9 Hacks to Get the Most Out of HBO Max

Illustration: by Martin Gee

It’s pretty remarkable that HBO — a longtime subscription-based television network specializing in prestige, occasionally porny dramas — has entered the monoculture. HBO Max is downright vital, equipped with one of the most substantial archives on the internet (The Sopranos, True Detective, Silicon Valley) and a ton of Zeitgeist-y event programming (Mare of Easttown being the most recent example).

And like every other streaming apparatus, Max has a bevy of features unique to its own format, so we’ve detailed a few tips that everyone should know to get the most out of their subscription.

1. Set Up a Child Filter

Pretty much every streaming service has some childblock apparatus, but those concerns are perhaps most pressing when it comes to HBO. Between Sex and the City and Euphoria, there’s plenty of content on the platform that elementary-age kids don’t need to be watching. Tap the “Switch Profiles” button, and then select “Add Kid.” From there, you can set up a pin that allows users to switch to a kinder, gentler version of HBO at any moment. Someday the juveniles in the household will acquaint themselves within the many different types of guys that populate Carrie Bradshaw’s New York, but not yet.

2. Purge Your “Continue Watching” Section

Did the first episode of Mare of Easttown not grab you? Are you tired of seeing Kate Winslett’s steel -eyed look in your “Continue Watching” bar on the homepage? Don’t worry, smash that “Edit” button and customers can finetune the back-catalogue to their liking. Admit it, you weren’t ever going to finish that Sopranos rewatch anyway.

3. Make Sure HBO Max Knows What You Like

Speaking of which, HBO customers can also tap the “Add” (or “+” button on mobile devices) to keep tabs on all the shows and movies they’ve been meaning to get to. They’ll be hosted on the app, so you don’t have to trawl through the index to find whatever piqued your interest. Obviously, we all know that we’ll be meaning to get to most of that content until we’re dead and buried. But it’s a nice thought, nonetheless!

4. Keep Your Account Clean of Interlopers

Did you go over to a friend’s house and sign into your HBO Max on their Firestick? Did you forget to sign out before coming home, thereby giving another household free access to your hard-earned content? Don’t fret, simply navigate to “Manage Devices” and take sight of every device currently signed into your account. From there, customers can kick off the random iPads and Androids that are siphoning off John Oliver episodes.

5. Download Episodes for Later

Pretty much every streaming service comes equipped with the ability to download episodes for offline viewing. On HBO Max, you’ll see the option listed prominently on each episode’s menu. Click it, wait for the transfer to complete, and enjoy season one of Succession on your next cross-country flight. (Downloads automatically expire after a 30-day period.)

6. And Make Sure They’re in HD!

In HBO Max’s settings bar, you can adjust the quality of those downloads. “Highest Quality” will ensure that you’ll get the full HD cuts of each episode you save. But go ahead and select the lower tiers if you want to fit more space on your tablet, or if you simply want to relive HBO’s ’90s peak in its original format.

7. Take the Steps to Keep Your Phone Bill Manageable

Look, we’ve all been there. Sometimes you’re stuck on a bus, ambiently watching Big Mouth on your phone, only to get a rude awakening a month later when your data charge is in the four figures. If you’re not disciplined enough to only stream when connected to Wi-Fi, the HBO Max’s “Video Options” menu lets any customer restrict the app from playing content while roaming the planet. Just bring a book or something next time.

8. Watch Anime in Japanese

Not to wade into the eternal subs versus dubs debate, but all of the anime on HBO Max defaults to the versions recorded with English voice actors. If you want to be a grown-up, click the language tab on the episodes and switch to Japanese with English subtitles. Voila, now you can avoid some of the cringeworthy American voice-actor mewling that embarrassed millions of kids in front of their parents during their afternoon Toonami binge.

9. Always Know What’s Coming and Going

Is there anything worse than jumping back into a streaming service, only to see that whatever you were watching has been pruned from the platform? It’s kinda like trying to go to Chick-Fil-A on a Sunday. Thankfully, if you go to the settings bar and enable HBO Max’s newsletter, you’ll receive ticker-tape updates on the comings and goings of the catalogue. Never again will you be shocked by the sudden disappearance of A Star Is Born!

9 Hacks to Get the Most Out of HBO Max