If you want to stream movies, videos and TV shows from your Mac to Roku device, then you can easily do so using the free Plex Media Server. Roku is similar to Chromecast and Apple TV but is considerably cheaper (currently just $29 for the Roku Express) and allows you to stream services such as Netflix, Hulu and HBO. Roku can also stream videos, TV shows, music, YouTube, internet browsers and pretty much any other content stored on your Mac to your Roku device that’s connected to your TV. Note that you can’t use Airplay to stream to Roku from Macs because Airplay only works with Apple TV devices but the good news is that Plex is far more flexible and allows to stream media to any DLNA device including Roku.

How To Stream From Mac To Roku

To mirror content from your Mac to Roku device all you need is Plex. Plex is a free open source content delivery platform that allows you to watch, manage and stream multimedia content from your Mac. Plex works with virtually any version of Roku including Roku Express, Roku Premiere, Roku Ultra, and Roku 2,3 & 4 (check here for a full list of Roku devices). Plex can also be used to connect your Mac to any streaming device including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast so it’s definitely worth installing if you use more than just Apple TV. And if you’ve had problems with Apple TV Airplay mirroring from Mac to your TV such as jerky or stuttering videos, you might find it easier to use Plex anyway.

Important Note: Plex does not work for content purchased on iTunes – only Apple TV can stream iTunes content as it is protected by Apple’s DRM (Digital Rights Management). There is an application called TunesKit which claims to be able to remove DRM from iTunes but it’s not free and we can’t recommend it because we haven’t tried it.

Here’s how to stream from Mac to Roku:

  1. On your Roku device, first go to your Roku channel store and download Plex for Roku.mac to roku - plex channel
  2. Then on your Mac download Plex for Mac. The full name for Plex is “Plex Media Server” but if you can’t find it on the site, you can download Plex Media Server for Mac here.
  3. Drag Plex Media Server to your Applications folder and launch it. When you launch Plex, it will open in a browser window. This is because Plex isn’t actually an app – it’s just a server that delivers media to your Roku device. You’ll be prompted to sign into Plex. You need to sign-up for a Plex account in order to do this which you can do via the Sign-Up link on the page. Once you’ve signed-up, it will automatically log you into Plex – there’s no need to confirm your email or anything.mac to roku - plex signup
  4. Plex is free to use although it will then offer you Plex Pass Premium services which you can just close by clicking on the “x” in the top right corner.stream mac to roku - plex premium
  5. You then have to setup the server so that it can deliver content to your Roku. First click on “Name” to choose a name for your Mac such as “MacBook” which is used to identify your Mac on your Roku. cast mac to roku device - plex server setup
  6. Then click on “Media Library” to choose the folders you would like Plex to stream content from.connect mac to roku - add library plex
  7. Then just click “Done” at the bottom of the screen to finish. Plex will then automatically scan your Mac for the libraries that you’ve asked it to scan and display them in the Plex library. By default, it will automatically detect and scan Photo and Music libraries but you can remove these if you want.mac roku device - plex library
  8. Now simply go to your Roku device and open the Plex for Roku app you installed earlier. Simply select “Discover Servers” and your Roku will automatically connect to your Mac. If you select “Preferences” you’ll also see options for changing the quality of streaming – set it to the highest possible to ensure that video content streamed to your TV is as good as possible. You should see your Mac with the name you chose to identify it. Once connected, you can happily stream anything from your Mac to your Roku device including movies and TV shows.mac to roku - plex video library

If you want to stream from your iPad or iPhone to your Roku, it’s even easier as Roku provide an iOS app to stream from your iPhone or iPad to Roku sticks.

This is a really easy and free way to mirror Mac to Roku devices but if you have any problems, let us know in the comments below.

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11 Responses

  1. Bryan

    I’m not really understanding how to use this program to stream Youtube from my Macbook to our Roku Express – can this not be done?

    Reply
  2. Arnold

    AFAIK Plex Media Server is not open source. The only part of the plex project that is open source was the Plex Home Theater application, but they’ve stopped working on that as well. Some community members have forked it and are keeping it up to date under “OpenPHT”.

    Reply
  3. Travis

    Wait. This isnt an app to completely mirror your mac screen, like an hdmi alternative?

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      No, Plex is just for streaming content from your Mac. If you’ve got an Apple TV, you can easily mirror your Mac screen using AirPlay on your Mac. Or of course, connect an HDMI cable.

      Reply
  4. Jayson Soltes

    Plex used to run smoothly and perfectly with my Roku tv. It’s really aggravating that yesterday, it just decided it wasn’t going to work anymore nor was it going to find my mac mini server, which I’ve verified, is running the Plex Media Server just fine.

    Reply

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