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Official Plex app for Apple TV now available, offers local streaming, playlists, channels, more

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 21.53.36

The official Plex app for Apple TV is now available in the App Store. Plex is a media server for video, TV shows, music and photos. The app is fully featured, with quick access to search, playlists and more from the top bar. It also tracks your currently playing items so you can quickly pick up with a show or film from where you left off. The app incorporates channel streaming of content like TED, Revision3 and more as well as video queues from YouTube and Vimeo.

Although the app is free, be warned that the app will work only if you have a Plex Media Server setup either locally or on a remote network. You need to buy a Plex Pass subscription to access some premium features.

The poster art looks great on Apple TV — the app features a nice 3D animation as focus changes from item to item. The detail view for media has been made to replicate the system view almost 1:1 so everything feels very native. Cast info and ratings mirror the iTunes Store layout too. Playlists are laid out cleanly as faux music albums, which is a nice way of displaying a usually bland list of shows.

Plex organizes all of your video, music, TV and photo collections, and streams them to all of your screens. With the free Plex Media Server on your home computer and Plex for Apple TV, you can watch and listen to all of your personal media on your Apple TV and share it with friends and family.

Download Plex by searching for it in the Apple TV App Store or downloading it from iTunes then searching Purchases on Apple TV. If you are looking for an unofficial client alternative, search for SimpleX in the App Store — it’s a good third-party Plex client priced at $2.99.

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  1. iSRS - 7 years ago

    So question. If I hook an external HD to my AirPort Extreme, will this allow me to stream the movies? In other words, not need a Mac with iTunes running? Because my non iTunes content is DRM free, and my iTunes content is available from the Movies app

    • You need a Plex Media Server running on a Mac/Pc or a NAS. iTunes has nothing to do with Plex.

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        Right. I get iTunes has nothing to do with Plex.

        So the short answer is no, I can’t have an external drive connected to my AirPort Extreme and Plex on my Apple TV and not need my computer running.

        So for my needs, this doesn’t seem to solve the issue.

        What I was hoping this was going to allow was to have all my nonDRM movies on an external drive connected to my AirPort, and not need to worry about my iMac being on or not. My DRM content is purchased through iTunes, so that is why I brought it up. If Plex allowed me a way to access my content without a computer running, that would be the ideal situation

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        But thanks for the response!

      • Arin Failing - 7 years ago

        Plex CAN do exactly what you’re looking for (leave your Mac off and stream via external HD), but it will be under-powered (probably significantly) if you don’t have your files in a direct play format (see Plex for details on that)

    • You’d need a mac running a plex server that can then fetch the data from the HD plugged into airport extreme. In my experience this is a bit hit and miss

    • Arin Failing - 7 years ago

      Yes, but you need to set up a Plex Media Server (free) – go to to get started – and point Plex to the networked file location. I was using this method for a long time, until Comcast fried my hard drive (long story short…. connectivity issues while constantly reading/writing). It’s VERY simple, VERY clean, and works WITHOUT iTunes running, and I actually ended up purchasing a Plex Pass, for all of the early bird stuff, and supporting such an awesome service. Like the article said, you’ll either need to pay $5, from within the app, to stream (without Plex Pass), or pay $2.99 upfront for SimpleX. I haven’t been able to play with either one (COME ON XMAS!!), but I understand both apps have great functionality.

      • Arin Failing - 7 years ago

        I would recommend connecting external HD to your computer, though. Just my two cents, there.

      • Arin Failing - 7 years ago

        Oh dammit! I forgot to say: the device running your Plex Media Server (e.g. your Mac) will need to be on, in order to stream.

      • Smigit - 7 years ago

        I get the impression he’s trying to avoid the running of a server more so than avoiding iTunes specifically. If that’s the case then a Plex Server doesn’t really solve the issue.

        Wouldn’t surprise me if a few apps hit that can pull files from networked drives, although they’d lose some of the benefits of something like Plex too.

    • ncnoman - 7 years ago

      By router I mean your airport

    • PMZanetti - 7 years ago

      This isn’t a need that anyone (in the real world) has. Your HDD + your router ≠ a media server.

      You might call that a fantasy I suppose. Not a need.

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        Smigit – exactly. iTunes Home Sharing works fine. It would just be more convenient to not need a computer running.

        PMZ – maybe it is a fantasy, but i don’t think I am alone in wanting it.

      • tzombor (@tzombor) - 7 years ago

        Its not a fantasy. I have an airport extreme + hdd to stream directly via apple tv 2 with kodi. No mac, iTunes, etc. needed.

      • Soluble Apps - 7 years ago

        Not a fantasy, as my WDTV could do this, my Xbox 360 can do it.

      • Soluble Apps - 7 years ago

        What would be great is something like NPlayer, which does the decoding on my iPhone and iPad and has pretty good file support

    • Sean Voets - 7 years ago

      The reason you need a Mac or PC running plex is to encode the video on the fly…your airport extreme or external HD cant do that unless you’ve converted it all meticulously beforehand.

    • jimgramze - 7 years ago

      I have a Drobo 5N, which is a wireless networked drive. I don’t get my Apple TV until tomorrow, Nov 4, but with that Drobo I am able to watch through Plex on my smart TV. What I am concerned with is videos that are not in Apple’s blessed file formats, like AVI and MKV. Even if it does work, I don’t know if the Apple TV’s processor will be up to processing the files in a real-time streaming and transcoding kind of way. I’ll know soon.

    • David Chao - 7 years ago

      If you don’t want the hassle of setting up a server, you can just use AirParrot application (PC/Mac) instead. Just go to your Mac and pick a video from AirParrot and start streaming, it will do transcoding too. Dead simple.

    • Bangali - 7 years ago

      If you’re still looking, Infuse is a great app that does what you’re looking for – u can search network connected drives and stream to Apple TV/iOS. Its free, with paid upgrades but the free one works great. There is also another app that does this but the UI is minimal. forget the name of that one. hope that helps!

  2. quandmeme - 7 years ago

    I was hoping for VLC and Infuse for day one. The Infuse people look to be still progressing to a close beta stage. I can’t see any updates for VLC. I will try to see if my old Synology can handle Plex, but anyone have a recommendation for NAS media day one?

    • tincan2012 - 7 years ago

      I am not sure of your Synology model, but only a few can transcode at 1080p, and I think almost all can can stream mp4/m4v directly. I have the DS215j which works great with Plex, although I miss ability to add subtitles from external source like Infuse does on my jailbroken ATV2’s. Hope that is coming. soon. I also had bought SimpleX which I really like – nice clean UI and it just works.

  3. @9to5Mac – suggestion from me… Can we please get an article suggesting the most effective way to get Plex on an Apple TV? Many readers would be on laptops and (like me) would soon discover that having your laptop available would be inconvenient. I switched over to a Mac mini and that has been great, but with the new Apple TV, this now seems like overkill. How about an Intel Compute Stick or Raspberry Pi?

    • Smigit - 7 years ago

      I believe Synology NAS (possibly others) can have a Plex server running on them? Not sure if they are all suitable for transcoding, but if you’re going to an Apple TV I assume you wouldn’t need to transcode anyway.

    • iphonenick (@iphonenick) - 7 years ago

      I have a Mac mini connected to my TV running Plex Home Theatre which accesses content from a FreeNAS server. I was looking to dumb down the mini to an Apple TV, but the mini is also running Server.

      Looking to somehow justify the new Apple TV…

      • I am running a Mac mini with a 128GB internal SSD (OS, plex server and photo storage) and an external 1TB drive for video. The Apple TV allows me to run Netflix reliably (which my LG “smart” TV does not) as well as having access to other streaming services, games, apps, airplay, music, etc.. And through the nice form factor of the small remote.

        I’d love to drop the Mac mini in favour of something small, cost effective, and reliable.

    • Rio (@Crzy_rio) - 7 years ago

      I don’t see why your Mac mini would be overkill? I would still suggest keeping the server running on the Mac mini and use the Apple TV for viewing.

      The Mac Mini will still require to do transcoding if you do not have the files in the absolute correct format. You will also require the Mac mini for subtitles and remote streaming at lower bitrates. The Apple TV can only direct play a very limited type of videos.

      The Mac Mini has wake on lan and with its power consumption you really have nothing to worry about.

      Sleep: <1W
      Idle : <4W
      Transcoding 2 1080p Streams : <40W

      In comparison, a Raspberry PI will use 1-2W at Idle and not be able to transcode files.

      The Intel Compute stick while only using <10W at max load, will barely be able to transcode a 1080p file.

      The Mac mini is the perfect computer for the average Plex server in my opinion.

  4. focher - 7 years ago

    Great. Now about 50% of the irrational complaining about the Apple TV can be deflected. Every “issue” I’ve seen highlighted is something that will obviously get solved quickly … and in the case of Plex, it was a matter of a few days.

    • lkrupp215 - 7 years ago

      Nope. You already see the bitching about Plex right here in this thread. There are those who will never bee satisfied. They get an idea in their heads as to how they want something to work and nothing but that idea will do, even if it isn’t possible. So for all the whining and complaining about the lack of Plex on the ATV4 now that it’s here it’s not good enough and the bitching continues.

      • I don’t see any bitching – just people excited about Plex and trying to get their head around how it works and how to make it work best for them. Myself included.

    • srgmac - 7 years ago

      Except the lack of 4K TV and content support…that’s kind of a big deal. Not to mention no expandable local storage.

      • PMZanetti - 7 years ago

        …said no one ever, except people trolling Apple TV articles. No one gives a shit about 4K television.

      • focher - 7 years ago

        4K was clearly not there and there was never any chance an Apple TV product was going to support “local storage”. It also doesn’t support holographic projection nor operate on fairy dust. If you ever thought it would, it’s not really something you can pin on Apple.

      • Hendry Luk - 7 years ago

        @PMZanetti What? Why? I do give a shit. I didn’t specifically set out to buy a 4K TV, but you can hardly find non-4K TV in the market these days. And now that I’ve paid for it, why would I choose 1080p if the content has a 4k option available?
        Is the difference day and night? No. Can I notice the difference, oh hell yea absolutely (mine is a 65″ from 2.5 meters away). Will I choose 1080k over 4k? Oh why would I?

        I always buy almost every Apple TV from the very beginning, and I was ecstatic about this new one: it’s the first Apple TV that will actually be useful other than just to AirPlay. Because lets face it, smart TV’s navigations are woeful, and this new Apple TV would finally let me throw away my TV remote forever. But I’ve decided not to get it specifically because of its lack of 4K. I’m extremely hesitant to get any non-Apple alternative (everything in my home is apple), but I’m seriously considering to get a roku instead. At least I can make a full use of my 4k investment that I’ve paid for.

      • Hendry Luk - 7 years ago

        Oh and let me add, I do not have a bandwidth connection that can support 4K internet streaming, but that’s a silly argument. I still want to enjoy offline 4k contents, which Apple’s own itunes already allows.

  5. Chase Hainey (@haincha) - 7 years ago

    Just bought SimpleX because Plex didn’t have an app day one. :( Only $3, but would have been nice to spend that money on something else.

  6. bennynihon - 7 years ago

    yay! another way to watch movies NOT at their native frame rate. Who doesn’t love watching movies with artificially inserted frames? Am I right!? Pfff. Obviously not the fault of Plex, but this is such a joke that Apple yet again failed to provide away to watch movies at their native frame rate of 24 fps on this “premium” set top box.

    No self-respecting movie enthusiast or videophile would never watch movies on this crap. Sadly, the competition (Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku) also inexplicably fail to provide this. The old Boxee Box supported 24p, as does the Nvidia Shield TV. Watching a movie at its native frame rate is so buttery smooth and night and day compared to the juddery mess that results from artificially inserting frames to match a 60 Hz refresh rate. It’d be akin to adding spurious samples to your digital audio files in order for it to match some other sampling rate. It’s a joke.

    P.S. Huge Apple fan, as I own virtually 2 of everything of theirs, but they need to be called out for failures like this.

    • The AppleTV is not designed for the hardcore move enthusiast or videophile. Watching movies on my Roku through Plex is great for me. If I want the movie theater experience I’ll go to the movie theater.

      This is will be good enough for 95% of us out there who have more important things in life to worry about than the frame rate on some crappy movie we want to watch.

      • “This is will be good enough for 95% of us out there who have more important things in life to worry about than the frame rate on some crappy movie we want to watch.”

        What the hell is wrong with you?

      • bennynihon - 7 years ago

        Sure. But this is something DVDs players have supported for the past decade. As an electrical engineer, I can say it’s quite likely the video chipset they use supports 24 Hz video output, and most TVs now support it. So being able to watch the movie at the original frame rate (the one the artists involved in creating that movie intended it be watched at) is something everyone should be able to enjoy, even those that claim they don’t care.

    • srgmac - 7 years ago

      Hm…That’s a fair point, I never even bothered to think about before. But is it really that big of a deal? I mean, I watch VOD stuff (HBO, Netflix, etc.) on my ATV all the time; and I also have a standalone BluRay player…Besides the bitrate (which is obvious), I really can’t notice a huge difference…especially with frame rate. But it makes sense that having the display cycle at 60 seconds and the movie at 24 seconds would not sync up properly.

    • Andrew Messenger - 7 years ago

      i guess we found the one person who cares about this.

    • JBDragon - 7 years ago

      If you are such a die hard to watch movies at 24 fps, you sure wouldn’t be streaming them in the first place as the movie quality is downgraded from being heavily compressed. You should be watching on Blu-Ray in the first place. Same goes with those that want 4K. You should be waiting for Ultra Blu-Ray that will be coming out at some point. You’re not getting 1080p quality streaming, let alone 4K.

      4K is pointless. To see the full benefits of 4K at a distance of 8 feet, you need a screen size of at least 140 inches. That’s how insane 4K really is. 4K is what you’re looking at when you go to the Movie Theater and watch on one of them huge screens. In fact many times it’ll say something like Sony 4K Digital before the movie starts. People are happy with 1080p streaming even though it’s not Blu-Ray quality because most people have way to small of a HDTV as it is for the distance they sit. it’s really much larger then you think it should be. I have my 50″ 1080P Plasma in my Bedroom, and when I walk by, yes I can see the Pixels at point blank range, but laying in Bed, the Picture is perfect. If you think you already have to big of a TV, well you need to go much larger for 4K otherwise it’s pointless. I gave a 8 foot range, 140″ screen. That’s about average distance. 6 feet you can go a little smaller, and 10 feet you need to go even larger. 4K on a LCD TV is really pointless. If you need 4K, it’s time to look at a front projector.

      • iSRS - 7 years ago

        But it’s available! I must have it! Anything not supporting it is a failure!


        I have 3 1080p tvs in our 3 bedrooms, about 35″ each. My living room is still 720p at 55″ and fine for me.

  7. Try Air Video Tv. its easy and clean, it let you download media to the app, it supports pretty much all formats. I like it more than plex and vlc

    • srgmac - 7 years ago

      Right but it requires that you have yet another device to stream to the TV…I love AirVideo though, I use it a lot.

      • True, doesn’t plex need that too ? It’s annoying to set it up. AirVideo is simpler and quicker to set up and pretty much everyone have a Pc or Mac on their house not see much trouble… I prefer this way if I need any video on the device itself download to it.

    • Jack Ivers (@jackivers) - 7 years ago

      Thanks for the tip — loving it.

  8. r00fus1 - 7 years ago

    Does the search function work from Siri?

  9. Was going to do the Plex route, but Air Video HD released an Apple TV app that is just as beautiful and the server software is dead-simple to set up. I’ve used AirPlay for compatible videos, then Beamer for most non-compatible videos to my Apple TV from my Mac, but after all these years, I can finally do it from Air Video HD.

    • Soluble Apps - 7 years ago

      I’ve been using Air Video, and it works pretty well, but it doesn’t give you the media information that Plex does.

      • Andrew Messenger - 7 years ago

        yeah Plex is much nicer than Air Video. I have both but really just use Plex now.

  10. Yosi Ben-David - 7 years ago

    Will it support the previous Apple TV too?

  11. Enrico Zio - 6 years ago

    Sell you airport extreme and buy a Nighthawk X10 AD7200 (R9000),


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.