Plex’s new Discover feature can help you track down everything you want to watch—anywhere

Plex’s new Discover feature can help you track down everything you want to watch—anywhere thumbnail

Remember the video stores? Although they were annoying in that you had to leave your home to talk to someone, they had an advantage over streaming services: everything was in one location. You didn’t have to know which video stores owned the rights to which movies. You could simply hear about the movie and go to the store to grab it.

Streaming is not like this. The viewer must become an expert on which shows are available on which streaming service. It’s tedious.

We have already discussed how you can find your favorite movies and shows streaming ,, but even that advice becomes a list. You’ll need a different interface depending on the device you use to find the movies and shows that you are looking for. Plex’s “Discover” feature is here to help.

Plex can be installed on any device, including a smart TV, computer, tablet or phone. It will allow you to find out which streaming services offer which TV shows and movies. Plex allows anyone to set up their own streaming service . This means that you can search your media collection, as well as those of friends who may have one. This makes it easy to find specific movies or shows.

How can you find any show or movie at Plex

The Plex Discover interface, showing different options for watching The Office streaming online.
When you click any search result, you’ll see exactly where it’s streaming. Justin Pot

A little background: until recently, Plex was, primarily, a service for watching your own media collection–a way to turn a computer or NAS device in your house into your own personal Netflix. You could rip your DVD collection and record live TV. Then you could stream it from anywhere. You could even share your collection with friends (I won’t discuss how legal this may be).

Plex started offering some free movies and TV shows over the service in the past few years. These have been showing up in search results. The company now offers Discover, which allows users to search for streaming services from all over the world. To get started, sign up for Plex if you haven’t already. Part of the setup will ask which streaming services you prefer.

[Related: 7 tools to make streaming simpler, smarter, and more fun]

With that done, search for whatever show or movie you want to to watch and scroll down to the More Ways to Watch section.

Click on the result to see all streaming services that offer the show.

You can click any of these icons to open the show/movie in the streaming service, including any Plex servers that you may have access to (yours and those of your friends). The Plex servers will first be listed, followed by any streaming service you’ve indicated that you have access. You can also find where to buy the entire show if you prefer to purchase.

The Plex interface, showing you where you can buy or rent a movie online.
We’re not sure what’s going on with Microsoft here. Justin Pot

It’s also a great place to do some comparison shopping, if a little buggy (Microsoft isn’t offering the entire run of The Office for $12. )

You can do the exact same thing with movies and the results may surprise you. For example, I just discovered that a film I wanted to watch was available for free on Kanopy (a service offered by my local library).

That’s really cool to know! This allows you to add these movies to your watchlist. It allows you to create a list that you want to view across all your streaming services. For example, you could add a few movies to your watchlist on your computer and then bring that list up on the TV when you’re ready.

We won’t be getting the video store back anytime soon. However, with a service such as this it’s easier to find out what’s streaming and keep track of the videos you want to see, regardless of which service they are on.

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