How Netflix Recommendations Work

With thousands of movies and shows to choose from, it can be hard to figure out exactly what you want to watch. This is why Netflix recommendations are so useful.

Based on what you watch and how you’ve rated shows and movies, Netflix will come up with a list of recommendations just for you. For example, if you want the lawyer drama Suits, you may get recommendations for military drama Homeland or medical drama House, M.D.

This is the major reason to have separate profiles for the people who use your Netflix membership. If more people than just you watch shows and movies on your Netflix profile, you’ll get recommendations that aren’t filtered exactly for you.

3 Ways to Get Better Recommendations

1. Rate the movies and shows you watch

After you watch a show or movie, rate it out of five stars so that Netflix can create more accurate recommendations based on things you’ve already seen.

2. Taste preferences

Access Taste Preferences by going to Your Account and selecting Taste Preferences near the bottom of the settings page. You’ll be able to fill out the survey according to how often you watch a type of show. There are multiple surveys to choose from, such as mood, genre, storylines and more. Not sure about one of the items? Select Need some examples? to see movies and shows that fit that category.

3. Create separate profiles

As said above, creating a separate profile will allow Netflix to filter recommendation results so that you’re getting recommendations for you and not someone else. For more information on how to create a separate profile, check out our Netflix Profiles tutorial.

How to Watch Netflix on TV

It’s easy to watch Netflix on your TV at home and there are plenty of ways to do it. While older TVs won’t have the capability to install the Netflix app, there are other ways to allow you to stream your favourite movies and shows on your TV.

Connecting Computer or Laptop Directly

One of the ways to watch Netflix on your TV is by connecting your computer or laptop directly to your TV. The most common way of doing this is with an HDMI cable – the lesser expensive ones are sold for about $39.99. It will enable you to project your laptop screen onto your TV.

Both ends will look the same:

One end will plug into your laptop or computer…

…and the other end will plug into the back of your TV. Look for the input on your TV where it says “HDMI”.

Once you connect both ends, you’ll need to use your TV remote (or button on your TV) to change what appears on your TV screen. Look for a button labeled Source or Input and select “HDMI” with the appropriate Input or Source number. In the image above, you’ll see two HDMI inputs labeled “1 (DVI)” and “2”. Either of these should work.

Alternatives Cables to HDMI

If your computer/laptop or TV does not have an HDMI port, you can always connect it with various different ports: 

VGA Cable

This will project your computer screen only, but not connect the sound. You’ll notice this is the same cable that connects monitors to desktop computers.

Audio Cable (aka. auxiliary cable)

Use this cable to connect sound to your TV.  Use in conjunction with your VGA cable or the other cables listed below.

S-Video Port

Similar to the VGA cable, this will share video only. 

Composite Video Port

Similar to the VGA cable, this will share video only.

DVI Port

Similar to the VGA cable, this will share video only.

Devices to Stream Netflix on TV

There may already be something hooked up to your TV that has the Netflix app built in. Newer gaming consoles have the app – Xbox One/360, Playstation 3 or 4, and Nintendo’s Wii or Wii U.

Other devices that you might have that will stream Netflix to your TV include Apple TV, Roku, Boxee and a Smart TV.

Learn More about Connecting Netflix with your TV

To find out more about how to connect your device to your TV to stream Netflix, go to this Netflix Help Page and select Connect a Device under the About Your Device heading.

How To Watch Netflix on a Computer

Browsing Movies and TV Shows

When you’re logged into Netflix and on the homepage, you’ll see a small selection of movies from various categories.  These are usually based on what you watch or what a lot of other people on Netflix watch. Some examples of categories that are common to see on your homepage are: “Recently Watched,” “Top Picks for You,” “Popular on Netflix,” “Because You Watched [TV show/movie].”

To browse movies in that category, move your mouse cursor over the titles in that category to make two arrows appear on either side. Move your mouse cursor over either of these arrows to have the movie selection move left or right.

If you would like to search to see if Netflix has a specific movie or TV show – or even films with a specific actor – you can use the search bar in the top right corner. Click inside it, type in what you’re looking for, and then click the magnifying glass icon.

To browse shows and movies within a specific genre, you can move your mouse cursor over the Browse button and select which genre you’d like to browse. Most genres are geared towards movies.  If you want to browse TV shows, select TV Shows in the browse menu.

From there, you can click Subgenres to open a drop-down menu with different types of TV shows.  Click on an option to narrow your search further.

Using the Netflix Player

While you’re watching a TV show or movie, you’ll have a few options to help you enjoy what you’re watching even more, and they’re only a click away. The legend below the numbered screenshot will be your guide.

1. Play button – Select this button to play or pause what you’re watching. When the film is playing, this button will appear as a Pause button (it looks like two vertical lines); when the film is paused, it will appear as the Play button.

2. Volume control – Select this to adjust the volume or mute Netflix completely.

3. Title – Shows the title of the film you’re watching. If you’re watching a TV show, it will show the title of the show, the season, the episode number, and the title of the episode.

4. HD (High Definition) – If you have a subscription that includes the ability to watch in High Definition, you have the option to turn it on or off here (assuming that the movie or show you’re watching is available in HD). If you are worried about using too much Internet data, we recommend that you keep HD turned off.

5. Next episode – If you’re watching a TV show, you’ll have the option to skip straight to the next episode with this button.

6. Episode selection – If you want to select a specific episode while watching a TV show, move your mouse cursor over this button to see the episodes.  Click one to start playing it.

7. Languages/Subtitles – If the show is available in another language, or with subtitles, all language options will be here. The default is set to English with no subtitles.

8. Share – If you’re connected to any social media – mainly Facebook – through Netflix, you have to ability to share what you’re watching with others. Select this button to share the title with your friends.

9. Full screen – To watch a film on full screen, select this button. To exit full screen, press the “Esc” button on your keyboard.

10. Time – See how far into the film you are, and how much time is left.  You can also click on the bar here to skip forward or back. When you move your mouse cursor over the bar, a small window will pop up with a still image of what scene you’ll be skipping to at that point.

11. Back button – Click this to go back to the main Netflix interface.


NOTE: If you are unable to watch Netflix on your computer, you may need to install Microsoft Silverlight. In that case, head over to our Microsoft Silverlight for Netflix tutorial for information on what this program is and how to install it.