Netflix may soon fix a long-standing issue with the service by adding an easier way to browse by genre.
This week, I came across a new “Categories” section in the left sidebar on my Fire TV, Android TV, and Roku devices. Selecting this menu brought up a list of my three most-watched genres, followed by additional genres in alphabetical order. Each had its own schedule of relevant movies and TV shows, presented in no discernible order.
Netflix has confirmed it’s testing the new Categories menu, but hasn’t said whether it will be rolling out to everyone. (Another user told me on Twitter sees the same menu, but most people I’ve asked don’t have it yet.)
Luckily, there are other ways to browse Netflix genres even without the new Categories menu. If you know where to look, you can avoid Netflix’s algorithm-generated recommendations and dig straight into specific genres instead.
How to Navigate by Genre in Netflix
On most streaming TV devices, the list of Netflix genres is hidden in the search section. To find it, click the search button in the sidebar menu, then look under the keyboard.
What you’ll see is the same alphabetical list that now appears in the “Categories” menu on my streaming devices, but without any favorite genres at the top. Unfortunately, none of the features are available on Apple TV devices, although you can always use the search bar to search for a specific genre by name.
On mobile devices, genres have been easier to access for quite some time now. Simply tap the “Categories” button at the top of the home screen for an alphabetical list of options.
To browse Netflix by genre on the web, click the “TV Shows” or “Movies” tab at the top. Each section has its own “Genres” drop-down menu, which you’ll find near the top of the screen.
More fun with Netflix’s hidden categories
If you’re using a web browser, you can dig deeper into Netflix genres by browsing the service’s hidden subcategories, such as “dark comedies,” “sports dramas,” and “zombie horror movies.”
Netflix’s own apps don’t make it easy to find these categories, but several external websites have done a great job cataloging them. My personal favorite is Netflix-Codes.com, which has a clean and simple list of genres and categories with links to each on Netflix. (The “codes” are a reference to the web addresses that correspond to each category on the Netflix website.)
While there’s no way to browse these hidden Netflix categories directly on your TV, you can still use the website to add movies or shows to your watchlist. Then you can head to “My List” in your TV’s sidebar menu to start watching.
Netflix often tests new features with its users and doesn’t always end up releasing them more widely, and it didn’t say whether the Categories sidebar I encountered is just a test or the start of one. wider deployment. Still, it’s one of many moves Netflix has taken recently to shake up its interface.
In early 2020, the company added a “Top 10” line to its home screen, and later that year it added an entire “New & Popular” section to its sidebar. Netflix also added a “Play Something” shuffle button last year and experimented with human-curated “collections.”
The Categories menu is a bit different from those additions, recognizing that algorithms and popularity aren’t always the best ways to know what to watch. (They also tend to reinforce each other.) Sometimes you already know what type of show or movie you’re in the mood for, and being able to point to a specific genre is the best way to get there.
In the future, I’d like to see Netflix expand on the idea, perhaps breaking each genre down into the subcategories mentioned above, or adding filters for movies and TV shows. But for an interface that’s started to feel a bit outdated lately, it’s still a step in the right direction.
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Jared Newman covers personal technology from his remote Cincinnati outpost. It also publishes two newsletters, To advise for technical advice and Weekly Cord Cutter for help quitting cable or satellite TV.