8 Plex Tricks and Tips You Really Need to Know

Dan Price 17-08-2016

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 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.


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 and Plugins You Should Install Right Now Want to unlock more Plex plugins? We show you how to access 20 of the best Plex channels to watch via the Unsupported AppStore. Read More  and the best Plex apps The Best Plex Apps to Make Plex Even Better Here are the best Plex apps that will make Plex even better once they're installed. Read More in other articles.

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.


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.


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?

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.


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?


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.


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 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, it’s well-worth the investment – especially if you have a large family.


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

But do you really need a Plex Pass 5 Reasons Why You Don't Need a Plex Pass Do you actually need a Plex Pass? Is a Plex Pass worth it? Here are several reasons why you may not actually need the subscription. Read More ?

8. Pre-Encode All Of Your Media

Plex comes with its own transcoder 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 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.


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. Did you know that you can watch and record live TV with Plex DVR How to Watch and Record Live TV With Plex DVR In this article, we show you how to watch and record live TV using Plex DVR, a solid option for cord cutters everywhere. Read More  and control Plex using Amazon Alexa How to Control Plex Using Amazon Alexa In this article we explain how to control Plex using Amazon Alexa. Allowing you to control your Plex Media Server with your voice. Read More ? Plex also comes with podcast support now, and here are the most popular Plex podcasts The 15 Most Popular Plex Podcasts in 2019 There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts available on Plex. Here are the most popular Plex podcasts in 2019. Read More for you to explore.

Explore more about: Media Server, Media Streaming, Plex.

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. Nate
    October 31, 2019 at 2:17 am

    Go on Ebay, buy an HP ML 350 used server for like oh.... $150. Set it up with storage, you can use SATA and it will use them happily. Load your flavor of linux and install the plex server. Set up remote access, and you can set everything to max, and have a great time. I use a HP DL360 G8 64 GB Ram 16 Core 4.5 GHz CPU. That cost me about $400 on ebay when i bought it. I had a NAS not in use, so i repurposed it, and i have it full of 8TB drives now. That was expensive, but a choice i decided on due to my library sizes. You can make a very capable Plex server for not a lot of money and keep your own PC's for your use. Just my 2 cents. Have a great night!

  2. Jason Suarez
    November 20, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    The section about GPUs not being utilized in PLEX is VERY inaccurate. There is an entire video series on youtube explaining how powerful certain GPUs are for hardware transcoding. From a best bang for your buck perspective, this guy shows you how powerful a Quadro P2000 is when transcoding in plex. I think he got 30 h265 transcodes to work simultaneously while using very LITTLE electricity (huge cost when running a server in your house)


  3. They Call Me Chuck
    December 5, 2017 at 3:17 am

    For stability and overall reliability, stay mainstream! Forget about hardware encoding and new codecs until they are mainstream.
    Do the math. X amount of transcoded streams require Z processor speed PERIOD. Purchase the server accordingly OR only expect a realistic load from what you have.
    see link -> https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/201774043-What-kind-of-CPU-do-I-need-for-my-Server-
    Pre-encoding is only going to be a plus if you intend using the same exact quality (for local and remote) for all your media and all clients are compatible with it. (not very flexible).
    Expect, generally, on the most part for local streams to be direct play and remote to be transcoded.
    Boost speed by operating Plex from SSD and even the transcode folder from a RAM drive. The SSD decreases loading time and the RAM drive speeds up buffering and in-stream tracking when jumping around in a media file. (personally tested)
    Hardwire anything related to plex, server and clients, with Ethernet, AKA no wifi. In my experience wifi was the cause of most playback issues like buffering.
    Don't surf with your plex server and risk viruses and malware contamination.
    Choose wisely on the client. Highly suggested clients are Roku, RaspberrPi with OpenELEC, most mobile apps for iOS/Droid and the classic browser interface. Light weight ones like the fire stick work only ok and are clunky, choppy, clumsy and even wonkey to operate.
    Plex servers can be rented on remotely hosted services and are sometimes even packaged with torrent software than can provide additional streams. Usually not cheap!
    As of now, the cable tuner DVR is not so great being that DRM content is not available (DRM channels are likely the ones you want), so go with the HDTV/OTA tuners. It's better quality video and 0 monthly fees. Get a good antenna.
    To restrict content to the users, separating the media types and making each user have their own login allows you to only share the appropriate libraries with each user. Example, adult content can be shared with mom and dad but not the kids, but the kids can have the cartoon library while everyone has the tv shows.
    Get the best suited quality of media file right from the start, like downloaded content. If you can't even support a 4K video don't get it! I suggest 720 for tv shows and 1080 for movies even though they can vary greatly. You will get a feel for what bitrate plays best so try and stick with that and you may end up trancoding much less often.

    best of luck,,

  4. James Collier
    July 12, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    For #8: using x264, aac, .mp4 is the most universal format. Every device I've tried to stream to supports that natively and this prevents the CPU from having to transcode (I have a My Cloud EX2 Ultra and this helps drastically).

    • Parker
      November 21, 2018 at 11:41 pm

      Good call. That too is what I do and have.

  5. Anonymous
    September 1, 2016 at 6:38 am

    it a very nice
    well done

  6. Anonymous
    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.

      • Terry Thomas
        March 1, 2017 at 2:23 am

        Many local and national computer stores carry used computers that are "off lease". Call some of your local stores or check with chains such as MicroCenter or Tiger Direct.

        Here in Atlanta, Delta Computers has "off lease" Dell computers for $150.

    • SlayernFc
      October 18, 2018 at 1:07 pm

      Why create symlinks when you have "Collections" this does the same thing.

      • likefunbutnot
        October 18, 2018 at 1:31 pm

        For consistency in and out of Plex, especially if at any point you have to rebuild your server.

  7. 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.

    • james
      April 14, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      I would suggest Couchpotato for movies and Medusa for tv shows. They can run ideally in the background and you just set up a folder to dump things in and they will rename and sort them where you tell them too. Makes life so much easier.

  8. Anonymous
    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: