How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (2023)

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (1)

Streaming content from your Plex Media Server is great, but sometimes—like when you’re going to be offline or stuck with cruddy internet speeds while traveling—there’s no substitution for having a copy of the media stored on your device instead of in the cloud. Fortunately, it’s easy to grab your media and go.

Downloading, Syncing, and the Premium Difference

RELATED: How to Enable (and Troubleshoot) Remote Access to Your Plex Media Server

With Plex, there are two ways to approach this issue, dependent on whether you’re a free Plex user or a Plex Premium user. Both free and premium users can download content from their Plex Media Servers, but this download functionality is 1) manual action only; 2) simply downloads a copy of the media to the computer or mobile device you are using; and 3) does not automatically transcode your media (to make it smaller and more mobile-storage friendly).

The upside to this technique is that you get a copy of the media to do whatever you want with (like give to a friend) and that copy is in the original quality. The downside is that it does not automatically sync, you have to manually transcode if you want smaller file sizes, and you have to load the media in a third-party player (e.g. if you download a movie to your iPhone using the manual download method, the movie won’t load in the Plex app but it will load in any media player on your iPhone capable of playing it).

The other method, available only to Plex Pass premium subscribers, is the sync method. While the download method might be great for a one-off download (like grabbing a movie or two to copy to your laptop before you head to the airport), the syncing method is vastly superior for consistent use (like keeping the most recent episodes of your favorite TV show synced to your phone and ready for viewing on the commuter train). The upside to the syncing method is that it is fully automated and highly customizable, thanks to flexible syncing rules. You can sync files from your Plex Server to any Plex app that is registered to your Plex account, including Plex for iOS, Android,Windows Phone, and Windows desktop.

Let’s take a look at how to download and sync content, respectively, using a season of the TV show Archer as our sample media.

How to Download Content from Your Plex Media Server (Free or Premium)

RELATED: How to Share Your Plex Media Library with Friends

To download a couple one-off videos from your Plex Media Server, you simply need to be logged into your Plex account and access the web interface. You can do this either while your’e at home or while you’re away from home, as long as you have a good internet connection. The only real restriction on downloading is that you must be the owner of the Plex Media Server—this means you can download everything from your own server, but you can’t download content from a server someone has shared with you, nor can they download from a server you share with them.

(Video) How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing

From that web interface, it’s super simple to download content. First, navigate to the media you’re interested in. We’re interested in grabbing a few episodes from Season 1 ofArcher to watch away from home, so we’ll head there now. Here in the Season 1 entry, we need to select Episode 1 and then click on the “…” menu icon, as seen below.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (2)

In the context menu, click “Download”.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (3)

The file will be downloaded, in it’s full original file size and resolution, to you computer or mobile device. Additionally, you can also click on the full detailed entry for any media item (individual TV episodes, movies, songs in your music library, etc.) and click on the “…” menu in the left side navigation bar to also select “Download”. You cannot download entire seasons of TV shows at one time and will need to repeat this process for every episode you wish to transfer.

As we mentioned, this doesnot sync the file to the local installation of Plex or your mobile Plex app, it merely transfers a copy of the file from the media server to your device. It is up to you, at this point, to load the file in an appropriate media player for your device (like VLC or another good multi-format media player).

How to Sync Content from Your Plex Media Server (Premium Only)

To sync content from your Plex Media Server, you can approach things one of two ways. You can use the same web-based interface we used in the previous section, but youcan also use the interface in mobile apps like Plex for iOS to sync, too. Again, to avoid any frustration, you must have a premium Plex Pass account to use the syncing feature.

Let’s take a look at how to sync using the web interface first. Starting in the same place as we did in the previous section of the tutorialArcher Season 1, simply tap on the sync icon. Although we’re starting the process in Season 1, you can use the sync feature on an entire show (across multiple seasons) as well as on individual pieces of media.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (4)

(Video) How to watch and listen to Plex offline with Plex Mobile Sync

You’ll be prompted to select a destination. The destinations listed below are the valid destinations for our particular account. “iPhone” is my personal phone and the only device I currently have a mobile Plex app installed on. You may see other options listed here like “Carl’s iPhone”, “Tim’s Nexus 7”, or “Win10” depending on what devices you have the Plex app installed on and what their names are. (Cloud Sync is a totally separate function and designed to sync your content to a cloud-based storage provider; we’ll ignore that for now.)

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (5)

After a destination device, you’ll be prompted to make a handful of choices about the syncing operation, as seen below. The biggest force behind your choices will be, first and foremost, the storage available on your device, as well as its screen size. Let’s look at how the individual choices are influenced by those things.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (6)

The first choice is what to name the sync (normally you would simply leave it as is, like “TV Show – Season”, but if you are creating multiple syncing rules for different devices you might want to name them like “TV Show – Season – iPad” to indicate the settings are optimized for the iPad).

You can also specify “Unwatched only” to prevent it from syncing episodes you’ve already seen, and you can set a limit to X number of items (e.g. only sync the next 3, 5, or whatever number of episodes). Both of these techniques are useful if you want to keep storage demands under control.

Also useful is the playback quality setting, seen here set to “2 Mbps, 720p”. If you’re copying the files to your laptop or a nice big tablet, then perhaps you’ll want to sacrifice the space to go with a higher quality 1080p conversion, but if you’re watching sitcoms on your phone screen, you’ll likely want to dial back the quality to 720p or even 480p to save space. Once you’ve made your selections click “Sync”.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (7)

Plex will announce that the syncing process has started. If you click on the “here” link, it’ll take you to the syncing queue where you’ll see a general overview of the transcoding and syncing process—you can click on the entry for a more detailed view if you wish or simply wait it out.

(Video) Watch Your Plex Without Internet

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (8)

While that’s chugging along, let’s pop over to the mobile app to start the syncing process: while the process is almost totally automatic, it won’t happen unless you open the application on the device.

On your device—we’re using our iPhone—run the application. By default, you’ll be hooked into your default media server (in our case “plexmediaserver_1” because, clearly, we have a flair for creative names). Click on the menu button in the corner.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (9)

Within the menu click on “Sync”. Mostof the time, the syncing process should happen automatically the moment you open the app (you can see that our device is already syncing). If the sync fails to start, though, you can come here to start it manually.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (10)

Inside the Sync menu you’ll see that our sync, while already started, is still in progress (if it had not started already, we could click the grayed out “sync” button to start it up. Here we can click on the syncing rule “Archer (2009) – Season 1” to both check on the progress and make changes.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (11)

Here, we see not only the sync options we set on the server (which we can change here) but also a rundown of which episodes are synced to the device already and which are in progress.

(Video) How to Use Plex Mobile Sync - Watch your Plex content offline on a phone or tablet!

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (12)

Episode 1 is already on the device, so let’s show you how to access synced media. Simply exit out of the menus back to the main screen and then, in the upper corner, tap on the server name to switch locations.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (13)

Select the local device, in this case “iPhone”.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (14)

Now you’ll be browsing the local device instead of the server, and whatever media you’ve synced (TV shows in our case, as seen below) will appear in your media menu.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (15)

You can navigate around the application just like you would as if you were connected to your home server: your media will have the same layout, same menus, and same metadata with the small (but important) difference that it is stored right on your device instead of the server.

How to Download and Sync Media from Your Plex Media Server Offline Viewing (16)

(Video) Plex Downloads Replaces Plex Sync - New Feature Overview!

That’s all there is to it. Whether you’re using the old school Download function to just grab a complete copy of something for your remote device or you’re enjoying the comforts of the premium Syncing feature, it’s easy to keep fresh media on your devices so you can enjoy offline viewing wherever you are.


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Can you download from Plex to watch offline? ›

Our Plex app for Android mobile devices has the ability to download media from your Plex Media Server, so you can make use of it even when offline or when your server is unavailable.

How do I download files from Plex server? ›

If you're logged into the same Plex account as you use on your Plex Media Server, the Download action in the web app lets you download the source file to the machine you're using. To do this: Open the Item detail view. Click and select Download.

How do I download movies from a shared Plex server? ›

  1. Login to Plex website from the web browser(Chrome or Firefox). ...
  2. TV Shows/Episodes will look like this:
  3. Click on the PlexDwnld Button on the Toolbar and you will be redirected to download the video.
  4. The Movie or TV Show will begin to download.

How do I sync Plex content? ›

The setting can be found under Settings > Account > Sync My Watch State and Ratings in the web app (as well as a few other player apps, like Android and iOS). If you choose to later opt out of the feature, that will stop future events (from Plex Media Servers you have access to) from being synced to your account.

How do I add movies from Plex to external hard drive? ›

To add content to your Plex Media Server library:
  1. Connect your external USB hard drive to the USB port of your router. ...
  2. Enter the router user name and password and click the Log In button. ...
  3. Select PLEX Media Server.
  4. Select Open Plex. ...
  5. Next to Libraries, click the plus + icon.
Jul 16, 2022

How do I transfer movies from Plex to another computer? ›

Add a movie in Plex
  1. Click the '+' sign at the Plex home page.
  2. Select Movies in the Add Library window that pops up.
  3. Name the library, choose your language then hit Next.
  4. Navigate to your movie folder then click Add Library.

How do I download movies from Plex to watch offline on Android? ›

How to download Plex shows
  1. Step 1: find the content you want to download. Choose the content you want to download. ...
  2. Step 2: initiate the download. ...
  3. Step 1: go to your Downloads library. ...
  4. Step 2: sort your downloaded titles. ...
  5. Step 3: select the content you want to watch offline. ...
  6. Step 4: delete watched titles from your library.
Oct 27, 2020

Where do my Plex Downloads go? ›

All completed or in-progress downloads will appear in the Downloads library in the app. That can be accessed at any time from the left sidebar. To play downloaded content, simply go to the Downloads library, find the entry, and play it.

How do I access shared media on Plex? ›

Granting Access
  1. Username or Email. Enter the username or email address for the Plex account you wish to grant access and click continue. ...
  2. Select the Server. Plex Media Servers associated with your Plex account will be available. ...
  3. Set Restrictions and Inviting to Home (Plex Pass required) ...
  4. Pending Access.
Mar 16, 2022

How do I access my Plex library? ›

  1. Click to open the settings menu.
  2. Ensure that the correct Plex Media Server is selected within the settings menu.
  3. Select Libraries under the Manage section of the settings menu.
  4. Click Add Library.
  5. Choose the library type from the selection.
Jan 14, 2022

Can I run a Plex server off an external hard drive? ›

Well, to be honest, there are no particular hard drives designed to work with Plex, you can simply use any external hard drive and it'll just work well with Plex.

How do I transfer a movie from one computer to another? ›

Method 1: Transfer Files From PC to PC With External Storage Media
  1. Step 1: Connect External Storage Media To Transferring PC. ...
  2. Step 2: Copy and Paste Files to External Storage Media. ...
  3. Step 3: Connect External Storage Media to Second PC. ...
  4. Step 4: Copy Files From External Storage Media. ...
  5. Step 5: Paste Files to Destination Folder.
Feb 13, 2023

How do I download something to watch offline? ›

Download videos
  1. Make sure your device is connected to the internet.
  2. Open Google Play Movies & TV .
  3. Tap Library.
  4. Find the movie or TV episode you want to download.
  5. Tap Download .

How do I download movies to watch later without Internet? ›

Launch the Movies Anywhere app. Go to "My Movies" and select the movie you would like to save to your device. On the movie details page, select "Save Offline" (downloading a movie may take several minutes depending on your internet connection speed) Once your movie is downloaded, it will indicate it is “Saved Offline”

Where is Plex Media Server data stored? ›

By default, PLEX Media Server will use internal storage to store library information data (thumbnails, movie information, additional metadata) on SHIELD. Additionally, the new storage will be used as temporary storage used for transcoding and recording DVR'd content.

Does Plex use upload or download? ›

Whenever you (or a shared user) streams from your Plex Media Server and you aren't at home, that content has to be uploaded from the server to “the internet” and then downloaded to the client Plex app.

Where are Plex files located? ›

Re: Plex Media Server Data files location

You can find them in Shared folder "Plex".

Do you need Plex Pass to share library? ›

Luckily, Plex lets you share your library with anyone. They don't even have to be on the same network as you. Best of all, the feature doesn't require a Plex Pass—all the other person needs is a free Plex account.

Is sharing movies on Plex illegal? ›

Typically, you install the Plex server on the home computer where your movies, TV, photos, and music are stored, and you can then stream this content to devices running a Plex app. Using Plex is perfectly legal.

Why can't I access my library on Plex? ›

Verify that your Server is listed on your Devices page. Disable any VPN on your computer or router. Disable any proxies being used on your computer or router. Make sure you aren't requiring secure connections on the server while using an app that doesn't support them (see below)

How do I access Plex server files? ›

If the Server was installed on a Linux based PC, and you're using that PC to access Plex Web App: Open a web browser. Type into the address bar. The browser will connect to the Server and load Plex Web App.

How does Plex Downloads work? ›

All the content you've downloaded will show up in the Plex Downloads library. To watch a downloaded video offline or listen to podcasts and music tracks, you just need to find them in this library. The same library will also display downloads that are in progress, so you can even choose to cancel the task from here.

Where are Plex library files stored? ›

You can find them in Shared folder "Plex".

Can I watch Plex away from home? ›

Enable access to your Plex Media Server from outside your local network so that you can reach it when away from home or for sharing content with family or close, personal friends. You can do this under Settings > Server > Remote Access in Plex Web App.

How do I stream my own movies? ›

Cloud Servers

The simplest way to run your own streaming setup is to choose a cloud provider that specializes in Plex media setups. Running your own virtual private server gives you complete control over your media library and makes it available on (nearly) any device with an internet connection.

Why is my Plex server offline? ›

This often occurs when you're not yet signed in on the Server and you're using the hosted Plex Web App. Once you've done that, your Plex Media Server should appear when using the hosted Plex Web App, too.


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