Applications :: Netflix Plays Full Screen On External Monitor In Safari On Snow Leopard?

Sep 7, 2009

For the last year I have been searching for a way to play Netflix instant streaming content on my external Cinema Display connected to my iMac. Once a movie was playing full screen on the external display if you clicked on anything on the main display the movie would fall out of full screen and back to window mode. This is highly annoying and I really wanted a solution.

I ran across Plex some months back and they had a Netflix plugin which solved the problem, or so I thought. While Plex could play movies from Netflix full screen on the external display without falling out of full screen, it came with a host of compromises. The first compromise was that in Plex my instant queue never reflected what was actually in my queue. Recently I had 116 movies in my queue and Plex reported only 80 of those. Worse if one of the movies I wanted to watch was missing I would try to use Plex's Netflix search function and Plex would still not find the movie. Some titles simply could not be found through Plex, a problem the author acknowledges and says he is working on with no ETA. The other issue I have with Plex is that the fast forward and rewind functions that work so well in the Netflix browser based player do not work at all in Plex, making navigation in a movie painful within Plex.

So tonight I set out to look for an alternative to Plex, I came up empty handed. Then I had an idea, I searched my Mac for the Silverlight plugin and when I found it was greeted with a window stating that an update was available. This has happened several times before and each time I updated with the hope that Microsoft fixed the external monitor viewing problem, but it always remained. So this time I updated and proceeded to run my usual test which is to put a Firefox browser window on my external display, play a movie, and then click the full screen button. The movie went full screen which it always does, then I clicked in my other Firefox window open on my main display, as always the window on the external monitor fell out of full screen.

Dejected I went on to my second test which is to perform the exact same sequence I just described but using Safari instead of Firefox. Again it went full screen on the external display but this time something was different! The window where I clicked full screen froze and a new window opened behind it in full screen. Now I had two windows open on the external display, the smaller frozen one and a full screen one playing the movie behind it. I minimized the small window which left only the full screen one playing on the external display. Then I clicked on a window on my main display and the movie continued to play full screen on the external monitor! Thinking it was a fluke I closed Safari and tried it again, it worked perfectly!

This is awesome now I can play my Netflix movies on my external display in full screen without any issues and I have all of the features of the Netflix browser based player, in particular fast forward and rewind.

One last thing, prior to this working playback in a browser window was extremely choppy for me. Plex did not play choppy and it was another reason I was using it for playback. Now in full screen with the browser based player through Safari there is absolutely no choppiness.

Just for reference here is everything I am running:

OS X 10.6
Safari 4.0.3
Silverlight plugin 3.0.40723.0 (which interestingly is dated July 23)

Even though my system told me an update was available I am confused by the July 23 date of the plugin. Maybe it wasn't the plugin that solved this but rather my newly installed Snow Leopard in conjunction with Safari 4.0.3? Whatever the case I am thrilled to report that it finally works!

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Jun 13, 2009

... long time reader, first time poster!! So I'm doing it. I'm switching from PC to Mac. I've been waiting for a while now and the new MacBook Pro's have convinced me. I'm buying the 13 inch this week.

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