How to tell if Netflix, HBO, Disney+, or other streaming service is actually displaying 4K or 1080p video on a Fire TV or Firestick

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.

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35 comments
  1. Billy Burnett says:

    I’m using a new 4K FS. Where do I find the Developer Menu. I’m looking under Developer Options. I don’t see a menu. Where is it

    • Asa smith says:

      You might have to download it. Go to search and type developer tools menu. I had to download it.

    • L3YTB says:

      Fire TV’s Developer Tools Menu
      On the directional pad, press and hold the Center button for a second; then (still holding down Center), press the Down button too. Hold both buttons for about 3-4 seconds. Then release both buttons and press the remote’s Menu button.

    • You open the developer menu by holding the remote button combination explained in the article above. Like others have said, there is also this app that you can download https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0778BRZM7/?tag=aftvn-20 but you don’t actually need it. All that app does is act as a shortcut to the developer menu that is already on the device.

    • Steve says:

      You Clearly didn’t read the article did you? If you did you’d see that’s not even close to where you find it. Read the article again and follow the instructions. ‍♂️

  2. TechyChris says:

    Is this a “full service” developers menu akin to Android TV or is this more of a “view only” menu? I am not a proponent of messing around with system settings (especially when you don’t know their intended function) but one feature on the ATV Developer’s Menu I like is the ability to limit running background processes, I think it helps stabilize a device with limited RAM.

  3. Jorgen says:

    Hi Elias, great tip thank you. Is there any way to check the audio? Like DD, DD+, 2.0, 5.1, Dolby Atmos etc?

  4. Eliberto Roman says:

    YouTube should have a video for this subject.

  5. VV says:

    You can download the developer tools menu app instead of pressing the buttons.

  6. Rob Lopez says:

    How can we do this on a Chromecast woth Google TV?

  7. Andrew Perriman says:

    How do I get the full 4k ultra HD on TV

  8. Frank says:

    I tried the center+down buttons followed by the menu button, many many times, and absolutely nothing happens. Any other key combos that actually work?

    • Jeff says:

      Same here, doesn’t work at all.

    • L3YTB says:

      Try this worked for me

      On the directional pad, press and hold the Center button for a second; then (still holding down Center), press the Down button too. Hold both buttons for about 3-4 seconds. Then release both buttons and press the remote’s Menu button.

  9. Fru says:

    Tried this over and over like a hundred times it doesn’t work, now how about taking this bs down and putting something up that works

    • Fru says:

      This is the proper way

      On the directional pad, press and hold the Center button for a second; then (still holding down Center), press the Down button too. Hold both buttons for about 3-4 seconds. Then release both buttons and press the remote’s Menu button. (If this doesn’t work, try holding Center and Down simultaneously instead of staggered.)

    • Jadykaijai says:

      Use the search tool and key in “Deve , and the app comes up.
      No worries…

  10. Oscar says:

    Once displayed, will it disappear or still during the film?

  11. Frank Nitty says:

    Hey Elias, I heard you were back and that you left Amazon. What happened? I thought you would’ve retired from working for them.

  12. Juan C Figueroa says:

    What a good bitrate suppose to be? I can’t see higher bitrates in Netflix, but with Vudu yes.

  13. Anthony says:

    I feel like disney+ doesn’t even look like 4k on the movies/shows.

  14. David Charles says:

    This is a good way to confirm for sure, but the streaming services will show on the launch page for the show what resolution you’ll get like UHD or HD.

    • The problem with that is that the streaming service will list the maximum resolution you can get for a specific video, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will get that max resolution. For example, if a video is available in 4K/UHD, but your internet speed is too slow, the streaming service will likely serve you a 1080p or 720p version, even though the video you selected is available in 4K. The method in this post will show you exactly what resolution you are being served at any given moment.

      • David Charles says:

        On Disney Plus if I go to the show details tab it shows that is available in 4k, but on the main tab it says I only get HD. I think that’s the opposite of what you are saying. On Amazon is says UHD. When I run this test, it confirms it.

  15. Ujn Hunter says:

    Streaming 4K has never been a good experience for me, even with maximum bandwidth and a wired connection… there is always artifacts and a “pop in” (video game term) effect because of the dynamic resolution baloney. Wish there was a way to pre-download 4K content instead of “stream” it, but it’s 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray or bust for me. Speaking of which Mulan came in the mail today, finally. Thanks Disney for leaving your highest paying customers for last.

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