Plex is one of the most powerful home theater servers available. It allows you to stream your own music, movies, and TV shows, so it's great for cord-cutters. Plex's third-party channels add even more options.
And now, Plex is even more powerful. Plex recently announced support for live streaming TV through OTA antennas and compatible digital tuners.
If you’re interested in finding out how to watch live TV on Plex, read on to learn:
- How to watch live over-the-air TV on Plex using an antenna
- Tips for watching live internet TV via third-party Plex channels
- Where to go to learn more about Plex
Plex Live TV & DVR (Requires Plex Pass)
Plex Live TV & DVR is one of the newer Plex features. To use it, you need a Plex Pass subscription.
Plex Pass subscriptions can be purchased for $4.99/month or $39.99/year. There's also a one-time “Lifetime” membership fee of $119.99. While Plex Pass does have some good features, it is pricey.
If you don't want to invest in a Plex Pass, scroll down to learn about Plex channels. Plex channels give you a way to watch live web TV through Plex.
What you’ll need to setup Plex Live TV & DVR
- A supported DVR tuner and OTA antenna – A list of supported devices can be found here.
- An updated Plex media server – Make sure you’re running the latest version of Plex.
- A Plex Pass subscription – Available at Plex.com
Now that you know what you need, let’s dive into the setup steps.
How to set up Plex DVR & Live TV
Here are the basic steps for adding Plex DVR & Live TV to your Plex media center.
- Unbox your OTA antenna and connect it to your digital TV tuner.
- Connect your TV tuner to Plex Media Server.
- On your Plex Media Server, open up the main menu and click Settings.
- Click Server on the upper-right corner of the settings menu.
- Select DVR settings on the bottom-left part of the settings menu and press Create A DVR.
- Plex will automatically detect any connected, compatible digital TV tuners. Select your tuner and proceed to step 7.
- Enter your country, preferred language and ZIP code.
- Your Plex media server will begin scanning for channels.
- When channel scanning is complete, choose the channels that you want to either watch live or record in the future.
Press Save. Plex will then add the channels to your Electronic Program Guide.
- Press View Program Guide to access your live TV functionality. You can browse all channels, or filter by a variety of categories including:
- On Right Now
- Starting Soon
- New Episodes Tonight
- My Upcoming Shows
- Recommended For You
- Upcoming Movies
- Upcoming Sports
- Next, simply select the show you’d like to watch. You can Watch it immediately, Record it for future viewing or Go To Show to learn more about the show and the episode.
That's it! You're all set up.
Next, let's discuss some of the best features of Plex Live TV & DVR and find out whether or not it's worth the price of entry.
Plex Live TV & DVR features overview
If you’re a dedicated cord-cutter, Plex Live TV & DVR streaming has some benefits you may find appealing.
Free access to local channels
With just a digital tuner, OTA antenna and subscription to Plex you can enjoy programming from local broadcast stations. This includes local news and sports programming, which is often hard to find via the web.
Mobile TV viewing
If you have your Plex media server configured to accept remote connections, you can watch both live and recorded TV on Android and iOS devices.
Integrates with Plex media libraries
Movies and TV shows that are recorded through the Plex DVR are automatically tagged with metadata and organized alongside the rest of your media in Plex. If you’re a Plex power-user with a large library of your own media, this is a great feature.
Currently, you can view Plex Live TV on the following devices:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android (mobile)
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Plex Web App (v3.20.4 or newer)
- Select Smart TVs
New platforms are added all the time, so make sure to check out this page from Plex for more information.
Is Plex Live TV & DVR worth it?
If you simply want to watch live TV, you may find it easier and cheaper to skip Plex Pass and just set up a digital tuner and OTA antenna on your television. But if you want to record shows for later, Plex Pass may be worth the investment.
If you don't want Plex Pass, read on to find out how to watch internet video via Plex Channels.
What are Plex Channels?
Plex channels are video plug-ins that allow you to pull live TV from the web into Plex.
There are hundreds of channels available on the official Plex Store. These applications have been thoroughly vetted by Plex for legality and legitimacy and offer an easy way to enjoy a wide variety of free, streaming digital content.
Source: Flixed. A selection of Plex channels, both official and unofficial.
Installing Plex Channels
Now that you understand the basics of Plex channels, let's get into the details and discuss the channel installation process.
Plex channel browser
This is the easiest way to install Plex channels. Channels on the official Plex channel browser have been vetted for legitimacy and quality and you can install them directly from the Plex client.
Here’s how to install a channel using the official Plex channel browser.
- Open Plex media server and select Channels from the left-hand menu.
Source: Flixed. The "channels" menu in Plex.
- Select Install Channels.
Source: Flixed. The "Install" menu option is visible in the top right.
- You can browse Plex channels based on popularity, what’s new, recently added and more via the Channel Directory.
Source: Flixed. The channel browser in Plex.
- Select the channel of your choice. A pop-up will appear. Select Install to begin installing your selected channel.
Source: Flixed. The "Install" popup in Plex.
- Navigate back to Home and select Channels again. Your installed channel will now be present in your media server.
Source: Flixed. The freshly-installed Plex channel is visible.
50 best Plex channels for TV streaming
There are dozens of Plex channels available from networks like CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, VICE and more. This list includes both official and unofficial channels, meaning you can download them from either the official Plex store and the Unsupported store.
Movies And TV Shows
Let's start with what you probably came here for: movies. Plex has a huge variety of official and unofficial channels that can provide you with access to free movies across a diverse set of genres. Let's take a look at our top picks now.
- Internet Archive
- Let Me Watch This
- Old Movie Time
Live TV Shows
In this section, we'll take a look at some of the best official and unofficial Plex channels for viewing live and archived television broadcasts.
- BBC iPlayer - You will need a UK IP address to access BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.
- Discovery Networks
- CCloud TV
- MTV Networks Channel
- NFL Network
- Big 12 Sports
- HGTV Canada
- ITVPlayer (UK) - You will need a UK IP address to access ITVPlayer from outside the UK.
- TV Land
- Comedy Central
- RT America
- History Channel
- Scripps Networks
- South Park
Music And Radio
Plex addons don't just feature great video content. There's also plenty of audio content to choose from. From podcasts and radio programs, to unique and fun music stations, you're sure to find your new favorite Plex addon in our picks.
- TuneIn Radio
- Radio Riff – Temples Of Rock
In this section, we'll discuss addons that don't fit neatly into our other categories, but are still totally useful and entertaining, and a great addition to your Plex setup.
- MTV Music Videos
- iTunes Movie Trailers
- TED Talks
How to Install Plex on Smart TVs
LG Smart TVs
According to Plex, the Plex app can be installed on any LG Smart TV running:
- Netcast (2013 Smart TVS)
- WebOS Lite
- WebOS 1.0
- WebOS 2.0
- WebOS 3.0
If you have an LG Smart TV that you’ve purchased within the last several years, it probably supports the Plex Smart TV application. Let’s take a look at how to install Plex now.
Because the Plex application is available in the built-in LG app store, it’s quite easy to install Plex on your LG Smart TV.
- Boot up your LG Smart TV.
- Navigate to the LG Content Store by selecting it on the main menu of your Smart TV. (Alternatively, you can press My Apps on your LG Smart Remote, and then access the app store.) You should see a menu similar to what you see below.
Source: YouTube. The main LG Content Store.
- Navigate to the upper-right of the LG Content Store, and locate the Search icon, as shown in the below screenshot. Select this menu option now.
Source: YouTube. The search menu is located in the upper-left.
- Using your LG Smart Remote, enter “Plex” into the search bar that pops up, as shown below.
Source: YouTube. The search menu on LG TVs.
- Select Plex when it pops up.
Source: YouTube. The Plex icon in the search results.
- Select Install on the left-hand side of your TV.
Source: YouTube. Click "Install" to begin the installation process
- Plex will now install on your LG Smart TV. After installation, it will be available in the main menu and will connect automatically to your Plex Media Server - and that’s it! The installation process is similar for all versions of webOS.
Samsung Smart TVs
Plex is available for all Samsung Smart TVs that have been released in 2016 or later and are based on TIZEN. The Plex application can be downloaded directly from the Samsung “Smart Hub.”
The installation process is essentially identical across all TIZEN TVs. Let’s get into the details now.
- Access the Samsung Smart Hub by pressing the Smart Hub button on your Samsung Smart TV Remote.
- Select Apps from the menu bar (indicated by the icon with the 3 square boxes).
- Select Samsung Apps as shown in the screenshot depicted below.
Source: Samsung. The main Samsung Hub screen
- After Samsung Apps loads, you’ll be presented with a list of apps and a search screen.
Source: YouTube. The Samsung Hub search screen.
- Enter Plex in the provided search menu.
- Select the Plex application, and install it.
Source: YouTube. The installation submenu.
- Next, you’ll need to connect your Plex Media Server to your Samsung Smart TV. You’ll see a menu similar to the below screenshot:
Source: YouTube. The screen showing that Plex needs to be set up with the correct IP address of the server.
- Select Preferences from the Plex main menu. Navigate to Plex Media Server (0), and select it. Press the red “B” button, as was indicated in the above screenshot. This will allow you to add a Plex Media Server.
- Next, simply enter the IP address of your Plex Media Server. The IP of your Plex Media Server is the same as the IP address of the computer that’s running it.
After you've completed the steps listed above, you'll be ready to use Plex on your Samsung Smart TV.
Sony BRAVIA Android Smart TVs
Newer Android BRAVIA smart TVs have native support for Plex, but older pre-Android models do not.
Until recently, you could use the Opera TV store to install Plex on pre-Android Sony BRAVIA smart TVs. However, the service contract between Sony and Opera has ended and the Opera TV store is now inaccessible. This means that only recently-released Sony BRAVIA models that run Android can run the Plex Smart TV application.
- Tip: If you have a early non-Android Sony Smart TV but still want to use Plex, there is a workaround available. Scroll down and read Alternatives: Using Plex on an Unsupported Smart TV for more information.
If you have a Sony smart TV that's built on Android, it’s easy to install the Plex application because Plex is available through the default Google Play Store.
- Open your main Android TV menu, which should look similar to the below screenshot.
Source: AndroidTV. The main AndroidTV menu.
- Select the Google Play Store.
Source: Android Authority. The main Android TV Menu. Search is indicated by the Spyglass in the upper-left.
- Scroll to the top of your screen and select the Search icon.
- Enter Plex into the search field and perform the search.
- Select Plex from the search results and select Install.
- Plex will now be available from your main Android TV Menu. Sign in with your Plex credentials, and you’re good to go!
With Android TV, it’s super easy to download the latest version of Plex and quickly begin enjoying your library of digital content.
Note: The same installation process seen here can be used to install the Plex Android application on Sony's other Android-based Smart TVs. The menus and functionality are nearly identical.
Plex currently supports most 2013-2016 model VIZIO televisions. But if you own a 2017 VIZIO television, you may have to wait a while for official support. Plex is currently working on a new, compatible version of the Plex app which should be released soon.
Not sure if your model is supported? Here’s an easy way to tell:
- If your app store is named Vizio Internet Apps Plus, your model is compatible.
- If your app store is named anything else (including Vizio Internet Apps), your model is incompatible.
Installing the Plex app on your Vizio Smart TV is quick and easy. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
- Open the Vizio App Bar by pressing the large silver “V”-shaped button on your Vizio Remote. You should see a menu similar to this one:
Source: Digital Landing. The primary Vizio Apps menu.
- Navigate to either the Categories or All Apps menu. You should see a search bar.
- Enter Plex in the search bar that appears.
- Select the Plex app from the list of results and select Install App. Press OK when the confirmation box appears. It will then be available from the main menu, as seen in the below screenshot.
Source: Digital Landing. The main menu after Plex has been installed. It's visible in the top-right.
- Launch the Plex app – and you’re good to go!
Alternatives: Using Plex on an Unsupported Smart TV
There are a number of products you can use to stream content directly to your smart TV, even if you can’t use the official Plex Smart TV app.
Streaming sticks and dongles are super cheap and easy to use. Let’s take a look at the 3 most popular streaming devices you can use to install Plex on your Smart TV.
Chromecast makes it easy to get Plex. Just plug a Chromecast into your HDMI port, connect it to your WiFi network and install the Plex application on your phone. Chromecast is also quite affordable because it only costs about $35.
Amazon Fire Stick
Amazon Fire Stick is fully supported by Plex. It's slightly more expensive than the Chromecast, but is a viable alternative. Unlike Chromecast, Fire TV also comes with a remote. This allows you to control Plex without having to rely on a smartphone app.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick, the Roku Stick app from Plex may be just what you’re looking for. Roku Stick offers great performance and is an inexpensive and easy-to-set-up method of streaming Plex media to your TV.
If you’re interested in dramatically expanding the media playback capabilities of your Smart TV, you may be interested in a more fully-featured set-top box. Set-top boxes offer advanced streaming capabilities and faster processors along with nifty extras like 4K support and higher-definition sound.
All modern TiVo set-top boxes are now compatible with Plex Media Server. However, they are pricey. Even the most inexpensive TiVo clocks in at around $150. Advanced models can exceed $400. However, if you’re interested in recording Live TV in 4K TiVo boxes are a good choice.
The new Apple TV is fully compatible with Plex and offers a suite of advanced playback features, such as support for 4K streaming. At around $130, Apple TV is a bit more expensive than a Roku Box. However, it offers extra functionality that may be appealing to some users. With Apple TV you can get live sports and news streams, plus a variety of high-quality, 4K-compatible apps from Netflix, ESPN and more.
Roku offers a variety of Plex-compatible streaming devices. The Roku Premiere is their least expensive option and it costs around $100. With support for full 4K streaming, an easy-to-use Plex application, and a variety of other features such as support for OTA broadcast reception, the Roku Premiere is a good choice for Smart TV users who want expanded functionality at a low price.
10 Plex Media Center Hacks You Need To Try
With Plex installed, you’ve got the basics of a home media network up-and-running. But Plex is so much more than that. Dig deeper into the settings and you will discover how to turn Plex into a home media powerhouse. Here are 10 Plex media center hacks you need to try to get the most out of Plex.
Fix Your File Names
When you set things up in Plex for the first time, you probably pointed it at your media files and let it index away. That might not have been a good idea. As Plex indexes each movie, episode and track it automatically pulls artwork, metadata, and other content from online databases. This creates a much richer experience a you bring content up in the Plex interface.
But if Plex doesn’t recognize your naming system….
Wait, you do have a logical naming system, right? One that you've applied consistently and thoroughly over the years?
If your file names aren't formatted properly, you may be missing out. Renaming your media in ways that it understands will guarantee that you get the most out of Plex and its extended content.
Fixing your movie file names
In the case of movies, Plex likes to see file names structured in a specific format. It starts with the film title, followed in parentheses by the year it was released and then the extension:
Point Break (1991).mkv
If you aren’t certain whether the film’s name was Ocean’s 13 or Ocean’s Thirteen, your best bet is to check IMDb. While it will check Rotten Tomatoes and other databases, IMDb is Plex’s preferred source. Making your file names consistent with IMDb will get you the best results.
Fixing your TV Show file names
Your best bet here is to check TheTVDB since that’s where Plex gets its info. One-off shows and made-for-TV movies follow the same Title (broadcast year).extension pattern as movies.
You’ll need to pay a little more attention to episodic TV series, though. In this case, you should have a folder for the entire series and folders for each season. Name the individual episodes using the series title, followed in parentheses by the year it was first broadcast. Then, use s##e## for the season and episode numbers. Lastly, plug in the extension:
../TV/Peppa Pig /Season 04 Peppa Pig (2004) - s04e03 - Basketball.mp4
In the case of TV shows organized by date, use the show name followed by the data aired, optional text and then the extension:
PBS News Hour - 2017.01.19 - Eve of Trump.avi
Fixing your music file names
Plex is more accommodating with music since your music files already have metadata from when you ripped your CDs or bought them from iTunes. It’s entirely possible, however, that you have a few files from sources that don’t provide metadata. (Ripped vinyl tracks, for example, are annoyingly free of metadata.)
If you have a bunch of files that lack metadata, make sure your folders follow an Artist Name - Album Name format and that the individual files follow a Track Number - Track Name format:
../Music/Taylor Swift - 1989 01 - Welcome to New York 02 - Blank Space
Plex will download additional content and metadata based on those names. If you have the free version, Plex will check last.fm. For Plex Pass users, it uses sonic fingerprints to check the Gracenote database.
Changing your file names to the format Plex wants and commiting to using those formats from now on will make your media experience that much more enjoyable. It will also ensure that you get the most out of Plex Pass. With Plex Pass, you get artist bios, song lyrics and other enhanced features.
Switch on Enhanced Video Previews
Once the Plex Media Center indexes your videos and downloads any additional content, you get an elegant interface in your apps that lets you browse through thumbnails to find something to watch.
With a few settings adjusments, you can enhance your video browsing experience even further.
TV theme music
The Plex web app can play a TV series theme song when you navigate to the show’s top level. Simply go to Settings - Web - General and check the box next to Play Theme Music. The Plex Media Center will download thirty-second clips of each TV series’ theme music (if Plex has it in its database).
Video timeline thumbnails
When you use a video’s timeline to scan back and forth in a video, Plex can display thumbnails to give you a better idea of where you are in the video. Plex leaves this off by default since it places an burden on your server’s CPU and requires on-going allocation of storage space.
Go to Settings - Server - Library and choose whether to create thumbnails whenever a video is added or on a regular schedule.
- Note: You can enable/disable this setting according to library. If you have a library of short YouTube videos, for example, you may not want thumbnails. Just go into that library’s Advanced settings and uncheck the thumbnails option.
You can create a more theatrical experience when you watch movies by having Plex play trailers before your movie starts.
Do you want to see trailers for movies you’ve seen already? Or just movies that aren’t already in your library? Navigate to Settings - Server - Extras to decide how trailers appear. (Optionally, you can also go to Settings - Web - Extras to enable trailer playback in the Plex Web App.)
All Plex users can add trailers manually. Just follow the folder and file naming rules described in tip #1 above, then enable the Local Media Assets agent in Settings - Server - Agents and then refresh your library.
How to automatically download trailers
Plex Pass members get access to automatic trailer downloads and other cool movie extras. You can activate that benefit in the Settings - Server - Agents section by clicking the Movies tab, the Plex Movies sub tab and then the gear next to the Plex Movie agent. That opens another setting screen where you can tell Plex to find trailers and extras automatically.
Plex will now download extras (if they exist) whenever you add a new movie to your libraries. To download extras for existing content, refresh individual movies or entire libraries to force Plex to download the extras.
Create Better Playlists
If you have a large music collection - or if you forgot to put podcasts and other non-music files into a separate folder - you will want to create playlists for a better listening experience.
Custom filters and smart playlists
Creating a standard playlist is straight forward - just find the audio track you want to add and select the add-to-playlist icon. However, the way Plex implements smart playlists is a little more involved.
The Plex Web App lets you create multi-layered custom filters to narrow down the tracks you want to put into a playlist. Click on the first drop down (it probably says All) and choose Custom filter… at the bottom of the list. Each line item lets you include or exclude by metadata field until you get the track list you’re looking for.
The playlist you create will always use that combination of filters so tracks you add to your library in the future will always get included.
- Tip__: Note my use of the word “always” here. You can't edit the filter options once you save the playlist. If your criteria changes, you must delete the old playlist and create a new one.
Here's another cool but often overlooked playlist feature: you can create video playlists as well. Let’s say you’ve downloaded videos from a web series. A playlist gives you the ability to play the videos without the hassle of merging them into a single file.
Plex Pass playlists
Members of Plex Pass get to access special music playlists as part of the Premium Music Libraries feature. Tell Plex that you like a song, and it plays a Plex Mix of similar tracks. The enhanced metadata provided by Plex Pass includes mood info for each track. Using the filter, you can identify all of the Cheerful, Dreamy, or Bittersweet tracks in your library.
Speed Up Your Plex Media Server
If you installed your Plex Media Server on a network attached storage device or an old computer, an underpowered CPU could undermine your video experience. It struggles because Plex must convert your audio and video files into formats your devices can use before it can play them. Video files in particular have complicated combinations of audio formats, video formats, captioning and other variables. Not all devices support all of the possible combinations.
The Plex Media Server must convert the video on-the-fly into a format that your Plex app knows how to play. This transcoding process puts a huge burden on the server's CPU - a burden less powerful processors can’t always handle.
If you’re experiencing video playback issues, then these tweaks should help you get the most out of Plex video streaming.
Plex Media Optimizer
The Plex Media Optimizer evaluates the capabilities of all the devices you connect to the Plex Media Server. It then saves optimized versions of your files into your libraries. Your storage device might take a hit since you will have multiple versions of each video. On the other hand, your devices know how to play the new files and can stream them directly.
Navigate to the file you want to optimize or use filters to create a list of files. Then select the Optimize option in the … menu.
- Tip__: Optionally, you could tell the Plex Media Optimizer to convert all of the files in a library-- but you need a lot of storage space to pull it off.
Share Your Content with Friends
The power of Plex lies in its ability to share media files with anyone in your household as well as with friends and family.
Add people to your Plex network by going to Settings - Users - Friends. Send invitations to friends and family who have Plex IDs and they will have instant access to your Plex Media Server. (If they don't have a Plex ID, they can register for a free Plex account.)
Since you may not be equally friendly with all your friends, you can edit each friend’s profile. You can restrict their access to certain libraries, give them remote access and block them from adding Channels. Premium subscribers have even more control of the features Friends can access.
Fine Tune Plex Permissions
Plex Home is another exclusive feature for premium-level subscribers. The primary Plx Home account holder can create up to fifteen managed users and grant them access to everything on the network or just specific libraries. Parents, for example, can create managed user accounts for their kids to limit which devices and libraries the kids can access.
Each app can switch quickly between managed users as the person who controls the living room TV changes. PIN codes provide an extra level of privacy and security, especially for parents. Best of all, each managed user has access to the primary account holder's Plex Pass benefits - even if they don't have their own subscription.
Set up Remote Access
Turn your Plex Media Server into your own personal streaming service by activating Plex’s remote access features. Your mobile devices will create a secure, encrypted connection with your Plex networks and will provide constant access to your media libraries.
With Plex remote access enabled, you won’t have to worry about geo-restrictions. Unlike Netflix, no matter where in the world you travel you can stream your movies the way you want.
Navigate to Settings - Server - Remote Access and tell Plex to enable the remote access system. The server will try to set everything up for you. With remote access on, you can connect your devices to the Plex Media Server from a coffee shop, from work or even from the beach.
Managing bandwidth caps
Plex Pass members get more control over the remote access system. A big bonus is the ability to adjust the bitrate of streaming video. This could reduce the burden on your Plex Media Server and help avoid hitting the bandwidth caps set by both your internet service provider and your wireless carrier.
Get More Content with Channels
Plex lets you extend its features by adding Channels to bring even more internet-based content into the Plex interface. Members of the extended Plex community develop Channels to address gaps they see in Plex's core features. They then share the Channels with all Plex users free of charge.
Plex provides a directory of Channels that will get you started with the least amount of worry and fuss.
The Plex team sets criteria for getting into its Channel Directory that limit content to only the most stable Channels. There must be enough developers working on the project to ensure the Channel gets updated on a regular basis. Plex also insists that the content the Channel distributes must be legally obtained and does not contain obscene content.
Select the Channels option on the Web App’s home screen and then click the Install Channels button. You will see a list of the available channels that you can filter by category. Install the Channels you like, and they will show up in the Channels section. The Plex Media Server will automatically check for updates to ensure the Channel experience remains stable.
Integrate with Other Smart Devices
New developments let you extend your media network’s reach beyond the Plex ecosystem.
If yours is an Amazon Echo household (US and UK only), then you can ask Alexa to talk to your Plex. This gives you hands-free control over media playback as well as recommendations.
You must enable remote access (see above) to get Alexa integration working. Next turn on Alexa’s Plex skill and link it to your Plex account. After that, it’s a simple matter of telling Alexa to connect to your Plex Media Server and activating a Plex app on one of your devices.
Plex webhooks let more advanced Plex Pass members take a more DIY approach to automation.
If phrases like “webhooks are processed by posting a JSON payload to the configured URL” leave you baffled, webhooks aren’t for you. With a little coding, however, you can make Plex events like play or pause trigger actions that make your media consumption more productive or entertaining.
For example, people have figured out how to control Phillips Hue lights to dim or change colors in response to what happens in Plex. Others use notifications to build logs of their household media consumption patterns. Plex provides sample projects to help you get started.
Get Even More Channels with the Unsupported App Store
Not every Channel can make it into the Plex Channel Directory. That doesn’t mean their developers are doing anything illegal. It could just be that a one-person development team doesn’t always get updates out on time.
The Unsupported App Store is the main source for these enthusiast Channels. But because it is unsupported you must manually load the software needed to get it working:
- Download Webtools
- Unzip the webtools.bundle.zip file
- Copy the resulting folder into the Plex Media Server’s plug-in directory
- Wait a few minutes or restart the server
What is Plex Pass?
Plex created the Plex Pass subscription service to provide a more enhanced experience and to make the money it needs to continue developing its products.
The $5 monthly subscription is ideal for trying out the service to see if you like it. However, committing to the annual subscription provides substantial savings. At $40-per-year, it’s like getting twelve months for the price of eight.
Anyone really committed to supporting Plex can get a $120 Lifetime Plex Pass. A Lifetime Plex Pass might protect you from future price increases. However, it's worth noting here that Plex grandfathered in existing subscribers when it raised the subscription price from its original $4-per-month cost in 2014.
Plex Pass enhances your music experience by helping you rediscover forgotten tracks using a feature called audio fingerprinting. Audio fingerprinting creates playlists out of songs that are similar to your favorites. You can even use fingerprinting to generate playlists based on your mood.
In addition to generating playlists, audio fingerprinting also pulls in metadata (song lyrics, album reviews, etc.) for all your audio tracks.
Photos and videos
The enhanced features unlocked with Plex Pass makes it even easier to find things in your photo and video libraries. A timeline view takes the hassle out of looking through folders. Automated image-tagging recognizes objects, scenes, and GPS coordinates. With a click, you can bring up similar images that you forgot you took.
Plex Pass unlocks the smartphone and tablet apps, removing their crippling limitations. The subscription also adds a couple of truly convenient features to the mobile experience: photo uploads and mobile sync.
- Photo uploads eliminates the need to manually transfer new pictures and videos into your media library. The minute you get home and connect to your wireless network, the Plex app on your phone automatically transfers your files to the Plex server.
- Mobile sync works in the other direction by transferring your media files to your smartphone so that local copies of your music, video, and photo files are always available.
Live TV & DVR
Plex developed the live TV feature for cordcutters who rely on Plex to fill in the gaps left behind by cable. With the addition of a separate TV tuner and a high definition antenna, you can stream over-the-air broadcasts to all your devices.
The included electronic programming guide lets you record programs to play later. Unlike the “cloud DVR” systems from many online services, the only limit to the number of programs you can record is the amount of room on your hard drive.
Over-the-air broadcasts deliver an added benefit: video quality. Unlike cable companies or streaming services, most TV stations broadcast their high definition signals without compression. This means that you always get the highest quality video possible.
Multiple users and parental controls
The Plex Home feature lets you use a single Plex account to create up to fifteen user accounts on the home network. This gives parents the ability to limit the content and features their kids can access and create a guest account for the baby sitter.
The Plex website makes a big deal about how Plex Cloud uses your Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive account to “stream all of your media”. Just link your online storage account with Plex, they claim, and you will be “up and running in sixty seconds”.
But the Plex marketing folks don’t say anything about the time it takes to upload your media files or about the cost of storing large media libraries in the cloud. Even the Getting Started with Plex Cloud page claims it lets you “do away with” the need for a local server.
The Plex tech support folks look at things differently. They make it clear that Plex Cloud is “designed for more selective uploading of specific content you choose” and that even trying to upload large libraries could fail. They go on to explain that, not only will you need to wait for files to upload, you must also wait for Plex Media Server to transcode the files into an optimized format before the upload even begins.
One final note: Plex Cloud can't see the media files that you've already stored on other cloud platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. It can only see the files that your Plex Media Server has optimized and uploaded. If you've already stored your media files elsewhere, you will have to upload them all over again.
Perks and beta access
Plex’s partners offer discounts and promotions to Plex Pass subscribers. Plex also gives its members early access to new features as part of an expanded beta testing program.
Final Thoughts: Is Plex Pass Worth the Money?
Despite its weak cloud storage feature, cordcutters, families and fans of the Plex brand might find that it's worth it to upgrade to Plex Plus.
The support for watching and recording live TV makes Plex Pass a must-have for cordcutters. The combination of an electronic programming guide, unlimited DVR capacity and remote access gives Plex Pass a distinct advantage over other software.
The Plex Home feature gives parents control over what their kids can access. Additionally, sharing family photos and videos with the extended family becomes easier with the access controls and Plex’s remote sharing features. Grandparents can see the latest pictures and videos of their grandkids over an encrypted connection that keeps the cherished memories at home where they belong.
Plex Pass combines a lot of nice-to-haves into a single package that could make it worth the price. Automatic playlists and recommendations help resurface audio tracks lost in large libraries. Camera uploads and mobile syncing eliminate the hassles of manually transferring files to your phone and back. Additionally, gadget discounts and access to beta features are both nice rewards for supporting the brand.
What is the Unsupported App Store?
While it has always been possible to add your own plugins to Plex, this is often quite difficult – usually involving downloading custom applications from Github, and adding them to your Plex application yourself.
Essentially, the Plex Unsupported App Store has been created to provide a simpler alternative to manual installation of unsupported plugins and channels, providing unsupported app developers with a distribution method for their software.
This is accomplished through a third-party add-on which allows Plex users to browse, download, and add additional plugins that are not supported by the main Plex software application. By downloading and installing the Plex Unsupported App Store, you can dramatically increase the capability of your Plex installation, and add channels that may not be supported by the official Plex software – for a variety of reasons.
How To Install The Plex Unsupported App Store
The Plex Unsupported App Store used to be a standalone application, but now it’s been bundled into a Plex application known as the “Webtools 2.0 Bundle.” While installation of the Plex Unsupported App Store is fairly simple, it could be confusing for anyone who hasn’t dealt with Plex plugins, so we’ll go over the detailed installation instructions now.
Step 1 – Download WebTools 2.0
We’re assuming you’ve already installed Plex on your HTPC, so your first step will be to head over to GitHub to download the latest Webtools 2.0 Bundle.
Step 2 – Extract WebTools.Bundle.Zip
Extract the downloaded .ZIP file (WebTools.Bundle.Zip) to whichever folder you prefer, using the program of your choice. Your extracted file should be named WebTools.bundle.
Step 3 – Cut Or Copy Webtools.Bundle
Next, you can either “cut” or “copy” the folder. Right click it and select one of these options, and the folder will be copied to your clipboard.
Step 4 – Navigate To The Plex Plug-ins Folder
Next, navigate to the Plex icon in your system’s taskbar tray, which is located on the far-right of your taskbar (for Windows users) next to the Time and Date settings. Right click it, and click the “Open Plug-ins Folder” option.
Alternatively, you can navigate to your Plex plug-ins folder manually. On Windows systems, this will be located at – %LOCALAPPDATA%\Plex Media Server\Plug-ins\ – you can simply paste this string into your Windows Explorer program, and you’ll be brought to the correct folder.
On Mac OS X, navigate to “Finder > Go > Go to Folder and paste – ~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins – to find the correct folder.
The Windows Taskbar Tray - Plex is the yellow icon on the dark gray background.
Right click the Plex icon to access this menu.
Step 5 – Add WebTools.Bundle To The Plex Plug-Ins Folder
Now, simply “paste” WebTools.bundle. into the Plex Plug-ins folder. This will put the WebTools bundle into Plex, and allow you to use its features.
Step 6 — Enter The Required URLs
The new installation process of WebTools takes a few extra steps. First, open up Plex and click on the “WebTools” channel. You’ll find 2 urls, and a message that says “To access this channel, type the url’s below to a new browser tab”.
Simply enter these two URLs in the browser of your choice to enable WebTools functionality. You’ll be prompted for your Plex credentials, so enter your username and password to complete the login process.
Enter these URLs into a new tab in the browser of your choice.
The Webtools sign-in page.
Step 7 – Select The Unsupported App Store
The next screen will show you all 3 WebTools programs – Subtitle Management, Log/Viewer/Downloader Tool, and the Unsupported App Store.
Naturally, the Unsupported App Store is what you’re interested in – so click on it, and you’ll be presented with a UI that will allow you to quickly and easily install unsupported apps!
You can use search functionality to find apps, or enter the GitHub links to unsupported channels in the interface. Either way, The Unsupported App Store will install these channels for you automatically, providing you with a much easier method to install unsupported Plex plugins and channels!
That’s it! By following these simple instructions, you’ll be able to install the Plex unsupported app store quickly, and begin enjoying a huge variety of unsupported video and audio content!
Select the Unsupported App Store, and you're done!
How to Install Plex on a Raspberry Pi
What is Raspberry Pi?
Raspberry Pi is a computer the size of a credit card. Originally, Raspberry Pi was designed to teach kids how to program, but its small size and flexibility makes it perfect for Plex.
Raspberry Pi's Linux-based computer runs off of an SD card and it has the same kind of ARM-based processor used in smartphones. All you have to do is connect a keyboard, mouse, and monitor and you have a computer that can be a full-featured desktop or anything else your coding skills can turn it in to.
What makes the Raspberry Pi revolutionary is its combination of price and performance. The most powerful version, the Raspberry Pi 3, retails for $35 - but you can get a Raspberry Pi Zero for just $5. Hobbyists around the world soon figured out that the low-cost computer could add fantastic new features to projects like robotics, art installations, and digital fashion.
Why install Plex on a Raspberry Pi?
The combination of Plex and Raspberry Pi offers excellent flexibility compared to name brand solutions. With Plex on Pi, you can control your home media without extra fees. As your household grows and your media libraries change, you can customize Plex and the Raspberry Pi to change right along with it.
Another nice thing is that since the Raspberry Pi was designed for kids, it’s pretty easy to install Plex on a Raspberry Pi. Read on to see how straightforward the installation is.
It shouldn’t take much time for you to install Plex on a Raspberry Pi - as long as you’ve prepared ahead of time. Make sure you get these steps out of the way first so you’re ready to go.
In some ways a Raspberry Pi is just like any other computer. If you've bought a computer in the past, you probably have most of the hardware you’ll need.
Raspberry Pi 2 or 3
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation
Raspberry Pi 1 isn't fast enough for Plex. Only the Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3 have processors that are powerful enough.
We recommend Raspberry Pi 3. It has a more powerful processor and built-in Wi-Fi which makes it a better option in the long run. And since it is the same price as a Raspberry 2, the decision is pretty easy.
Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation
Much of the remaining hardware you need to run Plex is straightforward.
- Keyboard. You will need a USB keyboard and mouse for data entry and a HDMI monitor so you can see what you’re doing.
- Storage device. You also need some type of storage device-- either a microSD card or a USB hard drive.
- Note: USB hard drives hold more data compared to microSD cards. But if you do use a microSD card for data storage, the card needs to be at least 8GB. You may want to use a bigger microSD Card to hold more media files.
- Power supply. The last piece of kit you’ll need is a 2.5A power supply for your Raspberry Pi 3.
If you don’t have all of supplies mentioned above in your box of old electronics, then here are some links to inexpensive options:
- Monoprice K11 Keyboard
- Monoprice Streak 3-Button Optical Mouse
- Monoprice 27-Inch Select Monitor
- SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC UHC-I Card
This section doesn't need a lot of explanation, but there are a few quirks in the process that you should be aware of.
Raspbian is the operating system that drives the Raspberry Pi. Basically, Raspbian is a version of the Linux distribution Debian adapted to run on the Raspberry Pi’s ARM processor.
The easiest way to get the right version of Raspbian is to download the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s installation manager, New Out Of Box Software (NOOBS). More advanced users can go to the Raspbian site for other ways to install it.
Before you install Raspbian with NOOBS, be sure to reformat your microSD card using the FAT filesystem. Be aware that cards larger than 32GB use a different kind of file system that Raspbian can’t read so you must reformat them into the FAT file system. Linux and Mac OS computers can do that with the built in disk utilities, but if you use Windows, you may want to use the SD Card Association’s free formatter tool.
Once you've finished formatting, transfer the files inside the NOOBS zip file to the microSD card’s root directory and you’re ready to run the NOOBS installer.
Register with Plex
The only thing you need to do at this point is to create a Plex account. Most of Plex’s features are free, but the company requires an account before it will let you use the software. Go ahead and register on the Plex website-- but don’t download anything.
Why not download Plex?
The software that Plex distributes from its own site runs on Windows, Mac OS, or Linux PC operating systems. It isn’t written to run on the ARM processors Raspberry Pi uses.
Fortunately, one member of the Plex community, Jan Friedrich, decided that the Plex Media Server needed to run on Raspberry Pi. He ported the software himself and offered it to the world as a free download.
- Note: Scroll down for a step-by-step guide to installing and configuring Friedrich's version of Raspbian.
Is a premium subscription worth it?
The free software will handle all of the basics when it comes to organizing and streaming your personal media files. The premium Plex Pass subscription unlocks a richer set of features that give you more sophisticated playlists, sync libraries with mobile devices, set parental controls, the ability (with extra hardware) to record live TV, and more.
You can review the full set of features on the Plex Pass page and decide whether they are worth the $4.99 monthly subscription.
Set Up a Raspberry Pi
Now we get into the heart of the action and start setting things up to install Plex on a Raspberry Pi. First, we have to get Raspbian working and ready to connect.
Install and update Raspbian
Insert the microSD card into the Raspberry Pi and connect the other hardware, finishing with the power supply. The Raspberry Pi will boot up to its desktop environment. When it finishes, click on the task bar’s black and blue box to open the command line. (If you’ve used Linux before, you can set Raspbian to boot to the terminal rather than the desktop)
You want to make sure you have the absolute latest versions of the operating system and software to avoid any glitches during the setup process. Type in the following commands:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
Once Raspbian finishes updating, move on the next step.
Install HTTPS transport
Now we need to make sure Raspbian is set to use the HTTPS transport package:
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https
If it isn’t already there, this command will start the installation process. Otherwise, you’ll get a message saying it’s already there.
Install Plex on a Raspberry Pi
Getting Plex set up is straightforward. We just tell Raspbian where to look for the ARM version of Plex Media Server, take care of some housekeeping, and start it up.
First, we need to point Raspbian to the dev2day repository where the Plex Media Server is kept. We start that by getting a secure key for the site:
wget -O - https://dev2day.de/pms/dev2day-pms.gpg.key | sudo apt-key add -
Then we give Raspbian the directions to loading the Plex package:
echo "deb https://dev2day.de/pms/ jessie main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pms.list
Next, issue the command to update the Raspbian’s list of software:
sudo apt-get update
And finally, tell Raspbian to update:
sudo apt-get install -t jessie plexmediaserver
We need to take care of a few things before opening up Raspberry Pi. First, we need to change the user to avoid being prompted for passwords all the time.
Open the Plex Media Server configuration file by entering the following command:
sudo nano /etc/default/plexmediaserver
You’ll see a long list of text flow by. Find the line that says PLEX_MEDIA_SERVER_USER and change it to read:
Now we need to give Plex a permanent address on your home network. That way each device running a Plex app on your network can automatically connect to the Plex Media Server. Type the following command to get the Raspberry Pi’s IP address:
Write down the IP address (you’ll need it handy when you connect your other devices). Now open the command line text file by entering this command:
sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt
Type the following at the bottom of the file but with your IP address
Exit and save the command line file by typing CTRL-X, Y, and then Enter.
Plex first launch
Reboot your Raspberry Pi to make sure all of your changes go into effect.
Open the browser on your laptop or desktop and enter the IP address followed by :32400/web/. It ought to look something like this:
You’ll have to go through the typical new account sign in process before you get into the Plex web app. Things will look a little sparse until you add your libraries. Select the media, find the hard drive, and select the folders to add.
Stream Media Throughout the House
At this point, the Plex Media Server will start scanning the hard drive and indexing the content it finds. If you have terabytes of audio and video files, it could take hours to completely finish. So now would be a good time to start getting the Plex app onto all of your digital devices.
Plex supports tablets and smartphones running iOS, Windows Phone, and Android (including Amazon Fire). Subscribers to Plex Pass can set the app to sync files to your mobile devices for those times when you’re not connected to the server.
If you’re an Android user, you’ll be able to control playback through Chromecast and use Google Now to search for Plex content.
Not all home entertainment devices play well with media servers. (I’m looking at you, Apple TV.) The Plex app will ensure that your media library, playlists, and other features get the full big screen treatment.
Adding a Plex skill to the Amazon Echo, for example, lets you ask Alexa to play specific videos or suggest something to listen to. If you really feel like it, you can ask Alexa to “throw down some phat beats”.
Game consoles and smart TVs
Install the Plex app from the app store on your game console or smart TV and take advantage of your hardware’s unique combination of features. Xbox One owners, for example, can use Xbox Kinect and Smart Glass to navigate the Plex interface and control media playback
Personal computers and home theater PCs
Linux and Mac OS users will find the Plex web app delivers a rich experience with an easily navigated dashboard and smart search functions. Since Plex decided to support Windows Phone, its Universal Windows app delivers a similarly rich desktop experience that supports touch.
Plex has an add-on for Kodi users that integrates Plex’s sophisticated home theater interface with Kodi’s powerful customization. Just keep in mind that several features, especially Plex Pass features, are not supported in the Kodi add-on.
Eric Liston • Author
Eric Liston is a content writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Since 2015, he’s been writing about technology, cord-cutting, and helping everyday people save money. He also has expertise writing about medicine, dentistry, insurance, and a variety of other industries. No matter what he’s writing, his focus is always on simplifying complex concepts and making them approachable for everyone. When he’s not slamming away on his keyboard at his home office, you’ll find Eric reading sci-fi novels, improving his disc golf game (he just hit his first 400-foot drive) and playing video games on his gaming PC.
Davan Hamilton • Editor
Davan Hamilton is an editor and writer based in Jacksonville, FL. Holding a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, her writing spans a wide range, from essays on film criticism and analysis to surreal poetry. Now, she works for Flixed as an editor, continuing to ignore the list of passion projects she’s accumulated. When she’s not glued to her computer, you can find her building endless amounts of Lego sets, binge-reading manga, or playing with (fighting) her cat.
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