Plex is one of the top media server software for your media consumption needs. Be it a PC or a NAS (Network Attached Storage), you can use it to store and organize all your media on one device, and access it on another. One of the key aspects of the service is its on-the-fly transcoding, which automatically adjusts the quality of the stream based on the network’s bandwidth to give you a seamless streaming experience.
While you can use Plex as is, and it would easily suffice most of your requirements, you can further get more out of the service using various Plex plugins. Although, a couple of years back, Plex shut down its plugin directory, leaving users with no other option, but to sideload plugins. So, in this article, we list down some of the essential Plex plugins and mention the steps to sideload them on your server.
UPDATE: It seems that Plex has decided to scrape off support for plugin systems. So, as of now, it is no longer possible to run the plugins on the server even if you manage to install them. Having said that, it should be possible to run plugins on the older versions of Plex. While we don’t recommend doing that due to security reasons, if you end up getting one, this guide might still come in handy.
How to Sideload Plex Plugins
1. Download the plugin file. If it is in the “.zip” archive, unzip it in a folder.
2. Check for the “.bundle” file and make sure its file name does not have anything after the “.bundle” extension.
3. Copy the plugin bundle into the Plug-ins folder in the Plex Media Server. You can find the Plug-ins Folder in the following directories –
%LOCALAPPDATA%\Plex Media Server\Plug-ins
~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins
$PLEX_HOME/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins
4. Restart the Plex Media Server.
Note: Some plugins do not have a straightforward installation method, and therefore, might require you to follow their own installation guide.
Essential Plex Plugins
Web Tools is not just a plugin, but a collection of several utilities to help you manage your Plex server in a better manner. It is built on an open-source project and comes with a built-in web-server with a responsive web-interface to make it easy for you to view or manage your server on any device. Besides plugins, it also hosts a few apps and channels that you can download to your server. As for other server management functionalities, you get logging tools, management modules, and subtitle management, to name a few. Truly one of the best Plex plugins you can install.
2. Plex Export
If you often get asked to share content on your Plex media server, but you do not want to give access to your server, the Plex Export plugin can prove to be a lifesaver. Simply put, it allows you to create an HTML page with information about the media stored on your media server, which you can then share with others. It gives live filtering for each section and a detailed look into shows and movies, along with the option to filter content by genre, actors, etc, and sort titles by name, year, rating, etc. This Plex plugin needs PHP installed on the system running your Plex server to function. And, if it is running on the Home mode, it needs to be authenticated via a token, which can be found on their support page, here.
Tautulli is another must-have plugin/utility for your server. It is essentially a third-party application that you can run alongside your media server to monitor its activities and keep track of various statistics. Some of the statistics it can track include data about what was been watched, who watched it, when and where they watched it, and how it was watched. Further, to make it easy to comprehend these statistics, the service presents the data in an organized manner using graphs and tables. Aside from statistics tracking, it also provides the option to view and delete synced content from your server, view detailed information on your media, monitor current activity on the server, and create and trigger custom scripts.
Similar to Plex Export, Plex-sync is another useful and must-have utility for your Plex server. As its name suggests, the plugin helps you sync content across your different servers, meaning, it ensures that the content present on one of your servers has a synchronized watched/seen status across other Plex servers. For this, it utilizes the IDs associated with different libraries on each of the servers you wish to sync the status with and provides a CLI (command-line interface) to run the required commands. Furthermore, if you wish to automate the sync process and avoid the need to manually enter commands every time you want to sync watch status, you can use a job scheduler utility like cron.
For those of us who watch content across different continents in foreign languages, the Sub-Zero plugin is an ideal utility to have on your server. Although the Plex media server has its own subtitle utility built-in, it does lack a few features and does not offer accurate subtitles for relatively newer content. And, in some instances, it fails to offer any subtitles at all. Sub-Zero, on the other hand, claims to search up to 10 individual subtitle provider sites and APIs to select the best one of the lot before downloading it. Moreover, it also comes with its own background task scheduler, which periodically searches for subtitles for new media or better subtitles for the existing media.
That’s all for this listicle!
If you use Plex for media organization and consumption, you can use the Plex plugins mentioned above to get the most of your Plex server. Moreover, besides the ones listed in the article, you can also download other Plex plugins you like and install them using the steps listed initially in the article.