The cool thing about the Kodi app is that there are hundreds or even thousands of different options (aka “Kodi addons“) that allow you to customize your case so that it really looks like you – there are different themes, different wallpapers and much more. Sure a lot of add-ons. However, it also means that you can quickly get lost by configuring its case – especially if it is the first you buy.
Kodi has a large community (and a forum) of users and developers. These two resources will be a useful source of information for all users, especially during the basic configuration of the box.
How does this guide work?
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Keep in mind that whatever guide you use, you should always adapt a little to your situation. Kodi runs on so many devices and has so many options that it would be impossible to list them all. That said, if you follow this entire guide you should be able to find and modify what you are singing.
Some useful information about the Kodi app
I mentioned above the very good compatibility of Kodi, it can run on Android, Mac, Linux or Windows to name only the best known. To make this guide as clear as possible I made the manipulations on my PC under Windows 10. Snaglt and Photoshop are easier to use on a PC sorry … However, do not worry, the interface is almost identical on all systems, and so if you know Kodi on Windows you can use Kodi on Android or Linux without problems.
In this guide you will find information only about the features available on the official version of Kodi. I would not talk about the changes made by the different manufacturers; I would not try to talk about unofficial add-ons that can be found on the internet. An article on unofficial add-ons would be long enough for me to add this to this guide.
Finally, if you use XBMC you can still find interesting information throughout this guide. Kodi is the new name of XBMC (look at the “what is Kodi” part below) and even if the name has changed, the interface has remained similar for years. So if you are looking for a guide to learn how to configure XBMC, you are in the right place!
What is the Kodi app?
Kodi, formerly known as XBMC, is an open-source media center that was born from the evolution of an Xbox application. If you are good in English and English you probably have already found what XBMC means: “XBox Media Center”.
The program was created for use in the living room, so you will often hear that Kodi has a “too big” user interface. It can play almost any video, podcast or image format on your TV no matter where it comes from.
If you’re wondering where the names for the Kodi versions came from, these are popular science fiction and geek works:
- XBMC v8.10 Atlantis (2008) – (Stargate)
- XBMC v9.04 Babylon (2009) – (Babylon 5)
- XBMC v9.11 Camelot (2009) – (King Arthur)
- XBMC v10.0 Dharma (2010) – (Lost)
- XBMC v11.0 Eden (2012) – (The Garden of …)
- XBMC v12.0 Frodo (2013) – (The Lord of the Rings)
- XBMC v13.0 Gotham (2014) – (Batman – and my favorite little one)
- Kodi v14.0 Helix (2014) – (Helix, a Sci-fi series)
- Kodi v15.0 Isengard (2015) – (Tolkien)
- Kodi v16.0 Jarvis (2016) – (Artificial Intelligence of Iron Man)
- Kodi v17.0 Krypton (TBD) – (Plane of origin of Superman)
- Kodi v18.0 Leia (2019) – (Star Wars)
What’s up on Kodi 16: Jarvis?
I will tell you quickly about the new features of Kodi Jarvis. I will suggest a more complete article on the subject soon if you want.
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- For Windows users, Kodi now runs on DirectX11, allowing newer graphics cards to work better while maintaining compatibility with older models. Android side, there is a new version of “Android Surface Rendering” which allows Kodi to display the user interface at its native resolution (ie 720p) while playing a video 4K for example. It does not work on AmLogic devices, but it works on NVidia Shield and other devices.
- Kodi has added a long press on the buttons to bring up the context menu so that Android users who use an infrared remote control can access it without having to switch to air-mouse mode. The add-ons manager also has some improvements to allow you to decide whether to enable or disable automatic updates on each add-on separately.
Well, this time, finished talking, we go to the configuration of your Kodi box!
Depending on the device on which you want to install it, you have several options to install Kodi. Anyway, you can always find the latest version of Kodi’s official website: kodi.tv. Android users can go directly to the Google Play Store or download it via the latest Kodi APK file.
Just go to https://kodi.tv/download to download Kodi.
For people who do not know, download the APK version allows access to applications unavailable on the blinds. When this happens, you need to download an APK file (much like the .exe on windows) that will allow you to install the application manually.
If you choose this last solution to install Kodi, pay attention to the version you choose. Since Android can run on an ARM or Intel processor, there is a different Kodi version for each of processor architecture. Since Kodi is accessible from the Google Play Store you should not have this problem.
Once Kodi is installed, it’s time to become familiar with the interface.
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How to use XBMC / Kodi?
Since this is the first time you’ve installed Kodi, I’ll quickly go back to how to navigate the Kodi user interface.
You remember earlier when I told you that Kodi’s interface was “too big”, now we’re going to talk about it.
The main features in Kodi are displayed on a ribbon in the center of the screen or on the side of the screen. The menus are configurable to a certain extent.
The original menu includes these categories: Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Music, Photos, Programs, System and Weather.
Depending on the theme there may be some additional categories or fewer.
Other Kodi menus
In addition to the main ribbon menu, there are two other types of Kodi menus that you will want to master: the sidebar menu (on the side) and the context menu.
The context menu
The context menu will give you access to different options depending on where you use it. For example, on the image on the right I opened the contextual menu of a movie – Star Wars IV: A new hope. Here the contextual menu allows us to add the movie to a playlist, to read the movie right away, to add it to our favorites, to mark it as seen or to post additional information about this movie.
On another screen the suggested options will be different depending on the type of media selected.
To display the context menu, it depends on the type of device you are using:
- Android: Long press (only on devices under Kodi 16 and above °
- Mouse: Right click
- Keyboard: “C”
- Amazon Fire TV: “Menu” button
- NVidia Shield: Button “X”
The sidebar or sidebar menu is used for searching and sorting media files. It allows you to sort the movies differently, apply filters or access the quick search function.
The “view” option allows you to change the way movies, series, images or music will be listed. Changing this option will display files as a list, thumbnails, fan art, or posters.
Changing the “sort” option allows you to change the order in which the files appear, allowing you to sort them by title, year, general note, and personal note, MPAA rating, duration, date added and number of views. You can then sort the list in ascending or descending order.
Favorites and Power off
Finally, in the bottom left corner of the Kodi Home screen, you will see two icons. The power button that opens the Kodi power is off menu. The options are to turn off the device, exit Kodi, create a timer for shutdown, put the system to sleep or even restart it.
The star-shaped button provides access to favorites. The operation is very simple, once a file classified in Favorites thanks to the contextual menu, you can then access quickly through this menu.
The Kodi Library
One of the most important steps when setting up Kodi is creating your media library. Let’s start that with the videos. If you have not recovered your collection of films / series on digital media is the first step mandatory. You will find lots of tutorials to extract your films from your DVD or to download them in torrent directly on internet (Attention download movies in torrent is legal only if you already bought the film on another support).
Before adding all these files to your storage medium you will have some work …
Kodi requires that the media files follow a certain nomenclature, and this nomenclature is different if it is a movie or TV series. If the file name is not written correctly, Kodi will not be able to say what it is.
Why is it important? Kodi uses a process called “scrape” to extract data from a media file. If Kodi is not able to Scraper correctly then two errors can occur: Kodi can simply ignore the file when it creates your library or worse, confuse it with any other file or movie.
You probably already have your storage method for your media files (sort by type? By year? By director? …) but if you follow these simple instructions you should re-organize it in an instant so that Kodi finds everything he seeks there.
Organize your Kodi media library
There are two common ways to organize your media library:
- A file containing all the media files
- One file for each media file
It’s up to you to choose between the two that suits you best. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method but it will be the subject of another article. To keep things simple, simply remember that if you have a big media library it will be easier to organize each movie in a different file.
How to rename movies
If you choose to sort movies with one file per folder, the folder name should contain the title and / or year. To improve Kodi’s scrape performance, put the year of the movie in parentheses.
\ Movies \ Avatar (2009) \ somefilename.mkv
\ Movies \ The Usual Suspects (1995) \ somefilename.avi
How to rename TV series
If you prefer to have a file for all your media, you have to display the same information, but it will also change the name of the media file in addition to the name of the folder.
\ TV Shows \ House (2004) \ Season 1 \ House.S01E01 – Everybody Lies.mkv
\ TV Shows \ 12 Monkeys \ Season 1 \ S01E01 Splinter.avi
How to add videos to your library?
Kodi uses almost the same process to add videos, music, or images to your media library. There are differences of course, but overall the manipulation to be done is almost the same.
Plex is my favorite way to use Kodi to watch a library of videos you already have. Just go to https://plex.tv and sign up for free.
Just in case you plan to skip the section on adding music and images: do not worry it will be much the same as for videos. I encourage you to read the other parts of course, because each type of transfer has its particularity.
Let’s start by scrolling through the Kodi menu to select “videos“. Once on this menu, click on “files”! If nothing appears in your library, it will automatically open the window below. If you have already added some files, the list of shared files will be displayed on a separate window with a button for “add videos”. If you do not understand everything yet do not worry, we will see the shared files in a moment.
If you know the path to your media server, you can take a shortcut by entering it directly in the input area. I’m going to assume that you do not have it and you have not noticed it. In this case, you will have to browse the files.
Pro Tip: Use PLEX to set up a media server (aka “NAS server”). Then access all your movies from anywhere!
Depending on how your media server is configured you may have several options available to you.
Kodi does not care if you go looking for your media files on your Windows networked computer, on a NAS server or just on an external storage device. Kodi is doing.
For the sake of this article I’m going to assume that you have already tuned your NAS / Computer Network server as you want it to be operational. The solution most often chosen is a kind of Windows network (SMB) so it will be this type of network we will talk about here.
Once I told Kodi that my media server was on the Windows network, he went to look for the corresponding devices and offered to choose from the three he found. My networks and my electronic devices have names related to movies and series. It turns out that on this capture are the characters of Big Hero 6. We do not judge, please …
The first device in the list is my PC running Windows 10. The device in the middle is a network printer and the last name offered corresponds to my NAS server. It is in the latter that all my files are stored, so I will select it.
My NAS server is organized into several folders. As you can see some are media files, others are documents. Since we try to add videos to Kodi, I select the video folder.
When you change files and go deeper and deeper to find your files, the path remains written at the bottom of the screen to give you a cue point. On the image above for example you can see that we are in: “Videos / Video_Samples”.
Given the way I’ve organized my media folders, this file is the deepest file I need to go to. Each subfolder here represents a different video. As you will see later, there are several versions of each video in each file, so there will be duplication.
A good rule to be fixed is to always go the deepest possible record, without going too far in losing videos. Remember: Kodi can see the current folder as well as all its subfolders, but not the top folders.
Once your folder is selected, click OK.
Here you are back on the page of adding video sources with the path pre-filled by Kodi. By default, Kodi takes the name of the folder for the name of the media source, but you can change it by changing it in the “Enter a name for this media source” field at the bottom of the window.
Once the folder and its name are chosen, the next step is to tell Kodi what kind of file it is scraper on this device.
This window is divided into 3 parts. In the top-left section, a drop-down list allows you to choose the type of scrapbook file: Music Clip, Movies, and TV Shows.
Once you have selected what interests you, you will have more options available in the upper right of the window that offers you to choose a scraper. In this example I add a movie file, so I selected that in the drop-down menu. According to this choice Kodi then offers me scan options content in the lower part of the screen.
Remember when you prepared your media library in the “How to rename your movies” section? It is now that this preparation will be useful to us.
In the “content scan options” section at the bottom of the window, the first option is for arranging the files in your media server: “The movies are in separate folders that are named after the movie.” If your files are all in the same folder leave unchecked. If instead your movies are in a separate file for each video, you can check this box.
I always leave checked the second option called “recursive scan”. This allows Kodi to search subfolders.
Depending on the scrap options you select, other options might appear by clicking Settings at the bottom of the window. These options determine if Kodi will keep the original title, enable fan art, trailers, and note origin. Once all these changes are complete click OK to validate all that.
We come to the last step: Kodi will now scan your files and add the videos to your library. Once you have clicked OK in the previous step, a window will ask you if you want to “refresh the information for all items at this address”. Always select “Yes”.
This message will be the same whether you are adding items for the first time or if you want to add others.
Fortunately Kodi performs the scan in the background; it means that you can continue to use the box at the same time as it scans your files. You will be able to follow the progress of the scan of your files at the top right of the screen with a loading bar. Be careful, if you have a large library this step might take a little while. But once the loading is finished…
Depending on the options you checked when parsing the file scan, you will see a list appear with the corresponding file size, the quality of the image, a poster, fanarts…
Back on the Kodi home screen, you will see the thumbnails of the media you just added listed and accessible in one click. In theory, if you regularly add movies to your library, only movies you have not seen will appear here.
There are plenty of other options to add your videos but I will let you explore and discover for yourself. Now let’s move on to your music library…
The music library
Let’s move on to the second important step in setting up your Kodi library: Add music to Kodi. With Kofi 16 Jarvis, the process for adding videos is very similar to adding videos, but that has not always been the case.
The new Kodi 16 Jarvis Music Library
Before Jarvis, there was a significant difference between adding music and adding movies to your bookstore. For obscure reasons, the music scan process was done in two steps, as opposed to the automatic scan of adding videos. You had to bring up the contextual menu and then click on “scan library”.
Today with Jarvis, Kodi will simply ask you to scan the folders recursively from a source folder – just like with the video library.
The advantages of the music library
Kodi announced musical bobliothèque in December 2015 on a post to their blog. The announcement was part of the new features that I have listed below:
- An overview of the library as for movies and series
- Music search is enabled
- The library sorts the music sections: Gender, artist, album, single, all music, top 100 (based on what you listen), recent additions, compilations
- Ability to use smart filters
- Ability to record your music and sort your library according to these notes
- Share your music on the network with compatible devices
- Scanner music to find more information like name of the artist, his biography …
- Automation of this optional scan in: Settings> Music> Library> Find additional information during updates
Tag music on Kodi
In the video section I told you that your files needed a special nomenclature (name) for Kodi to detect and add correctly. It will go through the same process for your music.
Unlike video files, Kodi does not look at the file name but the tags associated with it.
This means that each audio file must have an ID3v1, ID3v2.3, ID3v2.4, Vorbis comments or APE tag. If your files are not tagged, Kodi will not know which music it is.
When thinking about it, it is rather logical. When you watch a movie, you only need the name of the movie and the year to know what it is. For example, Transformers from 1986 is very different from the 2007 Transformers, but with only these two pieces of information you can know which one is which.
For music it’s more complicated. When an album comes out, music can be live or in studio, it can be acoustic or Karaoke version – and all that on the same album. Or worse, two artists may have made music that bears the same name, the same year.
How to make Kodi understand all this without proposing file names of 4 meters long?
This is where the tags make their entrance! Adding tags allows you to add a lot of information (year, artist, album, year, genre, duration …) to music without having problems with long names. Tags can even give more personal information like your rating for music.
What if my music is not tagged? I add everything by hand?
I’m not going to make you think it’s a simple process, one thing is sure: it’ll take a little while. There are programs that add all the tags you need to all your files at once.
How to add music to your library?
Since the new audio library looks a lot like the video library, you should have a sense of déjà vu if you followed the previous part.
Let’s start by going to the Music tab of the Kodi menu. The submenu at home may vary from the one in screenshot to the left. This image comes from a completely blank system where I added music for the very first time. If you too are in this case Kodi is smart enough to offer you 2 choices: either add a music add-on or set up your library. No need to display useless information like Artist, Album, Music as they do not exist yet.
Whether you want to add music for the first time or transfer more music to your Android Box, you’ll need to click on “Files” to continue. If you have nothing in your library, Kodi will bring you directly to the window below.
If you already have music on your case, another window with the list of folders already scanned will appear before arriving on this page with an option to “add music”. I explained how to select the folder to browse in the “add a video” section but I’ll talk to you soon.
Click on “Add Music” to continue.
If you know the path to the folder that contains all your music, you can enter it directly into the field instead of “<None>”. If you do not know the path, you will have to browse the folders.
My music is on the same NAS server as my movies, so I’ll select “Windows Network (SMB)”. Depending on how you created your network the files may be more or less deep to reach.
Kodi then takes care of fetching all the devices on the Windows network that can host audio files. On the other hand Kodi cannot “understand” what type of device it is, so it’s up to you to sort through the devices it offers: in this list the second device is my printer connected in network for example.
Knowing the name of my NAS server, I select it from the list.
Once the desired device is selected Kodi will explore it and ask me to go locate the audio files for him. In this case I only want to go to a lower level in the “Music” folder. When you move into your folders Kodi will take care of updating the access path at the bottom of the screen. Once the desired folder has been selected, click OK on the right side of the window.
This will take you back to the “Add Audio Sources” window and the path to the folder you have selected is ready in the box provided.
By default Kodi takes the name of the folder as a share name, however it is possible to change the name at the bottom of the window in “Enter a name for this media source”.
As mentioned above, one of Kodi Jarvis’s most notable improvements is the recursive search for adding audio media from the source folder to the library. Always select “Yes” at this step so you do not have to retype the music later.
In general, scanning your audio library will take much longer than scanning your video library. Most of us have audio libraries made up of all the music downloaded for years and stored in a hard disk / NAS server over the years that is thousands of titles to transfer. Be patient…
Once Kodi finishes loading all the songs, you can return to the main menu in the Music tab to find all recently added songs.
How to install Kodi add-ons?
Add-ons are very important in your Kodi setup, so there are several ways to add them. The process is the same but the starting point can vary, I explain myself…
Install add-ons from the video, music, or images submenu
Each of the menus (Videos, music and pictures) proposes to add add-ons in the submenu, as you can see in the picture opposite.
If you want to install a video add-on for example, you will need to go to the video tab and select “add-ons” in the submenu.
Do not worry, if you find a great add-on for music while you are in the video menu, you can also install it.No matter where you opened the store of add-ons, you can still install them. In fact the add-on button in the submenu of photos, videos and music allows access to the same and unique store without going through a more complex path.
The add-ons manager
If you use Kodi like me, you will often go through the System menu. It allows me to monitor performance and adjust resources as needed. In fact I use it so much that I made sure that Kodi proposes it by default to start. You’re not forced to do the same if you do not use it, it’s just a habit I’ve made over the years.
To go to the add-ons manager you will have to go to the Kodi System menu and then to the Settings sub-menu.
You will then come to the parameter change window, which should already talk to you a bit if you followed this guide. In the right menu there tab Add-ons is available, select it.
In the following menu you can choose between “my add-ons”, “installation from the directory”, “installation from a zip file”, “search” and “system”.
Let’s see what this menu gives you access to:
- My add-ons: Good for this one not really need complicated explanations; it’s simply the list of add-ons already installed on Kodi.
- Install from directory: This gives you access to all add-ons in the official Kodi directory.
- Install from a zip file: If you want to install an add-on that is not in the official directory you will have to download it as a zip file and then select it in this menu to start the installation.
- Search: If you know the name of the add-on you want to install, you can directly search here.
- System: Here you can see which add-ons are currently active.
For this example I’m going to just install an official Kodi add-on, so I click on “Install from directory” first.
You then arrive on the list of all categories of add-ons. I advise you to take a look around to see what Kodi is capable of and give you some cool add-ons ideas. For this guide I decided to install a video add-on.
On the left is the list of available video add-ons, browse there and if you do not know what it is for, look in the box on the right the small description proposed. Once you have selected the add-on you want (KordKutters in this example) simply select it.
A new window will open to give you more information about the selected add-on. Several options are available on this screen: Install, configure, auto updates, activate or deactivate.
What we want for now is “Install the add-on”, moreover, as long as you have not installed the other options are grayed out and you can not select them. Logic because these options are more to manage the add-on and it’s unhelpful if it is not installed. Click on Install the add-on and the installation will start automatically. Once the installation is complete you will have access to the configuration parameters in the same way. I advise you not to go through it to configure your add-on later however … Indeed rather than going through this complicated menu we will go to “My Adds-ons” in system to see the list of all add-ons. Install and configure them correctly.
On all the add-ons you add, I advise you to select the option “Auto update”, this will allow you to download the updates automatically as soon as they are released. From time to time this will cause incompatibility problems, disable the option on the add-on in question to make the updates manually.