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How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV – Part 2

How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV: Windows Vista and Windows 7 configuration steps to stream Netflix Instantly from your computer HDMI port to the TV.

This tutorial is continued from How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV – Part 1.


Watch Netflix Instantly: Windows 7 and Vista Configuration Steps

TV Audio/Video Input Source Select

Look for the “AV Source” input select button on your TV remote control. My TV is normally set to AV 1: SAT for DirecTV. In the image below, the laptop is logged into Netflix while the TV is showing a hockey game on DirecTV.

TV Audio Video Input Source Selection

TV Audio Video Input Source Selection

Click the AV input source button on the remote to choose the HDMI port (in my case HDMI 1) which the computer is plugged into.

HDMI 1 Audio Video Input

HDMI 1 Audio Video Input

Very important – you will see a blank screen on the TV until you tell the computer to use the external display! Refer to your computer’s user guide for the specific keystroke for selecting an external display. On the HP Pavillion laptop, press Fn + F4 keys together to toggle between the laptop display, laptop and external display (TV), and external display (TV) only. On a Dell LatitudeD630, the key combination is Fn + F7. (Do not press the plus + sign.)

In the next image, the laptop and TV displays are both active.

Netflix Watch Instantly: TV Audio Video Source set to HDMI Port 1

Netflix Watch Instantly: TV Audio Video Source set to HDMI Port 1

At this point, you will have video but no soundthrough the TV.

Configure Windows 7 HDMI Audio

It’s necessary to configure the Windows HDMI sound device before watching Netflix. To configure Windows, do the following:

  1. StartControl PanelHardware and Sound
  2. In the Sound section, click Manage audio devices

    Control Panel: Manage Audio Devices

    Control Panel: Manage Audio Devices

  1. The Sound dialog is displayed. The computer speakers and headphone output is the default device as indicated by the check sign in the green circle.

    Control Panel: Sound set for PC Speakers

    Control Panel: Sound set for PC Speakers

  1. Click the Digital Output Device (HDMI) and click the Set Default button to change the default sound device to HDMI so we can hear the sound on the TV.

    Control Panel: HDMI Audio Output

    Control Panel: HDMI Audio Output

  1. Click Properties and the Advanced tab.
  2. Click Test. You should hear a melody played on the TV speakers.

    Control Panel: HDMI Audio Test

    Control Panel: HDMI Audio Test

  1. Click OK and go back to the Control Panel.
  2. In the Hardware and Sound section of the Control Panel, click Adjust System Volume. Verify the sound volume is at 100% for the Digital Device Output (HDMI). 100% is should be the default setting.

    HDMI Output Sound Volume

  1. Save your settings and exit the Control Panel.

Configure Screen Saver and Power Timeouts

Disable the Windows screen saver and “Turn off the Monitor” power management settings. Otherwise, you’ll be watching a movie only to have the screen go blank after 10 or 15 minutes when Windows goes to sleep! Do the following:

  1. StartControl PanelAppearance and PersonalizationChange Screen Saver
  2. Change the screen saver to 9999 minutes (or a period that is longer than your movie!) as shown.

    Screen Saver Timeout Set 9999 Minutes

    Screen Saver Timeout Set 9999 Minutes

  1. Click OK to save and return to the Control Panel.
  2. In the Control Panel, click on Power OptionsChange when the computer sleeps
  3. Set Turn off the display to Never, and Put the computer to sleep to Never
  4. Click OK to save and exit the Control Panel.

Watch Netflix on TV through the Computer

At the computer, login to your Netflix account, pick movie in the “Watch Instantly” category and click Play.

Netflix Watch Instantly - Computer Connected to TV

Netflix Watch Instantly – Computer Connected to TV

To view the movie in full screen mode, scroll down and click the full screen button as shown:

View the Movie in Full Screen Mode

View the Movie in Full Screen Mode

Once you’ve got everything setup correctly, turn off the computer display by pressing Fn + F4 (or the appropriate key combo on your computer) a couple of times – wait several seconds between keypresses – to turn off the laptop display and show the movie only on the TV.

Netflix Watch Instantly on TV - Streaming Video over the Internet

Netflix Watch Instantly on TV – Streaming Video over the Internet

My experience with Netflix streaming video has been great! The videos load quickly and movie starts playing in a minute or so over a 6mbps DSL connection over my home WiFi network. A refinement of my setup is to run a digital audio out line from the TV to my home theater audio system. Until then the stereo speakers on the HDTV do an acceptable job.

Troubleshooting Netflix Watch Instantly on TV

  • The most common problem is no sound on the TV speakers after configure the Windows Digital Audio Device (HDMI). Save the HDMI configuration and try rebooting the computer.
  • Check with your computer manufacturer for an sound device driver update for HDMI.
  • Verify the TV volume is turned up. I have a home theater audio system so my TV volume is normally off.

Good watching!
Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2014 HandymanHowTo.com   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

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50 Responses to How to Watch Netflix Instantly on your HDTV – Part 2

  1. jade June 18, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

    It is possible, at least on my computer, to get the sound working by restarting firefox, or whatever browser you are using. Also, changing the default audio to HDMI and then starting your web browser and loading netflix seems to work as well.

  2. Jacky August 1, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    I was able to get the sound to play on the TV when watching Netflix. However, the sound kept getting interrupted throughout the entire movie. It seemed like better quality sound kept trying to break through and then go back to whatever was playing. Sound was harsh and extremely loud despite the volume turned down low. Any idea how to fix this?

  3. Bob Jackson August 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm #

    Without knowing the particulars of your computer – make, model, operating system, memory – it’s difficult to say what could be wrong.

    A couple of things to check:
    1) Do you have the latest audio driver installed?
    2) Is the HDMI sample rate set to 48Khz? See Step 6 above in the
    “Configure Windows Vista HDMI Audio” section.
    3) Close all other applications that might be vying for the audio port.
    4) Did you try rebooting?
    5) Check your PC manufacturer’s support web site.

    Let me know if you’re able to correct the problem.

  4. M Perk December 30, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

    I was able to fix the loud/rough sound issue on the same page as where you tested the sound–next to the test icon is a drop down menu. It was set to CD quality sound, which sounded harsh on the TV, and I changed it to DVD quality sound and that did the trick. Thank you so much for this tutorial! It worked!! :)

  5. Michael January 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    I am currently using an RGB cable for the video and the headphone jack for audio. It works pretty well. It only uses 70% of my 42inch LCD screen. I am guessing the HDMI cable will give much better quality. Would it also use the whole screen?

    • Bob Jackson January 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

      The widescreen 16:9 display format isn’t determined by choice of an HDMI or RGB cable. Rather it depends on how the original video is formatted and/or your TV display aspect ratio settings.

      Thanks,
      Bob Jackson

  6. Stephanie January 5, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Thanks so much. This has worked out great for us. Your directions were perfect. This will save us alot of money. Stephanie Smith

  7. Sam January 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Unfortunately you will only get below-dvd quality SD with this setup. Netflix currently does not support HD on windows/mac/linux.

    If you want their HD (720p) streaming, you will need a dedicated streaming box (roku, xbox360, ps3, etc.).

  8. Ilene February 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    thank you so much!! after being told by the guy at radio shack that i’d need to buy a $75 HDMI cable, i decided to check out amazon.com. i ordered 2 HDMI cables from amazon for $12.50 and had them in my hands in 2 days. the price included tax and shipping too!

    so, i followed your directions, sound wouldn’t work at first (it was coming out of laptop), but after a few tries, it worked!!

    i thought i’d have to buy $100 equipment and a $75 cable to get it working…. you saved me A LOT of money!! thank you!!

  9. Diana February 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Thanks for the tips, however, I followed every step including rebooting my computer (since I couldn’t get any audio from my TV regardless of changing the audio setting to default in the HDMI option bla bla) It doesn’t seem to work, I checked the volume on my TV and is definitely on, I know the audio did take effect since I’m not getting any audio from my laptop’s speakers but the bars besides the TV-HDMI icon do move, as is some sound was coming out from my TV (which is false)…any advice?

  10. Bob Jackson February 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Unfortunately with Microsoft Windows it’s a hit-or-miss endeavor: verify the audio drivers are up to date, check your PC manufacturer’s support forum, etc.

    Have you tried the advice offered by reader “M Perk”:
    “I was able to fix the loud/rough sound issue on the same page as where you tested the sound–next to the test icon is a drop down menu. It was set to CD quality sound, which sounded harsh on the TV, and I changed it to DVD quality sound and that did the trick.”

    Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

  11. Scott March 16, 2010 at 4:33 am #

    How can you watch Netflix on your TV when your TV does not have an HDMI cable input?

    • Bob Jackson March 16, 2010 at 11:36 am #

      A couple of options:
      1) If your PC has a DVI port, use a DVI-to-HDMI cable.
      2) Buy a new graphics card with an HDMI port.
      3) Buy a Roku, Boxee TV or similar box. I’d go this route before buying a new graphics card.

      Regards,
      Bob

  12. Kayz August 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I LOVE YOU….. thank you so much for the info!

  13. sid September 29, 2010 at 6:21 am #

    Great site, I hooked my notepad to my 47 inch LG tv (note pad 1 year old-acer- and tv 2 years old) using a VGA cable and an audio cable. The picture is clear but it is chopped. Audio is fine . Can you help?
    Thanks,
    Sid

    • Bob Jackson September 29, 2010 at 8:15 am #

      The problem is called “overscan“, where part of the screen is cut off.

      You’ll need to fiddle around with various TV and/or PC settings to correct the overscan problem, if it can be fixed.

      1. Check the LG TV section on the 1:1 Pixel Mapping web site for advice and settings for your LG TV. 1:1 pixel mapping without overscan is the optimal setting.

      2. Update the TV firmware LG web site for TV firmware updates. Your TV may have USB flash drive port for loading new firmware. Get the new firmware from LG’s web site, copy it from your PC to to a flashdrive, plug the flashdrive into the TV and install following mfg’s instructions. New firmware may have overscan fixes.

      3. Try different laptop screen resolutions. Control Panel -> Display -> Settings -> Screen Resolution.

      And see if there’s something in the LG TV user manual.

      Hope this helps,
      Bob

  14. kris October 3, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    I don’t have a computer with a HDMI port but am looking to buy one soon. I’ve noticed on some – but not all – computer specs that the HDMI port is listed as “HDMI with HDCP” and am wondering if that will effect whether I am able to stream video on my tv or not. Does the HDMI port on my tv have to be HDCP compliant? My tv is a few years old and no where on the manual does it mention HDCP and my model is no longer listed on the manufacturer’s website.

    • Bob Jackson October 4, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

      Here’s what I would do: Buy the TV without HDCP and a Blu-ray player in person at your favorite electronics store, but only if the store manager signs your receipt promising the equipment can be returned for a full refund if the two don’t work together.

      When the stores receive enough non-compatible HDCP returns, they’ll send the message to the manufacturers and hopefully we’ll be rid of yet another encryption annoyance between your DVD player, set top box, etc. and TV.

      Reference: “So now that the HDCP key is loose, what does it all mean?” – by ZDNet Government.

  15. Wally October 5, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    After a few attempts I was able to get the sound to go through my TV. I had the volume on the TV to zero because I too have a home theater system that my TV runs through. Is there a way to get the sound to go through the home thrater system? Thanks a lot for your step-by-step instructions!

    • Bob Jackson October 5, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      Look on back of the TV for a single “Digital Audio Out” or red / white “Audio Out” RCA jacks. If present, connect audio out to the home theater system. It all depends on the output interfaces on your TV.

  16. Wally October 6, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Thanks, Bob. I have both a Digital Audio Out (but the plug type I’ve nver seen before) and a Audio Out with RCA jacks on the back of my TV. My home theater has only one Audio In (red and white RCA jacks) and currently my cable box is plugged into that. Do you believe it would work properly if I bought two “Y” adapters for the red and white audio RCA jacks on my home theater system (to give me two “inputs”) and plug the “Audio Outs” from both my cable box and the TV into them?

    Thanks for your help on this!

    • Bob Jackson October 6, 2010 at 10:06 am #

      The Digital Audio Out is either an RCA coax jack or square looking optical jack. The other pair of RCA jacks are the normal analog outputs.

      The Y cable should work fine. You could also buy an inexpensive RCA audio / video source selector switch box (~$20) with manual push buttons so you don’t have to keep switching cables.

  17. Wally October 6, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    It’s a TOSLINK port on the back of my TV. Thanks for that link!

    So I could buy a cable with the TOSLINK on one end and RCA (red and white leads) on the other end. Then plug the TOSLINK end into my TV and the RCA ends into the Y (splitter) plugged into the back of my home theater. Then plug the RCA cables (red and white) from my cable box into the other ends of the Y splitter plugged into my home theater… right?

    If that’s correct, there would be no need to plug/unplug any cables since all connections would be in place ready for the cable box audio signal or the Netflix audio signal coming from my laptop… right?

    Sorry for the long note… your comment regarding the switching of cables confused me a bit.

    • Bob Jackson October 7, 2010 at 8:12 am #

      > So I could buy a cable with the TOSLINK on one end and RCA (red and white leads)
      > on the other end.

      You’ll need a TOSLINK (optical) to S/PDIF RCA coax (electrical) converter, such as the Cables To Go 40019 converter box for that, followed by the RCA coax Y splitter cable.

      > there would be no need to plug/unplug any cables since all connections would be in place ready
      > for the cable box audio signal or the Netflix audio signal coming from my laptop… right?
      Right.

      > your comment regarding the switching of cables confused me a bit.
      Sorry, I thinking about my home theater system which has the audio inputs maxed out.

      Take care,
      Bob

  18. Michelle December 10, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    Your directions have been great, but when I got to the part where I need to tell my computer to use the external display and all I get is my desktop picture without the icons on my TV. The TV is not a mirror image of what is on my laptop screen. Please help.

    • Bob Jackson December 11, 2010 at 10:05 am #

      The problem you have is called “overscan”, meaning the laptop screen resolution is much larger than your TV, causing parts of the display to be cut off; this is why you can’t see the icons on the left side of the computer desktop.

      Scroll up and see my comment dated September 29, 2010 about overscan and ways to correct it.

      Wikipedia has an illustration what overscan does to image on a TV.

  19. Cosmo January 22, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    TY so much for a very helpful article. It is almost exactly what I was looking for. I don’t have much money and was able to take advantage of the Free Netflix offer, but I don’t have any of the items needed to play stuff on my TV and there’s no room to watch for my daughter and I in the cramped area where her laptop is. We can’t afford TV so this is all we can get at the moment. What I need to know is…I don’t have an HDTV or anything, just a regular TV. I would like to know if there is a way I can hook her laptop up to the TV so we can watch the Netflix feeds a little more comfortably? It’s too bad we can’t see all the shows I wanted to watch because you need a PS3 or Wii, so I’m trying to hook the laptop to the TV to watch it there. PLMK TYVM

    • Bob Jackson January 22, 2011 at 8:15 am #

      > I would like to know if there is a way I can hook her laptop up to the TV
      > so we can watch the Netflix feeds a little more comfortably?
      First you need to figure out which video/audio ports are available on your laptop and TV (HDMI, VGA, DVI-D, etc.) and go from there. You’re simplest option which will work with any TV is the Roku Netflix Internet player with composite (red, white, yellow) cable with RCA jacks – just like hooking up a VCR or DVD player.

  20. Glaucia January 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    Hi,

    I just got a brand new 32′ Samsung HDTV. Is there a way to connect it to my desktop? I hv a Dell Optiplex GX60. In case is possible, what kind of cable should I buy and how to install?

    Thx a bunch

  21. Tina February 2, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Thanks for your help, Bob. Unfortunatly when I try to stream Netflix, a bad cracking noise is heard roughly every 5-10 seconds. This also occured when streaming videos on YouTube and with both Internet Explorer and Firefox. I tried a different TV, but the problem was still there. However, the audio is perfectly fine when I play a DVD on my computer and hook it up to my TV.

    Any thoughts/suggestions for me?

    • Bob Jackson February 3, 2011 at 8:13 am #

      Since you’ve tested streaming video with a different TV, we know the problem is within your computer.

      The DVD playback works fine because it’s uses different circuitry in your computer, while streaming internet video by contrast is a highly compressed series of data packets which require more CPU to decode and convert for playback.

      Streaming internet video is downloaded and buffered before playback, so your internet connection speed isn’t an issue. NetFlix is quite good at detecting internet bandwidth and adjusting according for smooth playback.

      The problem is either your audio driver or within the HDMI port or computer motherboard. Are your audio drivers up to date? Check with your computer manufacturer. You can also try uninstalling and reinstalling your audio drivers. Go to Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Sound, video and game controllers (or Sound and Audio depending on your Windows version), locate your audio driver and uninstall.

      If this doesn’t correct the crackling noise, the HDMI port and/or motherboard may need repair. Again, contact your computer manufacturer or visit their support website to see if other people are reporting similar audio problems.

  22. Frank March 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Hi. Hope you can help me.

    I have a 23″ Acer G235h Monitor connected to a basic Dell Dimension 3100 with Windows XP.

    MONITOR SPECS: 1980×1080 resolution, 16:9, HDCP, DVI. It has the standard VGA input but also a DVI-D input.

    TV SPECS: Panasonic 55″ HDTV. There’s an available HDMI A/V input connection.

    1. Am I able to connect directly from my Acer monitor’s DVI-D input connection to the TV’s HDMI A/V input connection?

    2. If yes to #1, what kind of cable do I need to get?

    3. What process of yours would i then follow so I can watch Netflix on the TV instead of the PC?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Bob Jackson March 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

      The Dell 3100 only has a basic VGA video output port that won’t work with your TV. Please scroll up and read my comments dated March 16, 2010 and January 27, 2011 which explains your options.

  23. Marcia June 24, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Thanks so much for the perfect instructions on how to get sounds to the tv while watching a Netflix movie. It’s working perfectly now. My 4 year old granddaughter thanks you too.

  24. Christa July 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    This was so helpful! I am so excited about watching the internet (specifically Hulu) on the big screen. I already was using the Wii to watch Netflix streaming. I will have to see if going through my laptop gives better quality and buffering speed.

    Thanks so much for the step by step set-up :-(

  25. Tshef August 6, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    To Michelle,

    Bob, Michelle may have pc like mine which does the same. I drag my player ‘off’ my laptop screen(it is in extended screen mode in display under control manual) and then I watch my mouse on the tv to enlarge the player & voila! All set and I can still use my pc on the internet like I’m doing now!

  26. sierraseven August 21, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    Thanks so much for the clear explanation – I was stuck trying to get Netflix to play on my Dad’s TV from his computer, but now it’s working great. This is going to save him money on cable TV.

    I think your directions are extremely clearly written. I looked at several sites trying to figure this out, and for the most part I could not understand what they were telling me to do. So good to find someone who can write clearly!

  27. Thankful reader August 27, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    Thank you so much for the simple, easy, pictorial!! Works great for non-techies like me…no technical mumbo jumbo. Got my problem solved-yay!

  28. Hilliary Tanner September 20, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    My husband and I are considering canceling cable and going with netflix. I was wondering of it was possible to stream it directly through the TV (Phillips HDTV no plasma) without having to use the computer to play the movie. We also have a Wii, but plan to hook the children’s TV up with that. Is there a way? also can we play 2 different movies on 2 different TVs at the same time? Thanks

    • Bob Jackson September 21, 2011 at 6:31 am #

      Get a Roku Player – very simple to hookup and you can stream Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. to your TV.

  29. olivia October 31, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    You are wonderful! Spent hours on this yesterday ,, messed up so many things I had to do a system restore ,, read your post and am on and watching my movie! SO easy — but it is streaming and jumping rather than a smooth viewing ,, any idea how to fix that?

    • Bob Jackson October 31, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

      Try the following fixes:
      1) Log in to your Netflix account.
      2) Click Your Account & Help at the top right corner of the screen.
      3) Scroll down to WATCHING INSTANTLY ON YOUR TV OR COMPUTER.
      4) Click Manage Video Quality.
      5) Click Good quality (up to 0.3 GB per hour).
      6) Try Watch Instantly and check the video quality.

      If the video isn’t choppy, go back and to Step #5 and select Better quality (up to 0.7 GB per hour). Watch an instant movie. No choppy? Good, keep the video quality setting. If not, drop back down to Good quality.

      What is your Internet connection bandwidth? If the Internet bandwidth is too small, say less than 1.0 megabits per second (Mbps) down, you’ll have trouble at anything than the “Good quality” setting.

      Also check that you have the latest version of Microsoft Silverlight, no other background application are running (e.g. virus scan utilities) and no one else is using your Internet connection (e.g. someone watching YouTube videos on an iPhone, playing Internet games, etc.).

      Let me know if this fixes the jumpy Netflix streaming problem.

  30. Mary Rickard November 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Bob,

    I was hoping I could follow your instructions for my Imac, but I don’t see a way to choose “external display” nor how to select the digital output device. Is this only possible with a PC?

    Do I need to buy the Roku and just hook up the TV to the computer cable?

    Thanks,

    • Bob Jackson November 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

      I would think the Apple Mac computers have a similar external display function, but I can’t be specific as I’m not a Mac user.

      A Roku player is the way to go for a superior Internet video experience on your TV. It’s transformed my TV viewing experience.

  31. Larry Dickinson December 21, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Bob, I am getting roku device to stream netflix my question ,I have and older links router is this going to be fast enough or will I have a buffering problem ?

    • Bob Jackson December 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

      The Roku works great with my Linksys WRT54G WiFi router that’s several years old. The important factor is your Internet downstream bandwidth, I doubt the WiFi router would ever be a bottleneck.

  32. Pat December 29, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    When I stream movies from Netflix to my panasonic viera smart TV the sound is VERY low. I have to turn the volume ALL the way up on my TV and it is still very low. Any sugestions??

    • Bob Jackson December 30, 2011 at 9:39 am #

      Did you set the HDMI Output Sound Volume in the Windows Control Panel to maximum per the instructions above?

      “In the Hardware and Sound section of the Control Panel, click Adjust System Volume. Verify the sound volume is at 100% for the Digital Device Output (HDMI). 100% is should be the default setting.”

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