Plex (software)

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Plex vector logo.svg
Developer(s)Plex, Inc.
Initial release2008; 12 years ago (2008)
Stable release
Server: (May 25, 2020; 2 months ago (2020-05-25)[1]) [±]
Operating system
Platformx86, ARM
  • Server:
    90–105 MiB (compressed, depending on the platform)
Available in
Alexa rankIncrease 1,398 (December 2019)[3]

Plex is a client–server media player system plus an ancillary software suite. The Plex Media Server desktop application runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. The server desktop application organizes video, audio, and photos from a user's collections and from online services, enabling the players to access and stream the contents. There are official clients available for mobile devices, smart TVs, and streaming boxes, a web app, and Plex Home Theater (no longer maintained), as well as many third-party alternatives.

Free Plex accounts can share their personal media libraries among a user's own collection of devices or to friends, and access Plex's content library of ad-supported video on demand (AVOD). Plex Pass is the optional paid-subscription service including synchronization with mobile devices, cloud storage integration, metadata fetching for music, support for multiple users, parental controls, live TV and DVR, trailers, extras, and cross-selling offers.

In 2019, Plex began global streaming of free ad-supported video on demand (AVOD), with TV shows and movies from distributors such as Crackle, Warner Bros., MGM, Endemol Shine Group, Lionsgate, and Legendary.


Plex began as a freeware hobby project in December 2007 when developer Elan Feingold created a media center application for his Apple Mac. He ported the media player XBMC (now known as Kodi) to Mac OS X.[4] Around the same time, Cayce Ullman and Scott Olechowski—software executives who had recently sold their previous company to Cisco—were also looking to port XBMC to OSX, and noticed Feingold's progress via XBMC online forums. They contacted him and offered support and funding, forming a three-person team in January 2008.

The team released early versions of the port, called OSXBMC,[5] intended for eventual full integration into Mac OS X.[4] The developers continued collaborating with the Linux-based XBMC project until May 21, 2008. Due to different goals and vision from the XBMC team, they soon forked the code to become Plex, and published it on GitHub. The OSXBMC code was kept roughly in sync with the upstream XBMC code.[6]

In December 2009 the US-based Plex, Inc. was founded with Ullman as CEO and Feingold as CTO.[7][8][9][10] At that time, Plex had 130 apps, the most popular of which were viewers for Apple Movies Trailers, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, MTV Music Videos, BBC iPlayer, and Vimeo. Feingold declared Plex apps had been downloaded about 1 million times.[5][11] As of July 2016, Plex had 65 employees.[12]

In December 2019 Plex, Inc. announced ad-supported video on demand (AVOD), of TV shows and movies available globally to free Plex accounts, from publishers including Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, MGM, Lionsgate, and Legendary.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]


Plex Web App: Users can manage their libraries, server settings, and watch content from this browser-based interface
Plex's TV Episode interface, with fan-art background

Plex is a media player system with a client-server model. Plex Media Server stores, organizes, and streams all content; and the clients are the playback applications running on myriad devices and web browsers.

Plex Media Server (PMS)[22] is the back-end media server component of Plex, free of charge. It organizes audio and visual content from personal media libraries and streams it to their player counterparts, either on the same machine, the same local area network, or over the Internet. It can run on Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, NAS devices, or on Nvidia Shield TV.[23]

The server can acquire content from files, iTunes, iPhoto, Aperture, or the Internet.[24][25][26] The music library is automatically organized by ID3 or M4A tags,[27][28] such as title, artist, album, genre, year, and popularity.[29] Plex Pass users also have the ability to access the whole music video catalog from VEVO.[30]

Player apps are Plex's front-end allowing the user to manage and play music, photos, videos and online content from the Plex Media Server. Most of them are free of charge.

  • Plex Web App – Plex released a crossplatform web app on November 16, 2012.[31]
  • Plex Media Player – Only the host parts of the application are open source.[32]
  • Plex - Successor to the Plex Media Player compatible only with 64 bit versions of Windows 10 and MacOS High Sierra and upward.
  • Plexamp and Plex Dash[33]

The basic Plex player app runs on multitudes of platforms and devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, smart TVs and Blu-ray devices, webOS, Vewd, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Roku, Sonos, TiVO, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "version". Plex, Inc. 2020-05-25. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  2. ^ "PlexMediaServer Translations - Get Localization". Archived from the original on 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  3. ^ " Competitive Analysis, Marketing Mix and Traffic - Alexa". Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  4. ^ a b "Interview with the OSXBMC Developers – Automated Home". April 29, 2008. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "CrunchGear Interview: We talk to the lead developer of Plex Media Center for Mac OS X: It was doing Boxee-like stuff before Boxee was cool". January 15, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  6. ^ "XBMC for Mac forked for a separate project called PLEX (formerly known as "OSXBMC")". May 23, 2008. Archived from the original on August 21, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2009.
  7. ^ Stephen, Bijan (2019-07-23). "Plex makes piracy just another streaming service". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  8. ^ "Plex, Inc. Company Profile - Bloomberg Markets". Bloomberg.
  9. ^ "Happy Holidays from Plex! – Plex". December 24, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  10. ^ "Laika Revealed – Plex". October 28, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  11. ^ Anderson, Kevin (2009-10-07). "Thinking inside the box". Guardian.
  12. ^ "About Plex – Media Server – Media Streaming Server". Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  13. ^ Salkowitz, Rob. "With Warner Bros Partnership, Plex Looks To Flex Its Media Muscles". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-06-29.
  14. ^ "Plex partners with Lionsgate to expand its ad-supported video library". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  15. ^ "Plex Is Making Itself Impossible to Ignore as a Go-To Streaming Service". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  16. ^ "The best ways to legally stream movies and TV for free". Popular Science. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  17. ^ Hern, Alex; EDT, ez On 3/23/20 at 1:58 PM (2020-03-23). "10 streaming services to help get you through self-isolation". Newsweek. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  18. ^ "Partners". Plex. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  19. ^ Ricker, Thomas (2018-11-29). "Plex now streams cheap Tidal music subscriptions". The Verge. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  20. ^ "Plex will stream free, ad-supported Warner Bros. movies and TV shows". Engadget. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  21. ^ Roettgers, Janko; Roettgers, Janko (2019-08-29). "Inside Plex's Quest to Become a One-Stop Shop for Digital Media". Variety. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  22. ^ "Plex Terms of Service – Plex Media Server". Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  23. ^ "Best Media Streaming Devices - Live streaming apps powered by Plex".
  24. ^ "Plex 7 Adds iTunes and iPhoto Support and More". November 11, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  25. ^ "Plex media center adds Aperture support, continues to shine – 9to5Mac". November 25, 2008. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  26. ^ "Frankly my trailer, I don't give a playlist – Plex". July 31, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  27. ^ "Identifying Music Media Using Embedded Metadata – Plex". Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  28. ^ "What metadata can an m4a file hold and how do I get at it?". August 25, 2015. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  29. ^ "Adding Music Media From Folders – Plex". Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  30. ^ "Plex Music Goes to Eleven! – Plex". April 30, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  31. ^ "A Plex/Web Update – Plex". November 16, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  32. ^ "Is Plex Media Player open source? – Plex". Archived from the original on August 16, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  33. ^ "Media software maker Plex launches new subscriber-only apps for music and server management". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-04-17.

External link[edit]