There’s nothing more frustrating than kicking-back to watch a movie or TV series and finding that Netflix is not working on your Mac.
Unfortunately there’s no official Netflix app for Mac. The official Netflix app is far more reliable than using a browser but the only way to get the official Netflix app on a Mac is to run Windows on your Mac and then use the Windows Netflix app.
You can use software like Parallels to install Windows on a Mac so that you can easily switch between macOS and Windows whenever you want to use Netflix.
However, sometimes Netflix streaming problems can also be fixed on Macs with a few simple changes.
The most common Netflix playback issues on macOS are things such as cache problems, plugin failure error messages, a black screen with no player controls, external monitor issues, mysterious n8151, n8010 and 2105 error codes and problems cause by adware on Macs.
Most recently, those with older Macs have been hit by the 2018 update to Safari 12 which doesn’t support the Silverlight plugin that Macs made before 2011 needed to play Netflix.
If you find this article helpful and are interested in other ways to stream on your Mac, you may also want to check out our guide to the best Mac compatible TV tuners.
Below then are the most common Netflix streaming problems on Mac and ways to fix them.
1. Netflix & Safari 12 Problems
If you’re on a Mac that was made before 2011, then you probably got a nasty shock when you updated to Safari 12. In 2014 Netflix started switching from using Microsoft’s Silverlight plugin to HTML5 to stream video. However, Macs made before 2011 (except a select few) can’t use HTML5 for streaming but could still keep using Silverlight to watch Netflix in 1080p. You need a Mac from 2012 onwards to be guaranteed of being able to stream Netflix in HTML5.
Unfortunately for security reasons, Apple decided to stop supporting Silverlight in Safari 12 which means if you’ve got an older Mac, you can no longer watch Netflix in Safari. Usually Netflix will keep prompting you to install Silverlight but Safari can’t install it anymore.
If you’re not sure whether your Mac is new enough to handle HTML5 streaming, you can check by going to the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen and selecting About This Mac. If it says your Mac is at least from early 2011 and you’re running OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later, you should be able to stream Netflix in HTML5.
If however your Mac is from 2010 or earlier, you’ve got these options:
- The easiest solution is to use another browser to watch Netflix preferably Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. You can also use the lesser known Opera browser. Firefox, Chrome and Opera still support the Silverlight plugin so you’ll be able to watch Netflix although the maximum resolution will be 720p on older Macs.
- If you use Apple’s Time Machine, restore an earlier back-up of your Mac so that you can go back to Safari 11. This is a more drastic solution but will basically roll-back your Mac to an earlier state. Note that any other applications or changes you’ve made to your Mac since the roll-back will be lost.
- Use an Apple TV to stream Netflix instead. If you haven’t got one, an Apple TV is a modest investment which allows you to watch Netflix and a whole host of other channels on your TV.
- Use an iPad to stream Netflix. Although there’s no Netflix app for Macs, there is an official Netflix app for iPads. The iOS app also allows you to download Netflix shows and movies on your iPad for offline viewing.
2. Use HTML5 To Stream Netflix
If you’re using a Mac made in 2011 and still using Silverlight to stream Netflix, you should definitely switch to HTML5 to solve any playback problems. Silverlight causes a multitude of problems streaming on Macs and as you’ll see, half of this troubleshooting article covers ways of fixing them.
Since 2014, these problems were eliminated when Netflix moved to using HTML5 to stream movies in full 1080 HD.
To ensure that you’re watching Netflix using HTML5, follow these instructions:
1. Newer Macs: Upgrade to the latest version of macOS Mojave and use Safari, Firefox, Chrome or Opera
If you’re already running OS X 10.10 Yosemite or above, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Opera automatically support Netflix streaming in HTML5. To upgrade though, you must have a 2011 Mac onwards and the latest version of your browser so make sure you’ve updated macOS and your browser to the latest version (currently Mojave). If your Mac is from late 2011 or onwards, you can upgrade to the latest version of macOS by simply opening The Mac App Store in your Dock and going to Updates in the top Menu.
2. Older Macs: Switch to Google Chrome
If you’re still using an older version of OS X (from OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard onwards) Google Chrome allows you to stream Netflix in HTML5 on older versions of OS X although you must “force” it to do so. 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 should find Netflix plays using the HTML5 player instead of Silverlight.
For more, you can see the full system requirements on Mac for streaming Netflix in HTML5 here.
3. Activate Auto-Play In Safari
If you’re sure Safari is using HTML5 to stream Netflix but still having problems, make sure that video Auto-Play is activated for websites.
To do this go to Safari > Preferences and select the Website tab across the top. Make sure that Auto-Play is enabled.
It’s also worth checking nothing is blocking Netflix under the Content Blockers options too. When you’ve done, reload the page to see if Netflix starts working again.
4. Clear Your Netflix Browser Cookies
If your cookies are outdated or corrupted then Netflix won’t play on your Mac. It’s easy to fix this however. Simply go to netflix.com/clearcookies and Netflix will automatically clear your cookie cache and sign you out of Netflix. Then just sign-in again to Netflix to start watching a movie or TV show.
5. Use A Netflix Streaming Device
These plug into your Mac’s USB port and are far more efficient at streaming Netflix than your Mac. You’ll also get other benefits such as access to Hulu (Limited Offer: $5.99 per month), ESPN and HBO Now.
6. Netflix Display Errors In Safari Using HTML5
While Silverlight is the main culprit for problems with Netflix, HTML5 isn’t without its problems sometimes. One common problem is that when you try to watch Netflix in Safari with two monitors connected to your Mac, HTML5 may not work.
Some users report experiencing a “Please ensure your monitor is HDCP compliant and is not mirrored using airplay” error when trying to play Netflix videos using Safari in HTML5 mode.
It seems to mostly affect those using a Thunderbolt-VGA adapters and although there is no official solution or fix for this problem, there are a few tricks that have worked for some. They are:
- Activate the Develop Menu in Safari. To do this open Safari and go to Preferences – Advanced and select “Show Develop menu in menu bar”:
The in the Develop menu in Safari, select an older version of Safari:
This basically makes Safari revert back to an older version that Netflix works properly with. Note that if you open a new tab, you’ll have to do this process again. Other fixes include:
- If you’re using DisplayLink drivers for your monitor, updating to the latest DisplayLink drivers can also help.
- Try using a a Thunderbolt-DVI adapter instead
- Switch to Chrome for Netflix streaming
- If you’re getting a “Plugin Failure” error message when connecting an external monitor, it may be a conflict between Netflix and your graphics card.
If you’ve got a newer MacBook Pro, it has two graphics cards – an integrated HD Graphics 4000 card and a more powerful discreet Nvidia GT 650M card. Your Mac switches between the two silently in the background depending on the demands of your Mac. Silverlight will not work if your Mac is using the discreet graphics card which it often switches to if you plug-in an external monitor.
To fix this, all you have to do is close down all other apps (including your browser) and unplug the external monitor to make your Mac switch to the default Integrated graphics card. Restart your browser and open Netflix and start watching a movie or show. You can then re-attach the external monitor and it will work. You can download a useful app called gfx which tells you which graphics card your Mac is using and allows you to force your Mac to use either the integrated or discreet graphics card (although not if you’ve got an external monitor attached).
7. Ads Or Popups When Streaming Netflix
If you’re getting ads and popups when streaming Netflix on your Mac, then it’s possible adware or malware is installed on your Mac. Adware and malware can get installed on your Mac when you accidentally click on malicious ads or install an application which is bundled with adware or malware.
8. Force Netflix To Play In HD On Your Mac
Netflix automatically chooses the bitrate to play videos on your Mac based on your connection speed and even if you have a fast connection, it doesn’t always select HD by default.
To force Netflix to play in HD on a Mac simply click on the video window to make sure it’s selected, hold down the Control+Shift+Option+S keys at the same time and Netflix will manually switch to HD.
9. Run Windows On Your Mac
You can find more details here on the the best ways to run Windows on a Mac as there are various options available to do so.
10. Use An Unofficial Netflix App
There is no official Netflix app for macOS but there are some unofficial Netflix apps. However, in general we don’t recommend them because they basically have all the same problems as using a browser.
Although there is no official Netflix app for Macs there is an official Netflix app for iPad and iPhone which allows you to watch Netflix movies and TV shows within the app.
The iOS app also allows you to watch Netflix offline on your iPad and iPhone:
11. Fix Silverlight Netflix Issues On Older Macs
If you’re using a pre-2011 Mac you’ll still have to use Silverlight in Chrome, Firefox or Opera to stream Netflix. If you’re having playback problems then it’s almost certainly because of the troublesome Silverlight plugin.
Silverlight is a plugin by Microsoft which Netflix used to deliver video to users although as we’ve already made clear, it’s now been replaced by the more reliable HTML5 standard on Macs made from 2011 onwards. Note that there’s no version of Silverlight for PPC Macs and no way to make Netflix work on a non-Intel Mac. Even if you can find an old version of Silverlight to install on your PPC Mac, Netflix will request you to upgrade to an Intel Mac before it will play anything so it’s not even worth trying.
The first thing to do is to make sure you definitely have Silverlight installed by going to the Silverlight test page. If Silverlight is installed on your Mac, you should see something like the following result on the Silverlight test page. If you can see the installed version is lower than the current version, then you need to update Silverlight.To update it, you must download the latest version of Silverlight for Mac from Microsoft. If you haven’t got it installed at all, you can download it from Microsoft or simply try to play a video in Netflix which will prompt you to perform the installation automatically. Netflix also provides full instructions how to install Silverlight on a Mac here.
If you’re installing Silverlight for the first time, you may receive the message “Silverlight.dmg cannot be opened because it is from an unidentified developer“. This is a security measure in the latest versions of macOS to prevent applications being installed that have not been verified by Apple on the Mac App Store. To bypass this Right-click or Ctrl click on “Silverlight.pkg” and then click “Open” and select the option that reads: “Silverlight.pkg” is not from the Mac App Store. Are you sure you want to open it? Opening “Silverlight.pkg” will always allow it to run on this Mac. Installation will then continue as normal
If you’ve already got Silverlight installed and it’s fully updated, then it’s likely something has gone wrong with the plugin. The real 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 described below. Signs that something is wrong with Silverlight on Mac are errors such as:
- Being constantly prompted to reinstall Silverlight (known as “install looping”)
- Getting an error code such as error 2104, error 2015, error n8151 or error n8010
- Videos not loading
- Blank or black screens with no player controls
- Silverlight keeps crashing
- Videos keeps freezing
- Netflix is choppy
- Netflix full screen mode is not working
- “Netflix plugin failure” error messages
If you’re experiencing any of the above, here is a complete list of steps how to fix them. There are also specific problems with Netflix in Firefox on Mac, which we’ve gone into more detail further down.
- Clean both the cache and cookies in your browser. 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 Netflix keeps asking you to reinstall Silverlight even though it’s already installed, it may be because your browser is trying to access an outdated or corrupted cookie file. To fix this, make sure you are logged-into Netflix and go to https://www.netflix.com/clearcookies. You will then be automatically logged-out of Netflix. Go to Netflix Home then Member Sign In to log back in and try to play a movie or TV show 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.
12. Safari Problems With Silverlight
If you’re using Safari 11 or earlier, you must ensure that Safari isn’t blocking Netflix access to the Silverlight plugin. To do this:
- Go to “Preferences” in Safari in the top Menu bar
- Click the “Security” tab and then go down to “Manage Website Settings…”
- Select “Silverlight” in the plugins list. If you see the critical security issue warning, make sure you update the plugin first.
- If everything is OK, select the Silverlight plugin on the left, and make sure that “Allow” or “Always Allow” is selected. You can also select “Ask” if you prefer to be asked before Silverlight is accessed by Netflix. You can read more on Safari plugin settings here.
If none of this works, then it’s probably a more fundamental problem related to your Silverlight plugins folder for which the only solution is to completely uninstall Silverlight.
The problem is that Silverlight is notoriously hard to remove properly on Mac and you need to perform some manual removal.
Next we show you a few ways to make sure that Silverlight has bee completely uninstalled on your Mac.
13. Uninstall Silverlight On Mac Automatically
- 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 probably 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. If you receive the warning “Silverlight.dmg cannot be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” it’s simply because it wasn’t downloaded from the Mac App Store and Apple has not certified it. You can still install it however by right-clicking or holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on Silverlight.pkg. Select Open on the pop-up menu and then click Open on the prompt that says “Silverlight.pkg” is not from the Mac App Store. Are you sure you want to open it? Opening “Silverlight.pkg” will always allow it to run on this Mac.” You can then complete the installation of Silverlight on your Mac and Netflix movies should now play as normal.
14. Uninstall Silverlight On Mac Manually
- If this still doesn’t work you need to delete 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.
15. 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, it’s probably due to a problem with the Silverlight plugin.
This can be due to various issues but often it’s because Silverlight is not updated properly and 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.
If Silverlight is enabled and Netflix still doesn’t work, follow this checklist to fix the problem:
- 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.
The Silverlight installation file will be downloaded onto your Mac. Double click on it to launch the Silverlight for Mac Browser Plug-In installer.
When installation is complete, wait for around 15-20 seconds and a test video should start playing if the installation has been successful.
If you can see the video, Silverlight for Mac is working correctly in Firefox and you should be able to watch Netflix in Firefox.
If none of the above fixes Silverlight, try the following solutions:
- Go to the Tools menu, select Add-ons and the Extensions tab and disabling any other add-ons that may be blocking Silverlight especially ad blockers or tracking blockers such as Adblock Plus, Flashblock or Ghostery.
- Some folders in macOS are hidden from view and may cause Silverlight to give you a N8156-6013 error, n8151 error or n8010 or error 2105. You must unhide your Library folder and delete some folders. To unhide folders in macOS, install invisibliX which allows you to easily toggle hidden files. 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.
We hope these tips have got Netflix working again on your Mac.
If you want to know how to record Netflix on Mac, you might also be interested in our article on how to capture Netflix videos on Mac.
For any other issues or problems you are having with Netflix on your Mac, let us know in the comments below.