Netflix Smart Downloads explained

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 11, 2018
Music and Video

Smart Downloads is a new Netflix feature that makes available the next episode of a TV show on your devices and deletes the watched episode.

Netflix is available for all sorts of devices; you can watch Netflix on smart TVs, using Amazon Fire and other streaming devices, on your smartphones, on Windows 10 PCs, and in your browser.

If you do use Netflix on a mobile or on Windows 10, you may know that you can download shows and movies -- not all but some -- to the device. The feature is very useful as it allows you to watch Netflix without Internet connection, super-slow Internet, super-expensive Internet, or unstable Internet.

The feature is great for pushing movies or shows on the device before you go on a vacation, travel abroad, or prepare for that 10-hour long drive with your kids in the back of the car.

Smart Downloads

Smart Downloads aims to improve the process of downloading and deleting new episodes of TV shows. Up until now you had to select shows for download to download them to your device; you also had to delete the shows manually if you wanted to free up space on the device.

Smart Downloads identifies the shows you are watching. The feature will start the download of the next episode of a show to your device automatically and it will delete the watched show automatically as well for your convenience.

Here is an example of how Smart Downloads works:

  • You download the first two episodes of a new TV Show on Netflix to your device.
  • You watch episode 1 of the show and finish it.
  • Netflix starts the download of episode 3 automatically (if available) once you have watched episode 1. The app deletes episode 1 automatically on the device.

Smart Downloads works only if the device is connected via Wi-Fi. The feature is turned on automatically but Netflix customers may disable it.

netflix smart downloads

If you use Netflix on Android, you'd tap on Downloads and there on "Smart Downloads on". The Netflix app for Android displays a toggle on the next page to turn Smart Downloads off and information about the feature.

You may want to turn the feature off if you want to be in full control over the downloading and deleting of Netflix content.

Closing Words

Whether Smart Downloads is something that you will like depends largely on your watching habits. If you watch TV shows and download episodes to your device regularly, you may like the new feature as it automates the process somewhat.

The feature is somewhat limited, however. Netflix downloads the next episode only which means that it is not usable for preparation of a larger trip or situation where you want an entire show available on the device.

Now You: What is your take on Smart Downloads?

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Netflix Smart Downloads explained
Smart Downloads is a new Netflix feature that makes available the next episode of a TV show on your devices and deletes the watched episode.
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  1. Anonymous said on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Why not make use of the mplayer.conf?

  2. Mike J said on August 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Huh, I have never even seen this “font cache” pane; videos play at once for me, using VLC & XP SP3.

    1. Martin said on August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Mike, in theory this should have only been displayed once to you, at the very first video that you played with VLC. The time this window is displayed depends largely on the number of fonts in your font directory.

      1. Mike J said on August 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        huh, I lucked out for a change?? Amazing!!
        Apparently VLC keeps this info through version updates, but I didn’t see this message after a fresh OS install about 8 weeks ago, & a new VLC.

  3. myo said on August 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    yes, yes, i have the same problem. sometimes, VLC crashes when it is playing .mov file.

  4. Kishore said on August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Buidling font Cache pop-up


    Open VLC player.

    On Menu Bar:


    (at bottom – left side)
    Show settings — ALL

    Open: Video
    Click: Subtitles/OSD (This is now highlited, not opened)
    Text rendering module – change this to “Dummy font renderer function”


    Re-open – done.
    Progam will no longer look outside self for fonts

    Source –

    1. Martin said on August 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Great tip, thanks a lot Kishore.

  5. javier said on August 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    @Kishore, I’ll try your tips, but does this mean it will no longer show subtitles either?
    I do use subtitles, but the fontcache dialog box pops up (almost) everytime I play a file.

    Could this be related to the fonts I have installed? Or if I add/remove fonts to my system?

    I’ll try to do a fresh install also, if your tips does no work. I’ll post back here later…


  6. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,

  7. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,Dont worry, VLC is currently sorting out this issue and the next version will be out soon.

    No probs @ Martin !! Its my pleasure

  8. Ted said on October 22, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Try running LC with administrator privileges. That seemed to fix it for me

  9. Evan said on December 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I am using SMplayer 0.8.6 (64-bit) (Portable Edition) on Windows 7 x64. Even with the -nofontconfig parameter in place SMplayer still scans the fonts. Also, I have enabled normal subtitles and it is still scanning fonts before playing a video. Also, it does this every time the player opens a video after a system restart (only the fist video played).

  10. Mike Williams said on September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Does that mean that only instrumental versions of songs will be available for non-paying users?

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