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What Is Kodi? Beginner‘s Guide to Kodi for Free Movies & TV (2023)

Kodi is a popular media center application that allows users to access and organize video, music, and other media content. With Kodi, you can stream movies, TV shows, live sports, listen to music, view photos, and more. But what exactly is Kodi and how does it work? This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about using Kodi for free streaming in 2023.

What is Kodi?

Kodi is open-source software that serves as a media library and player. It provides a unified interface for all your media, including videos, music, podcasts, and photos.

The key features of Kodi include:

  • Media library – Organize your media collection with automatic meta data scraping and retrieval. Kodi downloads relevant information about your media like posters, plot summaries, genre tags, and more.

  • Add-ons – Extend Kodi‘s functionality with add-ons that provide access to online media content from various sources. Popular add-ons allow you to stream movies, TV shows, live sports, and more.

  • Skins – Change Kodi‘s appearance with different skins. Pick one that matches your style.

  • Platform support – Kodi works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and more. It can run on computers, phones, tablets, TV boxes, and other devices.

  • Local playback – Kodi plays media from your local storage like external hard drives in standard formats like MKV, MP4, AVI, etc. No need to convert files.

  • Music and photos – Catalog your music collection, make playlists, view photos in a slideshow, and more.

So in summary, Kodi is an all-in-one media center and player that gives you a single app to access, play, and manage all your media. With the ability to install add-ons, you can significantly expand Kodi‘s streaming capabilities.

How Does Kodi Work?

Kodi works by organizing your media library and providing a player interface to view your content. Here‘s a quick rundown of how it functions:

  1. Set up Kodi – Download and install Kodi on your preferred device. Follow the installation guide for your specific platform.

  2. Add media sources – Point Kodi to your local media folders like your movies drive or music collection. This populates your library.

  3. Import media information – Kodi will download meta data like descriptions, ratings, genre, etc. to create a rich library.

  4. Browse your media – Access your library through Kodi‘s menus and playlists. Find content easily.

  5. Play media – Use Kodi‘s built-in player to watch videos or listen to music. Enjoy your collection.

  6. Install add-ons – Expand what you can do by installing add-ons. Get access to online streams, live TV, and more.

  7. Customize the interface – Personalize Kodi by changing skins and tweaking settings to your liking.

So Kodi makes your media usable in one place. It takes all your content and combines it into an easy to use and navigate catalog.

Kodi Features Explained

Now that you understand the basics of what Kodi is and how it works, let‘s dive deeper into some of its key features and terminology:


One of Kodi‘s biggest strengths is its support for add-ons. These are like apps that extend what Kodi can do. There are thousands of add-ons available developed by the Kodi community.

Popular add-on types include:

  • Video add-ons – Access online streams for movies, TV shows, sports, and more. Popular ones include The Crew, Seren, and Ezra.

  • Music add-ons – Stream music from services like Spotify, Soundcloud, radio stations, and more.

  • Live TV – Watch live TV channels through IPTV add-ons.

  • YouTube – Watch YouTube videos right within Kodi.

  • Gaming – Play retro video games from platforms like SNES and PlayStation.

Add-ons introduce powerful streaming functionality to Kodi beyond just playing local files. Take your time to explore the many options.


Skins allow you to completely change Kodi‘s user interface. They control the appearance, layout, menus, and navigation. There are thousands of skins to choose from. Popular skins include Arctic Zephyr 2, Aeon Nox, Titan, and Estuary.

Choosing a skin that appeals to you can really amplify your Kodi experience. Find one that‘s visually pleasing and functional.


Kodi builds provide an all-in-one setup with pre-configured add-ons, settings, and skins. Instead of manually installing everything piece-by-piece, a build allows you to get up and running fast. Builds like The Oath, Mischief, and Diggz Xenon come preloaded with popular add-ons. These can be great starting points for Kodi beginners.


A repository is a collection of multiple add-ons grouped together. Instead of installing add-ons one by one, you can install a repository. Some of the essential ones include the Kodi Main Repository, Super Repo, Github Repository, and more. These give you easy access to thousands of add-ons.

Media Library

Your Kodi media library organizes your local video, music, and photo collections. It downloads metadata like descriptions, posters, fanart, and information about each item. This allows you to easily browse and search your media. Building your library is essential.

With these core components explained, you now have a solid understanding of how Kodi functions and what makes it such a versatile media center software. Next, let‘s go over actually using Kodi.

How to Use Kodi

Using Kodi is straightforward once you learn the basics. Here is an overview of core tasks for operating Kodi:

Install Kodi

First, you‘ll need to download and install Kodi on your preferred device. It‘s available on many platforms like Windows, Android, Fire TV, Raspberry Pi, and more. Follow the installation guide for your specific system.

Set up media sources

Point Kodi to your local media libraries like your movies folder or music collection. This will populate your Kodi library. In the settings, go to Media > Videos/Music/Pictures. Choose to add sources and browse to the folders containing your media.

Add repositories and install add-ons

One of the first things you‘ll want to do is install repositories to access add-ons. Go to Add-ons > Install from repository and add some essential ones like Kodi Main Repository. Then install any video, music, or program add-ons you want.

Customize the interface

Make Kodi feel like your own by changing the skin and adjusting other preferences. Try different skins to find one you like. Also customize menus, sideblade options, and any other settings.

Set up live TV and PVR

With the right add-ons, you can watch live TV through Kodi. Install add-ons like The Crew or iPlayer WWW. You‘ll also need a PVR backend like Tvheadend or Plex DVR paired with the PVR IPTV Simple Client add-on.

Stream online media

Access online streams using Kodi‘s many video and music add-ons. Install add-ons like Seren, The Oath, Ezra, Soundcloud, Spotify, and more. These provide endless streaming content.

Play local media

Don‘t forget your own media! Build your local libraries and use Kodi as your personal media player. It supports all key video, audio, and photo formats.

These are the essential tasks for getting started with Kodi and turning it into your main media center. From here, you can explore more advanced features at your own pace.

Is Kodi Legal and Safe to Use?

A common question that arises is whether Kodi itself is legal. The answer is yes – Kodi as open-source software is perfectly legal. However, some of the content you can access through third-party add-ons may be unlicensed.

Kodi does not directly provide or host any media content. It simply acts as a media player interface. The legality comes down to how you utilize it and which add-ons you use.

Here are some tips for using Kodi safely and legally:

  • Use a VPN to protect your privacy and security when streaming. This encrypts your connection.

  • Only install add-ons from trusted sources. Malicious add-ons can harm your device or contain illegal content.

  • Avoid piracy addons that promise free movies and shows. These often stream illegal copies.

  • Build your own personal media library with legally owned content. Use Kodi as your player.

  • Research the source of any online content. Many free live TV and movie add-ons rely on piracy.

As long as you use trusted add-ons and personal media, Kodi provides a great legal streaming platform. Be careful accessing free premium content, as these sources are often questionable.

A quality VPN like NordVPN or ExpressVPN will keep your streaming activity protected from prying eyes.

Kodi Tips and Tricks

Here are some helpful tips for getting the most out of Kodi:

  • Always install add-ons from the original developer source. Third-party repositories can be untrustworthy.

  • Keep Kodi updated to the latest version for features and security fixes. Older Kodi versions can have more issues.

  • Clear package cache in Kodi settings to keep add-ons running smoothly. A bloated cache can cause problems.

  • Optimize streams by tweaking Kodi buffering settings. Increase buffer size and enable caching for faster streams.

  • Use a skin like Arctic Zephyr 2 or Titan Bingie for an optimal viewing experience. The default Estuary skin is dated.

  • Add Trakt integration to track what media you watch and sync between devices. This is especially useful for watching TV shows.

  • Speaking of Trakt, enable library integration to automatically update your media collection status. This helps keep track of watched content.

  • For local media, always include year and imdb or tvdb ID for best meta data scraping in your file names.

  • Check our recommended builds like The Oath, Supremacy, and Xanax for nicely configured starter setups.

Following these tips will help you avoid common pitfalls and have the best Kodi experience.

What Can You Watch on Kodi?

The streaming possibilities with Kodi are virtually endless thanks to the enormous selection of add-ons. Here are just some of the things you can watch:

  • Movies – New movie releases, box office hits, classics, indie films, genres, 4K movies, and more.

  • TV shows – Binge watch hit TV series, watch airing episodes immediately after they release, and relive classics. Keep up with your favorite shows.

  • Live TV – Access live TV channels across multiple languages and countries like the US, UK, India, Germany, Arabic, and more. Watch news, sports, and other programs live.

  • Sports – Catch live games and matches across sports leagues like NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Soccer, Boxing, UFC, and more. Never miss a game again.

  • YouTube – Watch all your favorite YouTube content from how-to videos to vlogs to music.

  • Documentaries – Learn new things by streaming popular documentary films and series on nature, history, science, true crime, and more.

  • Kids shows – Keep the children entertained with a library of cartoons, educational programs, Disney films, anime, and kid-friendly content.

With the right add-ons installed, you can use Kodi to watch virtually any movie, show, or clip you want. Of course, you can also play all your local personal media too.

Kodi Alternatives

Kodi is one of the most full-featured media center apps available. But if you‘re looking for alternatives, here are some options:

  • Plex – Media server solution to stream your content.

  • Emby – Similar to Plex with wide device support.

  • Jellyfin – Another open source alternative to Plex.

  • VLC Player – Powerful local media player.

  • Infuse – Excellent video player app for iOS.

  • MrMC – Fork of Kodi for Apple TV and iOS.

  • Stremio – Like Kodi but more focused on video streaming.

For local media playback, VLC is a great option. Plex, Emby, and Jellyfin are better for whole-home streaming. Overall, none match the add-on power of Kodi for accessing online content.

Final Thoughts

Kodi is an incredible media center software that can serve as an all-in-one entertainment hub for your movies, TV shows, music, and pictures. With its versatile streaming capabilities through add-ons, Kodi opens up a world of content.

Follow this guide to get started using Kodi and unlocking its full potential. Take time to experiment with different add-ons and settings to build your perfect setup.

The Kodi community keeps making the platform better everyday. There are always new add-ons being developed and exciting new features to enhance your viewing experience.


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