It's one of the mysteries of the internet: you can download Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ shows on your iPad or iPhone, and even a Windows PC, but you cannot download content from these services on a Mac.
You can watch Netflix, and Disney+ content on your Mac, to do so you just need to log on to the website of each service. But downloading is forbidden (and if you see a service that seems to suggest it will allow you to do this then it may well be malware!)
If you just wanted to download some movies to watch on your Mac during a long train journey, or an international flight, this will no doubt be frustrating. Your only option might seem to be to find content on Apple TV+ or use Apple's own iTunes Store, where you can rent or buy movies or TV shows, and download them to your Mac. But why pay when you could get them for free on one of these popular subscription services?
Unfortunately there is only one option if you want to download content from Netflix, Amazon or Disney+ and watch it offline: you need to download it on your iPhone or iPad.
Can AirPlay help?
You might be wondering whether you could then use AirPlay to stream the content from your iPhone or iPad to the bigger screen on your Mac. AirPlay is Apple's solution for streaming from your Mac, iPad or iPhone to a TV screen.
You might be forgiven for thinking it would be possible to stream content from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac's screen using AirPlay. After all, AirPlay is available on all three devices. However, right now it is not possible to use AirPlay to stream content from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac's display.
This is set to change very soon when iOS 15 arrives on the iPhone, iPadOS 15 on the iPad, and Monterey on the Mac. When the new operating systems launch later in 2021 you should be able to use AirPlay to send content to your Mac from an iPhone, iPad, or another Mac. You will also be able to use your Mac as an AirPlay speaker.
That will not work with every Mac though. If your Mac is pre-2018 you will not be able to enjoy the new feature. You'll need a MacBook Pro (2018 and later), MacBook Air (2018 and later), iMac (2019 and later), iMac Pro (2017), Mac mini (2020 and later), Mac Pro (2019), and an iPhone 7 and later, iPad Pro (2nd generation and later), iPad Air (3rd generation and later), iPad (6th generation and later), or iPad mini (5th generation and later). If your iPhone, iPad or Mac is older it may still be possible to share content at a lower resolution if you set 'Allow AirPlay for' to 'Everyone' or 'Anyone on the same network'.
Whether this upcoming change will make it possible to stream downloaded Netflix, Amazon or Disney+ shows from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac remains to be seen. Even if AirPlay works from iPhone to Mac it still could be violating Netflix's terms and conditions if you play downloaded content on your Mac, and this could lead to termination of your subscription.
While you wait for the new operating systems to arrive, there are other ways to stream from an iOS device to a Mac, but you will need to install an app on your Mac. For example, AirServer (£/$14.99) or Reflector (£16.01/$14.99) are two Mac apps that can be used to stream content from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac. We have a separate article about streaming from iPhone or iPad to Mac.