Kodi: What It Is and How to Use It

How to use Kodi to get your favorite movies, music, and more

Kodi is a popular open-source program that turns your computer or mobile device into a virtual hub for your multimedia needs. Use Kodi to play audio, videos, and photo slideshows in dozens of file formats. You can further expand Kodi's functionally through official and unofficial add-ons.

Information in this article applies to Kodi version 18.7 (Leia) and later for Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

What Is Kodi?

Formerly known as XBMC, Kodi is a free program that makes accessing music, movies, and TV shows much easier. It features a user interface that scales seamlessly from the smallest smartphones to the biggest television screens.

While Kodi doesn't contain any content, it facilitates access to movies, music, and games through its customizable interface. Such media can be hosted on an external hard drive, optical formats like Blu-ray Disc, or in the cloud.

Download and Install Kodi

To get started, install the version of Kodi for your operating system. Platform-specific instructions can be found on the Kodi official website. It's recommended that you run the latest stable version of the application. While development builds may be available with new features, these versions may not work properly.

If you have the program installed, be sure to update Kodi to the latest version.

Kodi TV and Kodi Music Add-Ons

You can use Kodi to play music and movies you own. You can also view and listen to streaming content available on the web. These streams are accessed using Kodi add-ons, small programs that expand the application's native functionality.

Most Kodi add-ons are housed in repositories. There are two types of Kodi repositories, designated as official or unofficial. Follow the steps below to install add-ons from both official and unofficial Kodi repositories.

How to Install Official Kodi Add-ons

Official repositories are maintained by Team Kodi and are included by default with the application. Add-ons found within the branches of these official repositories are sanctioned by the XBMC Foundation. These can generally be considered legitimate and safe to use.

To access official Kodi add-ons:

If you use a custom skin for Kodi, the interface may differ from the images below.

  1. Open Kodi, then go to the left menu pane and select Add-ons.

    Launch Kodi and select Add-ons in the left menu pane.
  2. Select the package icon.

    The package icon
  3. Select Install from repository.

    Select Install from repository.
  4. You are taken to a list of over a dozen folders found in the Kodi official repository. Select a category, then choose the add-on you want.

    If you installed an unofficial repository, you'll see a list of available repositories. Select the one labeled Kodi Add-on repository with Team Kodi listed as its owner.

    Kodi add-on categories
  5. Select Install on the details screen for the add-on.

    The Install button
  6. Select OK to install the Kodi add-on.

    Select OK on the Kodi add-on installation screen.
  7. Press Esc on the keyboard until you return to the Kodi main screen, then select the newly installed add-on.

    Caprice32 add-on for Kodi options
  8. There are several options available at the bottom of the screen. For example, you can disable the new add-on, configure its settings, and enable automatic updates. To launch the add-on, select Run.

    The Run button in Kodi

How to Install Unofficial Kodi Add-ons

Unofficial repositories are hosted remotely and administered by a third-party. To access unofficial add-ons for Kodi:

Add-ons that are not endorsed by Team Kodi may contain security vulnerabilities and malware.

  1. Launch Kodi and select the Settings gear.

    The Settings icon in Kodi
  2. Select System to open the Kodi System Settings.

    Select System to open the Kodi System Settings.
  3. Select Standard in the lower-left corner of the screen so that the option changes to Advanced.

    Select Standard in the bottom-left corner of the screen so that the option changes to Advanced.
  4. Select Add-ons in the left menu pane, then turn on the Unknown sources toggle switch to activate it.

    The Unknown Sources switch in Kodi settings
  5. A warning message appears detailing the possible dangers of trusting unknown sources. Select Yes to continue.

    Select Yes on the Warning screen.
  6. Press the Esc key on the keyboard to return to the System screen, then select File Manager.

    Select File Manager on the System screen.
  7. Select Add source on the left side of the File manager.

    Select Add source on the left side of the File manager interface.
  8. In the Add file source pop-up window, select None.

    Select None in the Add file source pop-up window.
  9. You are prompted to enter the path of the repository that you want to add. You can usually obtain this address from the repository's website or forum. After you enter the URL, select OK.

    You're prompted to give the repository a name. Choose any name you want. It will be used to reference the source path throughout the application.

    The OK button
  10. Press Esc on the keyboard until you return to the Kodi main screen, then select Add-ons in the left menu pane.

    Select Add-ons from Kodi's main menu
  11. Select the package icon.

    Alternatively, choose a category (such as Video, Music, or Game) and select Enter add-on browser.

    The package icon
  12. Select Install from zip file.

    Select Install from zip file from the Kodi Add-on browser menu.
  13. Choose the source name that you entered in step 9. Depending on the host server's configuration, you may be presented with a set of folders and sub-folders. Navigate to the appropriate path and choose the .zip file for the repository you wish to install.

    You can also install a repository from a .zip file located on your hard drive or removable disk. Some sites allow you to download the file required to install a repository.

    Choose the .zip file for the repository you wish to install.
  14. After the repository installs successfully, select Install from repository.

    Select Install from repository.
  15. Select the newly installed repository.

    Select your newly installed repo.
  16. You'll see a list of folders found in the unofficial repository. Select a category, then choose the add-on you want.

    Select a category, then choose the add-on want.
  17. Select Install on the details screen for the add-on, then select OK to confirm. When the installation is complete, press Esc to return to the Kodi home screen where you should see the new add-on.

    The Install button in Kodi

Several unofficial add-ons can stream copyrighted content, including movies, music, TV shows, and live broadcasts. Streaming such content in your country may be illegal.

The Best Unofficial Kodi Add-on Repositories

There are many independent Kodi repositories on the web, with more popping up all of the time. Below are some of the best in terms of uptime and available add-ons:

For a list of other unofficial repositories, visit the Kodi wiki.