Jason Montoya / How-To Geek

Plex is an all-in-one media server, streamer, and organizer, but not every platform has a dedicated Plex app. Even with an app available, you might just want a quick and dirty way of streaming your media locally instead.

Enable the Plex DLNA/UPnP Server

By default, the Plex DLNA server is disabled, so you’ll need to turn it on in preferences before you can use it. Download and install the Plex Media Server for your operating system from Plex.tv and run through the basic setup. You’ll be asked to create an account, nominate media folders and complete an initial library scan during setup.

Once Plex is ready to go, access your server by visiting app.plex.tv in a browser and clicking on the “spanner” Settings icon at the top of the page.

Access Plex settings from the home page

Under the “Settings” category in the sidebar on the left of the page, click on “DLNA” and check the box that says “Enable the DLNA Server” when it appears.

Enable DLNA server within Plex settings

Hit “Save Changes,” and the DLNA server will start running silently in the background. You can now access your Plex library on most modern networked TVs.

Accessing Local Plex Content Without the Plex App

How you access your Plex library using DLNA/UPnP streaming depends on the device you’re using. Your Plex media server will show up as a source on most TVs, so look for a “Source” button on your remote you’d use to list inputs like HDMI1 and Live TV. You should find a new entry in the list titled “Plex Media Server” followed by whatever you named your media server.

Access UPnP server on LG C2 TV

Many apps can also access Plex servers, including VLC for platforms like the Apple TV and iPhone. You’ll find your server listed as a source under “File Servers” or similar.

Access Plex UPnP server on VLC for iOS

Remember that your device must be on the same local network as your server for this to work. DLNA streaming via Plex won’t necessarily save your progress in a file, so if something goes wrong, you’ll need to seek to the right spot to carry on watching from where you left off.

Play Movies via Plex UPnP on iPhone

If your router crashes, loses power, or your media server or the Plex process happens to be terminated then your media server will stop working.

What is a DLNA/UPnP Media Server?

DLNA stands for “Digital Network Living Alliance” which is the name of a group of consumer electronic companies that define standards for media playback, rendering, and streaming. UPnP stands for “Universal Plug and Play”, and it forms the basis on which the DLNA’s interoperable standards are built.

Plex includes a media streaming server that works with DLNA devices that allows you to stream to just about any modern TV or set-top box whether or not it has a native Plex app available. This can help fill the gap in Plex coverage on older devices, or simply offer a faster way to play movies, TV shows, music, and other content.

Plex is a solid choice if you’re looking for a DLNA streamer, but did you know Windows also has a DLNA streamer built in?

There’s More to Streaming Than Plex

Plex is great, but there are other options when it comes to media streaming. Jellyfin is one such open-source Plex alternative that doesn’t lock any features behind a paywall. Check out some of our other favorite Plex alternatives.

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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