ChromeFlix – or Netflix Watch Instantly for Google Chrome on the Mac

Netflix Watch Instantly should work fine in Google Chrome. After all, it is using the same rendering engine as Safari, so it should just work, right?

The answer is not that simple…

Google Chrome for the Mac is 100% capable of running Netflix Watch Instantly, but the web-geeks at Netflix are bad programmers.

The Netflix geeks did a very bad job of detecting Watch Instantly capable browsers. They are looking for the word SAFARI instead of looking for the word WEBKIT as an identifier in the browser’s user-agent. Because of this, Chrome users get an apology instead of streaming movies.

Tsk, tsk, tsk… sloppy programming Netflix!

Here’s the work around:

First, the easy way:
Download ChromeFlix which launches your currently installed version of Chrome but makes it pretend to be Apple’s Safari.

Leopard Users (OSX 10.5.x) click here.

And here’s the geeky way:
In terminal issue the following command:

open /Applications/Google\\ --args -user-agent="Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_5_3; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.1 9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.2.1 Safari/525.19"

Or, the uber-geeky way:
Open terminal, edit .profile, and make an alias to the geeky command above.

Until Netflix decides to hire competent web-geeks, the choices above are your only solutions.

A Cup of Coffee

A ridiculous amount of caffeine was consumed while researching all of this stuff.
Add some fuel if you would like to help keep me going!

29 Replies to “ChromeFlix – or Netflix Watch Instantly for Google Chrome on the Mac”

  1. Fantastic for Mac users! I’m guessing there’s not much of a chance for a Linux Chromeflix? Is that even possible?
    zoso at 03/05/2010 02:33:30 pm

  2. For linux, the problem is that Moonlight implements Silverlight WITHOUT the DRM that made Netflix choose it in the first place. And, without DRM support, it can’t play the videos.

    So, the only way to use Watch Instantly on linux is to run VirtualBox and run a whole Windows instance.

    Wish I could help,

    Steven at 03/05/2010 03:52:59 pm

  3. THANK YOU so much for this. Google needs to thank you also, because literally the only reason I didn’t switch from firefox was that I couldn’t play netflix instant videos on Chrome. Now with Chromeflix, I’ve totally made the switch to Chrome, deleted firefox off of my mac.
    Anonymous at 03/16/2010 12:20:05 am

  4. Though I have only tested on 10.6, this should work on any OS capable of running Chrome (dev or beta). The app, ChromeFlix, is simply a wrapper around the command also mentioned here in the article. Quit Chrome. Start a Terminal. Enter the command and test it that way.
    Steven at 04/12/2010 07:54:40 am

  5. You forgot the final quote mark the whole command should be:

    open /Applications/Google\\ –args -user-agent=”Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_5_3; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.1 9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.2.1 Safari/525.19″

    All the best!

    Joe H at 04/12/2010 08:06:37 pm

  6. Thanks this si working out great for me! Now only if Firebug could be fully ported over to Chrome I would only need one browser!
    Hungrysquirrel at 05/01/2010 09:58:26 am

  7. Good catch! And thanks for posting that here. If people want, I can package up that Leopard version in an App Wrapper too.
    Steven at 05/06/2010 06:34:31 am

  8. I am no expert on the alias command, and I’m a little confused. Since it is typically enclosed in quotation marks, and there already are quotations within the command, could you please spell out how the shortcut should look like in .profile or .cshrc? Thanks!
    JmS at 05/08/2010 11:55:31 pm

  9. Enclose it in single quotes. This is how it looks in my .profile:

    alias netflix=’open /Applications/Google\\ –args -user-agent=”Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_5_3; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.2.1 Safari/525.19″‘
    Steven at 05/18/2010 11:38:01 am

  10. I am new to Mac’s and love them. When I mean new I mean NEW! My question is: could making chrome appear to be safari could be bad in some cases? I dont want chrome with a identity complex do I?

    Thank you for helping me understand.
    Lee at 07/13/2010 10:51:56 am

  11. No, it won’t cause a problem, Chrome and Safari use the same rendering engine. And, since you will only start Chrome with ChromeFlix when you want to watch netflix, it won’t affect you the rest of the time.
    Steven at 07/13/2010 02:19:30 pm

  12. Hi Steve, I think there’s a mistake in the leopard package. It wasn’t working for me, but once I went into the script file (Contents>Resources>script) and removed the “open” at the beginning of the script it started working fine. (I’m running 10.5.8).

    Thanks for putting this together.
    Malcolm at 07/20/2010 09:59:40 am

  13. I would need confirmation on this from another 10.5.x user since it seems to work as is for previous downloaders.

    Thanks for the info though!
    Steven at 07/22/2010 01:31:59 am

  14. Malcolm is correct. I’m using 10.5.8, and as I don’t normally use Macs (this is a roommate’s computer) I was stumped on how to fix the problem. When I first downloaded the file, it opened for a microsecond then closed again without ever launching the Chrome window. When I removed the “open” from the script file, it worked as intended.

    Thanks for this!
    BlueWeaselBreath at 07/23/2010 06:58:21 pm

  15. Another 10.5.8 user here, and I had the same results as Malcolm. ChromeFlix would open, but it wouldn’t cause Chrome to start up. Removing ‘open’ from the script file resolved the issue, and I’m watching Netflix problem-free now 🙂
    Jonathan at 07/25/2010 12:58:56 am

  16. Hi Steve:
    I can confirm that (1) your non-Snow, Leopard version has the “open” command in the script, (2) it does not work as advertised on 10.5.8, (2) that if you delete the “open” command it works like a charm. Thanks for your work, but you might want to delete that “open” command.
    R. Kevin Hill at 08/01/2010 06:56:57 am

  17. Just wanted to thank you for this. I’ve been using Chrome for a few months now, and whenever I want to watch instant watch I have to open Firefox. I saw this fix floating around, but never knew how to implement it on the Mac. Worked great once I realized that I had to move Chrome to my app folder.
    dougefresh91 at 08/24/2010 04:30:14 pm

  18. when i try and open Chromeflix, it says it cannot be opened because security settings wont allow a program to be downloaded from a unidentified developer

    1. Chromeflix was written before apps on Mac needed to be signed. I am not sure if it will work on newer versions of the OS (the flags may have changed). Go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and choose Allow apps downloaded from: Anywhere (at least temporarily).

  19. so basically, my netflix movies are playing, but theyre playing real choppy as opposed to me playing them on safari, any explanation for that?

    1. Jeff, ChromeFlix is NOT meant for use with current versions of Chrome or OSX. The fault it fixes was at NetFlix’s end. Chrome was always able to play NetFlix video. ChromeFlix makes Chrome pretend that it is Safari, so old versions of NetFlix would not say that Chrome was an unsupported browser. If I had to guess about why Chrome is choppy on your machine, I would probably think it had something to do with the fact that Chrome on OSX is still 32-bit and cannot address all of your system memory. Ask Google when they plan on releasing a 64-bit version.

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