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The Complete Guide to Using Plex on Your Chromebook

January 21, 2024

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Plex has become one of the most popular media servers, allowing you to easily store, organize, and stream your personal media library anywhere. With Plex, you can access your movies, TV shows, music, and photos on all your devices. As this Plex review covers, it utilizes a convenient client-server model…

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to get Plex running smoothly on your Chromebook.

So whether you’re brand new to Plex or looking to get more out of it, this guide has you covered. Let’s dive in!

What is Plex and How Does it Work?

Plex Tv

Plex utilizes a client-server model to organize and stream your personal media library. Here are the key components:

  • Plex Media Server: The back-end media server that organizes and hosts your files (video, audio, photos). It can be installed on Windows, Mac, Linux machines or Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.
  • Plex Clients: The front-end apps and devices you use to access the content hosted on your Plex Media Server. There are Plex apps available for mobile devices, smart TVs, streaming boxes, desktop platforms, web browsers, and more.
  • Plex Libraries: Your personal media libraries of video, music, and photos that are hosted on your Plex Media Server. The Plex server automatically matches metadata (descriptions, posters, genres etc.) to give you a Netflix-like experience.

So in summary, Plex Media Server organizes and hosts your media files, while Plex clients allow you to easily access and stream that content on all your devices.

Setting Up the Plex Media Server

To get started with Plex, the first step is to set up the Plex Media Server application. This will manage your media libraries.

The Plex Media Server can be installed on Windows, Mac, Linux, or NAS devices. For best performance, it’s recommended to use a dedicated machine or NAS to act as your media server.

Here are guides to setting up Plex Media Server on different platforms:

Once you complete the installation process, the Plex Media Server app will open on that device. This is where you can manage your media libraries, adjust server settings, and more.

Then you’ll want to:

  • Enable remote access so you can stream remotely from Plex clients.
  • Set up libraries for your movies, TV shows, music, and photos.
  • Start adding media and let Plex organize everything automatically!

Now that you have a Plex server running, let’s look at how to access Plex from your Chromebook.

Downloading Plex on Your Chromebook

There are two easy ways to access your Plex Media Server from a Chromebook – using the Android mobile app or the Plex web app.

Option 1: Plex Android App (Easiest)

As Chromebooks support Android apps via the Google Play store, this is the simplest way to install Plex.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Open Google Play Store app on your Chromebook.
Downloading Plex On Your Chromebook 1
  1. Search for “Plex” and look for the app published by Plex, Inc.
  2. Click Install. The Plex Android app will download just like any other Android app.
Downloading Plex On Your Chromebook 2
  1. Once installed, open Plex and log in using your existing account details or create a new free account.
  2. Select your Plex Media Server and you’ll have full access to your media!

The Plex Android app offers the best overall experience thanks to Chromebook compatibility. Plus, it is frequently updated with the latest features.

Option 2: Access Plex Via Web App

Alternatively, you can access Plex directly through your Chrome browser without installing any additional apps:

  1. Open your preferred web browser on Chrome OS (Chrome, Firefox etc.)
  2. Go to plex.tv and click on “Sign in
Access Plex Via Web App 1
  1. Log in with your existing Plex account details.
Access Plex Via Web App 2
  1. You’ll have access to your full Plex libraries right within the browser.

The Plex web app doesn’t have all the features or the best performance. But it does provide browser-based access if for some reason downloading the Android app is not an option.

Getting the Most Out of Plex Pass

While the core Plex application is free to use, upgrading to Plex Pass provides premium features and improved performance for media streaming.

Some of the key perks of Plex Pass include:

  • Unlimited content sync to mobile devices for offline playback
  • Live TV and DVR capabilities
  • Streaming music to smart speakers and Alexa voice integration
  • Plexamp app dedicated to music
  • Mobile sync and downloads
  • Enhanced video playback and streaming
  • Camera upload for photos/videos
  • Preview early alpha builds and new features
  • Discounts on apps and live TV streaming services

Plex Pass is available for $4.99 per month, $39.99 per year, or $119.99 for a lifetime subscription. They occasionally offer discounts too, so keep an eye out.

While the free features may be enough to get started, Plex Pass vastly improves the experience for dedicated Plex users.

Optimizing Plex Performance on Chromebooks

Here are some tips to maximize performance for Plex on your Chromebook:

Use Ethernet for Streaming

If available, use wired Ethernet instead of WiFi for the most stable streaming experience. This prevents buffering or lag issues with WiFi signals.

Adjust Quality Settings

In the Plex app settings, lower the default streaming quality to ease demands on your network connection and server. Automated quality adjusting can also dynamically lower bitrates during peak usage.

Plex Settings Video Quality

Enable Hardware Acceleration

Turn on hardware acceleration in Plex settings to allow video decoding and encoding using your Chromebook’s GPU for smoother performance.

Plex Enable Hardware Acceleration

Close Other Apps

If you experience buffering or lag when streaming Plex, try closing out of other Chromebook apps. This prevents competition for available RAM and resources.

Check Server Connectivity

Ensure Plex Media Server has enough bandwidth and runs on a high-performance wired network. Use remote access testing tools to identify any connection bottlenecks.

With some optimization tweaks, Plex can run smoothly even on lower-powered Chromebooks. The above steps help maximize client-server communication efficiency for media streaming.

Troubleshooting Common Plex Issues

Here are solutions to some of the most frequently reported Plex problems on Chromebooks:

Server Not Found

If you get a “server not found” error, it means your Plex client cannot locate the Media Server. Some things to try:

  • Ensure Plex Media Server is powered on and connected to your home network.
  • Restart both Plex server and Chromebook.
  • Double check WiFi connections are working properly.
  • Verify remote access is enabled on the server.

Buffering and Laggy Playback

If videos buffer slowly or lag, it’s typically caused by an unreliable network connection between the Plex server and Chromebook client. As covered on how to fix Plex buffering, some fixes include:

  • Connect Chromebook via Ethernet if available.
  • Lower quality/bandwidth settings temporarily.
  • Ensure server does not exceed upload capacity.
  • Close other apps competing for bandwidth on Chromebook.

Content Won’t Play

If Plex refuses to play a certain media file on your Chromebook, it may be an unsupported codec or corrupted file. You can:

  • Update Plex player app to latest version so newer codecs are supported.
  • Re-encode or replace problematic media file that fails to play.
  • Install VLC Player via Linux to expand format support.

For any other issues accessing Plex or media playback problems, check Plex’s troubleshooting guides which cover many common scenarios.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about using Plex on Chromebooks:

Can I install Plex Media Server directly on a Chromebook?

Generally no – Chromebooks lack the processing power to effectively run a Plex Media Server. Use a separate desktop computer, home server, or NAS to host your libraries instead.

Does the Plex Android app work on all Chromebooks?

The vast majority of newer Chromebook models released within the past few years support Android apps. But some lower end or older devices may not provide Android / Google Play access needed for Plex.

Can I still use Plex if I don’t have access to Android apps?

Yes, you can utilize the Plex Web App on any Chromebook by logging into your account directly through the browser. However, functionality is limited compared to native apps.

How can I get Plex Pass discounts?

Plex occasionally offers 25% off coupons on annual or lifetime Plex Passes for holidays and special events. Subscribing to their newsletter is the best way to receive discount codes when they are released.

Is Plex protected by DRM so files can’t be illegally shared?

No, Plex does not encrypt or DRMs your personal media files. However, there are settings to disable features like Plex Cloud Sync and restrict sharing access only to your own devices that help prevent piracy issues.

Can I use Plex on Amazon Fire Stick?

Yes, it works very well. Here is a guide for installing Plex on Fire Stick using the Plex app available on the Amazon App Store.

And there you have it – everything you need to know to enjoy your media library from Plex on your Chromebook! Let me know if you have any other questions in the comments.