Plex is an awesome home media platform that helps manage locally saved movies, music, and more. Comprised of Plex Media Server and Plex Media Player, the platform makes it easy to organize your media and share it across a network. While it comes with its own media player, you can also use VLC media player to play the content. Here’s how to stream Plex media to VLC.
The Plex Media Server installs onto your main computer, where you have all your media installed. It organizes all your content and can initiate streams to remote devices. Those devices can be other computers, tablets, or even phones, and they can be local or internet-based.
Plex Media Player is installed onto any device you want to consume your media on. It receives the stream from Plex Media Server and plays it, and it also allows you to browse and select from its interface.
Both elements make up Plex and are compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, NAS, Cloud storage, Android, iOS, Chromecast, Amazon devices, Apple TV, Kodi, PlayStation, Xbox, Roku, and Nvidia Shield. There are others I have likely missed, but you get the idea. It’s quite the extensive list of options to pick from.
Setting up Plex
To successfully use Plex, you will need a central computer or device that hosts all of your media. It will need to be left powered on whenever you want to consume that media, and it will need to be connected to your network and/or the internet.
The Plex Media Server is mandatory for this to work, but the app is optional. You can also watch through a browser or VLC media player, as I will show you.
- Download and install Plex Media Server onto that central device. Download the Plex Media Player app onto any device you want to consume the media on.
- Sign up for a Plex account and follow the setup wizard.
- If you want to stream outside your home network, enable ‘Connect to Plex.’
- Add your libraries when prompted. Select ‘Add Library’ and import the media you want to share.
- Add your network and allow remote access when prompted.
- Install the channels you want to include.
That is all you need to do for basic Plex Media Server setup; it’s a fairly straightforward process. DLNA, which is the network protocol we need to play on VLC, is enabled by default so no more action is needed here. You can spend more time later customizing and configuring it as you want to, and adding channels.
Next you need to install the Plex Media Player onto any device you want to use Plex on. You don’t necessarily need to play media with it longer term, but you will want to at least set it up so you can test everything works. Better to troubleshoot early on than to run into problems later.
- Install the Plex Media Player app onto your device.
- Follow the installation wizard to join the network and find the media.
- Rinse and repeat for each device you want to use Plex on.
In theory, this should now just work. You should be able to browse media in the Plex Media Player on any device you have it set up on, select something, and play it. One of the reasons Plex is so popular is because it just works without any hassle. It has been lovingly crafted to deliver a seamless experience and it does it very well.
Stream Plex media to VLC
If you want to stream Plex media to VLC, it may be easy or more difficult depending on your network setup. As DLNA (the network protocol used by Plex) is enabled by default and works with UPnP, VLC should be able to pick it up without issue. But lots of people have had issues so it isn’t necessarily the most straightforward process.
Once everything is set up:
- Open VLC on a remote device and select ‘View.’
- Select ‘Playlist’ and scroll down on the left pane until you get to ‘Local Network.’
- Select ‘Universal Plug n’ Play’ and wait for the box on the right to populate.
- Select folders in the right pane to find media to play.
- Double click specific media and it should begin playing right away in VLC.
If all goes well, the media will play in VLC without issue. If the right pane doesn’t populate or doesn’t find any media, double check that DLNA is enabled in Plex Media Server. Navigate to ‘Settings and Server’ in Plex Media Server and make sure that the box next to ‘DLNA server’ is checked. It should be by default. Also enable ‘Direct Play’ and ‘Direct Stream’ if they aren’t already.
If you want to stream Plex media to VLC player, that is how you do it. Plex Media Player is pretty good, but we like what we like sometimes, and there’s no shame in wanting to stick to the things you know you like.