Netflix users on Mac have had to suffer years of playback problems due to problems with big bad Microsoft’s Silverlight plugin but there are various fixes. As of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, these problems will be a thing of the past as Netflix moves to using HTML5 instead to stream movies in glorious 1080 HD. However, for all those of you still on earlier versions of OS X i.e. OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to OS X 10.9 Mountain Lion – you’ll still have to wrestle with Silverlight in order to watch Netflix in peace. If Netflix is not working on your Mac, follow these steps to get it working again.
The problems start when this plugin starts to malfunction so if you’re experiencing problems with Silverlight, there are various fixes and solutions you can try.
How to fix Netflix for Mac not working issues
The first thing to try is using HTML5 instead of Silverlight. The good news is, you don’t have to upgrade to Yosemite or use Safari to enjoy Netflix streaming using HTML5. Netflix allows you to force Google Chrome to stream in HTML5 already. To do this, simply open Netflix in Google Chrome, go to Netflix Playback Settings and select Prefer HTML5 player instead of Silverlight:
Close Chrome and then reopen it and you might find Netflix works again fine on your Mac with no need to go through any Silverlight troubleshooting.
If this isn’t an option for you then you need to fix Silverlight. The problems are usually related to bugs in the Microsoft Silverlight plugin (Microsoft software on Apple products often never ends happily). Signs that something is wrong with Silverlight on Mac are errors such as:
- Being constantly prompted to reinstall Silverlight
- Getting an error code such as Error 2104 or Error 2015
- Videos not loading
- Blank or black screens
- Silverlight keeps crashing
- Videos keeps freezing
If you’re experiencing any of the above, here’s how to fix them:
- First check to see if Silverlight is working with your other browsers such as Firefox, Chrome or Safari by opening Netflix in them depending on which one you are using. If Netflix is working, then the problem is simply with your browser. Clean both the cache and cookies which in Chrome you can do by going to Preferences, Settings scroll down to Show Advanced Settings and then click Clear browsing data….Then try using Incognito or Private Browsing mode by going to File and New Incognito Window and try Netflix again.
- If this doesn’t work and you’re using Chrome, check that Silverlight is definitely installed by typing: chrome://plugins/ into the Chrome URL bar and scroll down the list to see if Silverlight is installed and enabled.
- If you have the HTTPS Everywhere plugin installed, disable it by clicking on the HTTPS Everywhere icon.
- Disable any antivirus software you may be using.
If none of this works, then it’s a problem with your Silverlight plugins folder. If you have more than one user account on your Mac, the Silverlight plugin is duplicated in both your Root Library folder and User Library folder. You must therefore go to: ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins in your local folder and clear out old versions of the plugin which are causing the problem. The problem is that Netflix has been constantly trying to access the outdated local user version rather than the root version. The solution is to fully uninstall and reinstall the Silverlight for Netflix plugin by following these instructions:
- Close any browsers that are open e.g. Firefox, Safari, Chrome etc.
- Install a free app removal utility called AppCleaner
- Search for Silverlight and then select the installed components that AppCleaner automatically finds and delete them:
- Now download and reinstall Silverlight again. Netflix movies should now play on your Mac as normal.
- If this doesn’t work, try deleting the files manually instead. Click on your Macintosh HD and select Library and then access both the Internet Plugins and Receipts folders to delete all Silverlight files. These include:
- /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/Silverlight.plugin
- /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/WPFe.plugin
Then go back to Macintosh HD and select System and then Library, Internet Plugins and make sure any Silverlight files are deleted.
- Finally, go to back to Macintosh HD and select Library, Application Support, Microsoft and delete the entire Silverlight folder. Empty Trash and reinstall Silverlight.
How to fix Netflix for Mac Silverlight problems in Firefox
Firefox can be particularly fussy when it comes to Silverlight on Mac. If you’re seeing an error page or a black/blank screen when trying to watch Netflix on your Mac then again, t’s probably due to a problem with the Silverlight plugin. This can be due to various issues but sometimes its because if Silverlight is not updated regularly, Firefox automatically disables the plugin for security reasons. Make sure that Silverlight is Enabled in Firefox by going to the Tools menu and selecting Add-Ons. Click on Plugins and make sure that Silverlight is enabled.
- Close Firefox.
- Follow the uninstall instructions above using AppCleaner to make sure you have completely removed Silverlight from your Mac.
- Open Firefox and go to the Silverlight DRM Test page. Click on the box that says Install Microsoft Silverlight.
If none of the above helps fix Netflix on your Mac, try the following solutions:
- Try going to the Tools menu, select Add-ons and the Extensions tab and disabling any other add-ons that may be blocking Silverlight especially ad or tracking blockers such as Ghostery.
- If you are using Lion, some folders are hidden from view and you may be receiving an N8156-6013 error or an n8151 error. You must unhide your Library folder and delete some folders. To unhide folders in Lion, install invisibliX which allows you to easily toggle hidden files in Lion. You must then delete the PlayReady folder in your Library in both your User folder and your Macintosh HD. There’s no need to restart your Mac afterwards – Netflix should start working again.
Netflix for Mac apps
Until Netflix launch an official app for Mac, users are stuck with either Silverlight or streaming in HTML5. There are some third party apps however that allow you to manage and browse Netflix but not actually watch content within them, The closest thing to a Netflix for Mac app is Friendly for Netflix although you can’t watch movies or shows in it. Friendly for Netflix simply allows you to play trailers, see Rotten Tomato ratings and see when new movies are uploaded to Netflix. It also automatically opens your browser when you want to watch movies.
There is an official Netflix app for iPad and iPhone however which allows you to watch Netflix movies and TV shows within the app.