Scanners

"Scanners" in Plex are the server components that go look at the media locations you specify for your libraries and then figure out:

  1. Whether the file is appropriate for that library (e.g. is it a TV episode for a TV library)
  2. If it's the appropriate type, then which item is it (e.g. it's season 3, episode 7 of the show Futurama)

In most cases, this is done by looking at the filenames and directory structure of the content. In some cases, other information such as embedded metadata may contribute. There are several broad categories of scanner:

  • Videos (Movies or less formal "home video" type content)
  • TV Shows
  • Music
  • Photos

Movies

The Movies scanner is used to recognize Movie content in a filename. There are two Movie Scanners available:

Plex Movie Scanner

This scanner is used to identify commercially created Movies in your collection. In order for the Movie Scanner to work most effectively, it's important to make sure your files are named and organized properly. Metadata embedded in some files (such as MP4) will also be read by the scanner. Whether this metadata is used or not depends on the Agents enabled and their order. See the Agents page for more information.

Note: Video files named like TV episodes (e.g.: Futurama - s03e07.mp4) are intentionally ignored by this scanner.

Related Page: Media Preparation
Related Page: Metadata Agents

Plex Video Files Scanner

This scanner is similar to the Plex Movie Scanner, but is less strict in how the media files are named. It is meant to match as much content as possible for you, but at the same time it also isn't as smart as the normal scanner. Some features/limitations:

  • Does not exclude content named like a TV episode
  • Does not support stacked content
  • Internet based information will not be fetched - so no posters etc.
  • If the Local Media Agent is enabled, embedded and other local assets will be used

TV Shows

The TV Show scanner is used to recognize episodic or date-based TV Show content. There is currently only a single TV-based scanner available by default.

Plex Series Scanner

This scanner recognizes content by inspecting the directory structure as well as the filename. It's important that TV episode content be organized into a folder structure as well as having the show information in each file name for the best results. Metadata embedded in some files (such as MP4) will also be read by the scanner. Whether this metadata is used or not depends on the Agents enabled and their order. See the Agents page for more information. Files that are not named like a TV episode are intentionally ignored by the scanner.

Related Page: Media Preparation
Related Page: Metadata Agents

Music

The Music scanner is used to recognize content in a filename and the containing folder. There is currently only a single music-based scanner available by default.

Plex Music Scanner

This scanner recognizes content by inspecting the directory structure as well as the filename. It's important that music files be organized into a directory structure as described in the Media Preparation guide for the best results. The scanner will also inspect ID3 and other similar tags embedded in most music file formats.

Related Page: Media Preparation
Related Page: Metadata Agents

Changing a Library Scanner

In cases where there are multiple scanners available for the library type, the scanner used can be changed when the library is first created, or when editing it. Note that some library types such as Photo libraries only have one scanner so there will not be a drop-down to change it.

To change the scanner:

When Creating a Library

  • Open the creation window for a new library
  • Before completing the process, select the Advanced tab in the sidebar
  • Choose the scanner to use from the Scanner drop-down (only visible if there is more than one scanner available for the library type)
  • Finish configuring the library

Related PageCreating Libraries

When Editing a Library

If a library has already been created, you can change the scanner from the Edit Library screen:

  • Open the Edit window for the library
  • Click the Advanced tab
  • Choose the scanner to use from the Scanner drop-down (only visible if there is more than one scanner available for the library type)
  • Click Save Changes

Related Page: Editing Libraries