New media streaming apps like Plex prove to be amazing technology, but also complicated for new users trying to understand how to get new movies and tv shows on Plex. The uniqueness of Plex leaves new users pondering all of its capabilities.
You can get new movies on Plex for free by connecting the app to a device that has the media properly stored on it. Alternatively, you can connect to another users account to stream media. All devices must be on and connected to the internet.
See our post on: Jellyfin vs Plex vs Emby: Which is better? (Comparison)
Note: This essentially makes Plex a “free Netflix”, but keep in mind that you must be careful and not download anything illegal, such as copyright infringing content.
Mediapeanut does not support or advise piracy in any form. Only use the methods here for movies and TV shows you personally own.
Are you using Plex on Roku? See our Roku Hacks
The only difference is that the content you are viewing is being streamed from your own personal media files that you can store on your computer, network attached storage or seedbox. You can also connect to the media files outside your own account through alternate methods.
- How does Plex work?
- Why is Plex so good?
- What devices are compatible with Plex?
- Where can I store media on Plex?
- 1. First ensure your files are compatible with your Plex Client.
- 2. Choose a device that will allow Direct play
- 3. Take your stored Media and create a Plex library
- Optimal & best settings for Plex
- Plex won't direct play
- Plex keeps buffering
- Plex keeps pausing and freezing
- Is Plex safe?
- Do I need a VPN for plex?
- Is it illegal to share movies on Plex
What is Plex?
Plex is a digital media player that organizes libraries of video, music and photos and allows users play their own media from devices other than where it is originally stored. This gives users the ability to create their own personal Netflix and Spotify.
How does Plex work?
Plex works by scanning your personal media files such as movies, music and photos that are stored on a personal device including, but not limited to your computer, network attached storage or even a seedbox.
Next, Plex streams and organizes your media library onto a Netflix style app that can be downloaded on almost any media player device including, but not limited to your smart TV, streaming sticks, mobile phone, tablets and much more.
See our post on: Jellyfin vs Plex vs Emby: Which is better? (Comparison)
Plex is a very unique streaming platform; it compares to Jellyfin and Emby in that it is completely free with the option to upgrade for small features. Plex is the most well known amongst the three streaming services. It is also common for Plex to be referred to as a client server player.
Why is Plex so good?
The benefit of Plex is that it is free and allows users to play an impressively wide variety of media file extensions on nearly any media device. It’s also available in over 200 countries.
Plex is compatible with most media containers available allowing you to get your media files from anywhere, including torrenting. (more on that below)
Where to get Movies to Stream on Plex
Imagine having any movie or TV show you desire, without limits, on your own personal Netflix style streaming service.
You can find movies to stream on Plex by ripping Blu-ray’s, DVDs or by downloading (legal) movies. Some even go as far as automating torrenting to find movies to stream on Plex; which we do not advise
Since Plex leaves it up to users to find movies and shows to stream… those who aren’t ripping Blu-ray’s and DVDs are instead creating massive libraries of just released movies through automating torrents and other alternate methods.
Unfortunately, for a first timer these ways to find the best movies on Plex are very advanced and can take over 4+ hours to set up properly.
Be sure to not commit any form of copyright infringement. Many use a VPN to protect their behavior online, but since Plex encrypts its data when content is sent from the server to your Plex nobody can peek or see what you’re doing – which can cause an issue. It’s best not to commit copyright infringement.
Related: Best Streaming Devices for Smart TVs
How to get Torrents on Plex
To use torrents on Plex you can download a torrent and then add it to the Library folder that Plex scans… just like any other video in your library. This will allow you to get new movies on Plex.
Users are known to also automate torrenting on Plex by setting up their own server and automatically pull torrents in of the latest shows using something called sonar & radar. This is very difficult without tech knowledge as mentioned earlier.
The easiest route to take when automating torrenting on Plex is to check reddit, there are many ways the communities can guide you on using torrents (legally).
This allows you to automate the process in under 10 minutes instead of taking 4+ hours of setting it up the difficult way.
You can get new release movies on Plex this way… making Plex far more efficient compared to adding movies and shows manually. We do not advise piracy or copyright infringement in any way.
How do I stream Movies on Plex?
If you are not using the guide shown earlier on this page then the traditional (much longer way) can be done, but it does require some setup.
Most people get confused with Plex because it is not explained to them that they need two devices that are both connected to the internet for the stream to work.
Here is how to stream movies on Plex:
In order to stream movies on Plex you’ll need one device to watch the movies on and another to store and stream the movies from. Both devices must be connected to the internet. Once stored, connect your Plex account to the media library and finally watch on any Plex compatible device.
The good news is that this process to get new movies on Plex is much easier than it sounds.
We’ll go over in this post exact steps on how to get new release movies on Plex for free and make your own premium personal streaming service.
What devices are compatible with Plex?
Here are all the possible compatible devices that work with Plex:
- Most Smart TVs made after 2016: Samsung, Sony, VIZIO, and more.
- Streaming devices: Nvidia Shield, Roku, Apple TV 4K, Firestick & more.
- Mobile Phones and tablets: iOS and Android.
- Computers or Laptops with Mac or Windows.
- Game Consoles: Xbox One and Ps4.
This amount of capable devices also means you can fling where you last left off… for example if you are watching a movie through Plex on Tv and then your Uber arrives- you can switch what your watching to view where you left off last on your mobile phone or tablet during the ride.
Fun Fact: Plex also lets you open and play AVI files on Mac since Macbooks don’t have native AVI codecs that allow this multimedia container to work properly.
Important to note- I personally have had issues streaming Plex on my Xbox One S. If you’re using a gaming console- most find the Ps4 works much smoother than the Xbox for streaming new movies on Plex.
Where can I store media on Plex?
- Computer or Network-attached storage (NAS)
- A remote device such as a Seedbox, VPS, or alternate method.
- Gaming consoles or streaming devices (not recommended unless it’s the Nvidia shield)
The methods that require the least amount of physical requirements are 2 and 3 listed above.
Each of these ways can accomplish your goal of getting new movies on Plex. We’ll go over how exactly you can do each of these methods in this post.
How to add movies and TV shows to Plex
Note: You can skip all of the following complex process view the personal streaming service guide I mentioned earlier in this post. It is the quickest method to date and highly advised for those with or without tech knowledge.
Here’s how to add your content including movies and TV shows to Plex:
1. First ensure your files are compatible with your Plex Client.
To add movie and TV shows on Plex you’ll first need to make sure you have video files in compatible formats Plex supports and a streaming client that will play these videos.
Here are all the compatible video and audio formats for Plex:
|Container||Video Encoding||Audio Encoding|
|.MP4||H.264, hevc (H.265), mpeg4, wmv3, vc1,||mp3, aac, ac3, eac3|
|.MKV||H.264, hevc (H.265), mpeg4, wmv3, msmpeg4v2, msmpeg4v3, vc1, vp9||mp3, ac3, alac, aac, e-ac3, flac|
|.AVI||mpeg4, msmpeg4, msmpeg4v2, msmpeg4v3, vc1, wmv3||acc, ac3, mp3|
|.MPEGTS, .TS||H.264, mpeg2video||mp2, aac, ac3|
As you can see Plex will play almost all of your media. For videos, a .MP4 file extension is ideal as it is the most compatible, but not necessary. 1080p, H.264 will direct play more often than other formats, including 4k formats.
For audio AAC 2.0 is the most compatible, AAC 5.1 is the most compatible for surround sound and AAC 7.1 audio will need a receiver (source)
Here all the compatible 4k video and audio formats for Plex:
|.MP4||hevc (H.265), mpeg4|
|.MKV||hevc (H.265), vp9, mpeg4|
The most popular open source tool to convert nearly any video to MP4 or MKV is Handbreak. (Yes, it’s free)
2. Choose a device that will allow Direct play
Plex will play most of the media you throw at it by direct playing it. Direct play means the media is compatible and will be played in the intended format of the original file. Streaming devices like a Roku or Apple TV will direct play more formats than the average Smart TV and less transcoding will occur.
Transcoding vs Direct Play comparison
When your Plex client (ex. Smart tv, Roku, etc) doesn’t support the content natively… then Plex will transcode the media to make the content viewable instead of direct playing.
Transcoding is less ideal than direct playing because more resources are being used from the device you are streaming your stored media from resulting in lower quality streams and increased chance to pause or buffer.
When a device is transcoding it is changing the format of the original file on the fly so your client (ex. Tv, mobile phone) can play it in a format it understands and supports when streaming.
Quality and speed of the transcoded stream could suffer when compared to direct play. To avoid transcoding make sure you have a Plex client device that supports the media formats you are playing as well as having the correct settings on the Plex app configured.
Related – You’ll need fast internet speeds to transcode – If you’re using a device such as Firestick or Roku, use a Roku speed test to check your network connection speed.
What is the best Plex client device for direct play?
The ideal Plex client to watch movies on is a media streaming device that allows direct play more often than transcoding. The most preferred Plex client is the Nvidia Shield TV Pro 4K followed by the Apple TV 4K and Roku Ultra.
Devices that will direct play 4k on Plex:
Here are the only streaming devices for Plex that will direct play 4K:
Nvidia shield TV (Ultimate choice- This beast will play anything that exists)
Apple TV 4K (you only need the 32 gb version)
The only two devices that will consistently play 4k smoothly and without transcoding is the Nvidia Shield Tv Pro or the Apple TV 4K and the reward is well worth it. Unfortunately there are no cheaper options for 4K. Anyone knowledgable on Plex and it’s direct play capabilities will agree.
If you’re grabbing the Nvidia shield TV pro make sure you get the one listed above and not the less expensive option that looks like a tube as it’s known to have issues with direct play 4k…
I’ve also seen some brand new Smart TV’s occasionally direct play 4k file here and there, but it is extremely rare and typically does not direct play 1080p or 4k consistently.
Devices that will direct play 1080p on Plex:
Here are the best streaming devices for Plex that will direct play 1080p:
Nvidia Shield TV (The ultimate streaming device)
Roku Ultra (Second most affordable) (most valuable per dollar in my opinion)
Apple TV 4K (amazing)
Amazon Fire TV 4K (most affordable, may occasionally transcode)
Xiaomi Mi Box S (great for 1080p, but laggy 4K streaming)
Chromecast Ultra (Great for 1080p, 4k often times did not direct play using Plex)
A lot of you may be wondering how the Amazon Fire TV 4K made it on the 1080p list. This is no mistake- the Fire TV 4k often has problems with direct playing 4k on Plex, but works great with 1080P direct play and is still a fantastic affordable option.
Streaming devices that advertise 4K aside from the Apple TV 4K & Nvidia Shield TV Pro, may work with Netflix in 4K, but they do not direct play 4k movies on Plex.
What is the cheapest device that will direct play on Plex?
I’ve done a lot of research and have tested many different devices… If you’re going to direct play movies and shows on Plex you’ll want to stick with any of the options linked above. There are no cheaper options than what you see above that I would advise.
If you don’t care much for 4k you can use a Roku, Fire TV stick or your smart TV to direct play 1080p direct play with the occasional transcode.
Devices such as outdated Smart Tv’s, computers, laptops and game consoles may or may not direct play, but will still transcode. I’ve had problems streaming direct play with my Xbox One S and I bought the Apple TV 4K instead. Plex now works perfect.
3. Take your stored Media and create a Plex library
To put your movies and shows on Plex you’ll want to open the Plex app through your web browser of the device you are storing your media on. Then follow these steps:
- Open the settings menu.
- Select Libraries under “Manage” on the bottom left
- Click “Add library” and choose your media type
- Click “Browse for media folder” and choose where your files are stored.
- Once you’ve finished selecting option click “Add library”
You’re now ready to watch! Be sure to optimize the settings on the Plex app of the client device you’re watching content on as well or you will not be direct playing correctly.
Optimal & best settings for Plex
When you launch the Plex app on the client you’ll be watching your media on you’ll need to tweak some settings
Here are the most optimal settings for Plex:
- Allow Direct Play: Yes
- Allow Direct Stream: Yes
- Local Quality: Original
- Remote Quality: Original or default option
- Online Quality: Original
If you have the Plex Pass be sure to enable to experimental player. We’ve seen good results with it, although it’s not required in any way.
Why is my movie not showing up in Plex?
There are multiple streaming players that allow you to download and stream movies on Plex.
For example Roku, Firestick, and Apple TV are all devices that allow streaming via Plex. Most modern Smart TVs also allow you to watch movies and shows as they have the Plex app available for download in the menu (this means you won’t need a separate streaming player.
What can you do if you’re movie is not found or is not showing up in Plex? If you are using a streaming player or smart TV and the movies or shows are not showing up in Plex, then it is possible the secondary device where your media files, shows, and movies are stored is having an issue. This could result in Plex not being able to find and show your movies.
These secondary devices are typically a laptop or desktop computer, but could also be from VPS hosting or another form of storage that allows Plex to show you your movie.
Because Plex is somewhat complex, recognizing the movie or not adding the movie can occur quite easily when you are not careful.
Here are some actions you can take when your movie is not showing up in Plex or if Plex can’t find your movies:
- In some cases if your movie is not showing up the internet connection to your streaming player or secondary device, then your internet connection could be the problem. Simply ensure your internet connection is working to solve for this. You can also use a speed test on your streaming device to test your download and upload speeds.
- If the issue does not lie with the internet connection, then it’s possible there is an issue with the Plex Library. You can run a “manual library scan” and update.
- Another issue is that the naming of the file is not formatted properly. Both of these are fixes you will need to explore further and vary case-by-case.
If it is a single movie or show that is not showing up in Plex, but other media and titles do, then it is likely due to the Plex folder. Simply remove the file to another folder, then run the manual library scan, and finally place it back in the original folder and scan to update it again. Your movie should now be located, showing, and working on Plex.
How to Download a Movie or Show on Plex
You can download a movie or show from Plex and watch it off-line. However this will depend on whether you are using the Plex web app and if you are the owner of the Plex media server. This means that in order to download a movie on Plex the owner of the Plex Media server must enable downloading( under account settings) for users you share your server with and the person downloading must pay for a Plex pass subscription.
Other words if you are not the owner of the storage device in which the movies and shows are stored on, then the owner of that device & server must enable the download option.
Requirements that need to be met in order to download a movie or show on Plex to watch offline:
- You must have a Plex pass subscription, which is a paid service.
- “Downloading allowed” is required to be set by Plex media share server owner for those shared with it to download a movie.
- Your Plex app must have the latest Plex media server version
- The owner of the server must have the Plex app on your computer and the Plex media server running in order for downloading to occur for your shared users.
Once all requirements are met, you can download a movie from Plex.
Here’s how you can download a movie on Plex:
- Tap ‘download’ to download a movie or show to your device.
- This download option is located at the bottom right of the movie title image on Plex.
- You will see three vertical dots that, when clicked, will open up a dropdown menu with 7+ options.
- The download option is towards the end of this drop down menu.
- Congratulation, you have no downloaded a movie from Plex.
Troubleshooting & Common Problems with Plex
Common problems with Plex include buffering, pausing and freezing as well as Plex not direct playing.
Before trying any of the following fixes make sure to reset your modem, wifi as well as unplugging any other devices for at least 15 seconds, including your Plex client device. If you are using wifi try connecting an ethernet cord first before the other methods.
I personally use this cord and I’ve never had an issue after using it.
A faulty internet connection is usually the issue when the server side is set up correctly. Even if you have fantastic internet you will still need to reset your modem and router. Do not skip this step.
You may have the server side set up correctly, but is the settings inside the Plex app that you’re watching movies on optimally configured? Be sure to change your settings to the preferred and optimized settings mentioned in the previous section of this guide.
Plex won’t direct play
There are a few main reasons why your direct play is not working on Plex. The first step is to check is if your video formats are supported on your Plex client device.
When Plex won’t direct play make sure you have the correct video format mentioned earlier. If your video format is compatible with Plex and matches the capabilities of your Plex client then your Direct Play will always work.
I’ve had issues Direct playing on Roku but never on my Apple TV 4K or my Nvidia Shield TV (I’ve owned all 3)
The only other situation where Plex won’t direct play is if you do not have the setting “Direct Play allowed?” switched on in the settings menu of the Plex app account settings of the device you’re actually watching the movies on.
If all of the above troubleshooting fails then the issue is likely on the server side.
Below is an infograph that explains the requirements for Plex streaming, especially if you’re sharing a library.
Plex keeps buffering
When Plex is buffering with 1080p or 4k Direct play then the issue is typically your internet. This is usually the case if you’re sure your streaming device supports the video encoding of the video you are trying to direct play.
Even with 5g, 200/mbps (and higher) connections I have still seen 4k videos take down the best of set ups. A good quality ethernet cord will be required here.
Ethernet is your best friend here as well as resetting your modem, router and all devices as well to solve Plex continually buffering. This is almost always the cause if the server side is set up correctly.
If you are using an old, outdated Roku or a gaming console like a xbox one or Ps4 then the device could very well be the issue. The only way to know is to test it. The Nvidia Shield or Apple TV 4K will be your best option as an upgrade.
Choose any of the top streaming devices I listed earlier in this post. There are some inexpensive options on that list and you could always return it if it doesn’t work. Though, I’ve never seen anyone want to take those streaming players back- the ones listed are really impressive.
Plex keeps pausing and freezing
If Plex is pausing or freezing you will always want to try a full modem and router reset. Alternatively a streaming device or server device upgrade is advised if either is outdated. If Plex is transcoding your media the next step to take is to try reseting everything related to the device, upgrading the device and swapping to a good ethernet connection.
Lesser known issue include your device being a far distance from your router on wifi… rare occurrences of problems also stem from wifi interference such as large amounts of metal between your device and your router, such as a metal staircase. This can cause many issues and may need a ethernet connection.(this happened to me).
Is Plex Legal?
Yes, Plex is completely legal. Think of Plex legality like a speeding with a car. Cars are legal, but going over the speed limit is not. Plex can not tell If you are doing something illegal on it such as adding pirated movies or shows to it.
It’s up to you to decide if what you are doing is legal or not legal. (source)
Is Plex safe?
Plex is safe, but the user can add pirated content themselves. Plex does not give users a way to access Pirated content directly like KODI used to years ago. Media Peanut does not support or advise the use of piracy in anyway.
Exactly how safe is Plex?
Plex itself is safe, but users should be more concerned about how they get their movies and TV series they get. This is not an issue of Plex, but an issue of your own downloading activity. Most use a VPN to protect their privacy online and avoid prying eyes.
Do I need a VPN for plex?
Many use a VPN to protect their behavior online, but since Plex encrypts it’s data when content is sent from server to your Plex nobody can peek or see what you’re doing.
Is it illegal to share movies on Plex
If it is illegal to share movies or shows depends on what you content you are sharing. If you have pirated movies or series stored and/or sharing it then yes it is illegal to share these movies on Plex. In most cases we’ve seen stories on how the user is held responsible and Plex is not.
If you are sharing your Plex server to multiple people then it is up to the copyright owners to identify the issue and send a cease and desist or copyright letter. (source)
Summing up how to get and watch new movies on Plex, including new releases.
You’ve learned that getting new movies on Plex looks complex at first, but is really super simple. It’s also important to note that how to get new movies on Plex is unique since there are two devices needed. One device such as your computer to store files and another device of your choice to watch new movies on Plex.
What most don’t know is how you can use torrents on Plex for movies and tv series and that automating torrents is very possible. Just beware of copyright infringement.
Many use a vpn or seedbox if you choose to not use the personal streaming guide we provide below that could save you from needing a VPN. If you’re having confusion at all, I urge you to check out the guide.
The personal streaming guide below is the ultimate shortcut: It will allow you to completely simplify this entire process in under 10 minutes with minimal thinking or headache.