How and Where to Watch Movies Online for Free
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It’s no secret that paid TV services are expensive. That’s why, between 2012-2017, 10 million people decided to cut cable.
If you’re one of the people who gave up traditional cable but still want to watch TV, know that you still have options. There are plenty of free movie websites for you to access that will replace those paid services, so there’s no need to stress about missing out on your favorite or must-see movies.
And while there’s always a concern that if you’re streaming content, it’s a bootleg rather than legitimate copy, there are plenty of lawful websites available to watch free streaming movies online.
12 Best Websites to Watch Movies and TV Shows for Free
Not all of the top free movie websites are the same. Some require you to watch a lot of ads or have inconvenient features. Still, it’s usually a small price to pay since you won’t have to worry about your cable bill anymore.
1. Amazon Prime Video
Membership in Amazon Prime isn’t free ($119 per year, or $12.99 per month), but if you’re already a member, you can also watch many movies and TV shows for free. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial and watch unlimited free movies for the next month.
Pros: Amazon Prime Video features a larger library of movies than any other free movie streaming website. If you’re looking for a specific title, chances are you’ll be able to find it already included with your membership for free on Amazon Prime Video. Even if you can’t, you can often pay a small fee of around $3.99 to rent it. The video quality is excellent, and there are no commercials. Amazon also produces a lot of original content, including several popular titles such as The Boys, Good Omens, and The Man in the High Castle.
Cons: You’ll need to purchase an Amazon Prime membership first.
Popcornflix is one of the most popular truly free streaming website services.
Pros: Popcornflix features a smooth, easy-to-navigate interface, and there is no need to create an account or login. You can begin watching movies within “two clicks” of arriving on-site, as Popcornflix advertises. Families will also appreciate PopcornflixKids, which features only child-appropriate shows.
Cons: Popcornflix features an impressive amount of free movies, although some categories are somewhat limited. For example, you can only choose from 52 options for stand-up comedy specials, and 12 of them are actually old Gallagher routines. In addition, you’ll have to watch commercials every 15 minutes or so, and the picture quality is not the greatest.
Crackle is Sony’s free movie streaming platform. It’s widely available across platforms such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, and game consoles including the Xbox One and Playstation, in addition to your regular computer browser.
Pros: Crackle has its own original shows such as Angel of Death and Throwaways, although you’re unlikely to see these shows at the Emmy Awards. You can also create an account on the platform to create a “Watch Later” list and save your progress across multiple devices, although creating an account isn’t required to get started watching movies.
Cons: Crackle has periodic commercials and grainy picture quality. Finding movies in certain genres can be problematic, as there are only six categories to choose from: Action, Anime, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, and Crackle Original.
4. Facebook Watch
Facebook Watch is similar to YouTube in that users and brands can create and upload their own videos. It often winds up being a mix of random videos, but you can find some gems.
Pros: Facebook Watch does host some original shows like the TV series based on the Facebook page Humans of New York or Sacred Lies, a drama about a teen who mysteriously escapes a cult.
Cons: Just like YouTube, anyone can create and upload videos. However, the quality is lackluster and consists primarily of funny clips of kids and cats, unless you intentionally seek out one of Facebook Watch’s original programs. Don’t expect to find any full-length movies on here, either. You will need a Facebook account to view these shows.
Most people are familiar with YouTube and know that you can watch illegally-uploaded movies on the platform. However, you can still use the platform to watch legal versions of movies and original content.
Pros: It’s not widely advertised, but you can buy access to affordable copies of movies through the YouTube Movies & Shows section of the website. For example, you can rent Men in Black: International for $5.99. YouTube also offers a limited selection of about 200 free movies, such as Super Size Me and Dances With Wolves. YouTube does create its own original content, although only some of it is available to people without a YouTube Premium membership.
Cons: You’ll need to put up with frequent ads if you view one of YouTube’s free movies. If you want to avoid the commercials and view the full range of original content that YouTube offers, you’ll need to purchase a YouTube Premium membership for $11.99 per month. However, this does come with a free one-month trial so you can try it before signing up.
Yidio isn’t actually a free movie website at all. Rather, it’s an aggregator website that shows you where you can watch specific movies if you already have one in mind.
Pros: If you really want to view a specific movie, Yidio is a great website to check first to see if it’s available for free on an existing platform. Even if you’re browsing, you can choose to show only free movies, and Yidio has an extensive list of categories that you can browse to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Cons: Although Yidio itself is free to use, oftentimes it’ll point you to paid services such as Netflix or Hulu to watch a specific show or movie.
SnagFilms isn’t as well-known, but it still deserves a try especially if you’re browsing without a specific title in mind.
Pros: SnagFilms features an entirely free library of over 2,000 titles, mostly movies, and sorted among a wide range of categories including Festival Favorites, Celebrity Stories, and LGBT, among the more common selections. This platform also features fewer advertisements compared to other free movie websites.
Cons: If you’re looking for a specific title, you probably won’t find it here. SnagFilms features mostly offbeat, lesser-known movies and shows rather than blockbusters. And while the video quality is generally quite good with high-definition streaming available, you may experience frequent problems with buffering.
Vudu is Walmart’s ala carte movie streaming service. There are no subscription fees, but you do pay a small fee for what you want to watch. Vudu offers an entire section on its website for free movies.
Pros: Vudu offers a large number of movies for free. You can also sort out these movies quite easily, such as by release year, Rotten Tomatoes score, and even the production studio. Unlike many free movie websites, Vudu is also constantly adding new free movies to the mix.
Cons: You’ll need to create an account and watch periodic ads in order to access the free content.
Tubi is one of the largest free movie websites available. If you haven’t heard of it yet, consider checking out this website.
Pros: Tubi features over 12,000 movies and TV shows to watch. In fact, the company boasts that its catalogue is twice the size of Netflix. It’s also relatively easy to browse niche topics, including unique categories as “Full Moon Features” and “Not On Netflix.”
Cons: Like many other free streaming websites, Tubi makes its money by showing commercials throughout the movies. It also doesn’t feature as many new releases or blockbusters as some other websites. While there are plenty of movies to watch, don’t expect to find a ton of newer, high-dollar productions.
10. Free Movies Cinema
Free Movies Cinema is one of the lesser-known names among free movie streaming sites, but if you want to watch a movie without a specific title in mind, it’s a good choice.
Pros: There are no ads and no registration is needed to view these movies.
Cons: All of the movies available are off-beat titles that you’ve probably never heard of before, such as The Fast and the Furious (1955), and Born of Hope, a pre-Lord of the Rings fan film. The user interface is also a little clunky and it’s hard to browse movies due to the small small thumbnails and poorly-designed website. And, even though the website is titled Free Movies Cinema, some movies or shows require payment to watch such as the series Origin.
11. Top Documentary Films
Documentaries are particularly easy to come by on free movie streaming platforms.However if you’re particularly fond of this genre, we recommend this website.
Pros: For true lovers of learning, Top Documentary Films offers the best way to view a range of documentaries. You can view a list of the Top 100 Documentaries on the site, or view by particular sub-genre such as Science or History. There aren’t any commercials, and you don’t need to subscribe to anything. Each documentary is also accompanied by a detailed write-up.
Cons: Top Documentary Films doesn’t host any of its own movies on the website. Rather, it’s an aggregation site that embeds documentaries hosted on other websites, such as YouTube. There isn’t anything available here you can’t find elsewhere for free, although, since they’re all in one place, it does make it easier to find documentaries in one place. The video quality can also vary a lot from documentary to documentary, depending on where and how they are originally hosted.
12. The Roku Channel
Roku is one of the most popular devices for streaming online content to your TV, but it also has a lesser-known Roku TV channel of its own.
Pros: If you have a Roku device, it probably came pre-loaded with this streaming movie channel that offers an impressive selection of 10,000 free titles. You don’t necessarily need to buy a Roku device to get access to the channel since it’s also available on the web, but it is easier to navigate The Roku Channel’s offerings on the device.
Cons: The Roku channel doesn’t have the latest box-office hits. You’ll also have to deal with commercials, although as the company points out, they are far fewer in number than on traditional ad-supported TV.
Free Movie Site FAQs
Watching free movies is a potentially tricky area, and people often have a lot of questions. Here are some of the most common.
Is it safe and legal to watch movies online for free?
It depends on which website you use. Many free movie websites host pirated movie copies, and oftentimes malware and other viruses can sneak in with the files you’re watching.
That’s why it’s important to only stick with reputable websites such as the ones we’ve listed, rather than googling how to watch your favorite movie for free and picking a random option.
Similarly, never give a website your credit card number unless you’re sure it’s a legitimate site, such as Netflix or Amazon.
How do the sites pick the movies available?
Some of the larger free movie streaming websites make deals directly with the production companies that distribute them. Other websites seem to offer a hodgepodge of assorted videos, with no explained reason as to why they picked what’s available.
Do I have to sign up to watch movies for free?
Some free movie websites like Facebook Watch and Amazon Video require you to register your account before you can access the free movies. You can watch others, like The Roku Channel and Top Documentary Films, without having to sign up first.
Make sure you never give a free streaming movie platform your credit card number unless you’re absolutely sure it’s a legitimate website.
Avoid Free Movie Download Sites and Bootleg Copies
Free movie download sites allow you to download pirated movie copies directly to your computer, but you can potentially face stiff fines for doing so. It’s unlikely that the government would come after every single person doing this individually, as users of Napster and Limewire may remember, but it’s still better to be on the right side of the law.
Besides, there are other pitfalls of downloading bootleg copies of movies. These sites are often run by criminals, and many of these files contain viruses and malware that can infect your computer and put you at further risk.
This is why it’s best to play it safe and stick with the reputable movie streaming websites that we’ve outlined here. By streaming the movies from reputable sites you’re not downloading or using pirated copies, so there’s no risk of infecting your computer with malware or viruses.
There Are Other Ways to Watch Movies for Free (Or at Low Cost)
Free movie websites aren’t the only place to find movies. If you’re looking for a unique title that’s hard to find, chances are it’ll be easier for you to find it through another route. Libraries are a particularly great place to find free movies. Even if your library doesn’t have the title you want in hand, you can often request it through the Interlibrary Loan feature.
Similarly, you can often sign up for free trials of websites like Netflix and Hulu. You can use these trial periods to see if the service offers the type of movies you like to watch, and if it does, these are low-cost entertainment options.
Finding free or low-cost options for movies might take a bit more workaround than simply purchasing an expensive DVD, but in most cases, you’ll be able to find whatever you’re looking for.