Netflix. It keeps us inside, prevents us from interacting with other people, and takes up hours and hours of our time. In other words, it's the best.
After using any service for so long, though, inevitable frustration with tiny aspects of the experience begin to set in. With Netflix, it's never a big deal because pretty quickly you're sucked back into whatever show you're binging, but still, there's always room for improvement. The good news is you can make it happen on your own.
Here are 10 tricks to boost your Netflix game:
1. View Rotten Tomatoes ratings, IMDb links and trailers for content
By downloading the Netflix Enhancement Suite, you get a ton of add-ons that'll help you sift the good stuff from the bad, look up IMDb profiles and view trailers for pretty much anything already on Netflix. Huge.
2. Unblock foreign movies and TV shows
You probably had no idea that different versions of Netflix around the world have different content U.S. users aren't able to access. Dropping a little cash on an unblocker like Media Hint will trick Netflix into thinking you are in another country, though, allowing you to access a bunch of new stuff.
3. Test new features before they go live
This one's pretty easy and also a cool peek at what's coming: hover over your name in the top right corner when on the Netflix desktop website and click "Your account." There should be a "Test participation" option under Settings. Switch it on and you'll get access to features Netflix wants to test before pushing them live to all users.
4. End buffering once and for all
This one only works for watching on a computer, but the Netflix-on-a-laptop-in-bed demographic isn't a small one, so it's a super valuable tip. While playing a movie or show, hold down Shift+Opt (Shift+Alt for Windows) and left click to open up Stream Manager, which has buffering fixes and other streaming options. If you're using Chrome, press Ctrl+Shift+Alt/Opt+S to access the menu.
5. For better video quality, watch at weird times
This is basic common sense, but easy to forget: by watching content during off-peak hours (early in the morning, middle of the night, when everyone is at work, etc.), you're more likely to have uninterrupted viewing because Netflix's servers aren't as jammed as usual.
6. Erase your watching history
Everyone shares Netflix accounts. Don't want friends or family to know what you've been watching? It's easy to hide. Go to "Your Account" on the Netflix desktop site and scroll to "Viewing Activity." Click the "X" all the way to the right for whatever you want to delete. Done.
7. Memorize the computer shortcuts
Here are a few handy shortcuts toggle things quicker while viewing:
Space: Toggle Play/Pause
Enter: Toggle Play/Pause
Esc: Exit full-screen
Shift+Left arrow: Rewind
Shift+Right arrow: Fast Forward
Up arrow: Volume Up
Down arrow: Volume Down
M: Mute toggle
8. Use your phone to watch
The Netflix app is a great user experience, arguably way better than on any TV or set-top box. Use AirPlay to stream content from your iPhone or Chromecast to stream from your Android device, and it makes watching on a big screen that much easier.
Tired of Netflix's recommendations? Use Flicksurfer to find new gems. The site lists everything on Netflix and lets you sort by genre, Rotten Tomatoes rating, IMDb rating, user rating or combinations of different ratings.
10. Teach Netflix what you're into
Cover image: Derek Σωκράτης Finch via Flickr