Your Kodi media center plays video and music from your hard drive, but what else is it capable of? We dug deep and discovered 10 fascinating ways to make your Kodi media center even better. Behold, some awesome tips for Kodi fans everywhere.
Kodi: Expanding Your Expectations
Whether you have installed Kodi on an HTPC (Home Theater PC), a Raspberry Pi, an Android device, or some other piece of hardware that can be connected to your TV, the chances are that you’re not taking full advantage of this amazing media center software.
Kodi is great for playing videos from your collection of MP4 files; perhaps you’re enjoying some home videos or ripped DVDs that are usually stored on an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or NAS (Network-Attached Storage), or using it to pipe music around your living room. Kodi (previously known as XBMC) is also adept at displaying your image libraries.
But did you know that you can also use it to watch YouTube, watch live TV, or listen to podcasts? Kodi is capable of far more than even its designers imagined, as the list below demonstrates…
1. View YouTube with Kodi
Recent Kodi releases (or perhaps device-specific releases) may come with YouTube pre-installed. Whether yours has or not, if you’re using a typical Kodi/XBMC remote app, the chances are that there isn’t a keyboard option. This can make searching a little tricky.
While this is an issue across the board unless you hook up a Bluetooth keyboard (or, if you’re so inclined, a USB keyboard), you can use your mobile device to send YouTube videos, Chromecast-style, to your Kodi box. Desktop browser plugins also provide this functionality.
We previously produced a great tutorial detailing how to watch YouTube on Kodi, which we suggest you take a look at. Seriously, you can’t have Kodi without YouTube!
2. Watch Live Broadcast TV
Like El Dorado for cord cutters, watching live TV on your computer without paying a penny to a cable company is a massive boon, and one that can save you a lot of money. Just as long as you keep it legal, right?
If you don’t want a PVR (Personal Video Recorder), however, you can use various Kodi add-ons to watch TV shows — legally, of course — in your territory, although these aren’t live.
3. Send Content from Your Phone to Kodi
If you’re not already aware of Pushbullet, the incredibly versatile device bridging service, then you should correct that immediately. While Pushbullet is most commonly used to send data from your PC to your phone and back again, it also has a very useful role in helping you get the most out of your Kodi media center.
So, how does it work? Well, say you’re browsing the web on your phone or PC and spot a video, image, or audio clip you want to view on your TV via Kodi. All you need to do is right-click or long-press the piece of content, and use the “Push this to Kodi” menu item to view it on the big screen. But it doesn’t end there.
Pushbullet and Kodi can also be used in other ways. You might, for instance, like to see phone notifications on your TV, or even automatically pause the movie you’re watching when your phone rings.
Our dedicated guide to using Pushbullet and Kodi together will show you how to do this.
4. Enjoy Podcasts on Your TV
Whether you enjoy video podcasts (no one says “videocast” these days”) or standard audio podcasts, there’s a good chance that you’ve wondered if your Kodi box can be used to subscribe to and download your favorite weekly shows.
Well, it turns out it can — and better still, you can do so without relying on an add-on! Our detailed guide to adding one or more podcast feeds to Kodi should give you all the information you need.
However, should you want to use an add-on, the Apple iTunes Podcasts add-on gives you access to every podcast on iTunes. And there are a lot of podcasts available on iTunes, some good, some bad.
5. You Can Even View BBC iPlayer!
Readers from the UK (and anyone overseas masking their location with a VPN) might be interested in watching TV from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). This can be done on Kodi using the official BBC iPlayer, packaged as an add-on.
Remember, however, that content from the BBC is paid for by a compulsory TV license in the UK, so viewing iPlayer content without paying the license fee is currently a legal gray area. We’ll leave it to your conscience.
6. Get Facebook on Your TV with Kodi
If you ever wanted to view your Facebook photos or share videos to Facebook or Twitter as you watch them, then you need one of the many social plugins for Kodi.
7. The Ultimate Mashup: Reddit & Kodi
If combining Pushbullet’s device-communication sauce with Kodi isn’t amazing enough, you can even bring Reddit content across to your Kodi media center.
Reddit add-ons are available on Kodi, and are designed to deliver the eclectic collection of shared videos from the self-styled “Front Page of the Internet”.
This means you can find any number of videos on pretty much any topic you can think of — at least topics where videos have previously been produced — and enjoy these as they’re piped through the interwebs into your Kodi box.
Check out our guide to installing a Reddit add-on to Kodi to find out more.
8. Netflix Options for Kodi
Having all of your most important video streaming apps on the same device is important, and while you might find that your TV, Blu-ray player or games console already has a Netflix app, it would be great if your Kodi box did too.
The first Netflix app, known as Flix2Kodi can be seen in action here:
Note that various Netflix add-ons have been attempted over the years. A couple of others are in circulation currently, but Flix2Kodi seems to be the most reliable, and has the longest period of development (it was previously called NetflixBMC until XBMC became known as Kodi).
9. Get the News that Matters with Kodi
How do you like to get your news? Via newspapers? TV news channels? Perhaps you prefer to read your favorite online news sources. Either way, it’s always a prescriptive experience, your news intake always dictated by an unseen editor, a gatekeeper of the facts.
Thanks to a wide selection of news aggregator add-ons for Kodi, however, you can now enjoy news from a variety of online and TV sources, and drill down to gather news on a particular topic or event.
Perhaps you have already read our guide to creating an automated news aggregator that plays videos and podcasts on topics you’re interested in? Now you can incorporate that same idea into your Kodi media center.
10. Yes, You Can Even Play Games!
Playing video games on your TV is hardly revolutionary, but it’s an activity that’s unusual on a media center. However, if you have some controllers connected and configured, you can take advantage of the ROM Collection Browser.
ROM files – of games you already own (obviously!) – should be stored on your Kodi device storage, ready for the ROM Collection Browser add-on to browse the files and launch the games at your command.
If you have somehow watched everything there is to watch on Netflix, and run out of podcasts to listen to, this is the logical next step for your Kodi box.
Share Your Kodi Tips!
These 10 new ways to use your Kodi media center should certainly keep you busy for a while. But have we covered everything? Or is there something we missed? Do you know of other add-ons that can further improve the Kodi experience?
If so, please tell us all about it in the comments below — but please, steer away from illegal streaming and downloading. Because, well, it’s illegal.