How To Use Kodi: A Simple Quick-Start GuideBy Steph Myers / September 26, 2016 / Tags: Cut Cable, How-To, Kodi
Here’s how to use Kodi to watch free TV, movies, live sports, and more — plus a basic intro to what Kodi is and what you should know before you use it. [Last updated: Jan. ’17]
So you have Kodi and you’re ready to unleash its power. But where to start?
Like most powerful, versatile technologies, Kodi can be confusing and a bit overwhelming at first. But thankfully it’s really easy to use.
What Is Kodi?
Imagine a world where all your favorite shows, sports, and movies are available to watch anytime, anywhere on a beautiful, slick, state-of-the-art interface — all for free, free, free. Sound like a fantasy? It’s real. Welcome to the wonderful world of Kodi. We think you’re gonna like it here.
Kodi (formerly called XBMC) is a software application, or app, that functions as a media player. It’s free to download and use. Kodi is designed to organize and play all kinds of digital media. You can watch TV shows, movies, live sports, live TV, and other content — plus listen to music and manage your photos. Here, we’ll be covering how to use Kodi to watch TV, sports, and movies.
Kodi is very popular, has been given awards by Lifehacker and others (here’s our Kodi review). You can use Kodi on a PC, Mac, iOS device, Android device or streaming box, Amazon Fire TV, Raspberry Pi, and others.
Kodi doesn’t come with any content on it. You can put your own content into your Kodi media library, including videos, music, and pictures. You can also use Kodi to stream content from the internet — and this is what you’ll mostly be interested in.
To stream shows, movies, and sports on Kodi, you install Kodi add-ons, which are like the apps on your phone. There is a massive library of Kodi add-ons and plugins you can install — almost all of which are free. You can watch just about any TV show, movie, and live sports event on Kodi with the right add-ons.
Kodi add-ons are divided into two categories: official and unofficial. There are some great official add-ons. But it’s the others, the “unofficial” ones, that are the most popular. Why? Because these are the add-ons that will let you watch all kinds of great content for free. There are third-party Kodi add-ons to watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ESPN, BBC, Amazon Prime Video, and much, much more — all for free.
IMPORTANT: What You Need To Know Before Using Kodi
Kodi is an amazing technological achievement. People would be happy to pay for it, so the fact that it’s free makes it all the more special. But Kodi isn’t perfect. It has some real privacy and security risks. So you need to take steps to protect yourself and use Kodi the safe way.
One, hackers and scammers love to target Kodi users. Read more about Kodi’s biggest security issues.
Two, copyright holders, Internet Service Providers, the government, and etc. really hate it when people watch stuff without paying for it and want to stop/punish those who do. In short, you may be tracked and monitored on Kodi. And you do not want to be on the radar of any of these entities.
Then there’s the legal question. Is watching all this free stuff on Kodi legal? Yes… sort of. But it’s also sort of not legal. It’s complicated. For a detailed discussion, see our article Is Kodi Legal? In short, it’s a definite gray area. But what is certain is that streaming free TV and movies on Kodi is something you’re better off doing privately.
So it is highly recommended you take steps to stay safe on Kodi. The way to do this is to use a VPN with Kodi. A VPN will prevent you from being hacked or tracked you while you watch all that awesome free stuff. It will keep your identity hidden, and secure your connection, so nobody can see who you are or what you’re doing.
Not all VPNs have sufficient security and privacy measures, so choose carefully. I personally use NordVPN. It has military-grade data encryption, is super fast, easy to use, and a real deal at only $3.29/month now through Feb. 28. It’s a PC Magazine Editor’s Choice two years running and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. See the table below for some other trusted Kodi VPNs. Or learn more about what to look for in a Kodi VPN.
It’s really easy to set up a VPN with Kodi (done in about 5 minutes). So do that first, if you haven’t already. Then come back here and get started using Kodi safely and anonymously to watch free Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, HBO, live sports, and more. Let’s get to it!
Best VPNs For Kodi — Stay Safe & Anonymous
Kodi Quick-Start Guide
How To Install Kodi
First things first — get Kodi installed on whatever device you want to use it on (computer, mobile, gaming system, streaming device, etc.). Is Kodi safe to download? Yes. As long as you get Kodi from the official source, it is completely safe.
Go to http://kodi.tv, Kodi’s official website, and download the Kodi application for your device(s). Then follow the instructions to install it on your Mac or Windows computer, Android or iOS device, streaming box, etc. Here’s the easiest way to install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick.
Now that you have Kodi (and a VPN), here are the steps you’ll complete to start watching content:
1. Install the Fusion Add-on Installer (This will let you access more add-ons — particularly the ones that will let you watch free content.)
2. Install some add-ons
3. Open an add-on and start watching content
The instructions below have been updated for the current Kodi version 17 ‘Krypton.‘
How To Install Add-On Installer
First, turn on your VPN and connect to any server. Then open the Kodi application. You’ll see the Kodi Home Screen.
You’re going to be installing the Fusion Add-on Installer — an add-on manager and installer tool. Fusion will give you access to a whole suite of add-ons that the default Kodi add-on library (called a ‘repository’) doesn’t include.
Before you can install Fusion, you’ll need to change one of the settings in Kodi to allow third-party add-ons. To do this, go to Home > System (the gear icon) > System settings > Add-ons. Activate ‘Unknown Sources‘ option. You will see a WARNING! message saying that add-ons will have access to your personal data. As long as you’re using a VPN with sufficient security and privacy protection — like one of these — you can proceed.
To install Fusion Add-on Installer, follow these steps:
1. From the Kodi Home Screen go to System > File Manager
2. Select Add Source
3. Select ‘None‘ for the path. Then type in http://fusion.tvaddons.ag and name the source (Fusion). Fusion will now be added to your list of sources.
4. Return Home and go to System > Add-ons. Click the little box icon at the top to open the Add-on browser. Select Install from Zip.
5. A list of sources will appear. Select Fusion, then select begin-here. Finally, select plugin.program.addoninstaller-1.2.9.zip. (The version number may have changed by the time you read this.)
6. A note saying that Add-on Installer is enabled should briefly flash on screen. In some cases it doesn’t start up right away, but if you exit and reopen Kodi it should fix it.
7. Now go to Home > Add-ons > Program Add-ons. Add-on Installer should be listed under installed add-ons. Select it, and it will take you to the add-on library. From there you can browse and choose any add-ons you want to install.
How To Install Kodi Add-Ons (AKA, How To Use Kodi To Watch Free TV, Movies, And Sports)
Once you have Kodi on your device and have added Add-on Installer, it’s time to install Kodi add-ons to start streaming shows, sports, and other content from the internet. This where things really get interesting with Kodi. There are literally thousands of add-ons you can use to watch all kinds of great stuff. Kodi add-ons are what make the platform so popular and powerful.
There are a few different ways to install Kodi add-ons.
Method 1: From the home screen, click Add-ons, then select Download, then Video Add-ons. From here you can browse available “official” add-ons. When you see one you want, click on it, and then click Install and wait for the ‘Add-on Enabled‘ message.
Method 2: Another way is to go to Home > Add-ons > Add-on browser (the little box icon) > Install from repository / Install from zip file / Search.
Below, you’ll see step-by-step help to install add-ons using Add-on Installer (we recommend beginners start here), from a repository, or from a zip file. To use the search function, type the name of an add-on into the search bar (e.g. YouTube). Choose the add-on you want from the search results and hit Install.
How To Install Add-ons Using Add-on Installer (Best For Beginners)
To install add-ons using the Fusion Add-on Installer, follow these steps:
1. Go to Home > Add-ons > Program Add-ons > Add-on Installer
2. Browse the list of add-ons and select one you want (like Exodus).
3. Click Install.
4. Go to Home > Add-ons > My add-ons > All. Find and select Exodus. Click to ‘Enable‘ it. Now you can open the add-on and start exploring.
Which add-ons should you start with? If you get Exodus and 1Channel for TV and movies, SportsDevil and Castaway for live sports, and SALTS to round it out — chances are you’ll have access to everything you want to watch. You can find all of these in Add-on Installer. For more of the top add-ons for TV, sports, and movies, see our list of the best Kodi add-ons in 2017.
One note: Unfortunately many of the most popular sources for TV and movies on Kodi are restricted based on what country you’re in (like Netflix, BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, ESPN, HBO, and many more). The good news is that it’s easy to unblock Kodi add-ons and get access to every geo-restricted content source, no matter where you are.
How To Open And Use Kodi Add-Ons
Now that you have some add-ons installed, it’s time to open them up and start using them (if you haven’t already). To find your add-ons, go to Home > Add-ons and click on one you want. This will open it up and give you access to all its content.
Alternately, go to Home > Add-ons > My Add-ons > All and select from there to enable, configure, update, or open an add-on.
For a third option, go to Home > Add-ons > Video Add-ons and click on one. This will open up a screen with a description of the add-on, and buttons to configure, update, uninstall, or open it.
⊕ SEE: Best Kodi TV Add-ons 2017
And that’s it! You can now explore and start watching tons of cool content. (Remember, if you can’t get access to content because of geo-blocks, here’s how to unblock them.)
Below you’ll find some more ways to install add-ons and enjoy Kodi.
How To Install Kodi Add-Ons From A Repository
To install add-ons from a repository (the default Kodi repository or any others you add), go to Home > Add-ons > Add-on browser (the little box icon) > Install from repository.
If you haven’t added any repositories, you’ll automatically be taken to the official Kodi repository. If you have, choose the repository you want look in, or look in all repositories. Choose Video add-ons, find an add-on you want, click on it, then click Install.
I’ll walk you through exactly how to install one in the default Kodi repository: YouTube. To install YouTube, go to Home > Add-ons > Add-on browser > Install from repository.
Select the Kodi repository, then go to Video add-ons. You can now browse and choose add-ons to install. To install YouTube, find it in the list, click on it, then hit Install. Repeat for any other add-ons you want.
An important cautionary note — some Kodi add-ons are legally sketchy, and may put users at risk. In fact, many of the all-time most popular add-ons fall in this category. That’s because these are the ones that let you watch tons of TV episodes, live sports, and hit movies for free when we all know you’re supposed to pay for this content.
We must offer the obligatory “only use sanctioned Kodi add-ons!” advice. But since all that free TV is just too cool, here’s the next best thing — protect your privacy and security on Kodi. Illegal streaming of copyrighted content is not something the feds, or the copyright holders, take lightly. And you just never know how safe these third-party add-ons really are (more about Kodi’s security problems).
For only about $5/month you can use Kodi with a VPN, which will hide your identity, protect your privacy, unblock sources, and keep you safe from all kinds of unsavory sorts and prying agencies.
How To Install Kodi Add-Ons From A Zip File
You can also install add-ons from any zip file, either on your device or one you’ve added to Kodi. Go to Home > Add-ons > Add-on browser > Install from a zip file. Choose the file you want to install.
After you see the “Add-on enabled” message, go back to Install from repository and select the file you just added. You can then browse and install its add-ons.
How To Install Additional Add-On Repositories
Repositories are just big collections of Kodi add-ons. Repositories make it easy to browse all the add-ons available and choose the ones you want to install.
Kodi comes with one repository already on it — the official Kodi add-on repository. There are lots of great add-ons in here. But if you want to broaden your viewing options — particularly to add-ons that will let you stream tons of free TV — you can add other repositories to Kodi.
If you followed the steps above, you already added the Fusion repository. Another good one the SuperRepo repository. It is very well maintained, and has thousands of the best add-ons. SuperRepo, and all the add-ons, are free. Note that some of them are “unofficial” add-ons. So if you’d rather stick to the official library, do not get SuperRepo.
To install SuperRepo, watch the video below, or to https://superrepo.org/get-started/ and follow the written tutorial. It’s very good and will walk you through the entire process.
Note that SuperRepo not only has add-ons, it also has a bunch of other repositories available to install. Click on the Add-on repository menu item to find other repositories you can install to get access to even more add-ons.
How To Use Kodi To Watch Live TV
The process here is the same as outlined above. You just need to install Kodi add-ons for watching live TV.
If you installed Fusion, as outlined above, you can also there for live TV add-ons like SportsDevil, for watching live sports events. Or, from the Kodi home screen, go to Home > Add-ons > Add-on browser > Install from repository / Install from zip file / Search and look for live TV add-ons to install.
There are tons of free live TV and live sports add-ons — but again, be aware of those that are giving away paid content for free and use a VPN for protection if you use third-party add-ons.
Kodi also has Personal Video Recorder (PVR) capability. To set this up, go to System (gear icon) > PVR & Live TV Settings.
How To Use Kodi To Watch Netflix, Amazon Video, And Hulu
You can easily use Kodi to stream Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu. All you need to do is install the add-ons for each service.
To watch Netflix on Kodi, use the Flix2Kodi add-on or NetfliXBMC. To watch Hulu on Kodi, use the Hulu Plus or Hulubox add-ons. To watch Amazon Video on Kodi, use the Amazon Prime Instant Video add-on. You can find these by going to Add-ons > Download > Video Add-ons.
How To Install Individual Add-Ons On Kodi
As stated above, using Fusion Add-on Installer is the easiest route for Kodi beginners.
But you might also want to install add-ons individually, so we’ll walk through exactly how to do it. Just about every Kodi user out there will name SALTS as a must-have add-on. No doubt, SALTS is at the top of the all-time best Kodi add-ons in existence.
SALTS will give you easy access to countless hours of popular TV shows, just-released movies, and lots more, all for free. Which means — don’t take this lightly! — we strongly recommend getting a VPN for protection before installing it.
Here’s how to install SALTS on Kodi:
1. Go to System > File manager > Add source. Choose None for the file page, then enter the URL http://fusion.tvaddons.ag and name it Fusion or something else that makes sense to you.
2. Go back to Home > Add-Ons > Add-on browser and select “Install from zip file.” Find the file you just added and named, and then select “xbmc-repos.” Click on the “English” file and then select “repository.tknorris.beta-x.x.x.zip.”
3. Once you see the notice “Add-on enabled,” choose Install from repository > Tk Norris Release Repository > Video Add-ons > SALTS. With your VPN turned on, hit Install.
To get any other Kodi add-ons, just use the same process, only choose a different repository or source. The search function is also very handy.
How To Use Kodi To Watch Videos In Your Media Library
After you install Kodi, you’ll see the home menu pop up. From there, you can choose Movies, TV Shows, or Videos to add files stored on your computer or device. You can use Kodi’s search feature to find the videos you want to watch.
Use these same basic steps to listen to music or look at photos with Kodi. It’s a very intuitive platform and will probably feel like an old friend within minutes.
How To Watch Content On Your TV Set With Kodi
Kodi is designed to be used in a home theater environment. You’d probably rather not watch shows and movies and etc. on your device’s cramped little screen anyway. So how do you get all that great content onto your nice big-screen TV?
One of the most popular ways is to install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV or Fire Stick. Amazon Fire devices are a great match with Kodi because you don’t have to do any hacking or side-loading in order to use Kodi on them.
⊕ RELATED: Best Cable TV Alternatives
Kodi works on other Android TV boxes as well. The Xiaomi Mi Box (below) is one of the most popular choices among devoted Kodi users. You can also install Kodi on Xbox One and Raspberry Pi to stream content onto a TV, but this can get a bit technical — too complicated for this intro guide.
Another option watch Kodi on a TV is to use Chromecast, Google’s media streaming device. All you have to do is launch the Chromecast app, open Kodi, and then use the cast option to send whatever you want to watch to your TV set.
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Best VPNs For Kodi — Stay Safe & Anonymous
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