Quick-Start & Step by Step Guides

Quick Start

This quick start is the fastest way to start using Plex and assumes you have a certain level of technical proficiency. You can follow the links for more detailed instructions.

  1. Setting Up and Installing the Plex Media Server
    • Download and run the installer for Plex Media Server.

    Tip!: It's important to understand that Plex Media Server does not have its own graphical user interface. When you run the server on your computer, NAS, or other device, you won't see a window open with a "server UI" or similar. Instead, you use Plex Web App to manage your server.

  2. Using Plex for the First Time
    • The very first time the server runs, it should launch a browser to sign you in (or create a new account) and start the Setup Wizard.
  3. Completing the Plex Media Server Setup
    • The short Setup Wizard will help you configure your server and account. It will also help you create and add media to your libraries. There is often some preparation of files needed, but you can set up a test library now and rebuild it at any time.
  4. Installing Plex Apps
    • Once the server is running, you can download and install apps for any of your devices.
  5. Exploring Plex
    • After your devices are connected, there is plenty of other functionality to explore!

Step by Step


Getting started with Plex isn't really any different than installing other software, except that you first install the server software. Then, you install software on your devices so that each device can connect to the server.

Preparing and Organizing Your Media Collection

Getting your media set up can be an important step. As you set up your Plex Media Server, you'll be creating libraries for your media—movies, TV shows, music, photos, and home videos. When you do so, Plex will identify and match content like movies and TV shows and then gather things like movie poster artwork, movie casts, TV episode descriptions, and more to make your collections beautiful.

Plex will do its best to automatically identify and match your content. You can help that process out and give yourself the very best results by ensuring that your content follows our media preparation guidelines.

Related Page: Media Preparation

The "Plex Media Server: Start here!" Video

For those that would prefer a video overview, please check out our "Plex Media Server: Start here!" video.

1. Setting Up and Installing the Plex Media Server

Choosing a Server—the Server Requirements

Plex Media Server can run on Windows, Mac, or Linux computers—some people use their every-day computer, others have a dedicated computer. It can also be installed on a compatible network attached storage (NAS) device. Generally, Plex works just fine on most modern computers.

Related Page: Plex Media Server Requirements
Related Page: What kind of CPU do I need for my Server?

Plex Media Server Performance Considerations

There are two really important considerations with regards to performance.

First, the Plex Media Server can allow multiple people to view content at the same time. When people view media on Plex at the same time, particularly video, the server has to work harder. So, the more people you expect to view media at the same time, the more powerful the server needs to be. Second, when Plex prepares your files for certain devices or for the available bandwidth, we convert (or "transcode") the content on-the-fly. This also takes a lot of server resources when it happens.

If your server isn't powerful enough for how you use it, you will notice playback issues such as stuttering, buffering, or sometimes even an inability to play at all. If this happens, it usually means the CPU can't keep up with the number of users or the amount of transcoding or both. So, you might consider upgrading your hardware. It may also mean that your hardware is fine but your network is too slow.

Related Page: What kind of CPU do I need for my Server?
Related Page: Internet and Network Requirements

Downloading the Plex Media Server

Once you've decided where you are going to install the Plex Media Server, visit the Plex Downloads page and download the Server for your device. It is important to ensure the Server computer has an internet connection while installing. This way, the setup wizard can run correctly and you can set up an account during the process.

Related Page: Plex Downloads

Installing and Running the Plex Media Server

The installation process should be very familiar, since it's what you normally do on your computer—it is a normal installation program on Windows and you move the downloaded app to your "Applications" folder for OS X.

When the install is finished or when the server is run for the first time, a browser will launch and ask you to either sign in or create a new account on the plex.tv website. You will then be asked to accept the terms of service, and the Setup Wizard will start.

Related Page: Plex Media Server > Installation

Tip!: It's important to understand that Plex Media Server does not have its own graphical user interface. When you run the server on your computer, NAS, or other device, you won't see a window open with a "server UI" or similar. Instead, you use Plex Web App to manage your server.

2. Using Plex for the First Time

Again, the very first time the server runs, it should launch a browser to sign you in or create a new account, accept terms of service, and run the Setup Wizard.

Just in case the browser and wizard don't launch or you need to close your browser and computer to come back to it later, we will explain how to 1) launch the Plex Media Server and 2) launch the Plex Web App below.

It is important to note that the server needs to be running before you can access the Plex Web App in a browser. If the Plex Web App and Setup Wizard have already launched for you, you can also skip down to section "3. Completing Plex Media Server Setup."

Launching the Plex Media Server

Launching Plex on Windows

  • If you chose Launch Plex Media Server at the end of the installation process, it will already be running
  • If you didn't, find it in the Start menu and launch it

Launching Plex on OS X

  • Open the Applications folder
  • Find Plex Media Server
  • Double-click it

Launching Plex on Linux

For most flavors of Linux:

  • Open a Command prompt
  • Type sudo /etc/init.d/plexmediaserver start

Accessing Plex Media Server via the Plex Web App

The Plex Media Server comes with the Plex Web App, which allows you to control Plex and access your media through any browser. Again, this should launch automatically and start the Setup Wizard when the server is run for the first time.

Launching the Plex Web App on Mac or Windows

On a Mac or Windows PC, you can launch the Plex Web App as follows:

  • Windows: Find the Plex icon in the Windows System Tray at the lower right of the screen. Right click the icon and choose Open Plex...
  • OS X: Locate the Plex icon (>) in your Mac's top Menu bar or right-click the Server icon in the dock and choose Open Plex...
  • The default browser will open and load Plex Web App

Launching the Plex Web App on Linux

If the Server was installed on a Linux based PC, and you're using that PC to access Plex Web App:

  • Open a web browser
  • Type into the address bar
  • The browser will connect to the Server and load Plex Web App

Launching the Plex Web App on Network Attached Storage (NAS)

If you installed the Server on a device like a NAS, or the Server PC is somewhere else in the house, you'll need to know the Server's internal IP Address. Once you know that IP address, on a PC in your home:

  • Open a browser window
  • Type http://server.local.ip.address:32400/web into the address bar (e.g "")
  • The browser will connect to the Server and load Plex Web App

Signing in to Plex Accounts

The best way to use Plex is to always sign in to your Plex account, regardless of what device or app you are using. As well, you should sign your server into your Plex account through Settings > Server > General. Signing into your accounts ensures that all functionality is working appropriately.

Related Page: Sign in to Your Plex Account

3. Completing Plex Media Server Setup

The Setup Wizard

The Setup Wizard should be running. It will lead you through a short series of steps to perform actions like naming your server and setting up your media libraries.

Related Page: Plex Media Server > Installation and Basic Setup

Setting Up Libraries and Adding Media

When the setup wizard asks you to set up libraries, it means you are organizing your media collections for Plex. As we mentioned earlier in this article, there are five types of libraries you can set up for your media (movies, TV shows, music, photos, and home videos) and Plex uses your file and folder data to match content and then gather awesome metadata for it. For files you have ripped or purchased (without digital rights management)—like movies, TV shows, or music—the metadata, filenames, and folders are usually organized well enough for Plex to enhance correctly, without any issues or need to correct. There are also ways to correct any issues, and they are outlined in the media preparation guide.

We suggest, at this point, that you prepare a test folder for each media type, add libraries, and see how it looks in Plex. Try some movies, TV shows, home videos, music, and photos. You can always go back and update the library, delete it, recreate libraries, or start over with a new library.

This test will give you a sense for the organization and labeling you want. Then, you can decide how you want your libraries grouped and named. For example, you may want to go ahead and add well organized folders to various libraries right away, and then put a bunch of unorganized files and folders into another library—these might be named "Summer Beach Trip 2014 Photos" and "Unorganized 2014 Photos."

Note: Video content purchased from online stores such as iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon will typically be protected by DRM (digital rights management) and cannot legally be played in other systems such as Plex.

Related Page: Plex Media Server > Basic Setup Wizard
Related Page: Media Preparation

Test Media Playback with Plex Web App

Once the setup is done, try clicking on media to view or play it. If it isn't working, try searching or browsing for solutions on our support site.

Related Page: Using Plex Web App > Plex Web App Player

4. Installing Plex Apps

Downloading Apps

Whether you have an iPhone, Android, Roku, Smart TV, Xbox, or other device, you will want to download a Plex App from our website or the device's app store. When on the Plex Downloads page, check the list of apps and follow the instructions for your preferred device.

Related Page: Plex Downloads

Network Connectivity

Once you have downloaded the app, make sure you are on the same local network as the server. If both are on the same network, everything should work, and you will be able to browse and play media from the device.

If you are trying to access Plex Media Server from a device outside of your home network, remote access will need to be set up and running.

Related Page: Enabling Remote Access for a Server

Connecting to Plex with Remote Access

One of the great features of Plex is the ability to access and stream your media when you're away from home. By default, your Plex Media Server will attempt to set up this Remote Access feature for you automatically. While the automatic setup works for a lot of our users, it can fail on some home networks. If you have trouble getting it set up or decide you'd rather not have it enabled, we have additional resources and troubleshooting information available.

Related Page: Enabling Remote Access for a Server
Related Page: Troubleshooting Remote Access

5. Exploring Plex

Now that you have completed the quick start, it is time to start exploring Plex and all the things it can do. Check out the support guides to see what you might explore next.

Related Page: Exploring More of Plex
Related Page: Support Articles