How to Download Amazon Prime Movies and TV Shows for Offline Watching

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We’ve all been there before: you’ve got a long road trip coming up, a tablet or mobile device that you love to watch movies on, and the prospect of long gaps between reliable Wi-Fi service. What’s a traveler to do? Well, fear not fellow road warrior, because unlike Netflix or Hulu, Amazon Prime is a video service that will actually allow you to download their streaming content locally to your device’s hard drive.

In case your trip involves any points where you predict you might lose cellular service or fall out of range of a wireless router, this is a feature which can prove especially useful for keeping family members entertained in the car, or adding a little extra entertainment to your next 18-hour flight from Hong Kong.

Installing the Amazon Video App

As you’ll read shortly, while actually downloading the content you want to your device is a pretty simple task, in classic Amazon style, the process of actually getting the Prime app to work on your device is a whole separate trial altogether. For iOS users the process is thankfully straightforward, only a matter of finding the Amazon Video app in the app store, downloading/installing it, and logging in to a Prime-active account.

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For Android on the other hand, users must first download Amazon’s proprietary App Store as an individual .apk file (from the link found here).

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Once that’s installed, Prime members then have to search for the Amazon Video App inside Amazon’s App Store to install it as a standalone application.

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And only after all these hoops are jumped through, you’ll finally be able to access Prime and Amazon Instant Video content. Keep in mind that as both of these are individual .apk files which are unavailable through Google Play’s main store, you will have to enable third-party software installations from your main Settings menu to get them working properly.

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The app will automatically take you there if the option isn’t enabled, but if you wish to do so manually, you can find the toggle under Settings –> Security.

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It is not recommended that you keep this setting turned on for a second longer than you have to to get Amazon Video running, as many Android-based malware and virus campaigns will use this security hole to deliver malicious packages to your mobile phone or tablet.

Once this is complete, if all went according to plan the Amazon Video App should pop up with your Amazon login, and now you can find the movie or TV show you want to watch on the go.

Downloading Content

After all the complexities of getting Amazon Prime Video app running on your device are taken care of, the act of downloading the shows you want is actually pretty simple. From the main page, either tap into or search for the program you want to store on your phone or tablet.

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Once the show (or movie) hub is up, you should see a small icon next to each episode that looks something like the box highlighted below:

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Click this and the content will automatically begin downloading to your device, where you’ll be able to track its progress via the Android notification center.

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This process is the same on either Android or your iOS device, but the DRM for each piece of media can vary depending on the license holder and Amazon’s copyright terms.

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Amazon Prime-exclusive shows will generally play on a device for a period of 30-days before you need to reconnect to the servers to refresh the license, while newer movies from the big studios may only last a week before you’re required to check back in with the company’s servers.

While the download is active, you’ll see a small bar of text pop up underneath it that includes “Download Options”.

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In this menu you’ll be able to pause or cancel the download, as well as change the quality of what you’re downloading if available space on your storage drive is running at a premium. These settings range from Amazon’s arbitrary measurement of “good” to “better” to “best”, the bitrate of which will differ depending on the device you’re watching from.

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If you want to delete a show you’ve already downloaded and watched, once it’s on the device, any local content will appear with a “trashcan” icon next to it in the Amazon Video App. Tap this, and your storage space will be automatically freed up.

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In a perfect world, we’d always have a strong, reliable, and cheap Internet connection no matter where we’re traveling to. For the one we actually live in though, there’s still plenty of ways you can be sure that you never miss a minute of your favorite TV shows or movies while you’re away from home.

Image Credits: Amazon Prime

Chris Stobing is a writer and blogger from the heart of Silicon Valley. Raised around tech from birth, he's had an interest in PC hardware and networking technology for years, and has come to How-To Geek to contribute his knowledge on both. You can follow him on Twitter here.