How to Stream Netflix on a Laptop

By Matt Skaggs

Updated September 22, 2017

Netflix is compatible with laptops, desktops, many mobile devices and many TVs.
i Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

When you select your preferred Netflix plan, allowing you to stream movies to your laptop, you get your first month of viewing free, and the only system requirements involve your Internet bandwidth and the use of either an up-to-date Web browser or the Windows 8 Netflix app. Viewing movies in a Web browser requires Windows XP or later, provided you install the necessary free software, Silverlight. Only Windows 8 has a designated app.

Netflix Requirements

To view Netflix, your laptop must have a wired or wireless Internet connection with bandwidth of at least 0.5 megabits per second (Mbps). To view HD videos, you need at least 5 Mbps, and you need 25 Mbps for ultra HD, if that is available with your subscription. To run Netflix in an up-to-date browser rather than use the Windows 8 app, you need Silverlight installed in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer. To run Silverlight, you need at least a 1.6 Ghz processor and 512MB of RAM. Instead of Silverlight, you can use HTML5 in Windows 8 with an up-to-date version of Google Chrome or Internet Explorer, though this is not available for Firefox.

Netflix Viewing

In Windows 8 you can download the Netflix app by selecting the Store tile on the desktop taskbar or on the Start screen and then search for "Netflix." After using your Netflix information to log in to the app, you can browse by genre or simply search for movies or TV shows by name. When signed into Netflix’s site in a Web browser, you can browse videos by category or use the search box to find a video. You then only need to select a title and click Play.