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.
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.
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.
If the keyboard external display selection, doesn’t work, configure the TV display through the Windows Control Panel.
Windows Control Panel TV Display Selection
Windows 7 Display Instructions
The following instructions are for Windows 7. Scroll down or click for the Windows 10 instructions.
If your TV displays a blank screen, desktop wallpaper with no icons or the computer screen saver, the most likely cause is the Microsoft Windows has defaulted to “Extend these displays“. This mode is normally used by pro users who want to use two monitors or displays. You should be able to watch Netflix on the TV by dragging the web browser window with the mouse to the far right so it shows on TV Display #2. In this example I have my Windows 7 laptop connected to a Samsung HDTV with an HDMI cable. The Samsung HDTV is automatically detected as Display #2:
If your TV or computer is uncooperative, you can change the external display in Microsoft Windows navigating to:
- Control Panel → Appearance and Personalization → Adjust Screen Resolution
- Multiple Displays → Duplicate these displays → Apply
This setting will make the computer and TV displays the same, mirroring whatever is shown on the computer to the TV screen:
If you’re still having trouble, try making the TV the primary display. The Samsung TV in this example is Display #2.
- Multiple Displays → Show desktop only on 2 → Apply
Differences in Windows device drivers may require experimentation to see what works for your computer and TV.
Windows 10 Display Instructions
Windows 10 has a new Settings app which partially replicates items in the classic Control Panel. To access the Display settings:
- Press the Windows key ⊞ to display the Start menu and taskbar search box.
The special Windows key ⊞ is located next to the Ctrl key at the bottom left side of the keyboard.
- Type “settings” (omit the quotes) in the taskbar search box.
- Click the Settings Trusted Windows Store app to open it:
- Click the System icon in the SETTINGS window:
- Click Display in the left sidebar to Customize your display.
- Select Duplicate these displays.
- Click Keep Changes:
Display Troubleshooting: If only a single display is shown it’s because the HDMI cable is not plugged into the computer and TV. Check the HDMI cable connection and turn On the TV for Windows to detect the HDMI cable and signal.
Configure Windows HDMI Audio
At this point, you will have video but no sound through the TV.
It’s necessary to configure the Windows HDMI sound device before watching Netflix. To configure Windows, do the following:
- For Windows 7: Start → Control Panel
For Windows 10: type “control panel” (without the quotes) in the taskbar search box and click the Control Panel app:
Windows 10 Tip: A quicker way to open the Control Panel is pressing the Windows ⊞ + X key combination to open the Quick Access Menu:
- In the Control Panel, select View by Category to more easily find things, then click on Hardware and Sound:
- In the Sound section, click Manage audio devices
- 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.
- 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.
- Click Properties and the Advanced tab.
- Click Test. You should hear a melody played on the TV speakers.
- Click OK and go back to the Control Panel.
- 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.
- 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:
- Start → Control Panel → Appearance and Personalization → Change Screen Saver
- Change the screen saver to 9999 minutes (or a period that is longer than your movie!) as shown.
- Click OK to save and return to the Control Panel.
- In the Control Panel, click on Power Options → Change when the computer sleeps
- Set Turn off the display to Never, and Put the computer to sleep to Never
- 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.
To view the movie in full screen mode, scroll down and click the full screen button as shown:
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.
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.
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