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How to Tell if Netflix Is Streaming in 4K or Not (Desktop and TV)

by Gaurav Bidasaria
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Netflix offers different plans which provide different quality streaming. The top plan comes with 4K video quality which is what you need. The question is how do you know whether Netflix is actually streaming in 4K or not on your computer and smart TV? Many users can’t differentiate between FHD and 4K UHD due to one reason or another. Turns out that whether Netflix streams in 4K or not depends on a number of factors. And, there is a way to check if Netflix is actually streaming in 4K.

Check if Netflix Is Streaming in 4K

There is a simple keyboard shortcut that you can use to check if Netflix is streaming content in 4K or not.

  • Windows – Ctrl+Alt+Shift+D
  • macOS – Ctrl+Shift+Option+D
  • Smart TV – Info button or status menu on TV remote or universal remote (depends on brand)

Make sure that you are streaming a video and that you are not in fullscreen mode. Stats are visible only in windowed mode.

check netflix video streaming quality

You should now see a bunch of audio/video stats on your PC or smart tv screen in an overlay. You are looking for Playing bitrate (a/v) entry in the list. Now let’s break down the numbers:

  • HDR – High Dynamic Range (Best)
  • 3840×2160 – 4K or UHD (ultra HD) or Dolby Vision (Better)
  • 2560×1440 – 2K or QHD (Good)
  • 1920×1080 – Full HD or FHD (Okay)

You want DV, UHD, or HDR content to experience 4K. Netflix labels content as DV or Dolby Vision in some countries, however, it may label them as 4K or UHD where you live. Rest assured, they mean the same thing. Now that we know how to check whether or not Netflix is playing videos in 4K resolution, what are the criteria? Turns out there are quite a few things that you need before you can binge-watch that series in 4K with friends.

Also Read: If you fail to meet the criteria, maybe it is time to change or cancel Netflix plan but first, know what happens when you do so.

1. Choose Right Netflix Plan

If you skipped the intro, here it is again. 4K streaming is available to users subscribed to Netflix’s Premium plan which costs $19.99/month in the USA. Along with 4K resolution, you get spatial audio, HDR, and the ability to stream on 6 devices at the same time. Good for family or group of friends.

2. Check Peripherals and Accessories

You would need a display or monitor that supports 4K. Check your smart tv’s specifications. Then your accessories like cable should support it too. HDMI connectors should be HDMI 2.0, the monitor or tv should be HDMI and HDCP 2.2 compliant, and the internet cable should support high-speed bandwidth.

If you want to stream 4K HDR content on smart tv, you will also need a monitor that supports HDR and HEVC (needed to decode 4K content) decoder.

3. Install Edge or Safari

Chrome is the most popular browser in the world and also the most used. And yet, it doesn’t support 4K or UHD streaming out of the box. There are a couple of hacks like installing a bunch of extensions but we don’t recommend that.

Apple has restricted 4K streaming to Safari browser on MacBooks while Windows can stream in UHD only on Edge browser. Fair? No. The obvious answer is that they want users to lock into their ecosystem. So use the browser that your OS supports.

4. Internet Speed

Netflix recommends at least 15Mbps speed to stream 4K content. If the speed is low, Netflix will automatically adjust the video quality and stream in a lower resolution. However, in real life, 15Mbps doesn’t cut it.

netflix recommends internet speed for streaming

However, you should get at least a 25Mbps plan if you want an uninterrupted lag-free streaming experience. Netflix-owned Fast is a good way to test your internet speed.

5. Number of Devices

You are not the only one streaming content at 4K/UHD resolution in the house. Others are too and every device connected to the internet, irrespective of what they are doing, is fighting for bandwidth. So you will need a much faster internet connection if multiple devices are connected to the Wi-Fi network.

6. Ethernet Over Wi-Fi

Ethernet is usually faster than Wi-Fi, however, at the expense of convenience. If you are streaming Netflix in 4K on a smart tv, we recommend using a dedicated ethernet cable for the internet. Just plug it in once and be done with it.

Laptops are portable and you may need to carry them places. Wi-Fi makes more sense here, however, if possible, keep a spare ethernet cable around your desktop. Most laptops come with an ethernet port and for those that don’t, like MacBooks, you can use a connector.

Pro Tip: It is now easy to remove titles from Netflis’s Continue Watching List now.

How to Find 4K Content on Netflix

Most Netflix Originals (movies and web series that Netflix produces itself) are in 4K these days. Old movies and series are mostly FHD with a few exceptions.

Use the search bar to your advantage. Simply type 4K or Dolby Vision or HDR and search Netflix. Titles that are available in 4K, DV, or HDR will have their respective logos.

However, if your monitor or screen, or browser doesn’t support 4K/DV/HDR content, you will still see an HD label. For example, here are two screenshots of the movie 6 Underground on two different screens. One is Safari browser on MacBook and the other is Chrome on Windows. The latter shows HD while the former displays the DV logo.

netflix video streaming quality labeled differently for same title

So it is possible that the same title is labeled differently on different setups. However, the search feature works perfectly. So even if your setup doesn’t support 4K, when you search, Netflix will show titles that do support it in the search results.

search for UHD HDR 4K content on netflix

Streaming 4K on Netflix

Whether or not you are streaming Netflix in 4K or UHD or even HDR depends on a number of factors like internet speed, monitor type, browser, device combination, and of course, Netflix plan. It’s a bit complicated due to all the tech involved in rendering images and videos of such high quality. Add the monopolistic nature of businesses and things get complicated.

Planning another binge-watching Netflix session? We have some cool tips to quickly change episodes and even entire seasons on Netflix.

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