Plugins for Plex bolt on to the core platform to either offer access to unofficial channels or add extra utility. There are two types of plugin, the officially supported plugins and the unofficial plugins. Both types offer different features and are worth checking out if you use the platform. Here is how to install plugins on Plex.
Official plugins and channels have been checked and verified by the guys at Plex. They have been verified as compatible and should work without issue on the vast majority of Plex Media Server setups.
Unofficial plugins are exactly that. Channels or features that have not been officially checked and verified by Plex. It isn’t just jailbreaking with Cydia or anything like that. It just means the plugins don’t have the official stamp of approval from Plex. Nothing bad and nothing that should break your Plex setup.
Installing official plugins on Plex
Official Plex plugins should work on the latest version of Plex Media Server and offer error-free use in the widest range of circumstances. Installing them is simple and can be done from within Plex itself.
- Open Plex on your device and navigate to Channels.
- Select Install Channels to browse available content.
- Select a channel you want to install and select Install.
That really is all there is to installing official plugins and channels on Plex. Once you select the channel you are taken to the overview page where you should see a mustard-colored Install button. Select it and the channel is installed.
Installing unofficial plugins on Plex
It isn’t quite as straightforward to install unofficial plugins on Plex but it isn’t exactly difficult either. Unofficial channels have not been verified or checked by Plex and are usually developed by community members. That doesn’t mean they will be problematic or crash your server, just that Plex haven’t gotten around to checking them or are out of scope of what Plex wants to officially support.
To install an unofficial plugin on Plex, you first need to find a repository. I know of three good ones, the Plex Channels Forum, the Unsupported Appstore v2 and the Plex GitHub page. It is from here that you install unofficial plugins. They come as .zip files and you just need to download them and install them into Plex.
You will need the WebTools plugin from GitHub to make it all work. Select WebTools.bundle.zip from the page and extract it onto your computer. Make sure the extracted file is called WebTools.bundle. You now need to move this file.
- If you’re using Windows to host your Plex Media Server, place WebTools.bundle into %LOCALAPPDATA%Plex Media ServerPlug-ins.
- If you’re using a Mac, place the file into ~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins.
- If you’re using Linux, place the file into $PLEX_HOME/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins.
Once the file is in place, there are a couple of extra steps we need to take to initialize the Unsupported AppStore. Instructions are included within the file but:
- Open a web browser on the Plex Media Server and type in the server’s IP address appended by :33400 into the URL bar. You should see a yellow WebTools interface.
- Select Unsupported AppStore from the main page. You should be taken to an apps page.
- Search and select the channels you want to add.
- Select Install under the app to install them.
If that sounds like a lot of hassle, you can also manually install unofficial plugins in Plex. This will work on any of the operating systems.
- Use one of the repositories linked above to find a channel or plugin.
- Download the .zip file and extract it onto your computer. The filename must end in .bundle for it to work with Plex.
- Copy the file across to the Plug-ins folder listed above.
- Open Plex and the new channel should appear within your channel list.
Not all unofficial plugins offer channels. Some add features such as media tracking, better profile management and other neat tools. All three of those repositories linked above have a good selection of addons that you may find useful. You can add and remove them as you see fit by deleting or moving the .bundle file from the Plug-ins folder on your Plex Media Server.
Vanilla Plex is a very useful media platform that is made popular by its utility and ease of use. Adding official channels is simple and works in seconds and even adding unofficial channels is a breeze. That is a mark of a truly accomplished platform as far as I’m concerned!
Got any essential Plex plugins or channels we should try? Tell us about them below if you do!