It’s sometimes hard to tell if you’re getting the maximum resolution possible out of your streaming service of choice on an Amazon Fire TV, since they all dynamically adjust the picture quality based on your available bandwidth. Whether it’s a new Fire TV Stick Lite and you’re wondering if YouTube is showing 1080p video in a kids room at the edge of your WiFi network range, or it’s Prime Video on your Fire TV Cube and want to ensure you get full 4K video for movie night on your best TV, here is how to definitively know the exact video resolution being streamed. This method works for any streaming service on any Fire TV model, be it a newer Fire TV Cube, Firestick, older Fire TV box, or Toshiba/Insignia Fire TV Edition television.
To know what video resolution is being streamed, first, open the Fire TV’s Developer Tools Menu. This is done by pressing and holding the CENTER and DOWN button on your remote for 5 seconds, then releasing both buttons and pressing the MENU button once. This can be done from anywhere on your Fire TV, even within an app. It might take a few tries to get the menu to open, but when it does it will be an overlay, like you see above, that says “Developer Tools Menu” at the top of several options. If you’re having trouble opening the menu, try holding the CENTER button first and then hold down the DOWN button a split second later, without letting go of the CENTER button. Hold them for 5 seconds and then let go of both and press the MENU button. If you are still having trouble, download this app that acts as a shortcut for the developer menu.
Once the menu is open, turn on the “Advanced Options” item. It’s the only one you need on to see the resolution of the video being played. Optionally, you can go into the “Launch Configuration Panel” and turn off “Audio Focus Stack” option at the very bottom. This will slightly reduce the amount of info on the screen, while keeping the video resolution present, so that it’s not covering up so much of the video being played. Press the HOME button or BACK button on your remote a few times to dismiss the Developer Tools Menu.
Now go into any streaming app and play a video. You’ll see that there is now a box hovering near the top right of your screen with information about the video that is currently being played. Within that box is a line labeled as “Resolution” that tells you the exact resolution of the video being played. If 4K video is playing, you should see a number close to 3840×2160. If 1080p video is playing, you should see a number close to 1920×1080, and for 720p video, you should see a number close to 1280×720.
Note that this value is the resolution of the video being played, which is different from the resolution that your TV is currently displaying. For example, your TV’s own display info menu might be telling you that the video it is receiving from the Fire TV is 4K, but if the resolution in the floating box shows a resolution of 1080p, then it means the Fire TV is upscaling the 1080p video to 4K because your streaming service is only providing 1080p video.
It’s important to note that the resolution height (i.e., the second number) will not always be 2160, 1080, or 720 even though you are actually getting 4K (2160p), Full HD (1080p), and HD (720p) video. This is because some videos, especially movies, don’t use a 16:9 aspect ratio. For example, the 1080p version of a movie using a 21:9 aspect ratio, which is very common, will usually have a resolution of 1920×800. Even though the 800 pixel height of the video, in that case, is closer to 720 than it is to 1080, you are actually getting the full width of a 1080p video, so you are actually viewing the 1080p version.
Also, remember that most streaming services will start a video at a lower resolution and then switch to the full resolution after a little while when enough of the video has had a chance to buffer. You’ll see this happen when the “Resolution” value switches in real-time while the video is playing. When you’re done checking the resolution, just bring up the Developer Tools Menu again using the same remote buttons and disabled the “Advanced Options” to make the video info box disappear.