How to enable HDR Playback for Video Streaming apps in Windows 10

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a term which is very common among mobile devices. When you take a picture using HDR the images come out very clear, dark doesn’t look very dark, and bright parts are not overexposed. The same thing is applicable to videos, and in a similar way, the output quality of video looks much balanced.

Windows 10 supports HDR videos which make sure that when you use a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, and others services which have apps on Windows deliver you the quality that you expect.  That said, to experience HDR you need to have a display which supports HDR as well. So if you are buying a new one, ask if the TV supports HDR, else you will have to check if your existing monitor or TV has HDR.

If you have an HDR display or monitor, you can make use of Windows 10 HDR support to enjoy streaming from apps like Netflix, Hulu, etc. In this post, we will learn how you can check, enable and troubleshoot streaming HDR playback.

Enable HDR playback in Windows 10

Enable HDR playback in Windows 10

You can turn on HDR support on Windows 10 to enjoy HDR gaming & video streaming from apps like Netflix, Hulu, etc. Let us see how to check, enable & troubleshoot HDR playback.

  • First, make sure you have closed the Settings menu in case its open. Second, disconnect from the external display, if available.
  • Now, open Settings > Apps > Video Playback.
  • Look for a toggle which says Stream HDR Video. Can you turn it on or off? If yes, your Windows 10 PC can play HDR on that monitor.
  • You can also calibrate the display by following the link under it.

In case you cannot, it means your display is not optimized for HDR video.

Please note, that even if your monitor doesn’t support HDR, you can choose to turn on Automatically process video to enhance it. In case you have a decent graphics card, this will help. Additionally, check the box which says Allow video to play at a lower resolution to save bandwidth.

Find out if an external display is optimized for HDR video

In case you don’t have HDR in your primary monitor but have an HDR monitor, this is what you should do.

  1. Connect your external display to your Windows 10 PC
  2. Open Settings  > System  > Display.
  3. Select the Display, and then look for an option which says  “HDR and advanced color” 
  4. If you can toggle it, it means it is supported on the external display.

Now here is my tip. If you have one video which is a standard monitor or SDR, and other HDR, always stream those apps on the HDR display. If you play it on SDR, it will switch, and to get back to HDR, you will have to restart the app on second display.

Display Requirements for HDR video playback

The display requirements for HDR video in Windows 10 is as follows:

  • The built-in display needs to able to display 300 nits or more.
  • The Windows 10 device needs to have an integrated graphics card that supports PlayReady hardware digital rights management (for protected HDR content), and it must have the required codecs installed for 10-bit video decoding.

Troubleshoot Streaming HDR Video

That said, if everything is HDR for you, and it still doesn’t work. Check these off your list.

  • HDR streaming happens only when the app goes full screen.
  • In case its a laptop, make sure its plugged in. HDR is heavy when it comes to power and bandwidth. However, if you are confident enough, clear the option which says  Don’t stream HDR video when on battery checkbox on the Video playback settings page.
  • If you are running low on power, Battery saver will usually activate. This will make sure HDR is disabled as well. If you wish to stream HDR even on low battery, Go to  Settings > System > Battery > clear the checkbox which says Lower screen brightness while in battery saver.

This should take care of setting up HDR on Windows 10. Always make sure where you are using HDR, how much battery you have left, and keep a tab on your bandwidth if you have one which is limited.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments.

Now read: How to Calibrate the display for HDR video in Windows 10.

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Ashish is a veteran Windows, and Xbox user who excels in writing tips, tricks, and features on it to improve your day to day experience with your devices.