How to search for movies and shows on Netflix, or use category tags to narrow down your search

  • You can search for movies and TV shows on Netflix using the search icon at the top of both the mobile app and the web browser, or via the top of the sidebar menu in the TV app.
  • You can search not just by movie or show name, but also by actor, director, genre, and a handful of other categories.
  • If you’d prefer to browse by category, you can choose a category directly or type its category tag into your URL without having to scroll endlessly, hoping to encounter your favourite category by happenstance.
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Netflix has a lot of content. That’s evident from the statistics: The service hosts about 1,569 TV shows and 4,010 movies in an expanding portfolio. And the video streaming company claims that its 139 million global subscribers watch 140 million hours of content each day.

If you’re one of those 139 million subscribers, you might sometimes have trouble finding the shows you want to watch amidst all those choices.

To help you out, Netflix provides a search tool on the website, and in the mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, as well as the TV-based apps. No matter how you use Netflix, there’s a way to zero in on the shows you want.

How to search on Netflix

1. Open Netflix, either by starting the app on your mobile device or streaming device, or by navigating to Netflix.com in a browser.

2. At the top of the screen (or at the top of the sidebar on TV apps), tap or click the search icon, shaped like a magnifying glass.

Search 1Dave Johnson/Business InsiderThis search button lets you find movies and shows by name, actor, genre, and more.

3. Type your search.

There are a number of different kinds of searches you can perform:

  • By title. If you search for the title of a TV show or movie, Netflix will display that item and similar shows and movies. If Netflix doesn’t have the show you’re looking for, it will display the most similar match it can find.
  • By actor. You can search for actors and actresses by name. You’ll get results that display shows and movies in which they have appeared.
  • By director. Likewise, you can search by the name of a director to find movies and shows they have worked on.
  • By genre. If you’re looking for a particular kind of show, like sci-fi, fantasy, drama, or comedy, you can enter that search term.
  • By language. Want a Spanish, French, or German film? Search for “Spanish movies” to see exactly that – Spanish-language films.
  • By video quality. You can search by “UHD” to find shows and movies that are in 4K UHD quality.

Notice that Netflix shows not just search results, but also categories at the top of the page – these are the categories it’s using to find results for you. If you want to see results from just one of those categories in particular, click on it to focus on that collection of movies.

Search 2Dave Johnson/Business InsiderNo matter what search term you use, you can click any of the categories that Netflix displays at the top of the search results.

How to browse Netflix by category

You’re no doubt already familiar with how to browse Netflix by genre and category – just scroll down the homepage, whether you’re in an app on in a web browser. But you have a couple of other options as well.

If you choose “TV Shows” or “Movies” at the top of the screen, you’ll switch to a page that displays only one or the other. And when you do, you’ll see a dropdown menu in which you can choose a genre directly, without having to scroll to find it.

Search 3Dave Johnson/Business InsiderYou can quickly go to a specific genre by filtering the page to just TV shows or movies.

You can also browse by truly oddball, unusual categories. Netflix tracks movies by some niche categories, like “wine and beer appreciation,” “understated horror movies,” and “quirky romances.” Read our article, “27 of the best secret categories on Netflix and how to find them,” to learn about many of these categories.

When you know a specific category’s tag number, you can access that category’s landing page by typing its number into your address bar after the word “genre,” like this: http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/52858.

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