How To Stream From Mac To Roku

If you want to stream movies, videos and TV shows from your Mac to Roku device, it’s easy to do.

Roku sticks are similar to Chromecast and Apple TV but are cheaper and allows you to stream Netflix, Hulu (Limited Offer: $5.99 per month), HBO and more to your Mac.

Since it’s not an Apple device, you can’t use Airplay to stream content from Macs to Roku.

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Here’s how to stream from your Mac to any Roku device for free.

Step 1: Download Plex For Roku

On your Roku device, first go to your Roku channel store and download Plex for Roku. 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.

mac to roku - plex channel

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. If you’ve had problems with Apple TV Airplay mirroring from Mac to your TV such as jerky or stuttering videos or problems streaming Netflix on your Mac, you might find it easier to use Plex anyway.

Plex is also integrated with music streaming service Tidal allowing you to play your Tidal music library in standard or high definition formats on both your Mac and iOS device.

Note that 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.

Step 2: Download Plex For Mac

Then on your Mac download Plex for Mac. The full name for Plex is “Plex Media Server” which you will find if you scroll down to “Get Plex”.

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. Once you’ve signed-up, it will automatically log you into Plex – there’s no need to confirm your email or anything.

plex signup

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. Plex Pass Premium is however worth it if you want to watch movies and TV shows on your mobile devices, stream live free-to-air, record shows via DVR, subscribe to podcasts, get lyrics to songs streamed on Plex and more.

stream mac roku - plex premium

Step 3: Setup Plex Media Server

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 roku device - plex server setup

Then click on “Media Library” to choose the folders you would like Plex to stream content from.

add library plex

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

Step 4: Connect Roku To Your Mac

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.

plex video library

Once you’ve done this, you can enjoy all the other advantages of Plex too. One thing we particularly like is that if you have a Plex Pass, it can automatically download subtitles for shows. This saves you valuable time and hassle having to go to sites such as OpenSubtitles or other dubious sites to try and find the right subtitles for shows and films.

plex subtitles

Note that 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 your Mac to a Roku stick or box but if you have any problems, let us know in the comments below.

If you found this useful, you may also be interested in checking out our guide to the best TV Tuners for Mac which enable you to stream free content on your Mac.

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20 Responses

  1. MacHow2

    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?

  2. MacHow2

    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”.

  3. MacHow2

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

    • 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.

  4. MacHow2
    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.

  5. MacHow2

    If I want to stream from a website onto my ROKU from my macbook — is that possible through PLEX?

  6. MacHow2

    important to note that you are still limited by the Roku editorial board, certain Plex channels are blocked by Roku

  7. MacHow2

    I’ve never heard about this software. But if to talk about applications for streaming different kinds of media from you MAC to different devices, I read lots of positive reviews about Ark MC.


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