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How to Consider Netflix in 4K on a Mac



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Viewing 4K Netflix on a Mac is unnecessarily complicated. It's not supported by macOS at this time, so you'll need to run Windows on your Mac ̵

1; and even then you're limited to the Edge browser. But it's possible.

Why is 4K Netflix a problem for Macs?

The 4K content itself is not the problem. These are compatibility issues, codecs and DRM (Digital Rights Management). And it's not just Macs – 4K streaming is generally a problem. When you stream video on any platform, it has to be packaged in something your computer can understand. The exact method for doing this is called the video encoding format, and the program that performs packing and unpacking is called the codec . With the advent of 4K content, the tech world is in the process of switching to newer codecs, and they all argue about it.

Codecs are built into your computer but may vary depending on your browser. YouTube only uses the VP9 codec for 4K video. Safari does not support VP9. Therefore, you must use Chrome to watch 4K YouTube videos. Netflix supports many codecs, but only uses HEVC for 4K. Since Safari is one of the few browsers that supports HEVC playback, it seems that Safari should be supported alongside Safari 4K Netflix.

There is another problem with DRM that can protect the show from copying and piracy. The DRM Netflix uses for 4K content is the new HDCP 2.2 (high-bandwidth digital content protection) that macOS from Mojave does not support. HDCP is equivalent to the operating system level and can not be fixed with a sharper browser. You therefore need Windows (or a virtual machine running Windows) to see Netflix. So you can make sure that you do not record shows. The kick is that DRM does not even really work since shows are stolen independently of this (often automatically within minutes of release). Everything she does is harming consumers, especially in the case of Netflix.

You can still watch 4K Netflix content on your Mac, but it will not be easy, and it will not be a good solution.

Running Windows on a Mac to display Netflix

Summarizing from above you will need:

  • An HDCP 2.2 compatible 4K TV, if your Mac's integrated display is not 4K or higher is . Both the TV and the HDMI cable must be HDCP 2.2 compliant, otherwise nothing will work. When streaming 4K content to a 1080p TV or the 1440p display of your Mac, you will not see any benefits because more pixels can be displayed than can be displayed.
  • A Mac with an Intel processor from Kaby Lake (or higher): Most Macs will be manufactured after 2017 will have one. Only Kaby Lake or higher CPUs have special hardware to decode HEVC much faster. Edge supports only hardware-encoded HEVC components. However, since this is the only browser on Windows that supports this at all, we need to use it. Safari supports HEVC with decoded software on older CPUs. However, since HDCP 2.2 is not supported, we stick to Windows and use Edge. And even if you could use software decoding, you might experience performance issues depending on the model. Yes, it is complicated.
  • A Netflix premium account that costs $ 15.99 per month . This is the only plan with 4K support, but you can also have four concurrent streams from the same account.
  • A copy of Windows 10 and a readiness to either double boot your system or run a virtual machine in it. You also need Edge, but it is included in Windows 10.

If you have everything on the list and really want 4K Netflix, running Windows on Mac is pretty easy. You have several options:

  • Run a Windows virtual machine. On a virtual machine, Windows runs inside of macOS, so you do not have to switch completely to Windows. You will see a slight performance drop as you run two operating systems at the same time. The VM we recommend for macOS is Parallels. It's not free, so you can try VirtualBox if you want, but Parallels has a much better performance and is designed for macOS.
  • Dual Boot Bootcamp, which installs Windows permanently on your hard drive (or on) Mac OS. This is an extreme solution as you are forced to launch another operating system to watch Netflix, but perform better than the others. It is also less prone to errors than VM software.
  • Why not both? Parallels supports running your boot camp partition as a virtual machine. That way, if you want, you can fully boot into Windows but still access it via macOS. If you have enough space on your hard drive and do not care about the extra setup, this is the best solution.

Whatever option you choose, once you've run Windows, download the Microsoft Edge browser and call it Watch. You will see a new category called "Ultra HD 4K," which contains all UHD content. You can also use the Windows app from Netflix because it supports HEVC and HDCP 2.2. You can not use Google Chrome, Firefox, or any other browser.

Ultimately, HDCP 2.2 is the main issue, and Mac OS Mojave still does not support HDCP 2.2. MacOS may be supported in the future, which will resolve this clutter. However, this has been a topic for some years, so do not overstate your hopes. The Apple TV 4K supports 4K Netflix. Maybe Apple just wants you to buy that.


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