About five years ago, I moved my personal media collection from Kodi over to Plex. I’ve migrated my media collection a few times before, so I was expecting it to be a huge hassle.
But it wasn’t.
In fact, it was so easy it was almost automatic.
That’s because I followed a simple naming convention that Plex would understand when I was setting up my media library.
Plex allows us to store music, movies, and other media files locally or on network drives, in as many hard drives and folders as you want.
Having one consistent naming convention helps Plex look at your collection of movies and TV shows and automatically figure out what they are.
Then it can download metadata, album art and other extras that really give you a cinematic experience in your living room.
Otherwise, your media library can become unmanageable, making it difficult to find what you’re looking for. It’s not uncommon to come across a movie that is missing its art, or a TV show that has been misidentified.
Fortunately, Plex also provides the tools to fix these mistakes, and an easy way to avoid them.
All it takes is a little bit of work on your part.
How to Name Movies For Plex
You don’t need to put each movie into separate directories when setting up your media library, but it is recommended.
Not only will you be able to find what you’re looking for faster, but it’s easier for Plex to recognize the correct titles when everything is named and organized strategically.
Plex Naming Convention: Movies
First, create a parent directory for all of your movies. I like to keep it simple by naming it “Movies.”
Ideally, you should put this directory somewhere with enough space to grow into. My Movies directory is almost 2TB and there’s a lot of DVD’s and Blu-ray’s that I haven’t ripped yet. Give yourself room to grow.
Next, create individual folders inside the Movie directory for each film. Ideally, you should also name the video file to exactly match the folder name.
Movies Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).mkv
I like to add the year in which the movie was made after the name. This is useful in case you have both Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters (2016) in your library.
In some cases, I take this a step further by creating a main directory for a movie series and putting each movie in a separate directory inside the folder. That works great for my collection of James Bond movies.
You also don’t want to forget about the subtitle file. Simply copy the file name of the video, minus the extension, to the subtitle file so Plex knows to use it during playback.
Naming Multi Part Movies
You don’t see it too much anymore, but sometimes a movie may be split into multiple DVD’s or Blu-rays.
When that happens, just add the parts to the end of the file name.
Movies Lord of the Rings Return of the King (2003) Return of the King Extended Edition pt1.mkv Return of the King Extended Edition pt2.mkv
This also works when you have multiple versions of the same movie. For example, maybe you have an SD version and an HD version of the same film.
If that’s the case, just add the video resolution at the end of the file name.
Custom Posters & Fanart
Let’s start by saying that this step is completely optional.
When Plex scans your media library, it automatically downloads movie posters for you.
However, there may be times when you want a specific poster or piece of fanart attached to a movie. When this happens, just copy the poster or fan art file into the movie folder and rename it to ‘poster.jpg’ or fanart.jpg.’
According to Plex, the optimal poster size is 1000 pixels x 1500 pixels and an aspect ratio of 1:1.5.
How to Name TV Shows for Plex
It’s slightly more complicated to name TV shows than movies simply because TV shows are broken up into seasons and episodes.
Because of that, you need to make sure that TV shows are named correctly, so that Plex is able to put them in the right order.
As I mentioned earlier, Plex recommends that you keep TV shows in a separate folder from movies, music, and other media. Plex scanners and metadata agents work best when content types are separated.
Plex Naming Convention: TV Shows
Just as with your movie library, the first step is to create a main directory for your TV shows.
While you can name this anything you want, I again like to keep it simple. My directory is simply named “TV Shows.”
Underneath that main folder, you’ll then create individual folders for each of your TV Shows. However, the naming convention is a bit different, depending on whether the show is season-based or date-based.
Naming TV Shows with Seasons
Most standard television shows are broken up into seasons and episodes.
Inside the TV Shows directory, create a folder named after the TV show.
It’s up to you whether you want to create a separate folder for each season of a show, or simply put them all under one main folder.
For example, I have separate folders for each series of Doctor Who, but one main folder for all seasons of Top Gear. As long as the files are named correctly, you can name the folders whichever way makes more sense to you.
Finally, name each video file in the following format: sXXeXX. This stands for Season XX and Episode XX.
Here’s an example of both of these concepts together:
TV Shows Doctor Who (2005) Series 2 Doctor Who (2005) s02e01.mkv Series 3 Doctor Who (2005) s03e01.mkv Top Gear Top Gear s17e01.mkv Top Gear s18e01.mkv
As with movies, if you have two TV shows with the same name (e.g., remakes of shows or U.S. vs. U.K. versions), include the year of the show at the end of the folder title.
TV Shows The Office (2001) The Office (2001) s01e01.mkv The Office (2005) The Office (2005) s01e01.mkv
If you want, Plex also allows for ‘Optional Info’ at the end of each video file name. Many users use this to add extra data, such as an episode title to the file name.
Sherlock (2010) s02e02 - The Hounds Of Baskerville.mkv
Naming Date-Based TV Shows
Data-based shows have a similar naming convention in Plex, but include the date that the show aired instead of the season and episode.
You can still choose to create individual season folders for your date-based shows.
The Colbert Report – 2014-8-27.mkv
Note that you can write the date as either YYYY-MM-DD or as DD-MM-YYYY. You can also you can use several options for separators (dashes, spaces, or periods).
If you’re having trouble naming and organizing data, head over to TheTVDB.com. Plex uses this website to match content, so it can be useful to take a look at it before naming your media files.
Naming Miniseries & TV Specials in Plex
Miniseries are treated in much the same way as traditional season-based TV shows.
It helps to think of a miniseries as “Season 01” of a potential multi-year run. Whether they make it that far, is another story.
Just name and organize the episodes in the same way you would as a regular season-based show.
TV specials are treated a little bit differently than your average TV show episode, however.
Specials are considered part of season zero (e.g., “00”) and should be placed in their own special folder named “Specials” or “Season 00.”
Naming Multi-Part TV Shows
In some cases, a single TV show file will contain more than one episode. If you encounter this issue, you’ll want to include both episodes in the file name.
For example, if episodes eight and nine of “The Office” were in the same file, you would name it “The Office -s02e08-e09.”
As an alternative, you can use a tool to split the video so that each episode has its own individual video file.
How to Name Music For Plex
Just like your movies and TV shows, your music library should have its own main directory named “Music”, or something similar.
Plex handles music tracks a bit differently than video content.
That’s because music files already contain embedded metadata that provides additional information about the song, artist, album, etc..
This makes it easier for Plex to recognize what the file is.
Plex allows users to tell the music library to use the embedded metadata in the music files to streamline the organization process.
However, if you enable this option, you’re telling Plex to prioritize local embedded tags over anything that it finds online.
You are essentially telling Plex that you have tagged all of your music correctly.
Plex Naming Convention: Music
As with movies and TV shows, it’s important to name and organize music content correctly.
In your “Music” folder, you’ll start by creating folders for each individual artist. Underneath that will be subfolders for each of the artist’s albums.
In each album’s folder, the filename for each song will begin with the track number. That makes it easy for Plex to organize the files if you want to play an album from start to finish.
04 Love Bites.m4a
Personally, I find it helpful to include the date the album came out. I find that more and more of my favorite bands are reissuing remastered versions of popular albums, so this helps to keep them separate.
Naming Compilation: Albums
It can become a little more complex when you have albums with music from many different artists, such as a movie soundtrack or “Best of the 1970s”-type album.
To organize this type of file on Plex, name the artist as “Various Artists” and then put the album folder, followed by the soundtracks.
Local Artists & Music Videos
Plex also allows users to add their own artist or music videos to their media library.
You can do this in one of two ways.
First, you can keep your videos alongside regular music files. You have to name the video accordingly, and place it in a directory that contains music tracks from the same artist.
Or you can put all of your music videos, from all artists, in a separate music videos folder, away from regular music files.
Plex even lets you add behind the scenes footage, interviews with the artist, or similar content to your music library. You’ll just need to add optional information to the file name, based on what it is.
Some examples include “-internet” (artist interview), “-behindthescenes” (behind the scenes), “-live” (live music video), and “-concert” (concert performance).
File & Folder Exclusions
When naming movie folders and files, there are certain exclusions to be aware of which could affect your ability to successfully organize your library.
First, Plex will automatically ignore certain types of files and folders.
This includes files that are less than 300MB in size and files that include the word “sample” in the filename. Trailers, bonus materials, and extras are also ignored, including subfiles that include these words or phrases.
Plex does not currently support the use of IMG, ISO, Video_TS, and other “disk image” video formats.
If you have movies in this format that you want to use with Plex, you will first need to convert them to a compatible format.
You can convert disk image formats by remuxing the content, which retains the full quality of the video’s original source. Or you can transcode the content to create files that typically range from 500MG to 15GB.