Making your TV shows look great in Plex - Plex Blog

Making your TV shows look great in Plex

| 17 May 2012 | by 62 Comments

One recurring request we’ve gotten is to make it easier to add posters and background art to TV library sections, especially on Windows and Linux. In some cases, TheTVDB might not have a show, or maybe you want to create a completely custom section to organize your home videos into seasons and episodes. We just pushed a new Local Media Agent (which you’ll automatically get in the next few hours), that makes it really easy!

So what can you add to TV show sections?

  • Show posters: show.jpg
  • Show banners: banner.jpg
  • Show background art: art.jpg or background.jpg
  • Show theme music: theme.mp3
  • Season posters: seasonX.jpg
  • Season banners: seasonX-banner.jpg
  • Episode thumbs: match the filename of the episode file

You can also use PNG files, if you’re a “losslessite” (I’m sure you listen to FLACs too). One really cool feature is that you can actually have multiple elements; just name them suffixed like show-1.jpg, theme-2.mp3. For multiple season elements, use the suffix a, b, c, etc.

We’re also not incredibly strict about where you put these files, so here’s an example of what your structure could look like (in reality, I’m a total neat freak, I promise!):

TV sidecar media

Do that, and you’ll end up with something that looks like the image below. Pretty cool, right? We also fixed a few other bugs in the agent while we were at it:

  • NEW: Pick up genre in MP3 files.
  • FIX: Issue where different movie posters were picked up during each scan. 
  • FIX: A stray folder.jpg file could apply to every movie in a folder.

Plex Media Manager 3

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62 Comments so far

  1. Bitwize May 17th, 2012 10:58 am

    Thanks, Elan! Appreciate the flexibility :)

    p.s. Anxiously looking forward to the next Plex client update(s)!

  2. Clammy May 17th, 2012 11:00 am

    Yay! We finally get trailers back!! Huh? ….oh :(, not yet. Oh well.

  3. Chip May 17th, 2012 11:05 am

    Nice to be able to theme.mp3, but can we turn themes off entirely? sometimes I’m playing back very quiet files, the show ends, and suddenly my ears are blown off by the normal-volume theme. I’ve learned to just be very quick on the mute when the shows end, but Gods help me if I fall asleep.

  4. elan May 17th, 2012 11:06 am

    @Chip: go to preferences, and you can change the volume and turn them on/off.

  5. Hassan May 17th, 2012 11:38 am

    Woo hoo! I’ve been waiting for this for ages.

    The only thing I find curious is why the change for the background image name? In the movies section it’s called “fanart.jpg”, why does it need to be called “background.jpg” in the TV show section?

  6. elan May 17th, 2012 11:40 am

    @Hassan: fanart works too, we just don’t like the name so I didn’t advertise it :)

  7. Matt May 17th, 2012 1:54 pm

    I second the trailer comment… HOWEVER, Airplay on plex (Mac OS) is a decent substitute with an Iphone/Ipad until that comes

  8. wally007 May 17th, 2012 2:57 pm

    Is this new scanner/agent combo only detecting files that have either date or SxxExx in the file name ?
    Please consider making TV show agent that would detect ALL files.
    That way one could make ~/Home Movies/Danny/Year 2011/Danny playing on the

    Right now it requires me to put the date in the file name ( ugly when browsing in Finder ) plus results in a date being the episode name ( current scraper takes 2011-05-12 as episode name instead of the file name.

    What I’m proposing wouldnt break current skin engine as you’d still have ShowName (“Danny”)/Season (“2011″, or event say “Weddings”)/episode ( name of the files -extension.

    This would also make a nice way to create ‘automated’ collections as whatever you’d put into the ‘season folder’ would be grouped together.

    Also on the upside would be that on the iPad we would be able to read name of the file right away. Right now if I take Formula 1 and add it as a Movie section all I can see on iPad is bunch of Formula 1 …. titles :-( If I could easily add it as a TV Show, TV Shows have nice ‘list’ iPad view mode

    Anyway, please excuse my rant. I’ve just spent way too long recently working around the current TV Show scraper to make my home movies and recorded TV look nice in PLex and particularly on iPad.

  9. ananke May 17th, 2012 3:51 pm

    Looking at the com.plexapp.agents.localmedia.log, it seems that this agent is activated only for a very small subset of my tv shows and movies. For example, out of 17 old polish cartoon series, with only half of them having poster/background art available on, only one of them appears to be scanned for art.

    Removing and re-adding the show doesn’t seem to fix it. Perhaps it’s assuming that if a show is in, it will not use local media agent? I’ve made sure that the agent is enabled for the media type, and even moved it up ahead of one. The local show.jpg/background.jpg do not show up if I select ‘change artwork’. Am I missing something very obvious?

    Overall, great feature. Can’t wait to have it fully working. Cheers!

  10. elan May 17th, 2012 4:22 pm

    @ananke: I just tested over here, and even on a show that didn’t match on the TVDB, it does invoke the local media agent. Is it possible you need to force it to refresh those shows (right click + select refresh on the show), e.g.? You can do that for all shows with shift + refresh button, of course.

  11. elan May 17th, 2012 4:24 pm

    @wally: yes, this is an agent change (metadata loader) rather than a scanner change (file scanner). We’ll look into making this better in the future, but I would guess that in those cases, wouldn’t you want some sort of implied order to the “episodes” ? You should be able to make them look like absolute order, e.g.:

    Danny/Season 2011/01 – xxx, 02 – xxx, etc.

    The agent doesn’t currently pick up an episode title in this format, but it *could* be made to.

  12. GSX May 17th, 2012 4:25 pm

    Can different seasons of a show have different background art now?

    That’s one feature I have been waiting a while for.

  13. elan May 17th, 2012 4:29 pm

    GSX: that would require a change to the internals of the media server, I’ll make a note, cool idea :)

  14. GSX May 17th, 2012 4:33 pm

    @elan: Awesome. That would be great.

  15. ananke May 17th, 2012 4:52 pm


    That did it! Logs filled up quickly, and sure enough, I had to force refresh those shows, and the files were picked up right away. Thanks! While I’ve been populating thetvdb’s database with those shows, this is a great way of seeing how the final result will look like.


  16. ananke May 17th, 2012 4:58 pm

    One small thing I just noticed. It seems that the background.jpg/art.jpg are actually not matched. Here’s a sample log, minus the rules for each episode:

    2012-05-17 22:56:08,020 (7ff6a981a700) : INFO (__init__:332) – Found 1 valid things for pattern show-?[0-9]? (ext: ['jpg', 'png', 'jpeg', 'tbn'])
    2012-05-17 22:56:08,021 (7ff6a981a700) : INFO (__init__:332) – Found 0 valid things for pattern banner-?[0-9]? (ext: ['jpg', 'png', 'jpeg', 'tbn'])
    2012-05-17 22:56:08,023 (7ff6a981a700) : INFO (__init__:332) – Found 0 valid things for pattern fanart-?[0-9]? (ext: ['jpg', 'png', 'jpeg', 'tbn'])
    2012-05-17 22:56:08,024 (7ff6a981a700) : INFO (__init__:332) – Found 0 valid things for pattern theme-?[0-9]? (ext: ['mp3'])
    2012-05-17 22:56:08,031 (7ff6a981a700) : INFO (__init__:332) – Found 1 valid things for pattern season-?1[-a-z]? (ext: ['jpg', 'png', 'jpeg', 'tbn'])
    2012-05-17 22:56:08,034 (7ff6a981a700) : INFO (__init__:332) – Found 0 valid things for pattern season-?1-banner[-a-z]? (ext: ['jpg', 'png', 'jpeg', 'tbn'])

  17. elan May 17th, 2012 5:11 pm

    @ananke: Thanks for the heads up, you’re totally right. Fixed, pushed, and deployed, you should have the fix available in the next few minutes.

  18. wally007 May 17th, 2012 5:53 pm

    @elan, That COULD and WOULD be an option. Many people tag home movies in Lightroom ( or similar ) so they have no idea whether it should be 01 or 02 or whatever. If i wanted an implied order i WOULD add 01 so when ‘list’ of episodes is listed then in alphabetic order 01-02-xy would be the ticket. But if I have 3-4 file in ‘season’ called “WEDDING” then no need for numbers.

    Also for recorded TV, its a nightmare to add recordings to plex as a TV Shows section and make it look nice. If we had an option to add ANY file regardless of its name to the TV section, life would be much easier ( as long as /Collection(ShowName)/Group(Season)/FileName(EpisodeTitle) is preserved we would have an OPTION to add 01-02 etc to the file name if we wanted implied order, but if we dont, then we’d just have a file name.

    As you can tell I’ve spent alot of time fighting current TV Show scanner restrictions.

  19. plakna May 17th, 2012 8:05 pm

    AWESOME!! :)

  20. Grazzyman May 17th, 2012 9:32 pm

    @Elan – is it possible to have a ‘rescan library’ button within the plex client? My Plex server is set up correctly and should auto-update etc. but on a fairly regular basis needs me to manually refresh (which is a pain when my home setup is ticked away in a cupboard with no mouse and keyboard). A simple ‘update’ button would be extremely useful! Also, my client has not autoupdated to the most recent release – will this be pushed out soon? Keep up the good work.

  21. Maze May 17th, 2012 11:18 pm

    Awesome! I really appreciate the new features.

    If the agent “*could* be made to pick up an episode title” from the file name, then we would at the same time be able to create sections for Music Videos – with theme music!

  22. elan May 17th, 2012 11:20 pm

    @Maze: clever idea, and it certainly could be made to, we just need to agree on a standard format. I personally think “XX – title.ext” makes sense.

  23. Maze May 17th, 2012 11:34 pm

    @Elan: I am currently naming my music video clips as …

    /Gary Moore
    /Season 1
    Gary Moore – s01e01 – After the War.m4v
    Gary Moore – s01e02 – Before I Run.m4v

    Except from having to rename “Episode 01″ to “After the War”, the only problem is when you add new clips – if one wants alphabetical order, one has to update the s01eXX-part of all the file names.

  24. xain09 May 17th, 2012 11:54 pm

    Thanx! Very handy! Love it. Some weird cult stuff didn’t have poster..

  25. retrotv May 18th, 2012 12:31 am

    I have been expecting this function for such a long time. Being able to take the file name and use to name the show is something I have been hoping for long ago. My question is: ¿can it be downloaded already and if so where from? Also, if the answer is no, will it be a client update or a new metadata agent will have to be added?


  26. elan May 18th, 2012 12:36 am

    @retrotv: it should have magically updated for you already, so give it a try! Just add the files, and right click to refresh a show, or shift + click on refresh to force loading new metadata for the entire section.

  27. 41john May 18th, 2012 12:58 am

    Great new feature, well done Plex team.

    @Maze: Good choice on Gary Moore music… I work with his brother.

  28. Meltman May 18th, 2012 6:22 am

    A large chunk of my media seems to be encoded in a way that crashed the old client when a transcoder was invoked. The new client just says “Error Could not read data from file”. How can I troubleshoot this? I have a sample of media. Looks like the hint track freaks out the transcoder.

  29. elan May 18th, 2012 7:12 am

    @meltman – please get us a sample and logs, and we will look right into it!

  30. Ollie May 18th, 2012 7:48 am

    I’m confused about one thing: The article makes it sound as though this new feature is automatically pushed out to our Plex servers. Is that the case, or do we need to manually install an update/patch and then restart the app or reboot the server?

    slightly confused…

  31. Hassan May 18th, 2012 11:22 am

    I see that the “poster.jpg” no longer works, but we now have to use “show.jpg”. It’s so annoying that we now have to go through each of the TV Show folders and rename the jpegs for no apparent reason.

  32. elan May 18th, 2012 11:45 am

    @Hassan: Just to clarify, poster.jpg never worked, we just added that functionality for TV shows. However, since you’re a nice guy and you asked so nicely, I pushed an update which recognizes both ‘poster’ and ‘show’. Enjoy, and have a great weekend :)

  33. Hassan May 18th, 2012 8:30 pm


    Sorry if I came across rude. I know you guys work very hard, and I really am grateful. Plex is by my favourite Mac app to date. It’s probably why I care so deeply and get annoyed at the small things.

    Thank you so much for the update!

    The neat freak in me wants everything to match, so can I use “background.jpg” and “poster.jpg” for both the Movies section and the TV Show sections?


  34. elan May 18th, 2012 8:38 pm

    @Hassan: not at all, I appreciate you bringing it up, inconsistency drives me nuts! I didn’t think you were rude, or else I probably wouldn’t have dropped everything else I was doing to make the fix for you :) I just made that additional fix to allow background/art.jpg in movie sections, poster.jpg was already allowed for movies. Please let me know if it’s all working or if there are any other inconsistencies.

  35. zack123 May 18th, 2012 10:19 pm


    Thanks for the great update. Does the theme have to be an mp3 or does it also work with FLAC, Apple Lossless, mp4, so on?

  36. wally007 May 18th, 2012 11:13 pm

    Since this is a new subject, I did not know whether to post on forums or here. Anyway, with this new agent none of the mp4 embedded metadata is read. Im converting TV recordings (MCE7) with MCEBuddy and metadata is definitely there as they show up in iTunes and in MediaInfo. (this particular file has desc and genre only but still…. it seems that these files are only scanned and not ‘agented?’/scraped )
    Media video info file:
    Here is the video file:

  37. Wouter May 19th, 2012 2:53 am

    Hey guys,

    Is there a site that has this poster/background/season poster available for download?

  38. Class1369 May 19th, 2012 3:59 am

    Where do I do this? I’m lost

  39. Tony May 19th, 2012 5:25 am

    re diff seasons show have diff art -> cool idea

    off topic here, but I would like to be able to specify different backgrounds for different collections (of movies). Since these are virtual lists, there isn’t an obvious place to put the image, but it would make segregating large movie collections much nicer.

  40. retrotv May 21st, 2012 12:56 am


    I am so sorry but this update is not working for me which is terrible because I have been waiting for it for ages and I was absolutely delighted to see it was finally here. Go figure, I have over 200 documentaries waiting to be catalogued!
    Step by step, this is what I have done lately:

    -As the update in version 0961 was not working I downloaded version 0962 (beta) and it doesn’t seem to work either.
    -Just in case I had done something wrong sometime, I installed the whole thing in a fresh IMAC from scratch with no success.
    -I have tried with two shows (one named sxex and the other 01-file name). No success.
    -I have also updated the agent in plexonline.
    -I think I have tried everything so far. Of course, refreshing doesn’t work either.

    So, as I don’t know if this subject is going to be discussed here anymore –as everybody else seems to have it working already- is there any other thread in the forum where all this is being discussed and where I might be able to find some help from you cracks?

  41. Howlingmad May 21st, 2012 5:22 am

    Sorry. I tried this x-times for my tv-shows. The only one that works was the thumb for episodes (like S01E01.jpg). The other images become ignored.

    To verify, that I get the newest agents, I has removed plex, clear the folders and make a fresh installation. The agents where successfully loadet.

    Here an example:
    2012-05-21 17:11:14,579 (-503054c0) : INFO (__init__:102) – Looking for show media for ShowX.
    2012-05-21 17:11:14,591 (-503054c0) : INFO (__init__:104) – Error finding show media.
    2012-05-21 17:11:14,592 (-503054c0) : INFO (__init__:108) – Looking for season media for ShowX season 1.
    2012-05-21 17:11:14,602 (-503054c0) : INFO (__init__:110) – Error finding season media for season 1
    2012-05-21 17:11:14,800 (-503054c0) : DEBUG (model:218) – Serializing to /var/lib/plexmediaserver/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Metadata/TV Shows/f/677e5870cef2846a658611f7788dd91589ee2fa.bundle/Contents/com.plexapp.agents.localmedia/Info.xml

  42. elan May 21st, 2012 7:49 am

    @howlingmad – from the logs it doesn’t look like you have the latest agent, check for updates inside channel store.

  43. elan May 21st, 2012 7:50 am

    @retrotv please post (forums?) your exact file / folder structure and the agent log.

  44. Howlingmad May 21st, 2012 9:17 am

    “Check for Updates” in Channel Directory: “All your plug-ins are up to date”. The same entry in the system.log

    In History: LocalMedia Version 197.3205

    Then I deleted the folder LocalMedia.bundle. And than run update. –> LocalMedia has Version 197.3205 again.

  45. elan May 21st, 2012 9:25 am

    @Howlingmad: that is the correct version. Can you right click + refresh a show and post the entire local media log?

  46. Howlingmad May 21st, 2012 9:44 am
  47. elan May 21st, 2012 11:49 am

    @Howlingmad: i’ve replied via email, looks like you might be running into a bug in the agent.

  48. RockerC May 22nd, 2012 9:32 pm

    Plex should scrape the website for more artwork :)

  49. retrotv May 23rd, 2012 12:14 am

    Just wanted to say I am sorry. I have gone through the whole post all over again and I think that maybe I got it wrong? I am now thinking that this update is mainly aimed to backround music and artworks which is also great and I will use it. But… what I was expecting was that the file names would now also appear/replace the episode titles (which is point number one in my wish list, as I would not have to catalogue the inmense amount of tvshows I have one by one manually – these are personal shows which don not exist in THETVDB). You’re doing a huge job and I believe this would be a great advance for PMS. As for the structure for this update the standard SxxExx plus the show(file) name looks ok for me.
    Thank you so much anyway.

  50. mattdunc May 23rd, 2012 3:30 am

    i have spent a number of hours trying to add custom art to my TV shows, for information files need to be season-X.jpg, show-X.jpg not as described as above unless im missing something.

    2012-05-23 11:03:56,501 (7f610b7fe700) : INFO (__init__:332) – Found 1 valid things for pattern season-?3[-a-z]? (ext: ['jpg', 'png', 'jpeg', 'tbn'])

  51. elan May 23rd, 2012 8:50 am

    @retrotv: i think this would mainly be a matter of having the local media agent read the episode title from the file. There’s no super-standard format I know of, but we might be able to recognize a few, such as: “01 – Title.ext” and “blah – SxxExx – title.ext” but there are lots of exceptions, e.g. “The Simpsons – 23×21 – 720p WEB-DL DD5 1 H 264-CtrlHD”.

  52. elan May 23rd, 2012 9:00 am

    @matt: AFAIK, it reads “show.jpg” or “show-X.jpg”. Just tested and that’s what I see over here. If you’re not seeing something match that should, please make a forum post with full structure and agent log and we’d be happy to look.

  53. retrotv May 24th, 2012 1:38 am

    To make it short (ha ha!)
    In PMS the following structure must be observed:
    Name of Tvshow s01e01 episode name
    In case the agent is Thetvdb, the program will go to the Thetvdb website, search for the tvshow, search for code s01e01 and will download the title that goes with it. The name is then shown in PMS and might not be the same that I have in my hard drive.
    If the agent used is local media agent, what is shown in PMS is the tvshow name plus EPISODE ONE, EPISODE 2… corresponding to e01, e02 etc… So again my question is: is it not possible that, while using the local media agent, instead showing EPISODE #, it copies what it finds between s01e01 and .avi? I would make sure that all files are previously renamed (with ie rename4mac) so that the file name is the one I want in PMS.
    There is a solution which might help you understand my problem in the following thread from proflump
    … which I could not make work… If you read that post, it explains quite clearly what I intend. I still don’t know if the local media agent can do it but I can’t make it work or if that feature is not available in which case, can I expect it to be available at some stage?

  54. mattdunc May 24th, 2012 1:54 am

    thanks for the responce

    So what can you add to TV show sections?

    ■Show posters: show.jpg
    ■Show banners: banner.jpg
    ■Show background art: art.jpg or background.jpg
    ■Show theme music: theme.mp3
    ■Season posters: seasonX.jpg
    ■Season banners: seasonX-banner.jpg
    ■Episode thumbs: match the filename of the episode file

    season1.jpg does not work
    season-1.jpg does work


  55. shedwa May 24th, 2012 4:10 am

    What audio file types are supported? Just MP3?

  56. Legin May 24th, 2012 5:30 am

    Have to say I’m enjoying using Plex, but something i have noticed and can’t seem to get i rectified. A few days ago i watched a .MKV file streaming it on my PS3 and it worked great, but a few days after when i open my plex server from my PS3 it says “unsupported file” and this was the same file that worked a few days ago. Nothing was changed at all, neither on my Plex server nor on my PS3, can anyone suggest or have a fix for this so my PS3 recognizes .mkv files from my Plex server?

    Also it would be nice to have an update where when i’m watching a movie on my PS3 streaming it from my Plex server and i stop, i can continue where i left off as i usually do from my iPhone, but what happens instead is i have to start the movie all over again and fast forward to the point of the movie where i have reached.

  57. Heliagon May 25th, 2012 9:50 am

    I tried adding theme music to my shows, but succeeded with only two of them. The other display the error “Could not determine input format”. The .mp3 files don’t seem to be in any way different from the ones that work. I’ve tried refreshing the metadata for the shows, but with no success. Any idea what might be causing this?
    Here’s an example of the error messages from the Plex.log file:

    22:34:47 T:2954915840 M: 0% ERROR: Open – error probing input format,
    22:34:47 T:2954915840 M: 0% ERROR: OpenDemuxStream – Error creating demuxer

  58. Stieller June 4th, 2012 9:01 pm

    I have also added theme.mp3 to a few shows.. Refreshed those specific shows and it still plays the old generic theme..
    Am I doing something wrong??
    I’ve added it in the first folder
    Buffy vampire slayer
    Season1 etc

  59. mscroggi December 9th, 2012 6:00 am

    I dont see the option to turn off the theme music as was referenced earlier in the thread. I went through all the settings.. I see the audio boost option.. but I would like to disable the series theme music.

    Any ideas?


  60. mscroggi December 16th, 2012 7:18 am

    I didnt realize the theme music was a client side option..
    I see now it can be turned off in roku channel settings

    My apologies for the noise

  61. Mike Meagher April 27th, 2013 1:59 pm

    I noticed that some TV shows do not pickup a background music file. I checked your database listing and the shows are listed but I am not getting background music when I load the tv show. Anyway to choose my own local file (mp3) to play? Thanks

  62. Ron Poston November 26th, 2013 3:23 am

    I downloaded the Plex Server to do my movies, home movie and pictures. I have the complete episodes of Dark Shallows witch ran for 5 seasons. The name theirs The Beginning instead of Season 1, and the others are ladel Volume 1-4. The proble I have is there are 205 episodes so when it list the episode our it puts E100 after E10, and E11 after E110 and etc. How do I fix that do I need to label it E010 or E 10 and E100.

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