Plex is a powerful client-server media player system that gives you access to all your media content on all of your devices. The media server runs on just about any sort of computer from Windows, to Mac, to Linux, serving content to the client. The client side, which receives the content from the media server, runs on television, mobile device, or just a desktop or laptop computer.
Plex’s premium service, called Plex Pass, enables a number of useful features, including synchronization across devices, meaning you could start watching a movie on one device then continue on another device without missing a beat. Music lovers will dig Plex Plus’s music matching service so you can quickly identify all the songs you hear in the course of watching a good movie or show. Plex Pass also offers parental controls, support for DVD’s, and more.
Plex Official and Third Party Plugins
If that’s not enough great functionality, there are a wide range of plugins for Plex to extend the power of the application. Plugins for Plex add on to the core platform and offer access to new channels or add extra utility to the software.
There used to be two types of plugins: the Plex officially supported plugins and unofficial plugins that Plex didn’t officially support. Both types offered different features and were worth checking out if you use the platform. However, in 2018 Plex decided to discontinue official plugin support and now all plugins are unofficial. Here is how to install plugins on Plex.
Installing unofficial plugins on Plex
It isn’t exactly simple to install unofficial plugins on Plex but it isn’t exactly difficult either. Unofficial channels have not been verified or checked by Plex and are usually developed by community members. That doesn’t mean they will be problematic or crash your server, it’s just that Plex no longer officially supports plugins.
To install an unofficial plugin on Plex, you first need to find a repository. I know of two good ones, the Unsupported Appstore v2, and the Plex GitHub page. It is from here that you install unofficial plugins. They come as .zip files and you just need to download them and install them into Plex.
You will need the WebTools plugin from GitHub to make it all work. Select WebTools.bundle.zip from the page and extract it onto your computer. Make sure the extracted file is called WebTools.bundle. You now need to move this file.
- If you’re using Windows to host your Plex Media Server, place WebTools.bundle into %LOCALAPPDATA%\Plex Media Server\Plug-ins.
- If you’re using a Mac, place the file into ~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins.
- If you’re using Linux, place the file into $PLEX_HOME/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins.
Once the file is in place, there are a couple of extra steps we need to take to initialize the Unsupported AppStore. Instructions are included within the file but:
- Open your Plex media server and select Plugins in the sidebar.
- Select WebTools from the plugins listed.
- This will display a URL; type that URL into the web browser. (Usually something like “http://10.1.19.2:33400”)
- Select Unsupported AppStore from the main page. You should be taken to an apps page.
- Search and select the channels you want to add.
- Select Install under the app to install them.
If that sounds like a lot of hassle, you can also manually install unofficial plugins in Plex. This will work on any of the operating systems.
- Use one of the repositories linked above to find a channel or plugin.
- Download the .zip file and extract it onto your computer. The filename must end in .bundle for it to work with Plex.
- Copy the file across to the Plug-ins folder listed above.
- Open Plex and the new plugin should appear within your plugin list.
Not all unofficial plugins offer channels. Some additional features such as media tracking, better profile management, and other neat tools. Both repositories linked above have a good selection of add-ons that you may find useful. You can add and remove them as you see fit by deleting or moving the .bundle file from the Plug-ins folder on your Plex Media Server.
Plex is a very useful media platform that is made popular by its utility and ease of use. Adding official channels is simple and works in seconds and even adding unofficial channels is a breeze. That is a mark of a truly accomplished platform as far as I’m concerned!
Got any essential Plex plugins or channels that you recommend TechJunkie readers try out? Tell us about them in the comments below!