Want to watch Plex in sync with friends? There are two great tools: Plex’s Watch Together or third-party SyncLounge!
The growth in movie downloads paired with the consequences of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic means that fewer people are watching movies with their friends. People don’t go to the movies anymore.
It has a big impact on the social aspect of watching movies. Watching a new film in a packed cinema can be an exhilarating experience. You don’t get that experience sitting on your sofa.
Fortunately, you can watch Plex with your friends. Such functionality is available directly from within the app using Watch Together, or from a third party tool called SyncLounge.
Plex’s Watch Together feature
First, let’s take a look at the original Plex tool for watching videos with friends. Called Watch Together, it’s officially still in the experimental phase. However, the feature seems to work flawlessly and the interface is easy to use. It definitely got the MakeUseOf stamp of approval.
Who Can Use Plex’s Watch Together?
Although the Plex’s Watch Together feature remains in beta, it is free to use for all Plex users. However, this is subject to change when officially launched. Plex’s own documentation seems to suggest that Watch Together will remain free if you only want to stream content from Plex’s free, in-house, ad-supported streaming service. However, if you want to stream content from your own library, it looks like you’ll need a Plex Pass subscription.
At the time of writing, you must have an Android, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS or Roku device in order to use Watch Together. You can’t use Watch Together from the web app.
How Many People Can Set Up Using Watch Together?
Officially, Plex hasn’t mentioned a limit on the number of users (although we’re sure there is one).
In practice, however, the amount that content can sync will depend on the Plex Media Server hardware, your network connection, your disk speed, and the video quality.
Confused? Here’s how Plex describes user limits:
“If the Plex Media Server and your network can’t handle multiple users streaming individually at the same time, then the Plex Media Server can’t support them either to Watch Together.”
Be careful, trying to add too many users will cause playback issues and the video won’t be watched.
How to Use Watch Together at Plex
Assuming you are using one of the supported devices, you will need to press the More button (three horizontal dots) on the video pre-roll screen, then select Watch Together from the list of options.
Next, you need to add people to your Watch Together session. You can only invite Plex users who are your “Friends”. When you’re ready, click on the name of the friend you want to add and hit Done. To add new friends, go to Settings> Users and Sharing> Share Library and enter the username or email address of the person you want to contact.
(NB: If you just added new friends and don’t see them in the list, you need to restart the app to refresh the screen.)
If you’ve been invited to someone else’s Plex Watch Together session, you’ll see a Watch Together row appear at the top of your app’s home screen, along with any videos the organizer has loaded.
When the user accepts the invitation, they will all appear together in the lobby. After everyone arrives, the organizer can start playback. Only the organizer can control the play / pause function after the video starts. The host also has sole control over the different audio streams and subtitle tracks.
Formerly called Plex Together, SyncLounge is another great way to watch Plex with friends.
Like Plex’s official Watch Together tool, SyncLounge will sync your individual Plex apps so you are all watching the same footage at the same time.
SyncLounge has some features which are not yet available in its official tools. For example, you can hide your Plex username when you walk into a room, you can rejoin a recent room, and you can automatically play the next episode when you over-watch TV with friends.
We also really like the app’s user status indicator. Each user has a colored ring around their profile picture to show their sync distance, and you can even see what type of Plex client they’re using if you hover over their name.
How to Use SyncLounge for Plex
To get started, click the Get started link on the Sync Lounge website and enter your Plex login details. If you don’t like handing over your credentials, you can download the app from GitHub and run it directly on your own server.
The organizer must create a room and invite other people to join them. The invitees only need to accept the invitation when it arrives.
Like Watch Together, only the host can play and pause videos, change subtitles and change audio.
Don’t worry, SyncLounge isn’t the kind of app that requires you to revoke access if you ever stop using it; Your Plex user details are not stored on the developer servers.
Plex’s Watch Together vs. SyncLounge
SyncLounge has several advantages over Plex’s official Watch Together tool.
First, you don’t have to be a “Plex Friend” to sync your content. Second, everyone’s Plex server connected to the room is available, thus creating a super content repo.
The danger, of course, is that Plex might pull the plug on the backend APIs that enable third-party apps, especially after its own Watch Together feature exits beta.
In the long run, we think Plex’s support for built-in tools will help make it a better product, but for now, it’s easy to build a case for SyncLounge.
How to Watch Other Video Applications with Friends
Plex isn’t the only app that lets you watch content in sync with your friends far away. Netflix subscribers should learn how to use the Netflix Party Chrome extension, and there are also many ways to watch YouTube with distant friends.