6 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag
After decades as a premium cable channel that offered internet access to customers via HBO GO, HBO jumped into standalone streaming in 2015 with HBO Now.
But after AT&T acquired Time Warner (which owns HBO) to create WarnerMedia, the company pooled all its content resources into a new venture called HBO Max, which launched in May. You can still use HBO Now (rebranded as simply HBO), but you might as well use HBO Max because it includes HBO plus a bunch of movies and TV shows from WarnerMedia, for the same $14.99-per-month price. Existing HBO Now and HBO GO customers get HBO Max at no extra charge.
With that settled, let’s check out a few features you should know before kicking off that next binge-watch.
Control what kids see
HBO Max features content for many different age groups. While you might trust a tablet to babysit your little ones with a few episodes of Sesame Street, you probably don’t want them accidentally tuning into Game of Thrones. As such, HBO Max allows you to create kids’ profiles and determine what they’re allowed to watch. When a kid’s profile is engaged, it requires a pin to switch back to an adult profile.
To set this up, hit the profile icon on mobile or the web, and select Switch Profiles > Add Kid. You then create a PIN that authorizes you to switch back and forth. Change your four-digit PIN at any time by going to your profile and selecting Parental Controls.
Once the PIN is set, you can add a name and birthday, and choose the ratings for movies and TV (G through NC-17 and TV-Y up to TV-MA, respectively) that your child is allowed to view. If you ever need to update the restricted content, go to Switch Profiles > Manage Profiles, then select the profile in question and choose Edit Age and Parental Controls.
Save it for later
If you come across something you want to watch later, add it to your watch list. You can do this a number of ways. On the desktop, hover over any movie or series and hit the Add button. Or browse to something you want to add and choose Add to My List or Add Series to My List from its page (desktop and mobile). View everything you added by selecting your profile icon and going to My List. Content can be removed from individual pages or from the My List screen by tapping Remove.
Download for offline viewing
Like other video-streaming services, HBO Max supports downloads for offline viewing. Go to the appropriate page in the app and tap Download to save it to your device. View downloads from your profile, under the Downloads tab. Unwatched downloads expire after 30 days, and you have 48 hours to finish once you start watching. Downloads will also automatically expire when the show or movie leaves HBO Max.
Expired content can be renewed when you’re connected to the internet, and the same videos can be renewed multiple times. Just tap the expired download and select Renew for 30 Days.
Video playback options
If you have a habit of going over your monthly data limit while streaming on mobile, there are a few ways HBO Max helps you take control. Tap your profile icon and select the gear icon to view settings. Tap Video Options and set the app to only stream over Wi-Fi, only download over Wi-Fi, and set up warnings for when you’re using cellular data. You can also control download quality from this page by tapping Download Quality and choosing between highest quality or fastest download.
Erase content from ‘Continue Watching’
HBO Max wasted no time introducing a feature Netflix only recently added—control over your Continue Watching section. If you start a movie or TV series, but decide it’s not for you, you don’t want it hanging out in your Continue Watching section. Zap it by opening the profile screen and selecting Continue Watching > Edit, where you can delete individual entries or choose Clear All to wipe the slate clean.
Check out the hub
HBO Max’s top selling point is its wealth of content beyond the HBO lineup—for the same $14.99 per month as HBO Now. There’s WarnerMedia’s deep catalog of content—Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, DC, TCM, and Warner Bros.—as well as licensed media from Crunchyroll, Sesame Workshop, and Studio Ghibli. Keep it all organized in the hub. On the homepage of the mobile app and in the browser’s hamburger menu, swipe/scroll down for quick-access buttons for HBO, DC, Studio Ghibli, and more.
Watch Studio Ghibli and Crunchyroll content in Japanese
HBO Max carries Japanese-language productions from Studio Ghibli and Crunchyroll, but they will play in English by default. If you’re a Japanese speaker or want to watch in Japanese with subtitles, tap Japanese on the movie or episode page. Tap English to return to English.
See what’s new and upcoming
HBO Max makes it easy to keep tabs on new and departing shows and movies. Open the top-left hamburger menu and choose Just Added to see what was recently added to HBO Max. Select Last Chance to see what’s about to leave the service. Coming Soon offers trailers, sneak peeks, and other videos for upcoming shows and movies.
Sign out of devices
If you left your account signed in on a device that’s not yours—a friend’s phone or TV, for example, you can easily revoke access from afar. On the desktop, click your profile on the top right and select Manage Devices; on mobile, tap your profile icon > gear icon > Manage Devices. Here you’ll see all the devices currently signed into your account. Click Sign All Devices Out to wipe them all or select Sign Out to revoke access to a specific device.