulette lets you indulge that gluttony.
The website Reelgood created this tool. Thankfully, it has a few features that make it more useful than trusting pure random chaos. You can make sure the selection has a decent score on IMDb, choose your genre and pick whether you want a movie or television show. Using these toggles, this tool could be a good way to find an undiscovered gem.
I didn’t use any toggles when I tried out this feature. The movie “Antibirth,” which I had never heard of before, was suggested to me. It’s about a stoner who wakes up from a party with a mysterious illness that apparently isn’t a hangover. I will not be watching that.
6. Download Super Netflix to change video speed
Super Netflix is available for free in the Chrome web store, and it gets updated fairly regularly. Many other Netflix plug-ins have come and gone over the last few years because developers have failed to update their product to keep with the streaming company’s constant changes.
This plug-in allows you to do all sorts of things, including change the speed of your content. Do you want to know what happens on “The Crown” so you can talk about it with others but think it’s way too boring to actually watch? Just change the speed up to 4x faster, and that show might finally move along at a bearable pace.
Speeding up content has long been popular in the podcast realm, and Apple lets you change the speed right in the app. Personally, I find I can easily listen to podcast audio at 1.5x speed. But podcasts are also pretty much just conversations, and the creators typically don’t think too much about pacing.
You might be losing more by speeding up video, as directors and editors obsess over pacing. But if you don’t care about that, by all means, change the speed. Netflix tends to release a great new show or movie every week, and there’s no way you’re going to see it all unless you crank up the speed to as fast as possible.
Something else kind of cool: Super Netflix lets you change content into black-and-white. So when you’re watching the latest terrible Adam Sandler movie (not including “The Meyerowitz Stories”), you can really artsy-up the production and make it seem like you’re watching something by Jean-Luc Godard.
7. Delete everything
This is for all of you who don’t have your own Netflix account and do have bad taste. You might not want your friends or lovers finding out what you’ve been watching. To fix this, you can go to the viewing activity page and delete the shows that embarrass you. Click the “X” before you create an ex ... or something like that.
In researching this story, I found out that someone on my account has been watching “House of Cards,” despite the fact that there are now dozens of sexual misconduct allegations against star Kevin Spacey. Of course, the ethics are murky about whether the misdeeds of one can invalidate art that many others worked hard to produce. But the later seasons of “House of Cards” are simply terrible and shouldn’t be watched regardless. My friend really should have known better.
In any case, the friend could have scrubbed the streaming history and I would have been none the wiser. If they’d like to remedy the situation, they can also “report a problem” about the show on that same page and write “Kevin Spacey + it’s not good” in the comment section.