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How to change video quality on Netflix

Higher quality means a better picture but a lot more data usage.

netflix logo on blurred background
Image: KnowTechie

Depending on what kind of Netflix subscription you have, you might be able to choose from different video qualities when watching TV shows and movies.

Netflix offers a few different quality options for streaming. On the company’s website, the options are ‘Low, Medium, and High.’

Specifically, the ‘Low’ option offers streaming at 480P, ‘Medium’ streams at 720P, and ‘High’ streams in either 1080P or 4K.

Your Netflix subscription package determines the quality of your streaming.

But since streaming in high definition uses a lot more data, you might want to sometimes stream at lower resolutions, even with the premium Netflix package.

Which streaming quality can you use on Netflix?

netflix playback
Image: KnowTechie

The streaming qualities that you can access are based on your Netflix subscription. Currently, the company offers three different options, each with its quality limitations.

Monthly price$9.99$15.49$19.99
Video qualityGoodBetterBest

The $9.99 basic plan limits you to watching TV shows or movies on the platform in standard definition, or 480P. Upgrading to the standard plan for $15.49 monthly unlocks HD for 720P or 1080P resolution.

And finally, the premium plan costs $19.99 per month and allows you to stream in 4K. Of course, you’ll need a 4K display to take full advantage of that.

Another thing to consider is how much data each quality uses.

netflix plan pricing table screenshot on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

If you have limited monthly data, you might not want to stream at the highest quality, as it will use much more data per hour than the standard definition.

At ‘low,’ or 480P, Netflix estimates that streaming uses up to 0.3GB of data per hour. Bumped up to ‘medium’ (720P), and streaming starts to use up to 0.7GB of data per hour.

The data starts to go quickly when streaming at HD quality. 1080P resolution can use up to 3 GB per hour, while Ultra HD (4K) uses about 7GB per hour.

So it might be best to avoid those HD options if you don’t have an unlimited amount of data you can use per month.

How to change Netflix video quality on your computer

netflix on macbook air
Image: KnowTechie

Fortunately, Netflix makes it pretty easy to adjust your video quality as regularly as you want. But you need to know which menus to look out for, which can sometimes be a little frustrating.

First, we’ll look at how to change your video quality on the Netflix web app for your computer.

Start by heading to Netflix.com in your web browser, log into your account, and choose your profile.

Click your profile avatar in the top rightnetflix web profile picture menu
Choose Account from the drop-down menunetflix web account button
Scroll down and click your profilenetflix web profile from settings menu
Select the Playback settings option from the drop-down menu netflix web change playback settings
Choose which quality you want to use and click Savenetflix web save video quality

Now your account will automatically stream at that quality on that device. You can always adjust this setting in case you need to manage a limited amount of available data.

How to change video quality on Netflix mobile

Video quality on the Netflix mobile app works a little differently. Instead of choosing the quality of the video, you choose how much data you want to use when streaming.

You can choose to stream on WiFi Only if you want to ensure that you don’t use any data on Netflix. Or you can choose the Save Data option for minimal data usage.

The Maximum Data option will stream at the highest quality possible, ignoring data usage.

The Automatic option will adjust the streaming quality based on your internet connection.

So where can you find those settings? Follow along, and we’ll show you. Start by opening the Netflix mobile app and logging into your account.

  1. Choose your profile
netflix mobile choose profile
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap your profile image in the top right
netflix mobile profile picture menu
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Select App Settings from the menu
netflix mobile app settings
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Under the Video Playback header, tap on Cellular Data Usage
netflix mobile cellular data usage
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Choose your preferred option and select OK
netflix mobile change data usage
Image: KnowTechie

That will change your video quality based on how much data you’re comfortable using. The Maximum Data option is best if that isn’t a concern.

But if you have limited data on your phone, you might want to stick with WiFi Only because even streaming at the Save Data setting will use a good bit of data over time.

Find the right video quality for every occasion

netflix logo with faces
Image: KnowTechie

Finding the right video quality for streaming Netflix is important. If you don’t have to worry about data limits, you should try to get the best quality available with your subscription tier.

On the other hand, if you do have data limits, then you might want to go with a lower quality.

Netflix does let you download content to take advantage of WiFi and avoid using up all your data. Check our guide here for how to do that.

If you use Netflix on another device, like a Roku or a smart TV, the process for changing your quality is similar to the above steps. Navigate to your account settings and look for the video quality option.

Your preferred Netflix video quality can change across different scenarios. Fortunately, the process for changing qualities is relatively simple.

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Staff writer at KnowTechie. Alex has two years of experience covering all things technology, from video games to electric cars. He's a gamer at heart, with a passion for first-person shooters and expansive RPGs. Shoot him an email at alex@knowtechie.com

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