Kodi, formerly XBMC, is an open-source media player that was originally designed for the Xbox, but is now available on a range of devices
Available to download for free, Kodi is managed by the non-profit XBMC Foundation, but developed by hundreds of coders around the world. Since its beginnings in 2003, Kodi has been shaped by more than 500 software developers and more than 200 translators.
What does it do?
Designed to run on computers and home servers connected to larger TVs, Kodi pulls content directly to your front room. However, recent community-led products mean it’s now possible to run the software on selected smartphones and tablets.
What can it play?
Kodi essentially turns any computer, smartphone or tablet into a digital set-top box or streamer, giving users the ability to stream files from the internet, a home network and local storage.
Unlike other TV streamers such as the new Apple TV, Chromecast 2 and Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kodi isn’t held back by licensing or a curated app store, so it lets you download a range of community-made apps, and watch whatever you like.
What’s more, Kodi’s purpose-built UI makes browsing through your content simple. The software features what its developers call a “10-foot UI”, meaning it can be read from a theoretical distance of up to 10ft away – and thanks to a range of built-in codes, users can browse videos, photos and podcasts quickly and easily.
On smaller devices, Kodi offers a similar experience, but can be hooked up to a larger TV for big-screen viewing.
Kodi is available on almost every device you can think of. The media centre software is easy to download, and compatible with OS X, Linux, Windows, Android – and even the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. For those using iOS, the process is slightly more complicated: iPhone users will need to make sure their phone is jailbroken before downloading it.
How to use Kodi
Got Kodi? Here’s how to get the most out of it
So you’ve got Kodi – now what? Kodi may offer a wealth of content from across the internet as well as your hard disk, but it’s actually relatively simple to use. If you’ve just downloaded Kodi but aren’t sure where to start, this quick guide is for you. For this tutorial we’ll be using the current build of Kodi, Isengard. If you don’t have that version, don’t worry. Kodi tends not to change too much between builds, so the majority of this tutorial will apply.
After downloading Kodi, the first screen you see shows a carousel on a blue background. This menu will be the one you used the most in Kodi, and its size means it’s easy to operate whether you’re using a smartphone or PC setup. From there, using Kodi is relatively easy. It’s important to remember that although Kodi gives you access to a range of services across the internet, it also acts as a browser for your own content.
How to use Kodi for music
- To use Kodi for music, first select the Music tab on the startup screen.
- Next you’ll be given two options. To listen to your own tracks, select Music | Files. From there it’s possible to locate your music files, and stream them through Kodi.
- If you already have a folder with all your music in it, you can also add it as a source. To do that, click Add Music, and then select the folder and save it as a source.
- If you’re bored of your own music, you can also click on the Add Ons tab instead, and then click Get More. From there you’ll be able to browse all of the music extensions available for Kodi.
- In the following screenshot we’ve downloaded MixCloud, an extension that provides access to hundreds of free, user-submitted mixes. For more music addons, check our Best Kodi addons for music.
- Once you’ve got your music up and running, Kodi will provide onscreen playing functions – and will even revert to visualizer if you leave it for long enough.
How to use Kodi for video
- Using Kodi for TV shows and movies works in a similar way to the music function. Just like using Kodi for music, clicking on Video gives you two options. To watch media already saved to your hard disk, click Files.
- From there, using Kodi’s built-in browser to search for files will enable you to view your locally stored media in Kodi.
- If you can’t find all the videos on your machine, your best bet is to place them in an easy-to-find folder, and then add them as a source.
- Adding a video source is very similar to adding one for music. After selecting Add Files, scroll down to the folder you made, and save it as a source. We named our source “Car videos”, and from there it’s easy to navigate to our video of choice.
- If you’d prefer to stream content hosted on the web, instead click Video Add-Ons, and then “Get more…”. The next menu will show you a list of extensions that give you access to even more content. For some of the best addons for film, see our best film addons guide.
- After you’ve found one you like, simply click on it and select Install.
- Just like when listening to music, Kodi will provide a set of controls to navigate through your content, and will even display it in the background when you’re on the software’s main screen.