Playback options and settings

There are a number of playback options available in HBO Max.

Which device are you using?

To see your playback options, tap the screen when you're watching something.

Play/Pause

Tap the Play/Pause button (middle of the screen) to toggle between play and pause.

Skip/Forward

Tap the skip button beside the Play/Pause button to skip forward or backwards 15 seconds.

Progress bar

The progress bar shows you where you are in what you’re watching. You can tap anywhere on the bar, or tap and drag your location (the dot). The elapsed time appears in the left corner and the total time appears in the right corner.

Volume

To adjust the volume, use the volume buttons on your phone or tablet.

Picture in Picture (iOS only)

You can use Picture in Picture to watch HBO Max while you use other apps on your iPad or iPhone. Picture in Picture is available on the following devices:

  • Apple iPad (with iOS 9+)
  • Apple iPhone (with iOS 14+)

Here’s how to use Picture in Picture:

  1. When you're watching something, swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen (the Go Home gesture on iOS). What you’re streaming shrinks and continues to play.
  2. Start another app. When you do this, the playback window stays on top.
  3. Tap the Play icon (triangle) to continue watching.

To learn more, see Picture in Picture on iPad or Picture in Picture on iPhone.

Pinch to Zoom

TYou can use the Pinch-to-Zoom gesture to make shows and movies fill the screen on your Android or iOS device. To do this, move 2 fingers apart to zoom in and together to zoom out.

Watching shows and movies while zoomed in may cause the video to appear cropped.

Options at the top right of the screen

Chromecast

Tap the Google Cast button to stream HBO Max from your phone or tablet to your TV. To learn more, see Cast to your TV using Chromecast.

AirPlay (iOS only)

Tap the AirPlay button to stream HBO Max from your iOS device to your AirPlay-2 compatible device. To learn more, see Stream using AirPlay.

Subtitles, captions, and alternate audio

Tap the Audio and Subtitles button (speech bubble) to customize the subtitles, captions, or audio track. To learn more, see Subtitles, captions, and alternate audio.

Streaming over a mobile network

If you have a 3G or faster cellular connection, you can stream HBO Max over your cellular network using your mobile data. However, because streaming video uses a large amount of data you might want to limit streaming to WiFi connections.

To limit streaming over a cellular network:

  1. Open HBO Max your phone or tablet, tap the Profile icon (sign in if needed).
  2. Tap the Settings icon (upper left) and then Video Options.
  3. To limit streaming to WiFi connections, turn on Stream Over WiFi Only.
    If you would like to get a warning before streaming over your cellular network, turn on Cellular Streaming Warning.

To see your playback options, click the screen when you're watching something.

Options at the bottom of the screen

Play/Pause

Click the Play/Pause button (along the bottom) to toggle between play and pause. You can also press the Spacebar.

Skip/Forward

Click the skip button beside the Play/Pause button to skip forward or backwards 15 seconds.

Progress bar

The progress bar shows you where you are in what you’re watching. You can click anywhere on the bar, or click and drag your location (the dot). The elapsed time appears in the lower-left corner followed by the total time.

Chromecast

Click the Google Cast button to stream HBO Max from your computer to your TV. To learn more, see Cast to your TV using Chromecast.

Volume

To adjust the volume, hover your mouse over the Sound button (lower right) and then click and drag the sound level (the dot) on the volume bar.

To mute the volume, click the Sound button (lower right). To unmute, click the button again (the volume returns to the previous level).

You can also use the volume controls on your computer.

Subtitles, captions, and alternate audio

Click the Audio and Subtitles button (speech bubble) to customize the subtitles, captions, or audio track. To learn more, see Subtitles, captions, and alternate audio.

Full screen

Click the Full-screen button (lower right) to expand what you're streaming. To exit full screen, click the button again or press the Esc key.

Here are the playback options you can adjust when watching on your TV:

Play/Pause

When you're watching something, here's how to toggle between play and pause:

Android TV

Press the D-pad center button on your Android TV remote.

Apple TV

Press the touch surface or the Play/Pause button on your Apple TV remote.

LG Smart TV

Press the D-pad center button on your LG Smart TV remote. Or, press the Play/Pause buttons below the D-pad.

PlayStation console (in select countries)

Press the X button on your PS controller.

Samsung TV

Press the D-pad center button on your Samsung TV remote.

Vodafone TV (in select countries)

Press the D-pad center button on your Vodafone TV remote. Or, press the Play/Pause button above the D-pad.

Xbox console (in select countries)

Press the A button on your Xbox controller.

Fast forward or rewind

While you’re watching something, here’s how to fast forward and rewind:

Android TV

Press and hold the D-pad right button to fast forward and the D-pad left button to rewind. Press the button again to increase the speed (up to 4x) and press the opposite button to decrease the speed. Press the D-pad center button to resume playback.

Skip Forward/Backwards

Press the D-pad left or right button to skip forward or backwards 15 seconds.

Apple TV

Press and hold the left or right side of the touch surface to fast forward or rewind (on your Apple TV remote).

Skip Forward/Backwards

Press the left or right side of the touch surface to skip forward or backwards 10 seconds.

LG Smart TV

Press the D-pad right button to fast forward and the D-pad left button to rewind. Or, press the Forward/Rewind buttons below the D-pad. Press the button again to increase the speed (up to 4x) and press the opposite button to decrease the speed. Press the D-pad center button to resume playback.

Skip Forward/Backwards

Press the D-pad left or right button to skip forward or backwards 15 seconds.

PlayStation console (in select countries)

Press the R2 button to fast forward and the L2 button to rewind.

Samsung TV

Press the D-pad right button to fast forward and the D-pad left button to rewind. Press the button again to increase the speed (up to 4x) and press the opposite button to decrease the speed. Press the D-pad center button to resume playback.

Skip Forward/Backwards

Press the D-pad left or right button to skip forward or backwards 15 seconds.

Vodafone TV (in select countries)

Press the D-pad right button to fast forward and the D-pad left button to rewind. Or, press the Forward/Rewind buttons above the D-pad. Press the button again to increase the speed (up to 4x) and press the opposite button to decrease the speed. Press the D-pad center button to resume playback.

Skip Forward/Backwards

Press the D-pad left or right button to skip forward or backwards 15 seconds.

Xbox console (in select countries)

Press the D-pad right button to fast forward and the D-pad left button to rewind (or the Left or Right bumper).

Restart a show or movie

Apple TV

To start what you’re watching over from the beginning:

  • Press the touch surface (first-generation remote) or clickpad center (second-generation remote), and then choose From Beginning.
Other devices

To start what you're watching over from the beginning:

  1. Go back to the movie or episode description screen.
  2. Choose the Restart icon (arrow looping backwards). The show or movie will start playing from the beginning.

Progress bar

The progress bar shows you where you are in what you're watching. The elapsed time appears in the lower-right corner followed by the total time.

While you’re watching something, here’s how to use the progress bar:

Android TV

Press the D-pad center button on your remote, then press the D-pad right button to go forward and the D-pad left button to go backwards on the progress bar.

Apple TV
  • 1st Gen Remote: Press the touch surface, then swipe left or right to go forward or backwards on the progress bar.
  • 2nd Gen Remote: Press the clickpad center, then rest your finger on the edge of the clickpad until a ring icon appears on screen, then rotate clockwise to go forward or counter-clockwise to go backwards.
LG Smart TV

Press and hold the D-pad right to go forward and the D-pad left to go backwards on the progress bar.

PlayStation console (in select countries)

Press the X button on your controller, then press the L1 button to go backwards and the R1 button to go forward on the progress bar.

Samsung TV

Press the D-pad center button on your remote, then press the D-pad right button to go forward and the D-pad left button to go backwards on the progress bar.

Vodafone TV (in select countries)

Press and hold the D-pad right to go forward and the D-pad left to go backwards on the progress bar.

Xbox console (in select countries)

Move the Left stick on your controller, then use the Left or Right bumper to go forward or backwards on the progress bar.

Closed captions and subtitles

To learn more, see Subtitles, captions, and alternate audio.

Other playback options

Skip Intro

When you start watching something, you may see a Skip or Skip Intro button in the lower-right corner of your screen. Choose this button to skip the content that plays before your show or movie

There are two skip buttons:

  • Skip Intro: Skips ahead to the last second of the introduction.
  • Skip: Skips ahead to the last second of the promotional trailer or episode recap.

Why is the Skip Intro button missing?

The Skip Intro feature isn't available for all shows and movies just yet. Over time, we'll be adding the Skip Intro feature to more and more content.

Get the Skip Intro button back

The Skip Intro button disappears in 5-7 seconds. To bring back the button, tap or click the screen on your device.

Skip took me to the wrong spot

If Skip takes you to the wrong spot (not just before the start of a show or movie), please let us know using our Feedback form.

Video Quality

HBO Max automatically adjusts the video quality based on your network bandwidth and connection speed. Most shows and movies are available in high definition (HD). Manual video quality settings are not currently available.

If your network bandwidth is too low or the connection speed fluctuates, you might get a lower resolution video. If this happens, see Video buffers or pauses.

Why are there black bars around the video

Some HBO Max shows and movies may have black bars or letterboxing along the edges of the video. Black bars are used when the aspect ratio that a movie or show was filmed in doesn't match the aspect ratio of your screen. Black bars are added in lieu of stretching or clipping the video.

  • Black bars above and below: This means the video was filmed with an aspect ratio that's wider than your screen.
  • Black bars on the sides: This can happen if the video was filmed with a squarish aspect ratio (for example, 4:3), and your screen is widescreen (16:9), or if your screen is ultrawide (21:9).

You can't manually adjust the aspect ratio in HBO Max to remove the black bars.