Plex is a flexible, open-source, and free video-streaming application that allows you to share your digital media library over local and remote networks. It’s an easy way to watch downloaded videos or stream music between devices. And with a little setup, you can access your Plex library from the road, building your own personal Spotify and Netflix.
1. Download Plex Media Server from plex.tv. This is the application that will build and enable your Plex library which you’ll be able to access from anywhere.
2. Drag the Plex Media Server application into your Applications folder.
3. Launch the application from your Applications folder. You’ll see a small chevron appear in your status bar, and the application will open up a browser tab. This browser tab is your interface for your Plex media server.
4. Click “Sign Up” to create a new Plex account, then use it to log in.
5. After you’ve logged in, you’ll have the option to name your new Plex server.
6. If you think you’ll want to access Plex from outside your home network, leave “Allow me to access my media outside my home” ticked. Then, Plex will automatically attempt to configure a remote connection.
7. Plex will automatically create a few libraries for you. To create a library for your movies, click the “Add Library” button.
8. Set “Movies” as your library type and click “Next.”
8. Click “Browse for Media Folder” to select the folder with your movies.
9. After you’ve selected the folder, click “Add Library.”
10. When you’ve added all your libraries, click “Next” to proceed.
11. You’ll see the Plex main screen come up. You won’t see all your media yet since it will take Plex a little while to scan all of it, but when it’s done, you’ll see thumbnails for each file that Plex has scanned and organized.
Run Plex at launch
It’s a good idea to set Plex Media Server to open at login, so you’ll always have access to your library when the host computer is running.
1. Click on the Plex status bar icon.
2. Choose “Open at login” from the drop-down menu.
Using Plex on your home network
The most straightforward use of Plex is on your home network. You can keep a media library on your Mac and then stream content to virtually any screen.
1. Make sure the Mac with your Plex library is turned on and the Plex server app is open. Look for the chevron icon in the status bar to confirm the app is active.
2. Access your Plex Server via a browser window by navigating to
127.0.0.1:32400. That’s the internal IP address and port number for Plex. Alternatively, you can also use plex.tv/web, but the login screen will look slightly different.
2. Log in using the account that you created in the above steps.
3. After you’ve logged in, you’ll see the main Plex screen from which you can select and play media you have on your server. You might notice that this is exactly the same interface you’ll see on the machine running the Plex Media Server application. All instances of Plex within a browser look identical.
Accessing Plex outside your network
Setting up remote access to your home network can often be challenging, but Plex can simplify the process. If you have a modern router that supports UPnP or NAT-PMP, Plex will be able to automatically configure and enable a remote connection.
1. Access your Plex Server from your home network via a browser window by navigating to 127.0.0.1:32400. Log in if prompted.
2. Navigate to “Settings -> Server -> Remote Access.”
3. Click the “Enable Remote Access” button.
4. If Plex successfully enables remote access, you’ll see a success screen take the place of the red text from the above screenshot.
5. You can now access your home network from the road. Navigate to https://plex.tv/web, enter your login credentials, and presto! There’s your media library.
Using a Plex app
You can also use Plex through a Plex app on the receiving device. For example, if you have a smart TV, you can install the Plex app from your TV’s app store. The exact look might vary from app to app, but if you log in with your Plex account, the application will automatically connect to your server, whether you’re at home or on a remote network.
You can set up Plex in about ten minutes, and you’ll have everything you need to stream media inside or outside your home network.
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