Kodi can do a lot out of the box. If you’ve got a collection of ripped Blu-Rays and CDs, you can browse them from your couch with a beautiful interface. If you’ve got a TV tuner card, you can watch live TV with NextPVR. As local media players go, it’s very complete.

What Kodi can’t do, at least on its own, is stream media from the web. To do that (among other things), you need add-ons.

These simple scripts, typically made by fellow users, let Kodi access free online services like YouTube and Twitch, paid services like NHL.tv and Plex, and even a few services like ESPN3 and NBCSN, which require cable logins to work. Other add-ons may let you customize the look of your setup, or which weather service it pulls information from. Others may interface with other programs on your computer, so they can display your BitTorrent queue or launch other programs like video games.

Learning to find and configure these add-ons makes Kodi a lot more powerful, so let’s dive in.

Installing Add-ons From the Official Kodi Repository

Finding and using Kodi add-ons used to be a huge pain. But while it’s still not as straightforward as finding Roku channels, there’s an easy place to get started in the latest version of Kodi: the add-on section in the main menu.

Here you will see all of your installed add-ons, broken into a few sections: Video, Music, Programs, and others. If you want to browse a few add-ons to install, the simplest way is to select the “Install from repository” option, as pointed to above. Next Click “Kodi Add-on repository,” then start browsing by category.

The number of categories is a little overwhelming, so I suggest you get started by heading to Video to start with.

Scroll until you find something that interests you. If you don’t know where to look, I recommend starting with YouTube.

Select YouTube and hit Enter, and you can install the add-on in the screen that pops up.

When you find something you want to install, select it, then select “Install.” The add-on will install in the background, and you’ll see a pop-up when it’s done. Just like that you’ll find your new add-on back on the main screen.

Repeat this process for as many add-ons as you like. There’s a lot of good stuff in the default Kodi repository!

How to Configure Kodi Add-ons

Most add-ons allow at least a little bit of configuration. Sometimes this lets you log in to your account, which is necessary for some services, like Pandora. Sometimes there are other things you can configure. From the add-ons screen, add-on you want to configure, then hit “S” on your keyboard. A short menu will pop up.

Select “Settings” and the settings window for your add-on will appear.

We couldn’t begin to review what these settings can do, because it will be different for every add-on. Our advice: if you think you should be able to change something about an add-on’s behavior, you probably can, so check the settings screen.

What if an Add-on Isn’t Working?

Is a particular add-on giving you trouble? The first thing to do is check out the official Kodi forum. If you found an add-on in the official Kodi repository, there’s a good chance you’ll find a thread by the add-on’s creator on the forum. The first post in such threads usually offer valuable information about current bugs, frequently offering short-term solutions, or just a timeline about when a particular feature is going to be fixed.

If you can’t find answers to your questions, you can sign up for an account and ask. Just remember: the people making these add-ons are volunteers, and users just like you. They have lives outside of making Kodi add-ons; a job, family, all that stuff. They are putting time into this project because they wanted the feature themselves, or because they thought it might be fun. Treat these developers as you’d like to be treated under those circumstances, and you’ll probably find they’re happy to help out. Get mad at them because your add-on isn’t working and they might not.

If an add-on you installed from a third party repository isn’t working, do not ask about it on the official Kodi forums unless you find an existing thread about the add-on already. Instead, search for the alternative forum where the developer of the add-on are discussing the project.

Get Even More Add-Ons from Third Party Repositories

Speaking of third party repositories: you might have, in your web travels, stumbled upon an interesting add-on that for whatever reason is not yet in the official Kodi repository. Maybe it’s too new, maybe the developer hasn’t bothered submitting it, or maybe it’s a piracy app that Kodi doesn’t want to endorse (we’ll talk about that later.)

Whatever the reason, installing add-ons from third party repositories is relatively straightforward. First, you need to enable third-party repositories, if you haven’t done so yet. From the main menu, select the gear icon to open the Kodi Settings screen.

Head to System > Add-ons and make sure that “Unknown sources” is enabled.

Next, download the ZIP file for the repository you want to browse, and make sure it’s saved somewhere on the same computer as Kodi. Head back to the Add-ons section in the main menu, this time clicking Add-ons in the sidebar to bring up the Add-ons screen. You’ll find a box at the top-left.

Select this box and you’ll be brought to the add-on browser, from where you can install ZIP files.

Use this option to browse to and install the ZIP file you downloaded earlier. You can now install add-ons from your new repository using the “Install from repository” option that we explored earlier.

Kodi Add-ons Worth Checking Out

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Kodi add-ons out there. Which ones are worth installing? Here are a few of our favourites. First, from the official Kodi repository:

  • YouTube, as mentioned before, lets you browse the most popular videos on the web, and you can sign-in to see your subscriptions. If you run into the “Quota Exceeded” bug, this tutorial can fix it for you.
  • TED Talks gives you access to those famous lectures on just about everything you can imagine. Learn something.
  • PBS ThinkTV gives you access to just about every show produced by that network, and more than a few shows it has acquired the rights to over the years. There’s a seperate PBS Kids add-on if you want to entertain the young ones.
  • Reddit Viewer shows you the most popular videos and GIFs from Reddit, and you can add custom subreddits if you want.

And if you have a cable login, there’s even more to check out. Add-ons for ESPN and NBCSN can be found in the official repository, and give you access to live sports.

If you don’t have a cable login, but still want to watch live sports, there are add-ons for league specific subscription services, such as NHL.tv, NFL Gamepass, NBA League Pass, and even MLS Live.

There are a lot more add-ons worth checking out, so go ahead and explore the official repository and the official Kodi forums to learn more. And stay tuned to this site, because we hope to explore the best add-ons in future articles.

Kodi add-ons are an open source ecosystem, which has pros and cons. Pro: the community often makes add-ons that streaming services themselves wouldn’t get around to making. Con: those add-ons can break when those services change their streaming providers, or basically anything else regarding how their site works.

RELATED: Kodi Is Not a Piracy Application

Another thing to consider: there are a lot of piracy add-ons out there on the wider web. If an add-on offers something too good to be true, it’s probably a piracy. Kodi does not endorse these add-ons, so we’re not going to link to them here. We’d ask that you don’t point them out in our comments, or ask about them—it’s been causing a lot of problems for the Kodi project, and we don’t want to see a good project suffer.

Profile Photo for Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
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