Plex for iOS is a remote Plex client that connects to your current Plex Media Server setup. The app will automatically discover and connect to instances of Plex Media Server running on your local network, and can connect remotely across the internet with additional settings supplied by the user. You can use the app as a remote control for your media center allowing you to navigate menu items, browse your library and even install plug-ins with the press of a button. The feature that sets Plex apart from standard media center remote apps is that you can stream videos, music and photos from your library and even Plex Online plug-ins directly to your supported mobile device.
Setting up Plex Media Server
Before you can use Plex for iOS, you need to set up Plex Media Server (PMS) on your Mac. Plex for iOS streams all its content from PMS, so you will need to set up your media library in PMS before you attempt to run Plex on your mobile device. If you currently have Plex for Mac (version 0.9 or later) installed then you already have the media server running, and you're ready to go! If you haven't setup Plex for Mac yet, please see Plex/Nine User Guide for instructions.
Plex for iOS is designed to work right out of the box, and as such there are as few settings as possible. Most of these settings should be self explanatory but if you need some help here are their descriptions:
- Choose a Media server: Choose which instance of Plex Media Server you'd like to connect to. When your mobile device is connected to your local network, the app will automatically detect all instances of Plex Media Server that are currently running. Next to each server listed is a blue arrow that when pressed will reveal additional server settings.
- Friendly Name: A name for the server that allows you to identify it easily. This can be set in the PMS preferences or on your mobile device.
- Connections: A list of each way the app can connect to the current media server.
- Add a New Connection: Adds an additional way for the mobile device to connect to the current media server.
- Credentials: If you have enabled Secure Server Access in your media server's preferences, you will need to input the username and password to allow your mobile device to access the server when away from home.
- Add a New Server: Add a new server manually.
- Find Nearby Servers: Enable/Disable automatic detection of local computers running Plex Media Server.
- Choose a player: The mobile app can detect each Plex Media Center instance that is running on your network. Use this setting to select which instance you would like the remote to control.
- Default Playback Action: Select what happens when you select an item when browsing on your mobile device. You can choose to play directly on the device, on the player you selected above, or let the app ask each time you select an item.
- Video Quality: Select the video quality when streaming via Local Wi-Fi, Remote Wi-Fi or a 3G connection. Higher quality settings provide better looking video, but require more network bandwidth.
The Library tab allows you to browse the available content being shared by the media server you're connected to. You can access Plex Online to browse available plug-ins and install them for immediate access from both Plex for Mac and your mobile device. If you select Music, Videos or Pictures you can browse and play media from compatible plug-ins. Library Sections added to your media server via Plex Media Manager will also be available. For more information about adding sections in Plex Media Manager, see this section. Simply select these items and browse for content to play. You can tap the info icon at the right of the list to view extra details about certain items. The Default Playback Action setting defines whether items you select are played on your mobile device or an instance of Plex Media Center on your network. In addition, you can tap the Play button in the detail view to choose where an item should be played.
The Remote tab allows you to use your mobile device for direct control of instances of Plex Media Center running on your network. You can use these controls to navigate the menu system and even control video playback. There are two ways of controlling your media center: buttons and gestures. The following gestures can be used:
iPhone and iPad:
- Move up/down/left/right: navigation
- Single tap: select
- Double tap: back
- Double swipe right: select
- Double swipe left: back
- Double swipe up/down: page up/down
- Triple swipe up/down: previous/next letter.
Enabling iOS from outside of your home network
In order to enable your iOS device to use the Plex iOS app to access your media from outside your home network there will typically be three steps required in addition to setting up the iOS device itself: 1) create a static hostname that you will point the Plex iOS app to within the "Settings" section of the Plex iOS app on your iOS device, 2) set up a static IP address for the Mac on which the Plex Media Manager (PMM) is running and 3) port forward port 32400 for the static IP address created in step 2. This section will walk you through all three steps.
1. Setup hostname. While there are many free services available, this wiki will use DynDNS (http://www.dyndns.com/services/dns/dyndns/). This link will enable you to create a free hostname as well as download an the DynDNS Updater (http://www.dyndns.com/support/) which is a an app that resides on the same machine on which your PMM runs that will constantly update DynDNS as to your external IP address. This may be required if your ISP dynamically changes the IP address of your router. If you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you get a static IP address from your ISP, this step is not required.
- a. Click on the first link above.
- b. Type in a hostname in the space provided (we will use “myownwebsite” for this example)
- c. Selected a domain from the dropdown box next to the input box (we will use “dyndns-free.com” for this example)
- d. The “Service Type” is Host with IP Address.
- e. The site will indicate your current IP address. Click on the hyperlink to fill the box with your current external IP address.
- f. Click “Add to Cart” at bottom
- g. Create your DynDNS account
- h. Download the DynDNS Updater via the second link below, launch it, and input the UserID and Password you created in step g. Don’t worry, it’s a daemon and runs in the background.
- i. Congrats, this step is done. You now own the web address “myownwebsite.dyndns-free.com”
2. Create your static IP address for Mac on which the PMM is running
- a. For this step, we will assume you are using an Apple product (Time Capsule, Airport Extreme, Airport Express).
- b. Open the Airport Utility on your Mac
- c. Select the Apple router on the left, and click on “Manual Setup”
- d. Select the “Internet” icon in the top menu
- e. Select the “DHCP” tab. Click on the “+” at the bottom of the screen
- g. Type in a Description – this can be whatever you want, for example “Home Theater Mac Mini” or whatever. Click ‘Continue’ (note: the default selection for “Reserve address for” is MAC address).
- h. In the next screen, type in the Mac’s MAC address, then select the static IP address you are assigning the Mac, for example 10.0.1.40. The address you should select should be anywhere from 10.0.1.1 to 10.0.1.200. (You can find your MAC address under System Preferences/Network/ and then choose how you are connected to the internet, for example “Ethernet” if wired and “Airport” if wireless. Select advanced and the ID should be available. It is a 12 digit alphanumeric code in a 00:11:22:33:aa:bb:cc format)
- i. Click “Done”
- j. DO NOT UPDATE YOUR ROUTER YET – but hey, congrats, you’ve just established a static IP address for your Mac
3. Port Forwarding If you are using a non-Apple router, you can goto www.portforward.com for steps on how to port forward.
- a. Still in the Airport Utility, select “Advanced” at the top
- b. Select the “Port Mapping” tab
- c. Click the “+” button
- d. For both the Public and Private UDP/TCP ports type in “32400”. This means you should type in “32400” 4 times.
- e. The “Private IP Address” is the static IP you just established in Step 2, for this example is is “10.0.1.40”
- f. Click “Continue”
- g. Type in a Description, for example “Plex for iOS”
- h. Don’t adjust anything else on this popup box and press “Done”
- i. Now Update your router with these new settings
- j. Congrats! You’ve just port forwarded!
4. Setting up the iOS device
- a. In the settings screen, select “Add a new server…”
- b. In the “Friendly Name” box, type in whatever you want…for this example, a logical selection would be “Home Theater Mac Mini” – this lets you know that when selected, you will be using the PMM on your Home Theater Mac Mini.
- c. Click on “Add a new connection”
- d. The “Host” is the DynDNS address you established in Step 1, for this example its “myownwebsite.dyndns-free.com”. If however your ISP assigns you a static IP address, and you skipped Step 1, you should instead input your router's static IP address.
- e. The “Port” is “32400”
- f. Click “Save”
- g. If you receive an error stating, "This server appears to be unreachable...", one possibility sometimes has to do with being connected to your local home network over wi-fi, and certain routers' inability to properly direct the flow of information. Try temporarily turning off the wi-fi of your phone long enough to add the server in the app, before re-activating the wi-fi on your phone.
- h. That’s it, you should be off and running, streaming glorious Plex media content over the internet from outside your home network. So choose this server whenever you are running the Plex iOS app from outside your home network.