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 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.
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
8. Pre-Encode All Of Your Media
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. 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.