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Manually Force HD Playback on Netflix Watch Instantly

Netflix’s Watch Instantly is a great way to catch up on movies and tv shows, but sometimes it’s automatic selection of your video’s bit rate (quality) can leave you with something less than your connection can actually handle.  To manually select your quality (and hence, force HD playback), click on the video once it’s started to ensure that it’s your top window, and then press:

Control + Shift + Option/Alt + S

NetflixUpon doing so, you’ll be presented with options for the audio bitrate, video bitrate, and even which CDN to access your program from.  Make your selections, and choose ‘Override’.

Now, at Rewatchable HQ we have ludicrous-speed Internet, so I always just choose the lowest option to ensure that I’m pulling the best version of the stream that Netflix has to offer (most movies seem to top out at 1750kbps – a speed that even most cheap DSL lines can handle), but you can tune the manual selection to your available connection to find that perfect quality / performance combination that works for you.

Thanks to Jud Stephenson for the tip.

  • Charley on May 27, 2012

    Does this still work?

    How would you do this on a Mac?

    • Ryan Reed on November 8, 2012

      Just hold down Option instead of ALT as the third key, and it should work like a charm on a Mac.

  • Socius on June 15, 2012

    Thank you. Works perfectly. If only Netflix’s servers weren’t so bogged down. It’s taking 2-5 minutes for the video to buffer at max HD setting. And it’s not an issue with my connection. I’m on a 250mbps line.

    • Ryan Reed on November 8, 2012

      I know, I get the same thing in the evening. Oddly, I find that AppleTV and iPad seem to get streams at very high quality very quickly, while my XBox and laptop can drag getting good quality video.

  • Sagar on June 26, 2013

    Still valid! thanks!

  • sadfsad on July 12, 2013


  • Pat on August 1, 2013

    Thank you.

  • Brandon on November 9, 2013

    How do u do this with Apple TV

  • Thomas B on January 1, 2014

    Huh, I can set it to buffer up to 3000, but the video just plays while it says it’s still buffering HD. Doesn’t seem to actually buffer 1080p for The Avengers on either Chrome or Firefox, even during the middle of the day, despite the FiOS.

    Maybe I should take advantage of the $1 off for standard definition, if that’s all I can get. Or maybe I should look into someone other than Verizon, maybe they’re throttling Netflix somehow.

  • Mike on March 20, 2014

    This is great…Thx. I can force my Netflix to HD. Before it would ALWAYS stay on buffering, HD available. And I have Fios!

    Now if someone could tell me how to get my old Roku to go back to HD I’d be grateful

  • Jasmin on June 18, 2014

    This is a good idea. This is ideal for wanting to watch Netflix in 1080p. I just changed the settings about three minutes ago and it worked. Thank you for the tip. It was really helpful.

  • Kendon Bell on March 9, 2015

    How to do this on Samsung Smart Tv?

    • Ryan Reed on March 13, 2015

      I’m not sure you *can* force a certain version using devices, unfortunately.

  • David on April 19, 2015

    I’ve been having issues since the latest Yosemite update (10.10.3), I can’t select full HD anymore, it’s not even in the list for some reason.

    • Ryan Reed on May 4, 2015

      The interface has changed (see above screenshot) but all of the features are still there. Just choose the biggest number under ‘Video bitrate’ for the highest quality stream…

  • Con Sorts on August 27, 2015

    “Control + Shift + Option/Alt + S” sorry, but I don’t understand – what is the “Option” button on my Windows PC Keyboard? I’m trying to get this setting window in your screen grab to popup. I’m on a Win7ult PC running ie11 with Silverlight, I have HD streaming enabled on my 2 simultaneous user Netflix account – I do get the “Allow HD” checkmark option and can enable it so I should be seeing the full 1080p on my 2160p screen. it’s very annoying how Netflix does not display the status of your stream resolution and FPS the way YouTube does.

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