Plex is an awesome home media platform that helps manage locally saved movies, music and more. Comprised of Plex Media Server and Plex Media Player, the platform makes it easy to organize your media and share it across a network. While it comes with its own media player, you can also use VLC to play the content. Here’s how to stream Plex media to VLC.
The Plex Media Server installs onto your main computer where you have all your media installed. It organizes all your content and can initiate streams to remote devices. Those devices can be other computers, tablets or even phones and can be local or internet-based.
Plex Media Player is installed onto any device you want to consume your media on. It receives the stream from Plex Media Server and plays it. It also allows you to browse and select from its interface.
Both elements make up Plex and are compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, NAS, Cloud storage, Android, iOS, Chromecast, Amazon devices, Apple TV, Kodi, PlayStation, Xbox, Roku and Nvidia Shield. There are others I have likely missed but you get the idea.
Setting up Plex
To successfully use Plex you will need a central computer or device that hosts all your media. It will need to be left powered on whenever you want to consume that media and will need to be connected to your network and/or the internet.
The Plex Media Server is mandatory for this to work but the app is optional. You can also watch through a browser or VLC as I will show you.
- Download and install Plex Media Server onto that central device. Download the Plex Media Player app onto any device you want to consume the media on.
- Sign up for a Plex account and follow the setup wizard.
- If you want to stream outside your home network, enable Connect to Plex.
- Add your libraries when prompted. Select Add Library and import the media you want to share.
- Add your network and allow remote access when prompted.
- Install the channels you want to include.
That is all you need to do for basic Plex Media Server setup. DLNA, which is the network protocol we need to play on VLC is enabled by default so no more action is needed here. You can spend more time later customizing, configuring and adding channels.
Next you need to install the Plex Media Player onto any device you want to use Plex on. You don’t necessarily need to play media with it longer term but you will want to at least set it up so you can test everything works.
- Install the Plex Media Player app onto your device.
- Follow the installation wizard to join the network and find the media.
- Rinse and repeat for each device you want to use Plex on.
In theory, this should now just work. You should be able to browse media in the Plex Media Player on any device you have set up, select something and play it. One of the reasons Plex is so popular is because it just works. It has been lovingly crafted to deliver a seamless experience and it does it very well.
Stream Plex media to VLC
If you want to stream Plex media to VLC, it may be easy or more difficult depending on your network setup. As DLNA (the network protocol used by Plex) is enabled by default and works with UPnP, VLC should be able to pick it up without issue. But lots of people have had issues so it isn’t necessarily straightforward.
Once everything is set up:
- Open VLC on a remote device and select View.
- Select Playlist and scroll down on the left pane until you get to Local Network.
- Select Universal Plug n’ Play and wait for the box on the right to populate.
- Select folders in the right pane to find media to play.
- Double click media and it should begin playing right away in VLC.
If all goes well, the media will play in VLC without issue. If the right pane doesn’t populate or doesn’t find any media, double check DLNA is enabled in Plex Media Server. Navigate to Settings and Server in Plex Media Server and make sure the box next to DLNA server is checked. It should be by default. Also enable Direct Play and Direct Stream if they aren’t already.
If you want to stream Plex media to VLC player, that is how you do it. Plex Media Player is pretty good, but we like what we like sometimes!