In the olden days of a few years ago, downloaded movies and TV shows were transferred from the PC to devices like iPods for on-the-go viewing. But the ubiquity of streaming services means all the entertainment you could ever want is at your fingertips, provided you have a solid internet connection.
Thankfully, many streaming services now have the option to download content for offline viewing. That means you can finish that film or TV season finale even as you enter the tunnel, drive across the plains, or take to the skies.
You can't download the entire Netflix catalog to view offline, but you can have your fill of Netflix Originals. To find something, tap the Downloads icon on the bottom of your screen and click Find Something to Download (Android) or See What You Can Download (iOS).
If you already have a show or film in mind, go to the listing and look for the download icon under the description. If it's a TV show, scroll down and look for it next to the individual episode(s). Tap it and your selection will download to your device; when you want to want to watch later, again hit the Downloads button on the main screen.
If storage is a concern, set Netflix to Standard Video quality, which downloads faster and uses less space. Tap the hamburger menu (three lines) > App Settings > Video Quality > Standard. Here you can also set the Netflix app to only download over Wi-Fi, activate "Smart Downloads" so the app grabs the next episode when you finish one, check internal storage to see how much space you have left and how much is currently used by Netflix videos, and delete all downloads at once.
On Android, you can set the Download Location: if you have external storage options like an SD card, tell Netflix to send downloads there. Playback is limited to the device that downloaded it; the app essentially puts DRM on the file, locking it to the device where the app that downloaded it resides. That means you can't swap cards with friends or even to your own devices (like a PC).
You'll see a download button on eligible videos in the Prime Video app on either iOS or Android. For an eligible TV show, download the whole season, or click next to an individual episode.
On Android, go to My Stuff > Settings gear icon > Stream & Download > Download Quality. Android users get a Data Saver setting for really small, low-res versions. If you want to change it with each download, set it to Always Ask, and you'll get a pop-up with each click of the download icon. Under Stream & Download, set it to only download on Wi-Fi to spare your carrier or your phone data charges; you can do the same on iOS under Settings > Streaming & Downloading > Download on Wi-Fi Only.
As far as availability, there are limits, but you'll find most Prime Originals and anything Amazon distributed easy to grab. Amazon has a deal with premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Starz to distribute older shows that are no longer airing new episodes. They are available to download, like The Sopranos, Patrick Melrose, and The Missing.
Of course, Amazon is more than willing to rent or sell you individual movies and shows that are not streaming on Prime. Apple iOS users will have to buy or rent on Amazon.com via a browser and then return to the Prime Video app to watch (that way, Amazon does not have to give Apple a cut of the purchase price). Note that Amazon usually displays the HD version, which can be more expensive and take up more space than SD. Click "More Purchase Options" for SD. Tap My Stuff > Purchases.
The latest (for now!) video streamer of note is Disney+, which offers the ability to download videos for offline viewing via its iOS and Android apps. When you're viewing the info on a show or movie, click the Download icon (arrow pointing down). With TV shows, you can download a whole season at once, or grab episodes individually.
To find downloads later, tap the Downloads icon from the main navigation bar at the bottom of the app. You'll get a full list of what's available offline. There's no limit to how much you can download except for how much storage is on your device. However, downloads expire if you don't access the app every 30 days.
Tap the Edit icon at top to delete videos en masse, or swipe an item left and tap the trashcan icon. Expired items will have an exclamation point in a circle warning icon. You have to delete those and go back into the main interface and re-download them again if you still want them offline.
If you go into your account settings, you can play with the download settings so the app downloads over Wi-Fi only, change the video quality (from Standard to Medium or High), which will also show you just how many hours of storage you have), and even click a Delete All Downloads option. (Read The Best Disney+ Tips and Tricks for more.)
Hulu downloads on iOS, iPadOS, and Android (including Amazon Fire tablets) work much like you'd find in the other streaming service apps. Find the download icon on any movie listing or next to episodes of a TV show (Hulu says it's on "the majority" of content). Tap it, and the downloaded content appears under the Downloads tab found at the bottom.
There are caveats with this feature. It only works if you pay for the ad-free version of Hulu, and is limited to 25 total downloads with either 30 days of storage, or two days after you start watching it. You can renew it once you're online again if you miss the deadline.
Downloading videos from YouTube is a cottage industry all its own. Vendors inundate PCMag hoping to get a mention in our YouTube video download tutorial. Even if they're not explicitly breaking YouTube's terms of service, such options may prevent people from making money on YouTube (aka, their livelihood).
Naturally, YouTube Premium restricts playback to a device signed into the same account. Downloads disappear after 30 days. After the free trial, you'll only see the download button when you subscribe. Once you are down to only 5 percent or less storage on a device, you can't download videos with YouTube Premium until you clear some space.
As for the rest of the videos on YouTube, whether you can download is at the discretion of the uploader/owner. With 500 hours of video uploaded every minute(Opens in a new window), you can probably find something to download and watch.
The CBS app is how you access the original content for the $5.99-per-month CBS All Access streaming service, including Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, The Good Fight, and The Twilight Zone. But a lot of other CBS network content is streamable, too.
You'll also find the app rife with download icons in circles, indicating much of the content is available to watch offline. If you're not subscribed, clicking to download either pops up a warning that you have to pay, or offers you a one-week free trial. You can access all downloads from the hamburger menu > Downloads, naturally.
The DC Universe app combines comic book reading with super-heroic movies and TV shows and short videos, and you can download a lot of that video for offline viewing. There's no obvious download button, however; click the vertical ellipsis menu (3 dots) and the menu options include Download. You can then find the list under My DC. (It's very easy to find for TV show episodes, even old shows like the 1970s Wonder Woman. But I can't find the link to download any movie on the service.)
You can only download 25 videos at once (across multiple devices, so five movies on an iPad and three on an Android phone counts as eight downloads). You can only download the same video twice in one year. You can go into My DC > Settings > Download quality to switch from standard-def to high-def, which is about five times more storage space in difference. The Downloads heading will show you how much space you're using and you can set it to only be able to download via Wi-Fi, so you don't eat up your mobile carrier data cap. Click the Total Space Used option to also see a list of what you have downloaded and to clear them all at once, or one at a time.
The streaming from Apple features quite a few original shows now, and you can download them if you use Apple's TV app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Every show has a download icon (the cloud with the arrow pointing down) next to the episode.
To find it later, just click Library at the bottom of the app. That'll display stuff you bought back in the iTunes days all the way up to downloads you just made from the streaming service. Library is also where you delete videos; click Edit, select shows, then hit Delete. For more, read How to Get and Use Apple TV+.
The premium channels with apps allow downloads for those with a cable subscription or direct subscription. (HBO doesn't allow downloads.) Showtime has two apps on iOS and Android each(Opens in a new window), one for those with a cable sub (Showtime Anytime) and one for those subscribing directly (just Showtime); you can also access both versions via a desktop browser, but can only download content on mobile. On the desktop, the Downloads entry in the settings menu only lets you delete other apps logged into the same account that might have downloads. To download something, look for the downward-facing icon on the episode or movie page; to find downloads later, tap the download icon on the top-right.
Starz only has one app on iOS(Opens in a new window) and on Android(Opens in a new window), plus web access for both kinds of subscribers, cable or direct. You get full downloads of all Starz originals, but again, only on mobile. Once downloaded, click the Starz Menu and select My List, and the offline-accessible shows appear at the top.
Downloading videos can be a great way to share and distribute content that you want others to see. Whether you want to use a video as a learning tool for your team or download an informative video to embed on your website, the use cases of downloading videos are countless. 2b1af7f3a8