The Best Places to Watch Free Documentaries Online

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.


There are plenty of ways to watch free documentaries online. So, whether you want to watch documentaries about people, science, history, religion, art, or culture, you’ll always be able to find something on one of the following sites.

1. PBS Videos

pbs free documentaries

US network PBS has produced a stream of high-quality documentaries that you can watch online for free.

The documentary content is divided into four main categories. The categories are Arts and Music, Food, History, and Science and Nature. You can also watch some non-documentary videos in categories like Drama, Home and How To, and Public Affairs.

All of the videos are free to watch as long as you live in the United States. If you’re outside the US, you’ll need to use a VPN to be able to tune in. We recommend either CyberGhost or ExpressVPN.

2. SnagFilms

snagfilms free documentaries

SnagFilms is a must-have app for anyone who’s serious about cutting the cord. It offers more than 2,000 free documentaries, TV episodes, and original comedy shorts.

If you’re accustomed to the typical genre categories on streaming services, SnagFilms will come as a bit of a shock. Its free documentaries are in categories such as Athletes and Their Triumphs, Veterans and the Military, Before They Were Stars, Refugee and Immigrant Stories, Celebrate Pride, and Climate Change and the Environment.

However, we think the site’s decision to structure its categories in such a way is smart. It makes it much easier to find niche documentaries that you might have otherwise overlooked.

3. DocumentaryStorm

documentarystorm free documentaries

DocumentaryStorm offers a curated list of free documentary movies from other places on the web. All of the videos on the site are feature-length films, so there are no shorts or mini-documentaries.

The usual selection of categories are available, including Art, Biography, Conspiracy, Crime, Environment, History, Money, Politics, Religion, and Science. There are 25 categories in total.

DocumentaryStorm also makes it easy to find documentaries that are worth watching. If you click on the Explore tab, you can see the Top 100 documentaries on the site, a list of the new arrivals, and impressively, a “Surprise Me” feature.

When you hit Surprise Me, DocumentaryStorm will start playing a random documentary from its catalog. It’s a great way to broaden your horizons and learn about topics you wouldn’t typically investigate.

4. Films for Action

films for action free documentaries

Films for Action has more than 2,000 free documentaries for you to dig into. If you’re interested, the site also has per-view-films and movie trailers available.

The site makes it easy to find stuff to watch. By using the Explore tab, you can filter by topic (40 sections are available), by country of interest, and even by language. In addition to English content, you will also find documentaries in Spanish, German, and Danish.

Film for Action is also one of the few free documentary sites that do not rely on ads. Instead, the company solicits you for donations. The endless requests are a tad tiresome, but it’s still better than having your video interrupted by unskippable interludes.

5. DocumentaryHeaven

documentaryheaven free documentaries

DocumentaryHeaven takes a similar approach to DocumentaryStorm. It sources free documentary videos from around the web and displays them all on a single website for you to watch.

To find the best documentaries on the site, you can use the Top 100 tab at the top of the page. Alternatively, you can scroll through the various categories by hitting the Browse Documentaries tab. Some of the most popular categories are Health (271 documentaries), History (326), and Science (320).

However, there are also plenty of niche topics that are worth exploring. Some examples include Spirituality (17), Futurism (15), and Evolution (23).

6. Popcornflix

popcornflix free documentaries

Popcornflix is another site to watch free documentaries. There are around 100 available at any given time, though the list of titles is in a constant state of flux.

The biggest drawback of watching documentaries on Popcornflix is the difficulty of navigating the site.

Because Popcornflix also offers a massive library of free TV shows and movies, all of the documentaries are bundled into a single category. As such, it’s difficult to isolate the sub-genres that you’re interested in—you need to dig through the entire list to find the title you’re looking for.

7. Spread the Word

spread the word free documentaries

Like SnagFilms, Spread the Word makes our list of best documentary sites thanks to its unique categories. They are all hyper-specific, meaning you can easily narrow down a list of videos that you’re interested in watching.

Some of the unique categories on offer include Consciousness, Civil Rights, Corporatism, Global Elite, Hidden History, Human Rights, and Media.

You don’t need an account to watch free documentaries on Spread the Word, but if you do sign up, you will be able to make customized playlists and share them with other people.

8. The Internet Archive

internet archive free documentaries

The Internet Archive often pops up on lists like these, and with good reason. It is one of the best places to watch classic documentaries online.

Sadly, the site does not have a standalone documentary category. You will have to manually search for any videos you want.

9. YouTube

youtube free documentaries

YouTube deserves a mention. As you’d expect, you can find thousands of free documentaries on the platform. They are produced by everyone from big-name studios to smaller independent documentary makers.

To make sure you see the best documentaries on YouTube, you should subscribe to YouTube’s official Documentary Films topic. Sure, it’s only going to scratch the surface of what’s available on the site, but it will give you a neverending stream of videos to enjoy.

10. Use Free Trials on Netflix and Hulu

hulu leaving neverland free trial

We’ve written about some of the best free documentary sites on our list. However, many of the most popular on-demand streaming apps—like Netflix and Hulu—also offer vast libraries of documentaries.

And remember, most paid sites also offer free trials. So, if you want to watch new documentaries (like 2019’s Leaving Neverland) for free, why not sign up? As long as you cancel before your trial expires, it won’t cost you a dime.

More Documentaries Worth Watching

No matter your interests, our list of the best sites to watch free documentaries has something for everyone. And if you’d like to know what documentaries are worth watching, here are the must-see documentaries about the universe Watch This Space: 10 Must-See Documentaries About the Universe Watch This Space: 10 Must-See Documentaries About the Universe These are the best space documentaries to help you explore the universe from the comfort of your living room. Read More and the best travel documentaries on Netflix 10 of the Best Travel Documentaries on Netflix 10 of the Best Travel Documentaries on Netflix These are the best travel documentaries on Netflix right now, all of which are guaranteed to make you long for a week away. Read More .

Explore more about: Documentary, Media Streaming.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Anonymous
    August 15, 2015 at 12:37 pm has some great documentaries that you can't find in some other places ;)

  2. MAJOR
    February 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks for the useful list. Another good one with online movies also: [Broken Link Removed]

  3. MAJOR
    February 4, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    i vist this blog [Broken Link Removed] / by searching "1,000 Places to See Before You Die" can some one help me plz is this fake r real????

  4. AstroFreak
    January 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I used to watch 100s of space science, astronomy documentaries among may other topics/subjects on .. I love that

  5. marc w
    January 31, 2010 at 11:07 am is exellent if you love your docos

  6. Sheel
    January 26, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Many good documentaries on famous and popular people can be seen on website Recently I have seen a documentary on Micheal Jackson.

  7. Flinzo
    January 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm Experience The High Quality.

  8. Flinzo
    January 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Offers all kind of movies from Documentary to New Releases. We also offer the most High Quality Movies on the web.
    Visit today to experience the good quality that we offer.
    Flinzo Team.

  9. DocAlliance
    December 28, 2009 at 1:51 am

    If you wanna watch festival awarded documentaries, especially from Europe, check this site out:

  10. Scott
    December 24, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Here are a couple documentary sites that I really like...I don't believe I saw them listed above. I had no idea there were so many online documentary and video sites on the web...guess I've gotta lot of looking into to do.

  11. Phil
    October 22, 2009 at 6:19 pm
  12. Tim
    October 18, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Noticed you didn't rank Films For Action in your list. Thought you might be interested in checking it out to review: The site has over 450 films (consisting of documentaries as well as short films, presentations, and PSAs - all activist-issue related). Cheers.

  13. Lauren--NY
    October 14, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Hey! My website has some very reasonably priced documentaries; check it out if you're interested. :)

  14. Ilya
    October 12, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I found this site with FREE MP3, clips and movies:

  15. Documetarieshunter
    September 22, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Wow...I am surprised to find so many places to watch documentaries.I have never seen so many documentary sites before.The most frequently site I used to watch documentaries is
    I think it is the best,but now, I think I have to change my mind.:D

    • Documetarieshunter
      September 22, 2009 at 2:08 pm

      I am sorry I tell the wrong site.The right one is: You can also watch documentaries there.

  16. TJames
    September 22, 2009 at 4:15 am


  17. Thomas
    September 9, 2009 at 7:08 am

    I usually watch videos over here

  18. VJ
    August 15, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    CtrlAltShift is a documentary exploring the underground technological art form of Vjing, AVing and Live performance cinema. The documentary explores aspects of VJ culture and its convergent relationship with contemporary music composition and performance through interviews with pioneering artists. The artists we have interviewed express their opinions about this cutting edge underground phenomenon, and its impact on art, society and culture. The project allowed us to create an audio-visually dynamic project that both implements and showcases core techniques of VJ culture.

  19. Free Online Documentaries
    July 27, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the useful list. Another good one with online movies also:

    Enjoy! :)

  20. Joe
    July 16, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    A very good documentary site i came accross was:

    Im always on it although a fairly new site its packed with documentaries to watch.

  21. George V Corr (Blatant News)
    July 11, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I have to second the Internet Archive site:
    Its amazing, even got hi quality full downloads of certain films (inc Manufacturing Consent), and all totally legit too, fantastic resource :)

    we got a site ourselves with dozens of docs, available to watch in full for free, and reviewed. Political, Civil Rights, Conflicts, Science & more. If ur intested>

  22. Bri
    July 6, 2009 at 8:01 am

    My favorite as it seems to have most of what the others do but is constantly updated.

    Just go to the top option on the menu or try the search.

  23. Online documentaries
    July 1, 2009 at 6:35 am


    Just suggesting one of my favourite documentary websites

  24. geofftop
    June 9, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Most of the docs found on the sites above can be found on my site.

  25. geofftop
    June 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    The majority of the docs found above can be found in one place, use the links below.

  26. Lavender
    June 5, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    RE Documentary "fictitious garbage": Now that I'm older (I'm in my fifties), something my father always told me makes more and more sense with each passing year (not that I didn't believe him when I was younger, but I didn't understand the full import of what he was saying): "You can NEVER really know ANYTHING." I now understand that you can try and try to suss out the "truth", but you're never going to REALLY know it, not for sure. Well, that should keep us all humble, huh?

  27. Online Documentaries
    May 30, 2009 at 12:59 am

    thanks for this post

  28. pavithra
    April 14, 2009 at 6:50 am

    I really don't see why DVD s would die anytime soon; short of creating some sort of virtual reality disc that allows you to actually be in the movie.

  29. pavithra
    April 14, 2009 at 6:48 am

    There’s a fantastic rundown of specific online films that are worth watching from around the web here, and aside from Front line it doesn’t cover the same ground as this:

  30. Jeff K
    April 11, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Another great source, and it streams to iPhones seamlessly

  31. Tim
    March 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Also have a look at Free Documentaries Online.

  32. Penny
    March 12, 2009 at 11:25 am

    No VBS.TV, reallly? They have some amazing stuff.


  33. gary
    March 7, 2009 at 5:50 am

    if your looking for movies you just have to look around now i found a site that was very good and i go there most often now because i was tired of the pop ups and internet explorer been taken over by other sites there are more but these are the ones i use the most

  34. tips photo
    February 2, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I love to watch documentaries so these are some of the best sites that I have come across. I know there are more places out there but these are some that I have never heard of and will be checking them out so that I can see what they have to offer.

  35. emmam
    January 30, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Im having an extremely difficult time finding old documentaries which i need to study. Films by Fredrick Wiseman and the doco Nanook of The North. :S Any idea which would be useful for finding these?

  36. mike
    January 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    For all of your Movie needs

  37. documentary24
    January 4, 2009 at 10:21 am

    A new great way to watch free documentaries online without downloading is

  38. Edward Glodberg
    November 27, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    You can watch Documentary in in high definition online. You can also find all your favorites TV shows online on demand anytime directly from the producers... and it is free!

  39. Vlatko
    November 22, 2008 at 10:29 am

    There is one more great site for watching and previewing documentaries, and that is

  40. Jeffrey
    November 7, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Also check this one out:

  41. Necati
    October 24, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Here is the site I like the best -in design.

    I may have a little bias though, since I was the one who designed it :)

  42. Richard Hartman
    October 11, 2008 at 7:27 am

    I use No Subscription Required for all the latest free movies

  43. Free Movie Man
    October 4, 2008 at 6:36 am

    My site Free Online Documentary dot com has only been online for a few weeks but hopefully it'll be one of the best places to watch documentaries soon. :)

  44. Scott
    October 3, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Check my site...only top quality, new and varied documentaries...

    Online Documentaries 4 U -

    This site is only a few months old and already more than 100 of the best documentaries to watch for free!

  45. johnathan
    September 9, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Free documentaries at While I'm not a big fan of the ads, they've got some interesting films, esp. the environment and animal docs. Some of the ones on your list above are good, but their pointing to google or youtube. At least lets try and respect the filmmaker.

  46. Rich
    August 26, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    I've been checking out TidalTV lately -- not so much for Documentary movies, but they do have some cool tv shows (National Geographic, Discovery, that sort of thing). If you're interested (and, really, why would you be on this page if you weren't), I'd check 'em out.

  47. themacattac
    July 2, 2008 at 6:01 am

    All of this sites had interesting stuff on them, but I think you should complement the list by adding factualtv.

    I found while surfing the other day and really liked it, it's yet sort of a beta but they seem to make improvements everyday. I'ts a place to watch documentareis online and on-demand free of charge. If you're in to documentaries like I am you might want to check it out. Hope you all like it and that it makes the list!

    Love the list either way!

  48. meheee
    June 24, 2008 at 6:31 am

    "The other similar but slightly smaller services are QuickSilverScreen (QSS)" - yeah, with almost 3000 documentaries that makes so much sense... O_o

  49. RalfW
    June 23, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Yet another great site with more than 1000 documentaries is - all free and superb quality.

  50. deepeess
    June 18, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Página en Español con Documentales online muy INTERESANTES!
    os la recomiendo...

    Un saludo, learn Spanish with

  51. syncsync
    May 23, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Here you can find documentaries from many sources on the web.

  52. Aibek
    May 19, 2008 at 10:27 am - sorted by categories, in different languages, and including descriptions.

  53. Sin
    May 16, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    The BEST one is (made by the tv-links guys)

  54. Beardburner
    May 15, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Check out, loads of great documentary at really high quality.

  55. edoneaude
    March 30, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Perfect for Documentary Lovers like me, thank you. Ill add a link for thin on mi site

    • Aibek
      March 30, 2008 at 9:23 pm

      Glad that you liked it ;-)

  56. Alek Davis
    March 24, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Thank you for the links. I love Frontline, but did not realize that the documentaries are available online.

  57. david
    March 20, 2008 at 2:35 pm is far better

    • momba
      May 21, 2008 at 11:10 pm

      you own chooseandwatch? pitiful site

  58. fritz
    March 19, 2008 at 9:01 am

    DOCUMANTIS is the best site for watching documentaries!

  59. Jenbug
    March 18, 2008 at 7:57 am

    VBS has some massively overlooked stuff.

    There's a fantastic rundown of specific online films that are worth watching from around the web here, and aside from Frontline it doesn't cover the same ground as this:

  60. Richard Huffman
    March 18, 2008 at 1:25 am

    The absolute best place to watch documentaries, bar none, has been Google Video. I don't know that they are legal versions; but I have seen Helvetica, Taxi to the Darkside, Titicut Follies, Supersize Me, and other extremely prominent documentaries there. I have no idea why they were there; but they were up in high resolution. Both Taxi to the darkside and helvetica were up BEFORE they played in my town (Seattle).

  61. Intelligent Choices
    March 17, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Another good source is the CBC documentary archives

  62. d95
    March 17, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Here is my favorite documentary TV channel:

    • Simon
      March 17, 2008 at 9:52 pm

      doesn't work and worse it launched a barrage of popups. you own the site?

    • Aibek
      March 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm

      Sorry, but that site sucks.

  63. Norman Roberts
    March 18, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Thanks for the excellent list, these sites and over 419 other free movie site links alternatives appear on NSR
    happy viewing at the best price in town, all for free !!!!!!!!!!!

  64. business
    March 17, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this. Been looking for documentaries to watch. I waste a lot of time searching on Digg, google videos, etc. I'll just start here.

  65. Matthias
    March 17, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    You should have pointed out in this article which ones of these services are free and which ain't? I guess Joost is pay-TV?


    • Aibek
      March 18, 2008 at 12:15 pm

      ALL FREE, including Joost

  66. andres
    March 17, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I can't believe you left out Thoughtware.TV. If you want only the best Science and Technology videos from all over the Web, that's the first place to start:


    • Aibek
      March 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks for heads up, it seems like a good source.

  67. NickB
    March 17, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    You should add The Internet Archive to this list.

    There is a HUGE collection of media archived in this online library, that plays host to a lot of great internet features, including the Wayback Machine.....

    Check it out

  68. Mike
    March 16, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    You might also want to try for documentaries and educational videos. It's updated daily with some of the best documentaries I've seen in a while.

  69. keith
    March 16, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    It is an issue though, that so much fictitious garbage is packaged in a documentary format and made to look legit to the unsuspecting average Joe. Obviously, Moore is the all time king at implying things while still leaving a loophole to back out -"Well I never actually SAID Bush conspired with the Saudis..." sort of stuff. The power of editing is a real thing. The facts get lost -deliberately or not- in the middle sometimes.

    I made a short doc about about Miss Iran of 1976 you might like. Check it out-

    • Aibek
      March 17, 2008 at 12:29 pm

      Keith, you got an excellent point here. I agree, "the power of editing is the real thing". Once in a while I come across different documentaries (advocating opposite issues) and yet both sound very legitimate.

    • jim s
      March 18, 2008 at 4:32 pm

      Great comment. I think this is something ALL of use should be aware and thus use

      caution when we see a doc or any media for the first time.