Why you should use Plex instead of Apple TV’s built-in media management software

“With the release of the fourth-generation model, the Apple TV has opened up to third-party apps. You are no longer limited to getting local media from your iTunes library,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Macworld. “One of the first apps that lets you use other sources is Plex, which ‘organizes your video, music, and photo collections and streams them to all of your screens.'”

“The Apple TV streams content from your iTunes library, or directly from the iTunes Store, for previous purchases or rented movies, as well as streaming from Apple Music,” McElhearn writes. “Plex is a ‘media server’ that you install on a computer: a Mac, a Windows PC, or even a NAS (network attached storage device).”

“Both iTunes Home Sharing and Plex offer interesting and useful features. I’ve decided to stick with iTunes for my music, and for those movies and TV shows that I’ve bought from the iTunes Store. For these videos, there’s no alternative,” McElhearn writes. “But I’ve moved all my other videos from my iTunes library to a Plex folder and I now view them on my Apple TV in Plex.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The only real downside to Plex vs. iTunes Home Sharing is that in order to use Plex Pass features there’s a cost involved: $5/mo. or $40/year or $150 for a lifetime subscription.

Plex the must-have personal media server for new Apple TV – November 6, 2015


    1. Plex is complex because it’s really for advanced/power users. For what it does, it’s incredibly simple. You can use your existing library, you just can’t play DRM through Plex, which is an Apple restriction (imposed on them by studios). It will work with your iTunes Music library flawlessly regardless of size (again, except for any DRM).

      You don’t have to pay a monthly fee, you can buy a lifetime subscription for $150, and that is for an account. The software itself is free for any devices you put it on, and from that account you can set up user accounts for free. Furthermore, if you decide to pay monthly you can then apply what you paid to the yearly or lifetime plan.

      $150 may seem like a lot, but if you have the desire for this much power and functionality, it’s totally worth it.

      1. If what you say is true and I am understanding it correctly, then I applaud any company that allows customers to switch from a monthly or annual plan to a lifetime membership with all previous payments being discounted from the cost of that lifetime membership.

    1. I like that too but is it possible to consolidate the listing to one directory like iTunes? Right now I have to select a folder specially when the media is on different drives.

    1. Well metadata is one area where Plex is far better than iTunes, but there are numerous other advantages as well. Plex handles pretty much any file format. I have yet to see a format it won’t play.

      You can’t cloud your own videos (non iTunes Store) with iTunes. You can with Plex. So if you want to rip all of your movies and any personal video and upload them to make it available where ever you are (as well as to share with friends and family that you set up user accounts for), you can do this with Plex. Since Plex is truly cross platform, you can also set it up on a cheap Linux box either at home or with an offsite host.

      While you can cloud music via iTunes Match, you’re limited to the amount of music, with Plex, there is no limit, and it can utilize the iTunes library (minus any DRM).

      I could go on and on about the features and functionality that Plex has that exceeds and enhances Apple’s offerings, but you get the point. Apple offers a really great consumer experience, but for stuff that’s more advanced, there are 3rd party solutions that work great with Apple’s ecosystem. Plex is one of those.

  1. A bit confused here…Not sure if there is a cost involved with plex that mirrors the AppleTV.

    From what I see, both stream locally to iOS devices. So my family can access whatever is in our library on whatever device at any time. I don’t think there is a cost for that functionality.

    The plex pass adds things like user management and stream from afar (like Younity), but this was never available to ATV anyway.

    Am I missing “downside” that MDN mentions above when comparing Home Sharing to Plex?


  2. What is Plex Pass?

    • Early Access to new Plex features.
    • Access to preview release versions of the Plex Media Server and other Apps before they’re released generally.
    • Enjoy an app on us. The latest Plex apps for Android and iOS are yours free.
    • Premium features like Mobile Sync, Cloud Sync, and Camera Upload.
    • Premium music libraries: Take your music experience to eleven! Enjoy better artwork and artist bios, album reviews, improved matching, artist and music videos from Vevo, and more.
    • Plex Home: Managed users, fast user switching, fine-grained sharing restrictions – parental controls and a whole lot more.
    • Trailers & Extras: Automatically gather high-quality movie trailers, interviews, and extras for movies in your Library.
    • Access to dedicated Plex Pass forums where you can ask the Plex Ninjas questions as well as vote up new feature requests.
    • A way to show your direct support for Plex. . .

    IOW: Not a requirement for casual home use.

  3. How about a USB port on the AppleTV so I can attach an external drive with all my movie files on it?

    Is there a wireless solution that doesn’t involve subscriptions and fiddly software?

    1. Apple has never given a reason why it refuses to support any sort of expandable storage on current AppleTVs. Must have something to do with aesthetics because every other company making streaming boxes can at least handle external storage on their devices. Although I think the best solution is using a central NAS not everyone feels they have the need of going that far when all they need is a simple local storage solution.

      If Apple could at least explain why they think local drives shouldn’t be supported, maybe I could try to understand their reasoning.

      1. I currently plug a USB drive into my LG TV but this TV is pretty picky about which video formats it’ll accept.

        I guess Apple just wants us to purchase all of our content through iTunes. I love supporting Apple but I have my limits (i.e. $$).

  4. I have Plex and pay for Plex pass but for shot videos I just have them on my desktop and use Air Video HD, Simpler and quicker. I think Plex’s interface is not good.
    I do use Plex to access FLAC files stored on a raid drive attached to my Mac.

  5. The media software that I have used to watch iTunes movies on Samsung TV is named M4V Video Converter. We know all iTunes videos are in M4V which DRM protected, making it impossible to be played on non-Apple devices. Now with using this powerful DRM removal tool, you can remove DRM protection and convert videos from M4V to MP4 and multiple compatible formats. Then you can play these videos on any devices freely. Check more info at: https://www.tuneskit.com/tuneskit-for-win.html Hope this tip is useful to you.

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