2020 was a year of many things: a global pandemic, lockdowns, work for home, homeschooling, and a fair amount of angst. It was also arguably the year of Netflix.

For millions of subscribers around the world, the platform paid for its subscription fee many times over by keeping us occupied and the social-isolation blues at bay. Now that the world has developed strategies to better handle the ongoing situation, life regains normal. But the ever-faithful Netflix is here to stay, and most new subscribers the platform gained over the initial crisis aren’t giving up their access.

If you’re in that boat, you might be interested in learning a few nifty tricks and tips to help you get the most Netflix bang for your buck. With that in mind, here are our five best Netflix tips in 2021.

1. Access a world of content with a Virtual Private Network

Your passport might be gathering dust, but that doesn’t mean your Netflix account has to. If you feel like you’ve exhausted all the options on your home country’s Netflix, you can change nations virtually.

Each country has a different set of content, and certain content is only available in certain countries. Getting around the restrictions is simply a matter of hiding your device’s unique IP address and thus your true physical location.

By using a VPN for Netflix, you can change countries and access a whole world of content with just a few clicks. For example, let’s say you’re feeling the burn of stay-at-home orders and want to watch Bo Burnham’s Inside special on Netflix because he really gets it, but it’s not yet available in your country. All you need to do is select a US server (or a server in another country that can access Inside) from your VPN and then open Netflix.

Simple, easy, and oh-so world expanding.

2. Consult the ‘Bible’

Suppose you’re struggling to find something to watch that appeals to your own niche interests, and the Netflix algorithm seems to have you all wrong. In that case, you need the ‘Bible’ — a series of codes that Netflix uses to categorize its content according to genre and subgenre.

You can use these codes to find and watch content that isn’t usually shown on your home screen or in your suggestions. There’s something for everyone from B-Grade Horror Movies (code 8195) to Political Comedies (code 2700). Some codes are oddly specific, such as Biographical Movies from the 1920s (code 4450). You can find a full list here.

To use a code, type the following into your browser and replace the XXXX with the code of your choice:


3. Get trustworthy reviews on your Netflix screen

There’s nothing worse than starting to watch something you thought was going to be great then discovering halfway through that it is, in fact, a complete dud. There’s an hour of your life you’ll never get back!

Avoid the issue, and avoid endless googling while you choose what to watch by installing a clever Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb plug-in. This browser extension works in tandem with your Netflix account and displays ratings from both sites when you hover your mouse over a title. There are other extensions that do the same job, but this is our top pick as it combines two respected review site metrics in one handy package.

4. Adjust your subtitles

Whether it’s general age-related myopia or you’ve just spent far too many hours watching TV during the pandemic, there’s no need to give up your love of foreign films just because the subtitles are too small.

Netflix allows you to make significant changes to your subtitles, including the color, size, font, and language, of course. While you wait for your new glasses to arrive, start adjusting your settings by heading to Account/Profile & Parental Controls, then select Change under Subtitles.

5. Put your life in the algorithm’s hands (for the next hour or so)

Can’t pick a title to watch? If you’re sick and tired of making the big decisions, the good news is that you can outsource this task to Netflix’s algorithm. On your Netflix home page, look for the Play Something option on the right-hand side of the screen. Click it, and the platform will make a random selection for you. Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll like what it chooses, but at least you didn’t have to pick it yourself!

Get started with our top five Netflix tips in 2021 and get more from your subscription.