You’ve probably heard a lot about Kodi in the news recently. The illegal “fully loaded” boxes have received the ire of TV companies, national governments, and even Kodi themselves. Some of the vendors of such devices have found themselves behind bars.
Don’t let the negative stories put you off. Along with Plex, Kodi is one of the two “must-have” home theater apps that everyone should be using.
If you’re just starting out on your Kodi journey and don’t have a clue where to begin, we’re here to help, with seven essential Kodi tips for newbies. They’re all important steps to making sure you maximize your enjoyment of the software. And, most importantly, none of these will get you in trouble with the law.
1. Multiple Devices
When you start to use Kodi, you’ll quickly realize you’ve gone down a deep and dark rabbit hole. Because there’s no end to the amount of tweaks, tricks, and customization you can do.
As such, it’s near-impossible to replicate the same setup on different installations across multiple devices. It would take far too long, and you would forever be managing updates and other settings. In other words, don’t even attempt it.
Nonetheless, the very nature of Kodi means you will probably want to use the app on lots of different devices. So, what can you do?
For beginners, the easiest way is to enable Kodi’s Web Interface, then access your media through a browser. You will then be able to view all of your media and use all of your add-ons.
To enable the Web Interface, go to System > Service Settings > Control and enable the toggle next to Allow remote control via HTTP. You can leave the port number as the default setting.
Finally, on the device you watch to watch on, type [your computer’s IP address]:[port number] in the address bar. It will probably look something like 192.168.5.20:8080.
2. Increase the Buffering Limit
If you use Kodi to watch live TV or stream content online, you will occasionally run into buffering issues. Even if you have a fast internet connection, the sheer volume of users on some feeds can cause them to constantly buffer.
Of course, changing the offending add-on’s streaming quality setting will help. However, for a system-wide solution, you should modify the size of Kodi’s cache.
Sadly, there’s no easy way to do this from within the app. You need to edit Kodi’s advancedsettings.xml. Its location will vary depending on your operating system. Here are some of the most common:
- Android — Android/data/org.xbmc.kodi/files/.kodi/userdata/ (see note)
- iOS — /private/var/mobile/Library/Preferences/Kodi/userdata/
- Linux — ~/.kodi/userdata/
- Mac — /Users/<your_user_name>/Library/Application Support/Kodi/userdata/ (see note)
- LibreELEC and OpenELEC — /storage/.kodi/userdata/
- Windows — C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Kodi\Userdata
When you have opened the file, you need to locate two lines: <memorysize>20971520</memorysize> and <readfactor>1</readfactor>.
Change the two values accordingly:
- The memory size determines how much of your computer’s RAM Kodi can use. Set it to zero for unlimited.
- The readfactor changes the fill-rate of the cache (i.e. how much of your bandwidth Kodi can use for buffering). The higher the number, the more bandwidth it will hog.
Save the file, and you can say goodbye to buffering on streamed content!
3. Use Legal Add-Ons
Yes, there are lots of Kodi add-ons that provide illegal live TV and video on demand (VOD). Don’t use them — they’re unreliable and are often more hassle than they’re worth.
Instead, use some of the legal methods. If in doubt about the legality of a service, you should stick with add-ons from Kodi’s official repository. It’s pre-installed on the app.
Within it, you can find live TV from BBC iPlayer, Al Jazeera, and ESPN. You can also find a wealth of VOD content from providers such as ABC Family, NBC, Crunchyroll, and Bravo.
To install a video add-on from the official repository, go to Add-ons > Add-on browser > Install from repository > Kodi add-on repository > Video add-ons (heading to Add-ons > Download > Video add-ons will show content from all your repositories combined).
Note: The availability and legality of some add-ons varies depending on your location. For example, it’s only legal to use BBC iPlayer if you live in the U.K. and pay for a TV license.
4. Create Your News Feeds
Kodi has made its name through its video capabilities, but the app has so much more potential. If you only use Kodi for watching video, you’re missing out on some really cool features.
For example, there’s a live ticker along the bottom of the screen. In Kodi v16 (Jarvis) and earlier, it was turned on by default. In version 17 (Krypton) and later, you need to turn in on manually.
To do so, head to System > Interface settings > Other and flick the toggle next to Show RSS news feeds.
To customize your feeds, click Edit. Kodi will prompt you to install an add-on. When the installation is complete, add the RSS feeds of your choice.
5. Explore the Official Repository
I’ve already mentioned some of the best video apps in the official repository, but there are 17 different categories to explore. As a beginner, you can give some of them a wide berth. However, some oft-overlooked categories are crammed with great add-ons.
In Look and Feel you’ll find new skins, screensavers, sounds, and languages. Open Weather to find apps from the British Met Office, Weather Underground, and Yahoo Weather, and have a look at Picture add-ons to find content from Flickr, Facebook, and OneDrive.
You can find all the non-video content in Add-ons > Add-on browser > Install from repository > Kodi add-on repository.
The more non-video add-ons you install, you more you will appreciate Kodi’s holistic approach to entertainment.
6. Create Multiple Profiles
It’s common for lots of people to use one instance of Kodi. If you’re running Kodi on a dedicated set-top box or a smart TV, it’s an inevitable situation.
This can cause problems. After all, you don’t want your daughter’s Ariana Grande album being mixed in with your Pink Floyd collection.
The solution is to create separate profiles for all users. Each user can have their own customized skins, media libraries, RSS feeds, and network settings. Admin users can also block folders on a per-user basis, thus allowing for a primitive form of parental control.
To create additional profiles, navigate to System > Profile settings > Profiles > Add profile. Once you’ve created an entry for everyone in your household, make sure you go to the General tab and select Show login screen on startup.
7. Back Up Your Settings
If you’ve been following our advice as you work through this article, you’ll have already changed quite a lot of settings. Therefore, your version of Kodi will look nothing like the fresh software you installed a few hours ago. Wouldn’t it be terrible to lose all of your hard work?
Like anything on a computer, you need to make frequent backups. It is possible to make manual backups, but as a beginner, it’s easier just to use a Program add-on from the official repository.
Go to Add-ons > Download > Program add-ons and scroll down until you find an app called Backup. Click on the app’s name and select Install.
To run a backup, follow Add-ons > Program add-ons > Backup. When you run the add-on for the first time, you will need to select some preferences such as backup location and scheduling.
The same add-on lets you restore backups after a crash or malfunction.
What Are Your Initial Impressions of Kodi?
There you have it. Several awesome tips for anyone who is new to Kodi. If you spend some time making the adjustments we have recommended, and exploring the official repository, you’ll be starting your Kodi journey off on the right foot.
If you’re new to Kodi, we’d love to hear from you. Are you encountering any problems with the app? What settings are you struggling to understand? Do you find the whole thing confusing? Please leave all your comments and questions about Kodi down below.
Image Credit: Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock.com