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Plex is a stunning piece of software. Put simply, it lets you stream your media anywhere in the world, on any device, whenever you want. But there is so much more to it than that…

We covered the software’s basics Your Guide To Plex - The Awesome Media Center Your Guide To Plex - The Awesome Media Center Love your digital collection of movies, TV shows and music, but hate using clumsy interfaces to play them on your TV? It's time to check out Plex, the ultimate media center software. Read More back in 2012, and although that guide is now a little dated, it will still help you get up and running if you’re a complete novice.

This article moves things on one step further – as we show you some of the best tips and tricks guaranteed to help you supercharge your Plex experience.

1. Install the Unsupported AppStore

This is hardly an unknown trick, but it’s still surprising how many Plex users do not take advantage of it.

The store gives you access to hundreds of TV channels and video-on-demand services that are not available natively.

plex-appstore

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Explaining how to get it working is beyond the scope of this article, but luckily for you, we covered the installation instructions along with some of its best channels 20 Unofficial Plex Channels You Should Install Right Now 20 Unofficial Plex Channels You Should Install Right Now One of the best features of Plex are Plex Channels. And one of the best parts of Plex Channels is the Unsupported App Store. Here are 20 unofficial Plex Channels you should install right now. Read More in a previous article.

2. Bilingual Movie Libraries

Did you know you can link several folders to one library? This has loads of advantages – probably the most obvious of which is bilingual movie libraries. Allow me to explain.

Let’s say, for example, that you are fluent in both English and Spanish. It’s highly likely that you’ll have some English-language audio movies, some with dual audio, and some Spanish-only.

Organize your folders like this:

  • Folder One – English
  • Folder Two – Bilingual
  • Folder Three – Spanish

Then create two libraries – one for English and one for Spanish.

The English library pulls content from folders one and two with the language set to English, while the Spanish library pulls from folders two and three with the language set to Spanish.

plex-folders

If you have family and friends around who only speak one of the two languages, they can browse the relevant library and only see content they’d be able to watch.

3. Don’t Go Channel Crazy

New Plex users will eagerly work their way through both the native channel store and the Unsupported AppStore adding anything which looks remotely interesting. I am guilty of doing this myself. However, it’s the wrong approach to take.

plex-channels

Not only are you highly unlikely to ever need all those channels, they can considerably impact on your experience by hindering the performance of the media server in terms of processor load and the weird bugs that sometimes creep into dead channels.

You’re better choosing five or six of the most appealing channels and sticking with them.

4. Use The Plex File-Naming Scheme

Okay, hands up, how many of you have movie and music libraries with no rhyme or reason to their naming structure It’s Time To Organize Your Music Collection: Tag & Rename Them With TagScanner It’s Time To Organize Your Music Collection: Tag & Rename Them With TagScanner I don’t like to see things out of place. Lately, my music collection has been. Thankfully, there are many music organization tools that can ease the spadework if one is falling behind. MP3Tag was my... Read More ?

This is already a bad idea from an organizational standpoint, but for Plex it’s an absolute nightmare.

Why? Because Plex uses scanners and metadata agents to automatically pull episode details, cover art, and other associated details into your library. It gives you a richer experience and makes in-app navigation much easier.

plex-naming

Details of how to name each individual type of content can be found on the Plex website.

5. Use Multiple Servers

It’s a common misconception that you can only have one server per household setup – you can actually have as many as you want. In fact, only using one server is not prudent.

What happens if you’re away from home with your laptop (which acts as the server) and your family want to watch something? Or what if you’ve got all your music on your laptop, but don’t want to keep hundreds of gigabytes of movies on the same machine? Or maybe your partner has a very different taste in TV series and wants to watch their stuff on the same Roku app?

plex-download

No problem – just download and set up the Plex Media Server on any computer/network drive you want.

6. Focus on CPU for the Best Plex Experience

Heavy Plex users might find themselves in the market for a new computer and will want to ensure the machine they purchase can maximize their Plex experience. The answer is to focus your hunt on CPU rather than GPU.

cpupower

Testing reveals that Plex hardly uses any GPU, but a faster processor can make a huge difference.

7. Cut the Cord, Buy Plex Pass

At $149.99, a lifetime Plex Pass Making The Best Media Center Better, With a Plex Pass [Giveaway] Making The Best Media Center Better, With a Plex Pass [Giveaway] Love Plex? You'll love a Plex Pass even more. With new and exclusive features only for Plex Pass holders, it's the best way to support development of the best media centre app around. Read More doesn’t sound cheap – but how expensive is one month of your cable subscription? Exactly.

If you’re one of the increasing number of people who are turning to Plex as a cord-cutting solution Cut the Cord Forever With These 15 TV Streaming Channels Cut the Cord Forever With These 15 TV Streaming Channels Cable TV is in decline, as the internet provides cheap, on-demand entertainment. Here are 15 of the best TV streaming services to help you cut the cord. Read More , it’s well-worth the investment – especially if you have a large family.

plexpass

That’s because a Plex Pass opens up a vast number of cool features, including:

  • Mobile syncing for offline playback
  • Parental controls
  • Multiple users and managed accounts
  • Wireless syncing of your phone/tablet content
  • Timed music lyrics
  • Content flinging between devices

8. Pre-Encode All Of Your Media

Plex comes with its own transcoder How to Get Smoother Playback on Plex With a Simple Fix How to Get Smoother Playback on Plex With a Simple Fix Plex is awesome but the quality isn't always perfect. Here's a neat fix you can use to get optimized quality at all times. Read More . In layman’s terms, that means it will convert any media in your libraries into a format that’s compatible with the client device All You Need to Know about Video Codecs, Containers, and Compression All You Need to Know about Video Codecs, Containers, and Compression Explaining the difference between codecs and containers is relatively simple, but hard part is attempting to understand each format. Read More .

Which sounds great, but it isn’t without its downsides. For example, it will put a serious strain on your CPU, fast-moving movie scenes can become pixelated, and sometimes you’ll come across weird audio or visual bugs where the transcoding has gone awry.

The solution is to pre-encode all the videos into a format that’s compatible with the devices you use. To convert your video, try a free tool like AVC.

avc

Note: Remember, you can have multiple copies of one video – so you could have one version specifically optimized for your iPad, one for your Roku, and so on.

Share Your Tips With the Class!

These eight tips and tricks will set you on the path towards Plex superstardom, but there are plenty of other ways of squeezing more out of Plex. We may reveal more tips and tricks in a future article, but in the meantime feel free to help your fellow readers out by sharing your own insights.

How have you made your personal Plex experience more satisfying? What Plex settings have you altered to make the most of the software? What little-used feature have you exploited?

You can either answer these questions or just use the opportunity to air your views on Plex in the comments below.

  1. Vings Events
    September 1, 2016 at 6:38 am

    it a very nice
    well done

  2. likefun butnot
    August 17, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    1. Media pre-encoding is a huge waste of disk space if you have a decent CPU and/or keep your files in high quality codecs and container formats. Why limit your enjoyment to 3Mbps MPEG2 videos with stereo-only audio because that's all the lame-o ARM-based Plex clients you're using will support? Get a Plex Media Server with a decent CPU.

    Roughly speaking, a reasonably new 4-thread x86 CPU can transcode two 1080p videos in real time. If you have more mobile, remote or set-top clients than that, either add another server or move up to something that supports more threads. US Residents can get a lease-returned Core i5 business desktop for all of $150 that's a perfectly good Plex Server. An nVidia Shield set top box, unique among ARM-based Plex Media Servers, can also handle two real time transcoding sessions.

    Transcoding is not necessary for local (i.e. on the same LAN) clients that directly support playback of the format in question. My FireTVs can even handle x.265 at 10 - 12Mbps without transcoding.

    2. PlexPass isn't THAT exciting. I have one. I bought it to support the developers. I don't think I've ever used it for anything besides novelty. Syncing videos on to mobile devices isn't that exciting (it's faster and in my opinion easier to do it outside of Plex unless you have iOS clients).

    An easy way to set up Parental Controls without PlexPass? Sort your content into age-appropriate folders and create separate libraries. I was doing that anyway.

    2.5 Make more than one user for your Plex Server. Especially if you have a kid who can access it. Plex tracks what you've watched and what you haven't. You don't need to know how far along the kid is into Steven Universe and the kid doesn't know that you've been paused at around the 45:00 mark of Showgirls for the last three years.

    3. If your Media Server's Operating System supports Symbolic Links (i.e. it's anything but Windows XP), you can also create folders and therefore libraries that don't easily align with Plex's default sorting. I create a library I call "Geek Movies" that just has things like Star Wars and Marvel movies in it so they're faster to navigate to, even though those movies are all in my normal "Movies" library as well.

    You'd have to read how to create symlinks on your Plex Media Server OS of choice, but it's at least possible on just about anything that would be a decent computer at this point.

    4. Not all Plex Clients are created equal. Some of them are pretty lame.The Samsung and LG WebOS Smart TV clients are both god-awful, for example, but the Windows Store Plex app is really nice. Some devices basically access Plex Media Servers or shared libraries as a DLNA server, which means getting giant lists of files with no fancy presentation. If you're serious about using Plex, get a decent client.

    5. There are some things that will be a mess no matter how you try to handle naming conventions. TV shows that have half-seasons or that include webisodes or DVD extras will confuse the Plex media scrapers to no end. Other times there's enough debate about episode order between Airdate and DVD ordering (Animaniacs) or just flat-out confusion about how things should be ordered that anything you decide to do will probably be wrong, even if you follow Plex guidelines. There could be scholarly papers written about how to deal with Doctor Who. Just accept that sometimes stuff will be wrong. As you find those things, you can fix them. Make sure the people on your server know to tell you something isn't right.

    6. Use Kodi instead for local viewing. If you have the option of watching via Kodi or watching via Plex, use Kodi. It's vastly more configurable, has a better and much more consistent interface. I really don't even use my Plex Media Server in my home, because I have Kodi clients everywhere I have Plex clients. Plex clients often don't support high quality (e.g. DTS) audio where Kodi will usually at least try to pass it through to my receiver or speakers.

    7. Plex is bad at music. Still. Even with a Plex Pass and the "Premium Music Experience." They say it's better. They're lying. Something that helped me a lot was to change the default music scraper for my music libraries to Local Media Assets. That way, Plex will look at the ID3 tags on your actual music file rather than poorly guessing what your files are and being wrong half the time. The original reason I set up a Plex Media Server in the first place was to get a nice presentation for my music, but this is in my opinion still its weakest area.

    • Nick J.
      August 31, 2016 at 4:21 am

      Where do you get this $150 business computer? Very interested.

  3. tim
    August 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    For naming of video files, I use TVRenamer for TV shows (as the name implies) and Filebot for movies and TV shows that TVRenamer wont get. Filebot will also let you download srt files.
    TVRenamer takes some setting up, but in the end it is well worth the time spent to do so.
    After it is set up, you can create a batch file (.bat) to automate it with one double click of the batch file shortcut. Poof! TV shows renamed and moved to appropriate folders.

  4. Paul Werner
    August 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Don't forget that you can use their Media Optimizer if you don't want to use other tools to pre-encode your videos:

    https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/214079318-Media-Optimizer-Overview

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