Normally, downloading a movie or TV show on Netflix is not a problem. You select what you want, you press play and enjoy. Especially if you have a relatively fast internet connection and you are watching on you PC or Mac.
Of course, there are those rare occasions when you’re unlucky enough to see that dreaded buffer pause. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about — the movie or TV show you’re watching freezes, and up comes that progress bar. You now get to wait while your Netflix stream buffers (downloads more of your movie or TV show in the background), and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Or, is there?
As it turns out, the geeks (and I use that as a term of endearment) over at Lifehacker have discovered that there actually is something we can do about it. It seems that there is a hidden streaming manager for Netflix that they neglect to tell us about. Who knows why, but here’s how you get to it.
If you’re watching in Netflix Instant Play on your PC or Mac, the next time that stream buffering progress bar appears, hold down Shift + Alt and click the screen (Shift + Opt + Click on a Mac) and up will come the hidden Netflix streaming manager. Using this streaming manager, you can manually adjust how much bandwidth your Netflix download uses.
In a perfect world, the download rate should pretty much match the buffering rate. If the playing rate is higher than the buffering rate, that’s where you run into problems — your movie is playing faster than Netflix is downloading it.
Check the “Manual Selection” box and you’ll be able to manually set your buffering rate. Usually, the lower you set the buffering rate, the less time your computer will spend buffering, but you’ll probably get a lower quality movie stream. If you set a higher buffering rate, you will get a higher quality stream, but it will take more time to buffer. So, this is something you’ll have to play with and test until you get the results you want.
Once you’ve set things to your liking, click “Apply”, close the box and wait a few seconds for your changes to take effect. Hopefully, your movie or TV show will now download and play without any more problems. You can always go back into the streaming manager and tweak things again, if you don’t get the results you’re looking for.
And if you’re extra geeky (again, that’s a good thing), there’s even an option to adjust the audio/video syncing, if your movie is looking like an old English-dubbed Bruce Lee movie.
Again, this solution only works if you’re in the midst of downloading your movie or TV show, and you’re doing it on your PC or Mac. This is not something you can use while downloading a movie or TV show on your streaming box (Roku, AppleTV, etc.), console (Xbox, Wii, PS, etc.) or handheld device or tablet. If I come across a solution for those, I’ll post it here. Of course, if you know of any please let me know.
As always, I welcome your comments.