What is Kodi? The Ultimate Beginner Guide to Kodi.

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Want to watch cable TV for free on your computer or smartphone?  If your answer is yes, keep reading.  This guide will help you learn how to install and setup the most popular TV streamer on the internet today.


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Please read our disclaimer before proceeding.


What Is Kodi?

Kodi entertainment center is an open source, totally free, multi-platform entertainment center with loads of completely unique features and abilities.

Most people use Kodi to watch cable TV for free.  Kodi scrapes content from websites that host cable TV streams, allowing you to watch free TV without having to click through tons of banner ads and popups.

With Kodi, you get:

  • Free TV
  • Free movies
  • No setup fees, no monthly fees
  • No ads or popups

What Else Can Kodi Do?

Because it’s an open source program, anyone who knows how can can “remix” Kodi’s source code or create addons that enhance its capabilities.

Some Kodi addons can do things like dim the lights in your house, connect to live TV streams, open digital comic book files, display text messages from your smartphone, grab a picture of the pizza guy via your security camera and much, much more.

XBMC vs. Kodi: What’s the Difference?

XBMC (Xbox Media Center) is Kodi’s old name.  The software now known as Kodi was originally designed to play Xbox media files.

Today, though, Kodi does a lot more than just play media.  What’s more, you can now install Kodi on just about any type of computer under the sun– not just Xbox.  That’s why Kodi’s developers decided to change the name of their software in 2014.

How to Install Kodi

Most people run Kodi on either MacOS or Windows.  However, Kodi also runs on Android, iOS, Linux and even Raspberry Pi.  You can even use Kodi as a stand-alone operating system by installing KodiBuntu.

How to Install Kodi on a PC

Installing Kodi on PC is a cinch.  Just download the appropriate installation file from the Kodi website, open up the installer, hit next a few times and you’re finished.

How to Install Kodi on a Mac

Installing Kodi on MacOS is also pretty easy.  However, after you download the installer, you may have to change your security settings.  By default, MacOS prevents you from installing applications from sources outside the App Store.

How to install Kodi on Android

Now that Kodi is on Google Play, it’s super easy to install.  Just search for Kodi on Google Play and install it in the same manner as you would any normal Android app.

kodiinstall

How to install Kodi on iOS

Because Kodi hasn’t made it into Apple’s App Store yet, you’ll have to jailbreak your iPhone and install Cydia first before installing Kodi.

kodi-ios

If you want to find out how to jailbreak your iPhone, your best bet is probably Lifehacker’s “always up-to-date” guide.  The jailbreak process is complicated and risky, so proceed with caution.

Check out Kodi’s official guide for installing Kodi on iOS if you’ve already set your iPhone free.

How to install Kodi on Linux

Linux veterans shouldn’t have any issues installing Kodi.  Just type the following commands into the command line terminal:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kodi

For more information or to learn how to do advanced stuff like downgrade to an older version of Kodi or install Kodi on rare flavors of Linux, check out Kodi’s official Linux installation guide.

How to install Kodi on Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a super small computer often used to teach kids about computer science.

Because there are many versions of Raspberry Pi out there, your best bet is to check the official installation guide and locate your particular model if you’re interested in installing Kodi on Raspberry Pi.

How to install KodiBuntu

KodiBuntu is a minimalistic operating system based on Kodi entertainment center.  With KodiBuntu, you don’t need a hefty full featured operating system to view media.  All you have to do is plug in your KodiBuntu flash drive and turn on your device.

Check out the video below to see what KodiBuntu looks like.

Want to learn how to create a bootable Kodi USB stick?  Check out the official KodiBuntu installation guide or watch this video.

How to Install Kodi on Fire OS

Amazon recently kicked Kodi out of its app store over piracy concerns.  As a result, the Kodi team stopped supporting Fire OS.  However, you can still install Kodi to your Fire TV stick.

Watch the video below to discover a workaround that will allow you to manually add Kodi to your Amazon Fire TV device.

 

Finding Your Way Around the Kodi Interface

On the surface, Kodi’s interface looks simple.  But it’s easy to get lost once you start exploring Kodi’s advanced menu options.

If you’re a Kodi noob, here are 5 tasks that’ll help you get the hang of Kodi’s funky menu system.  By the time you complete all 5, you’ll be able to call yourself a Kodi master.

1.  Install a free TV addon

The first thing you’ll probably want to do once you get Kodi installed is find out how to get free TV.  Here are a few of the most popular TV addons for Kodi.

USTVNow

As the name suggests, this plugin gives you access to the most popular United States TV stations.  With the free flavor of USTVNow Plus, you can watch 7 network television channels: ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, NBC, PBS and My TV.

This addon’s selection of channels isn’t so great, but the good thing about this plugin is that the quality of the feeds is excellent.  Also, all the feeds always work every single time.  Find out how to install the USTVNow Plus addon.

Exodus

When it comes to movies, it’s hard to beat Exodus.  This addon has a ton of different content available, including the latest movies, and TV shows. The menu allows you to sort the catalogue by genre, network, most popular and more.

Like most free movie addons, Exodus links out to other sites and servers to get content.  However, the links you’ll find on this addon work most of the time.  Find out how to install Exodus.

Phoenix 

Phoenix used to have a massive collection of working TV feeds.  Currently, most of the links seem to be out of service– with the exception of the feeds contained in the section called One242415.

Hopefully once this addon’s creator restores all the broken links, Phoenix will rise from the ashes and rule the world of free streaming TV.  Find out how to install Phoenix.

UKTVNow (aka USTVAgain)

With this addon, you get 150 cable channels from around the world.  The links to the feeds don’t always work, but the selection is quite deep.  Watch ESPN, Comedy Central, SyFy, the Discovery Channel and more.  Find out how to install UKTVNow.

iLiVE StreamLive

The best thing about iLiVE StreamLive is that it gives you access to call kinds of live sports channels.  With this addon, you get several ESPN channels, Sky, Bien Sport France, Canal+ France, Euro Sport 1 and the NFL Network.

iLiVE’s navigation system is a bit confusing and the links are somewhat unstable.  But if you’re looking for a game and can’t find it on USTVNow or UKTVNow, it’s worth it to try browsing through the iLiVE StreamLive catalogue.  Find out how to install iLiVE StreamLive.

Want to Install More TV Addons?

Hop over to our article about the best live TV addons for Kodi to find more information about the most popular TV addons Kodi has to offer.

2.  Import all your movies into your Kodi library

To import all your movies, go to videos → files → add videos → browse.  Then, navigate to the location of your movies on your hard drive.  After that, select ok on the right side of the screen.

screenshot-2016-09-21-15-22-53

Next, name the source to whatever you want (“movies”, for example.)  Click ok again to arrive at the set content screen pictured below.

Once you’re at the set content screen, click the arrows until you get to movies.

screenshot-2016-09-21-15-25-33

Each content type is associated with a scraper.  Scrapers use the internet to grab information about your content.  For example, the movies content type grabs title, genre and other types of info from themoviedb.org.

screenshot-2016-09-21-15-28-41

Once you scan a few movies, you’ll see a new button appear on your main menu: library.

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After your movie content is scanned, some interesting options will become available to you.  For example, if you go to library → movies → actors you’ll see a list of all the actors that appear in the movies that you have stored on your hard drive.

screenshot-2016-09-21-15-39-33

3.  Add some official addons

Kodi addons are a lot like apps.  Addons allow you to add additional functionality to your Kodi installation.

A small percentage of addons are made by Kodi developers.  However, most Kodi addons are produced by the Kodi community.

To check out the official Kodi addons, just pick a media type (music, pictures or videos) then click addons → get more.

When you select an addon, its  logo and a description of what it does will appear on the right side of the screen.  Just click install once you’ve identified an interesting official addon.  After the installation is finished, click open to take your addon for a spin.

screenshot-2016-09-21-15-46-49

4.  Install a repository (aka “repo”)

Files needed to install community addons are stored in virtual containers called software repositories.  Repositories make it easy for Kodi developers that don’t have personal websites to share their addons with the world.  The official Kodi repositories are installed by default.

A super repository is a giant repository that contains lots of smaller repositories.  One of the biggest super repositories is called SuperRepo.  Once you hook Kodi up to SuperRepo, you’ll gain access to a ton of awesome addons.

Here’s how to SuperRepo in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Add the file source

To install SuperRepo, first add the file source by navigating to system → file manager → add source.  Then, paste in the SuperRepo URL: http://srp.nu/ and set the name of the file source as SuperRepo.

Step 2: Install the repository

2.  Now that you’ve setup SuperRepo as a source, you can install the repository itself.  To get to the repository file, navigate to system → settings → addons → install from zip SuperRepo.  At this point, you should see a bunch of folders with strange sounding names.

jarvis

The names of the folders are for different Kodi builds.  Each build name is associated with a version number.

If you’re not sure what version of Kodi you have, go to system → system info and find out your build number.

screenshot-2016-09-21-14-52-54

Unfortunately, the name of the Kodi build isn’t listed on this screen– just the number.  However, once you’ve got your build number a quick Google search will reveal the name of your Kodi build name.  Kodi 16.1 is also known as Kodi Jarvis.

Once you figure out the name of your build, go back into SuperRepo and click the appropriate folder.  Then, go into the all folder and click superrepo.kodi.[build name].zip to install the full repository.

Step 3: Install a SuperRepo addon

Now that you’ve installed SuperRepo, you can go to  system → settings → addons → install from repository → superrepo all to browse the SuperRepo addon catalogue.

screenshot-2016-09-21-15-07-50

5.  Create an addon bundle

SuperRepo and other large super repositories allow you to create addon bundles.  Bundles allow you to easily share your favorite addons with your friends.  Check out the video below to learn how to create an addon bundle using SuperRepo.

Useful Kodi Terminology

Here are a few Kodi related terms you might run into while browsing Kodi blogs and websites.

MCE remotes

Kodi was originally developed for devices that use remote controllers.  That’s why certain types of remote controllers are compatible with Kodi right out of the box.  If you buy a remote controller for your Kodi device that follows the MCE standard, you won’t have to program it at all.

“Fully loaded” Kodi boxes

Some people sell media devices that come with pre-loaded addons that allow users to access pirated TV streams.  These devices are often called fully loaded Kodi boxes.

Currently, it’s technically not against the law to sell fully loaded Kodi boxes.  However, companies that own entertainment content are pressuring governments to create new laws.

In September of 2016, UK resident Brian Thompson was prosecuted for selling fully loaded Kodi boxes.  If the court finds him guilty, fully loaded Kodi boxes could soon be outlawed in the UK.  In Canada, the Federal Court has ordered electronics vendors to stop selling fully loaded Kodi boxes until a decision about the legality of the boxes is reached.

Context menu

Kodi’s context menu allows you to do useful things like change the content type of a file and add an item to a queue.

To get to Kodi’s context menu on a Mac, click and hold the mouse button for about two seconds.  When you release the button, the context menu will appear.  If you’re using a PC, right click to reveal the context menu.  If you’re using a MCE remote, press the guide button.

Copyright troll

So-called “copyright trolls” are lawyers or companies that troll people who have downloaded pirated content by sending them threatening messages.  Occasionally, copyright trolls do follow through on their threats and take illegal downloaders to court.

As long as you avoid Kodi addons that download torrents and other files that contain unlicensed content, you won’t have to worry about copyright trolls.  Generally copyright trolls can only go after people who download pirated content, not those who choose to stream it.

VPN

VPN stands for virtual private network.  VPNs block ISPs and government regulatory agencies from spying on what you do while you browse the web or use Kodi.

More Cool Things You Can Do With Kodi Addons

  1. Connect Kodi to your security camera.  A Kodi addon called Security CAM Overlay can pause your movie and show you a picture when your security camera detects movement.
  2. Dim your house lights.  Download the CinemaVision addon if you have a Philips Hue lighting system and you want to have Kodi dim or turn off your lights when you start a movie.
  3. Check the weather.   Navigate to settings → weather from the main menu and set up a weather news provider to have Kodi keep you informed about weather conditions in your area.
  4. Set up a Kodi profile for your kids.  If you don’t want your kids watching violent or inappropriate movies, set up a profile for them to use that blocks access to the content that you’d rather them not see.
  5. Create your own TV channel.  Pseudo TV allows you to build a TV channel out of content on your hard drive.
  6. Display text messages from your smartphone.  Install Pushbullet to hook Kodi up to your smartphone.  With Pushbullet, you can send notifications or whatever you’re looking at on your phone directly Kodi.
  7. Play retro video games.  If you have a collection of retro ROM files, you can use Kodi to play them with the official Kodi addon called ROM Collection Browser.
  8. Read comic books.  Kodi has built-in support CBR (Comic Book Reader) files.  Point Kodi to your digital comic book collection by going to pictures→ add pictures → browse.