How to Install Kodi On Apple TV

Add the open source media player to your Apple streaming box

Is installing Kodi, a free and open-source media player app, on Apple TV doable or not? In some cases, yes. Here's the information you need to decide if the destination is worth the journey.

Information in this article covers Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD (4th generation), Apple TV (3rd generation), Apple TV (2nd generation), and the original Apple TV (1st generation).

Can I Load Kodi on My Apple TV?

Kodi is a multi-platform tool to find, manage, and stream all kinds of digital content.

As amazing as it is, bringing Kodi’s world of possibilities to Apple's super-slick, but admittedly exclusive, Apple TV set-top box isn't drag-and-drop easy.

No sooner do tinkerers and digital media buffs across the internet determine that loading Kodi to an Apple TV is doable than Apple introduces a new generation of Apple TV. While a new Apple TV box is great for users, it creates a new set of challenges for the Kodi faithful.

So, your success in loading Kodi onto your Apple TV is a direct function of which generation Apple TV you own.

Television, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone displaying Kodi
 kodi.tv

Installing Kodi on Apple TV 4K

With the Apple TV 4K, Apple removed the USB-C port used to install Kodi on the Apple TV HD. Installing Kodi on the Apple TV 4K requires a Mac, a paid Apple Developer account, and XCode, a free download from the Mac App Store. Even then, the Kodi app is signed for only one year.

Installing Kodi on Your Apple TV HD

Loading Kodi to the Apple TV HD (previously designated the 4th-generation Apple TV) requires you to download an app called Cydia Impactor, along with the most recent build of Kodi.

Impactor is an open-source app for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS that allows you to work with file structures on mobile phones, tablets, and other devices such as an Apple TV. It connects with your Apple TV's OS through a USB-A to USB-C cable and allows you to load the Kodi software.

The process is relatively straightforward. When it is complete, you can access everything Kodi has to offer.

Here's how it's done.

  1. Download and install Cydia Impactor on your computer.

  2. Download the most recent Kodi build for tvOS available from Kodi.tv to take advantage of the constant improvements that are Kodi's hallmarks.

  3. Connect your Apple TV HD to your computer with a USB-A to USB-C cable.

  4. Open Cydia Impactor and drag Kodi onto the Impactor window.

  5. Select your Apple TV from Cydia's menu and click Start.

  6. Enter your Apple ID. The Kodi app must be signed by Apple's servers to run.

    Consider setting up a second Apple ID. Given the amount of content people have associated with their Apple IDs, not to mention payment sources, you may want to set up a separate Apple ID to accomplish this step.

  7. After Impactor completes the install, disconnect your Apple TV and reconnect it to your television.

  8. Power up your Apple TV. Kodi is listed alongside your other apps.

Should something go wrong with your Kodi installation—or you just want to return to the safe environs of the familiar Apple TV interface—you need to restore your Apple TV to factory settings, which returns it to a like-new state.

Installing Kodi on Your 3rd-Generation Apple TV

The wiki at Kodi.tv—Kodi's official web destination—is pretty clear on this.

To date, the Apple TV 3 (1080 version) has not been jailbroken yet.

That seems cut and dried.

However, where there's a will, there's a way. There is a workaround for this problem—if you have a Mac. You can install Kodi on your Mac and then use AirPlay to mirror content to the Apple TV.

Beware of sites online promising to jailbreak your 3rd-gen Apple TV for a fee. The chances are good that you'll pay money, ship your Apple TV away, and the site won't be able to complete the process.

Installing Kodi on Your 2nd-Generation Apple TV

Adding Kodi to an Apple TV is possible on a 2nd-generation set-top box, but you have to jailbreak your Apple TV first. Kodi no longer supports the 2nd-generation Apple TV, but if you can find Kodi 14.2 Helix, the last version of Kodi to run on the 2nd-gen Apple TV, you can run it. 

Jailbreaking involves putting a new operating system on your Apple TV that either overwrites the existing system or runs alongside it. The benefits to jailbreaking are that you can load and run a universe of apps other than the relatively limited number allowed on a stock 2nd-generation Apple TV.

Jailbreaking your 2nd-generation Apple TV is a fairly straightforward process.

Installing Kodi on the Original Apple TV

In theory, you can load Kodi's predecessor XBMC onto the original "pizza-box"-style Apple TV, but the process is not for the faint of heart, and it may be more trouble than it's worth since other easier options are available.

For best results, you have to replace your Apple TV's wireless card with a higher-speed PCI Express mini card to handle high-definition video, upgrade the built-in hard drive, and put up with persistent error messages.

On the Other Hand...

As the Apple TV platform has matured, and with the introduction of apps for tvOS, new apps have emerged that can handle many of the duties that used to be the purview of Kodi.

For example, apps like Plex and Infuse are stable, fully developed alternatives to Kodi's organization and playing of media that resides on your personal file servers or computer.

However, if you're excited to experiment with your Apple TV, Kodi can open up a wide world of additional media opportunities outside your Apple TV's ecosystem.