How to set up Kodi the right way

Just started using your device and not sure what Kodi actually does? If you’re looking for a guide to setting up the basics, then read on!

We were so impressed with Tim Wells’ recent guide to setting up Kodi that we have re-printed it here (with his kind permission). You can view the original version here – Setting Up Kodi The Right Way . We’ve added a few notes in (marked in green text) here and there for DroidBOX® customers specifically.

 

How to set up Kodi the right way

Since Kodi 16, also known as Mark XVI Jarvis just (the post was written March 2016) came out, I thought this would be a great time to release my Kodi Setup Guide for new users. If you’re still using an older version, don’t worry: this will teach you how to use XBMC (contact DroidBOX® for help updating if you’re still using XBMC!) as well. I get a lot of questions about how to best setup Kodi, both for streaming content from the Internet and from your local network.

The best thing about Kodi is that there are so many different options and tweaks that you can do to really make it your own – from different skins, different backgrounds and, of course, third-party add-ons.

But, that also means that Kodi can be pretty complicated – especially if you’re just getting started.

Kodi has a great community of users, developers, and of course the Kodi Wiki (and of course our own community to be found at our forum – https://DroidBOXForums.com !) Those are going to be amazing resources as you start using it, and even for tweaking your Kodi setup down the road.

Finding your way around the forums can be a bit challenging, especially if you’re not very technical. While the Wiki gives a great overview, it sometimes doesn’t go into enough detail to get the job done.

One of the most popular posts on this (the original author’s site) site has been my guide to fixing Kodi buffering problems, and now I want to help make it easy to get Kodi setup and configured as painlessly as possible.

How this guide is set up

If you’re starting from scratch, you can read this guide from start to finish and end up with a complete installation. Or, you can use the hyperlinks below to jump to the sections you want, and ignore the rest. It’s OK. My feelings won’t be hurt.

Keep in mind, though, that no matter what setup guide you read, you’re always going to have to tweak it a bit to your own needs. Kodi works on lots of different hardware, and has so many options and settings to change, that there’s just no way to account for all of them. But, if you follow this guide along with me, you’ll be well on your way.

Jump directly to a section:

What is Kodi?
What’s Changed in Kodi 16: Jarvis?
Installing Kodi
How to use XBMC/Kodi
Adding Videos to the Library
Adding Music to the Library
Adding Pictures to the Library
Add-ons
Skins
Weather
Conclusion

Information you (may) want to know

I mentioned earlier that Kodi works on many different systems: Android, Linux, Windows, and Mac to name a few. To make writing this setup guide easier, it was written using screenshots from my Windows 10 PC. SnagIt and Photoshop are much easier to use on a PC, sorry. But don’t worry, the interface is almost identical from system to system, so if you’re familiar with Kodi on Windows, you’ll be able to use the Android or Linux versions just fine.

I’ve only covered (for now) information that is available in the stock version of Kodi. I don’t cover any tweaks that individual manufacturers have done to their Kodi/XBMC versions, nor do I look at installing add-ons from third party developers that aren’t in the Official Kodi Repository. Articles about third-party addons could fill an entire library and I have to draw the line somewhere. (For links to 3rd party add-on installation guides and recommendations, head on over to https://DroidBOXForums.com )

Finally, if you’re using XBMC, then you can still use much of this guide. Kodi is the new name for XBMC (see What is Kodi below), and while the name has changed, the interface of Kodi 16 is still pretty much the same as it has been for years. So if you’re looking for something to teach you how to use XBMC, you’re still in the right place.

What is Kodi?

Kodi, which used to be called XBMC, is an open source media center which grew from a amateur project to play content on the original Xbox. If you’re good with acronyms, you’ve probably already figured out that XBMC originally stood for XBox Media Center.

It is designed to be used from your living room couch, so you’ll often hear that Kodi has a “10 foot user interface.” It allows users to play almost any file format for video, music, podcasts and pictures on your TV, no matter where you store them.

If you’re wondering what’s in a name, Kodi versions have usually been named after popular sci-fi, comic book, or generally geeky references:

  • XBMC v8.10 Atlantis (2008) – (Stargate)
  • XBMC v9.04 Babylon (2009) – (Babylon 5)
  • XBMC v9.11 Camelot (2009) – (King Arthur mythos)
  • XBMC v10.0 Dharma (2010) – (Lost)
  • XBMC v11.0 Eden (2012) – (Garden of…)
  • XBMC v12.0 Frodo (2013) – (Lord of the Rings)
  • XBMC v13.0 Gotham (2014) – (Batman – and my personal favourite)
  • Kodi v14.0 Helix (2014) – (Helix TV show)
  • Kodi v15.0 Isengard (2015) – (Tolkien)
  • Kodi v16.0 Jarvis (2016) – (Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence)
  • Kodi v17.0 Krypton (TBD) – (Superman’s home world)

What’s changed in Kodi 16: Jarvis?

Kodi Splash

I’ll mention some of Jarvis’ new features briefly. If you’re looking for more details, check out our announcement for the release of Kodi 16 here.

For Windows users, Kodi 16 now uses DirectX 11, which allows newer graphics cards to perform better, while still maintaining backwards compatibility with older devices. On the Android side, there’s a new version of Android Surface Rendering which will let Kodi display the user interface at it’s native resolution (normally 720p) while simultaneously rendering 4K video content. This doesn’t work on AmLogic devices (requires DBMC/DroidBOX® Media Centre), but it will work for the NVIDIA Shield and select other devices.

Kodi has implemented the “long press” to bring up the context menu so that Android users (especially) who are using an IR remote can access the context menu without having to go into air-mouse mode (though DroidBOX® customers without a premium remote control can also use the “Menu” button on your IR remote control). There are also improvements to the Add-On Manager which will let you decide whether to enable or disable automatic updates for each individual add-on.

Are you ready to setup Kodi?

Download Kodi

(DroidBOX® customers will find Kodi and/or DBMC (DroidBOX® Media Centre) pre-installed on their devices. Text left in place for reference)
Depending on what device you’re using, you’ve got several different options on how to install Kodi. No matter what, you can always find all of the latest versions on the official Kodi download page at: https://kodi.tv/download/ (shown below). Android users can install directly from the Google Play Store if it’s available on your device, or sideloading it using the latest APK. (DroidBOX® Media Centre is available from the DroidBOX® Market application .)

Kodi TV Download Page

For those of you that may not know what that is, sideloading an app is when the app is not available on an app store like Google Play Store, or the Amazon App Store. When that happens, you download the APK (Android Application PacKage) which will take you through the setup process manually.

If you choose to go the manual route and sideload it, be sure that you’re using the correct version. Since Android can run on both ARM and Intel processors, there is a different version of Kodi for each CPU architecture. Since Kodi is available in the Google Play Store now, you probably won’t have to sideload it on any Android device you have. If you find that extremely rare TV box that can’t get to the Google Play Store, I have an older video showing how to sideload XBMC 13 Gotham on an Android stick PC . Even though it’s an older video, the steps will still work to download Kodi v16 Jarvis.

Once you’ve installed Kodi, it’s time to learn how to navigate the interface.

 

How to use Kodi/XBMC/DBMC

Kodi Video Add Videos 12

Since this is your first time setting up and installing Kodi, I’ll touch briefly on how to navigate around the Kodi user interface, or UI.

Remember when I said earlier that you’ll hear the words “10 foot user interface” quite a lot? Here’s what that means.

The main controls for Kodi are laid out in a ‘ribbon’ along the center of the screen, and are configurable to a certain extent. The main menu ribbon includes these categories by default: Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Music, Pictures, Programs, System and Weather.

Depending on the skin, you can sometimes add extra categories or hide unused ones.

Other menus

In addition to the main ribbon, there are two other types of menus available in Kodi that you’ll want to be aware of: the Context menu and the Sidebar menu.

Context menu

Kodi Context Menu

The Context menu will provide extra functionality depending on what screen you’re on when you click it. For example, in the image on the left I brought up the contextual menu for a movie – Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Here, the context menu gives us the option to add the movie to our queue, play the video, add it to our favorites, mark it as watched or pull up additional information on the movie.

In other screens, the options you see may be different, depending on what makes sense for that media type.

To pull up the Context menu, it depends on what type of device you’re using Kodi on:

  • IR remote: Long Press (new feature in Kodi 16) the OK button or press the Menu button (normally two or three horizontal lines)
  • Mouse: Right-click
  • QWERTY Keyboard: ‘C’
  • Amazon Fire TV: Menu button
  • NVIDIA Shield controller: ‘X’ button

Sidebar-menu

Kodi Sidebar Menu

The sidebar menu changes the view types, sorting options, filters and provides quick access to search and update library functions.

The View option will change how your movies and music appear in your library. Changing the view options will change between a List, Thumbnails, Fanart and Cover Flow (and other views depending on the type of list being viewed).

Changing the Sort criteria will allow you to sort by Title, Year, Rating, My Rating, MPAA Rating, Duration, Date Added and Playcount. You can then sort the list in either ascending or descending order.

Favorites and Shutdown

Finally, in the lower left hand corner of the Kodi home screen, you’ll see two icons. The power-button icon will bring up the Kodi Shutdown menu. You can select to Exit, Power Off the System, create a Custom Shutdown Timer, or put the system into Suspend, Hibernation or even Reboot the system (if your DroidBOX® device dual boots both Android and OpenELEC & you’re using OpenELEC, you’ll also see an option to switch to Android. If you switch skins this option will not be present, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTjGdT0VKMU for assistance).

The star shaped button will bring up your Favorites menu. This works just as you’d expect it to. Using the context menu, you can add a movie to your favorites list so that it will appear on this list whenever you click the Favorites button from the Kodi home screen.

 

Video library

Kodi Video Add Videos 12

One of the most important steps in setting up Kodi is creating your media library. Let’s start by adding videos to your library. (This part assumes you have a storage device with videos on it. If you don’t have any, you can skip this section).

Before you start just adding every file on your hard drive, there’s some work you need to do first.

Kodi expects the media files to follow a certain format, and that format is different if the file is a movie or a TV show. If the filename isn’t listed correctly, then Kodi may not be able to tell what it is.

Why does that matter? Well, Kodi uses a process called scraping to pull data from the file. If Kodi isn’t able to scrape correctly the file then it may do one of two things: It may ignore the file and skip over it when creating your library, or worse, it could mistake the file for a completely different movie.

You should probably put some thought into how your library is organized, but that is a longer topic than I have room for here. But if you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll make it easier for Kodi to figure out what’s in your library.

How to organize your media library

There are two common ways to organize your media folder:

  1. One folder containing all of your media files
  2. Each movie or TV series in it’s own folder

It’s your choice how you want to organize your media library. There are pros and cons to each method, and that’s a topic for another article. But I will offer this piece of advice. If you have a larger library, it will be easier to manage if each movie is in it’s own separate directory.

How to use subfolders

If you choose to use subfolders, movie folder names should include only the title and/or the year. Tip: To improve the scraper’s performance, add the year within parenthesis to the end of the foldername, or filename.

\Movies\Avatar (2009)\somefilename.mkv
\Movies\The Usual Suspects (1995)\somefilename.avi

How to use one folder

If you’d prefer to have one folder for all of your media files, you would include the same information in the same order, but you would change the filename, rather than the folder name.

\Movies\Avatar (2009).mkv
\Movies\The Usual Suspects (1995).avi

How to add videos to your library

Kodi Video

Kodi uses the same general process to add Videos, Music or Pictures to your media library. There are differences, of course, but the three processes will all start out the same.

Just in case you’ve skipped to this section and plan on ignoring the Adding Music or Adding Pictures sections, you’ll see much of the same information repeated. It’s worth reading each topic, though, because there will be some specific information for each section that won’t be included in the other two.

Start by scrolling over to Videos on the Kodi ribbon. Once you’re there, click on Files. If you don’t have anything in your library, it will take you directly to the screen below. If you already have some files set up, there’ll be a list of folder shares in an intermediate menu before this with an option to Add Videos. Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense right now. You’ll see folder shares in a few minutes.

Kodi Video Add Videos 1

If you know the path of your media server, you can take a shortcut and enter it directly in the box here. I’m going to assume that you don’t have that memorized, or even written down someplace safe. In that case, you’ll need to Browse for it.

Kodi Video Add Videos 5 SMB

Depending on how your media server is set up you’ll have a couple of different options here. (If you have problems browsing your home’s network, please see https://droidbox.co.uk/how-to/adding-to-your-library/ ).

Kodi doesn’t care if you’ve got your media files on your Windows PC that you’re networking to, a dedicated Network Accessible Storage (NAS) device, or simply an external hard drive that has one folder with hundreds of movies on it. Kodi will figure it out.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you’ve already set up your server how you like it. The most popular option for home servers is some sort of Windows Network (SMB), so that will be the one we discuss here.

Kodi Video Add Videos 5 1 SMB

Once I told Kodi that my media server was on a Windows Network, it went out searching for devices and came back with three possibilities.

My network devices are named after characters, places or things in movies. In this case, they’re characters from Big Hero 6. No judging, please.

The first device is my Windows 10 PC. The device in the middle is a shared printer. The third device is my Western Digital MyCloud NAS. That is where my media files are stored, so I’ll select that.

Kodi Video Add Videos 5 2 SMB

My NAS file server is set up in different folders. As you can see, some are media files and some are documents. Since we’re adding videos to Kodi, I’ll select the Videos sub-folder.

Kodi Video Add Videos 5 3 SMB

As you’re navigating through your folders, Kodi will keep updating the file path at the bottom of the screen. Here, you can see we are in the /Videos/Video Samples folder.

The way my files are set up, this is as far down into the file structure as I want to go. Each sub-folder underneath here is a different video title. As you’ll see later, there are multiple versions of the videos in each folder, so there will be some duplication.

A good rule of thumb is to go as deep into your folder structure as you can, but not too far that you lose videos. Remember, Kodi can see in the current folder and any sub-folders below. It won’t look in the folders higher than whatever folder you’re in.

Once you’ve decided on your folder, click OK.

Kodi Video Add Videos 5 4 SMB

That will take you back to the Add Video Source window and add the file path to your media server in the box.

By default, Kodi will choose the folder name as the name for the share, but you can change the name of the share in the Enter a Name for the Media Source box.

Kodi Video Add Videos 6 set content

Once you’ve chosen the folder, the next step is to tell Kodi what type of files are in the folder and to set some options for the Scraper.

This window is split into three parts. In the upper-left section, there’s a dropdown box titled This directory contains. The options here are:

  • Music Videos
  • Movies
  • TV Shows

Once you make a selection, you’ll have one or more options in the Choose a scraper section in the upper-right.

In this example, I’m adding a folder of movies so I’ve selected that from the drop-down box. Because of that choice, there are some Content Scanning Options in the bottom half of the window.

Kodi Video Add Videos 7 set content

Remember when you set up your media library in the How to Name Movies section? Here’s where that choice is going to come into play.

Under the Content Scanning Options header, the first option is whether or not Movies are in a separate folder that match the movie title. If your files are all in the same folder, leave this unchecked. If instead you have your movies in separate folders, make sure this option is checked.

The second option to Scan recursively is one I always check. This will force Kodi to look in any sub-folders for new files.

Kodi Video Add Videos 8 set content

Depending on what scraper you use, there may be additional options listed under the Settings button at the bottom. These options determine whether or not Kodi will keep the original title, enable Fanart, trailers, or where to get ratings from. Click OK when you’ve made any changes.

Kodi Video Add Videos 9

The final step is for Kodi to start scanning your new folder share and adding the videos to the library. Once you’ve clicked OK in the step above, you’ll get a message box asking if you want to refresh the information for all items within this path.

The message box here it the same if you’re making changes or if you’re setting up the folder for the first time. This is one aspect where Kodi isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be. However confusing the message box may be, you’ll usually want to answer Yes to this question.

Kodi Video Add Videos 10

Thankfully, Kodi will let you move on to do other things while the scanning process does it’s thing. The only status bar you’ll see is in the very upper right hand portion of the screen. Be warned: if you’ve got a rather large library, this process could take a long time. But, once it’s done…

Kodi Video Add Videos 11

Your individual titles will have a full-color background image, a poster-art and some basic information such as resolution for each video, depending on what options you’ve chosen and what skin you’re using.

Kodi Video Add Videos 12

And back on the main Kodi home window, you’ll see thumbnail views of the last five movies you’ve added to your library above the center menu ribbon. In theory, if you’re consistently adding videos to your library, these will be the files that you’ll want to watch first.

There are a lot more tweaks and settings to help you get the most out of your videos, but let’s look at adding some music to Kodi next.

 

Music library

Kodi Music 1

Adding music to your library is the second big part of your Kodi setup. As of Kodi 16 Jarvis, it now follows a similar process as adding videos above, but that wasn’t always the case.

New Music Library in Kodi 16

Prior to Jarvis, there was a definite difference between how you used the Music Library and the Video Library. For some odd reason, scanning files into your Music Library was a two-step process, unlike the automatic scanning available in the Video Library. You actually had to manually pull up the context menu and select Scan to Library.

Now, in Kodi Jarvis, the system will ask you if you want to scan all the files in the folder immediately after you add a new source – just like it does for the Video Library.

Advantages to the Music Library

Kodi first announced the New Music Library in December 2015 on a blog post on Kodi.tv. They listed quite a few enhancements which I’ve highlighted below.

  • A consistent looking library view just like for Movies and TV Shows
  • Searching your music files is now enabled
  • Library splits up the music in sections: Genres, Artists, Albums, Singles, All songs, Years, Top 100 (based on your playback), Recently added/played albums, Compilations
  • Ability to use Smart Playlists to further filter
  • Rate your music and filter based on that rating
  • Share music over you home-network provided that the clients support UPnP
  • Scan for additional information like artist biography or album review/synopsis using the Context menu in album or artist library
  • This can be enabled by default in Settings -> Music -> Library -> Fetch additional information during updates

 

Tagging Music in Kodi

In the Video section I mentioned that Kodi needed files to be in a very specific format in order for the scrapers to figure out what the files were. The same holds true for your Music Library.

Unlike Videos and TV shows, Kodi doesn’t look at the file names themselves, it looks at the ID tags embedded in the file.

What this means is that each file (song) must have ID3v1, ID3v2.3, ID3v2.4, Vorbis Comments or APE tagging. If the files aren’t tagged, Kodi won’t be able to figure out what the song really is.

Why Tagging?

Kodi Music 2

If you think about it, this makes sense. When you look at a movie, you only need a combination of the movie title and the year in order to figure out what the movie is. For example Transformers (1986) is very different from Transformers (2007), but with those two pieces of information, you can easily determine which is which.

With music, it’s much harder. If an album is released, a song can have live and studio versions of the same song, acoustic or full band versions, even karaoke versions – all on the same album. Or worse, different artists can release different songs with the same title in the same year.

How can Kodi figure it all out without making the file names incredibly huge?

That’s where tagging comes in. Tagging embeds information in the file itself including Artist, Album, Year, Track Number, Genre, Length, and Bit Rate. Tagging can even hold information on the beats per minute or rating of the song.

What if your music files aren’t tagged?

I’m not going to say it’s an easy thing to fix, but there are some Windows-based programs that can help you with the process. I’d suggest looking at MusicBrainz Picard, Mp3Tag or TagScanner.

How to add music to your library

Kodi Music

Because the new Music Library is modeled after the Video library, this will hopefully look very familiar if you’ve been following along. If you haven’t been following along….why not?

Start by scrolling over to Music on the Kodi ribbon. The submenus underneath Music may look different than the screen above. This image is from a fresh installation with no music files whatsoever. If that’s the case, Kodi is smart enough to realize that you’re either going to want to install a music add-on, or set up your library. There’s no need for it to show any additional information such as Artists, Albums, Songs or Library since they don’t exist yet.

Whether you have nothing in your library yet, or you want to add files to an existing library, click on Files to continue. If you don’t have anything in your library, it will take you directly to the screen below.

Kodi Music Add Music 1

If you already have some files set up, there’ll be a list of folder shares in an intermediate menu before this with an option to Add Music. I covered folder shares in the Video section above, but just in case you skipped that section, I’ll touch on it again in a little bit.

Click on Add Music to continue.

Kodi Music Add Music 2

If you know the path of your media server, you can take a shortcut and enter it directly in the box here. If you don’t know the path, you’ll need to Browse for it (again if you have problems browsing your home network, see https://droidbox.co.uk/how-to/adding-to-your-library/ ).

Kodi Music Add Music 3

My music is stored on the same NAS (Network Accessible Storage) server as my movies, so I’ll select Windows Network (SMB) to continue. Depending on how your network is set up, you may have your files stored on an external drive or even a UPnP server somewhere else on the network.

Kodi Music Add Music 4

Kodi goes out and searches the Windows-based network for any devices that may have media files on them. It can’t determine what the devices are, so these may or may not be media servers. Sometimes, this isn’t as intelligent a discovery process as you’d expect. For example, Kodi is giving me the option of scanning my Brother wireless printer, the second item listed, for media files.

Since I know the name of my NAS server, I’ll select it from the list.

Kodi Music Add Music 5

Once I select a device, Kodi then looks at any folders that it finds and asks where my music is located. In this case, I only want to go one more level down, since that’s where the Artist sub-folders are located. As you’re navigating through your folders, Kodi will keep updating the file path at the bottom of the screen.

Kodi Music Add Music 6

That will take you back to the Add Music Source window and add the file path to your media server in the box.

By default, Kodi will choose the folder name as the name for the share, but you can change the name of the share in the Enter a Name for the Media Source box.

Kodi Music Add Music 7

As I mentioned earlier, one of the big improvements to the Music Library in Kodi 16 is that it will automatically ask you if you want to add the media from this source to your library. Unless you’re adding multiple folders and want to scan at the end, I would always select Yes.

Kodi Music Add Music 8

Scanning your Music Library will usually take considerably longer than scanning your Video Library. Most of us have libraries with several thousand songs in them, and that can be time consuming to scan and index. Be patient here.

Kodi Music 1

Once Kodi finishes, you’ll find the recently added albums on top of the main ribbon on the Kodi home window.

 

Pictures

Kodi Pictures

Kodi does a lot more than just play movies and music. Kodi can also take your photo library for a spin too.

There isn’t as much functionality included in the picture viewer, mostly because there isn’t a whole lot that you can do with images out of the box. That being said, there are quite a few great add-ons to help put a little spice into your image library.

Adding Pictures to the library

If you’ve added music or movies to your library, then this is going to look very familiar. From the Kodi home screen’s ribbon scroll over to the Pictures option. Here there’s only one sub-menu listed below for any Add-ons you want to install. That’s not what we’re looking for, so click on the main Pictures option instead.

Kodi Pictures 1

Just as with Movies and Music, you can install Add-ons and add files to your media library in this screen. Also, when you do have pictures in your library, their folder names will be listed in this menu as well.

Unlike the Movies and Music tabs, the Pictures menu is much simpler. In fact, all you can do on this page is add pictures to your library or install an add-on.

Let’s walk through how to add pictures to your Kodi media library. As you can probably guess, you’re going to want to click on Add pictures… to start the process.

Kodi Pictures 2

By now Adding a Source should look familiar. If you know the file path, you can enter it in the text box, or click Browse to search for it (again if you have problems browsing your home network, see https://droidbox.co.uk/how-to/adding-to-your-library/ ).

Kodi Pictures 3

All of the drives that your Kodi installation can detect will be listed here, with blue icons. The red icons will be network file locations which you may or may not have, but Kodi lists them anyway, for completeness sake.

My pictures are stored on a Western Digital MyCloud Network Accessible Storage (NAS) device, which could be found in one of three ways, depending on how I set it up: Network File System (NFS), Universal Plug and Play UPnP devices, or Windows network (SMB). In my particular setup, it’s configured as a Windows network (SMB) device.

Navigate to the folder that your pictures are stored in. For this example, I went to one individual folder without any subfolders. Kodi won’t list the individual pictures, only the folder names.

There were two ways that I knew I’d reached the correct folder. First, The only option in the main window was to go back up a level, as shown by the blue up arrow and the ‘..’ at the top of the Browse for new share window. The second way is to look at the shared folder’s path which is in white text at the bottom of that window.

Once you’ve found the folder, click OK to continue.

Kodi Pictures 4

Once you click OK, you’ll be brought back to the Add Pictures source window and your folder path will be listed in the text box. Choose a name for your pictures and click OK to continue.

Kodi Pictures 5

That will take you back to the main Pictures sub-menu and your folder will be listed on the menu. In my case, you can see my Sample Pictures folder listed between Picture add-ons and Add pictures

Kodi will then attempt to scan the folder to get a better idea of what kind of files are in that directory.

Kodi Pictures 7

After the scan is complete, click in your new directory and take a look at your pictures library.

Kodi Pictures 8

Pictures Sidebar Menu

Kodi Pictures 9

You can access the Pictures sidebar menu by moving the mouse to the left hand side of the screen, or by pressing the left directional arrow if you’re using a remote control with a D-pad.

From the sidebar menu, you can change settings related to how you view your pictures and how you view slideshows. The View options are fairly self-explanatory, but I want to touch on the slideshow settings. They are listed under the Misc Options heading.

Misc options

Once you’re in a folder that has pictures in it, you’ll see three things listed in the sidebar menu: Slideshow, Recursive Slideshow and Randomise. The only settings change here is the toggle for randomizing the order that your photos appear.

The Slideshow and Recursive Slideshow options will both (predictably) start a slideshow using the pictures in this folder. A Recursive Slideshow will also look in any and all sub-folders in the directory and include those images in the slideshow as well.

Slideshow settings in Kodi 16 have been trimmed down slightly and made a bit easier to understand. Only a bit though. I think there’s still room for improvement, especially for users who aren’t programmers or who’s primary language is not English. Recursion is a topic I don’t hear about very often, unless I’m speaking with my computer programmer friends. A simpler way to describe this would be a toggle for “include sub-folders”, which would mean the same thing and is easier to understand.

Pictures Settings

There are only two subcategories for Pictures in the Kodi Settings menu: File lists and Slideshow. There are some minor revisions to these in Kodi 16, so even if you’re familiar with how they’ve worked in the past, it’s worth a refresher.

Kodi Pictures 11

File Lists

If you’re used to having settings related to EXIF picture information, you’re out of luck. EXIF stands for EXchangeable Image File format. It tags pictures with extra information such as date and time, camera settings, orientation and geolocation.

In an effort to cleanup some of the “minor” settings options, the Kodi developers have enabled EXIF rotation by default and taken away the option to change the setting. They’ve also done the same with the Show EXIF Picture Information setting.

With those two settings removed, the File Lists settings window now only contains toggle on/off options for Automatically Generate Thumbnails and Show Video Files in Listings.

Kodi Pictures 12

Slideshow

The Slideshow settings here allow you to tweak your slideshow presentations. You can change the Amount of time to display each image from as low as 1 second to as many as 100 seconds per image.

There is an on/off toggle switch for Using pan and zoom effects, that bring a little life into a flat slideshow. The effect is popular, which also means it’s overused. You may want to use it sparingly.

Finally, there is another toggle switch for randomizing your slideshow.

 

Add-ons

Kodi System Settings Addons

Add-ons are at the heart of Kodi. In fact, many people would argue that without third-party developers creating add-ons and adding extra functionality, Kodi would be nowhere near as popular as it is today.

Kodi includes an Official Kodi Repository filled with hundreds of add-ons which are supplied and supported either by members of Team Kodi, or by developers they trust. You can find an add-on for just about anything you want – skins, streaming services, sports, live TV…the list goes on.

If that’s not enough for you, there are tons of unofficial repositories on the Internet that you can download add-ons from. Many of these add-ons are of questionable quality and even more questionable legality (please see https://droidbox.co.uk/blog/are-streams-legal/ for more information on this topic), so they’re not something I’ll cover in this Kodi setup guide. If you Google a particular add-on, I’m quite sure that somebody out there has covered.

Still, I’d advise caution installing anything that’s not official. I’m not here to judge, but I am here to look out for you.

How to install Kodi Add-ons

Because Add-ons are such an important part of your Kodi installation, there are a couple of different ways that you can install them. The process is the same, but the starting point can be different. I’ll explain…

Installing Add-ons from the Videos, Music or Pictures menu

Kodi Video

Each of the three main Kodi menus – Videos, Music and Pictures – has a sub-menu titled Add-ons, as you can see in the image above.

If you want to install a Video add-on, for example, you’re probably going to be on the Videos tab already, so it makes it easy access for you without having to go back to the System –> Settings tab.

Don’t worry, if you happen to be on the Videos menu and just thought of a great Music add-on you want to install, you can do that from there as well. Kodi doesn’t care what type of add-on you want to install. Think of the sub-menus on the Videos, Pictures or Movies tabs as a way to skip ahead to ‘Step 2’ if you don’t want to go all the way back to the Kodi home window.

The Kodi Add-on Manager

If you’re like me, you’ll probably just end up going to the System Menu a lot anyway, just to check on system performance or make some tweaks. Since I come from a PC background, it’s been drilled into me to always start at the System or Settings screen, no matter what system I’m on. At this point, it’s just a force of habit.

To get to the Kodi Add-on Manager, scroll over to the System menu and click on Settings.

Kodi System Menu

From here, that will take you to the familiar Change your Settings window, which I hope you’re familiar with by now. On the menu on the left side, scroll down to where it says Add-ons and click on it.

Kodi System Settings Addons

The next menu will have options for My add-ons, Install from repository, Install from zip file, Search and System. (If Kodi is updating add-ons at the time you see this screen, you’ll see an extra entry relating to this, it can be safely ignored.) I’ll touch on each briefly below:

Kodi Addon 1

  • My Add-Ons: This will pull up a list of all of the add-ons, broken down by category, and whether they are enabled or disabled on this Kodi installation.
  • Install from Repository: This is all of the add-ons available for installation in the official Kodi repository (or any other repository you add yourself). We’ll go through the process for installing from here below.
  • Install from Zip File: If you’re installing an add-on that’s not in the official list, this is how you’ll do it.You’ll have to download a zip file to your device and browse for it using this option. It’s a little more cumbersome, but it will let you install anything you want to.
  • Search: If you know what add-on you’re looking for, or just have a general idea of the topic, you can enter it here and see the results.
  • System: This will show add-ons that are currently running, as well as any dependencies that they have.

For our purposes, we’re going to be installing one of the official video add-ons, so click on Install from Repository.

Kodi Addon 2

Here are all of the categories of add-ons that exist in this repository. I recommend taking some time to browse through them all because you never know what you’ll find, and they’re updated frequently. For the purposes of this Kodi setup guide, click on Video add-ons.

Kodi Video AddOns KordKutters 1

Whether you started in the Add-On Manager or in one of the other menus, you’ll end up at a screen that looks like the one above. There will be slight differences, but the important parts will be there. Here you’ll find a list of all of the video add-ons on the left hand side. You can scroll through the list, as you’d expect. Once you have an add-on selected, more information will pop up about it on the right half of the screen.

We’re going to be installing the KordKutters video add-on. KordKutters is a side project for Nate and Ned, both members of Team Kodi. They talk about Kodi news, features and the occasional hardware review. If you want the scoop on what’s coming up in the Kodi world, these are the guys to follow.

Scroll down to KordKutters and select that add-on.

Kodi Video AddOns KordKutters 2

Once you select it, a window will pop up showing more information, which incidentally is usually just a full screen version of the information panel on the previous screen. It will have options to Install, Configure, Update, Auto-Update, view the Changelog, and Enable or Disable.

Since the add-on isn’t installed yet, only the Install and Changelog options are allowed right now. Click Install to install the add-on. Once the add-on is installed, you’ll have the option to configure or change any settings, if any exist. For this particular add-on, there’s not much to configure.

One final note: Kodi 16 Jarvis now gives you the option of configuring each add-on to either automatically update on it’s own, or never update. Generally, I set my add-ons to automatically update because I want to be sure that I have the latest version with new features or bug-fixes. Occasionally though, updating an add-on will cause it to break, so this enables you to find a version that works and keep it indefinitely.

 

Changing Kodi Skins

Changing skins is a great way to get a whole new look and feel for your Kodi experience. The best part is that it’s easy to change skins and you can do it as often as you like. (As noted previously, if you use the OpenELEC operating system, changing skins will remove easy access to switch back to Android. Please note that many Wizards/Builds for Kodi will also change the skin when used. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTjGdT0VKMU for assistance.)

For Kodi 16, skins hold their settings in individual settings files. These files are found within your platform-unique “userdata” area, in the “addon_data” subfolder. Note that if you use profiles, there will be a separate “addon_data” folder for each profile. (In normal use, there is no need for users to directly access these files.)

 

Confluence

Kodi Video Add Videos 12

Although Kodi includes all of the skins below in their official repository, every single Kodi installation starts with Confluence (though version 17 will likely be using a new default skin).

Confluence has been the default Kodi skin since version 9.11. It’s the interface you’ll see in just about every single image on this Kodi setup guide, as well as on most of the articles and videos on the web.

On first installation, Confluence has a simple interface with the main commands listed horizontally along the center ribbon. Once movies and music are added to the library, the five most recently added albums thumbnails will take up most of the top half of the screen. You’ll see this layout common among many of the third-party Kodi skins, but it all started with Confluence.

(As previously noted by the original author, the Confluence skin can be configured to add shortcuts to the homescreen for your most commonly used add-ons. See https://droidbox.co.uk/how-to/adding-shortcuts-with-the-confluence-skin/ for more information.)

 

Aeon Nox

Kodi Appearance Skin Aeon Nox

Confluence may be the default skin, but Aeon Nox is hands-down one of the most popular add-on skins.

Customizable menu layouts including a grid layout (Wall), sliding Landscape view, List (with or without movie info), or even a banner list to get the maximum number of titles on the screen at one time. Or you can even go the minimalist way and simply show the movie logo with a full-screen fan-art.

Aeon Nox is a beautiful Kodi skin that puts your media libraries the focal piece for your home theater device.

 

Black Glass Nova

Kodi Appearance Black Glass Nova

Black Glass Nova moves the center command ribbon down to the bottom in order to free up the upper 2/3 of the screen for background images which change depending on your selections.

For example, in the image on the left, the image of WALL-E and Eve will show up whenever you settle on the Movies tab. If you move to the left, the background image will change to the camcorder or USB flash-key when you land on Videos or Add-Ons.

Black Glass Nova offers many of the same menu options as Aeon Nox, but opts for a more “sci-fi” feel.

 

Metropolis

Kodi Appearance Skin Metropolis

Obvious Superman reference aside, Metropolis is a great skin if you like to have as much information on the screen at one time.

It walks the tightrope between informative and overwhelming fairly well. For example, when scrolling through movies you can see the resolution, aspect ratio, media codec, source (DVD/BluRay), audio information, and much, much more – all at a glance.

It may be too much information for a lot of people, but if you’re a movie buff who’s going to pick a movie based on all the little details, this Kodi skin may be just what you’re looking for.

 

Mimic

Kodi Appearance Skin Mimic

Mimic’s developer described it as “a shameless amalgamation of features from my favorite skins, including Aeon Nox, reFocus and Arctic Zephyr.

Mimic has a modern Android “material design” feel to it, which makes it feel snappy and responsive. I like Mimic because you can make it as simple or as graphic as you like.

The image above shows a clean simple, installation, with no-frills or distractions. But, since Mimic was based on Aeon Nox, you can still customize layouts for your movies and music in dozens of different combinations.

 

Nebula

Kodi Appearance Skin Nebula

I have to admit that Nebula isn’t one of my favorite skins. The design is extremely clean, using sharp contrasting light and dark themes in order to stand out on HD TV screens. Artwork is kept to a minimum in the default settings, opting for a nicely framed thumbnail and lots of negative space.

Personally. it reminds me too much of an Apple device. The white background looks too sterile and lifeless, lacking much of the easy-to-access information that is common in many of the other skins.

If you’re new to the Android world, this may be just what many people are looking for.

 

Phenomenal

Kodi Appearance Skin Phenomenal

Like Mimic, Phenomenal has a modern, “material design” feel to it. What sets Phenomenal apart is that it makes better use of custom fan-art to make selecting a movie or TV show a more interactive experience.

The menu system in Phenomenal pops out from the right side of the screen, with extra levels of the menu continuing to move left into the viewable area. Icons such as Settings, Power and Favorites are animated, which is a nice touch. Collections of movies which have multiple discs have their own animations which really adds to the polish of this skin.

 

Rapier

Kodi Appearance Skin Rapier

Think of Rapier as Confluence on steroids. At first glance, the color scheme is the familiar Kodi-blue, but you can change this to either red or orange as well. The ribbon is locked against the bottom of the screen which leaves enough room for an information panel and a very large icon above your menu choice.

One thing to note: Rapier requires eleven additional Add-ons in order to work as designed.

Several of these are add-ons you’ll probably be installing anyway. However, if you like running a lean, “no frills” Kodi installation, this probably isn’t the skin for you.

 

Titan

Kodi Appearance Skin Titan

Titan is a port of the MediaPortal Titan skin, but tweaked for Kodi. The look and feel of the skin is modern, but not quite material design, opting for a simple font type and better menu structure.

Like several of the other skins on this list, you can view your media library several different ways in Titan. You can opt for an icon wall, or a simple list of movies, and almost everything in between.

What sets this theme apart is that Titan provides almost as much information about each title as Metropolis, but in an easier to read format. The text may be smaller and less flashy, but it stands out better due to better organization and improved readability.

 

Transparency!

Kodi Appearance Skin Transparency

If you like your fanart, then Transparency! is the skin for you. It offers a ton of different library views including scrolling “DVD cases” or several different versions of the animated “poster wall” style interfaces. If you want something a bit more on the normal side, there’s also usual information list view.

Transparency! is certainly one of the most flashy Kodi skins that I’ve seen. If you’re the person who likes to show off your system to your friends, then you should definitely check out this skin.

 

Weather

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 6

Just in case playing movies and music wasn’t enough, Kodi can also provide weather information.

There are six standard weather services in the official Kodi repository. Most are free to use, but some require registration on their websites in order to get the most out of them.

The official Kodi weather add-ons are:

  • OpenWeatherMap Extended
  • Weather Underground
  • Yahoo! Weather
  • Met Office
  • Oz Weather (Australia specific weather)
  • Weather China (China specific weather)

Each of these services has their pros and cons, so I recommend trying them out and seeing which you prefer. The basic installation process is the same for each, although as I mentioned earlier, you may need to go to the service’s web site in order to register.

I’ll outline the installation for both Yahoo! Weather and OpenWeatherMap Extended below. OpenWeatherMap Extended requires you to register for their free service on their website for an API key. Without the API key, the add-on will only update the Kodi weather data once every hour. Yahoo! Weather doesn’t require any registration, but doesn’t have as many features as OpenWeatherMap Extended.

Getting Weather Information

We’ll go over installing a weather service in a moment, but I wanted to cover how to get the forecast first.

Once you have a weather service installed, you can navigate to Weather on the ribbon on the Kodi home screen. Clicking on this option will bring up the most recent weather data, depending on your add-on choices.

Kodi Weather 5

 

Installing Weather Add-ons

No matter which of the Kodi Weather add-ons you choose, the installation process will start the same. From the main Kodi home screen, navigate to the System menu and click on Settings. From there, scroll down and click on Weather.

Kodi Weather

This will bring up the Weather Settings menu. At the moment, there’s not much here because we haven’t installed a service yet.

Kodi Weather 2

The first line in the main window will let you choose the Service for weather information. Click anywhere on that line in order to bring up the service selection screen.

Kodi Weather 3

This screen will show you which weather add-ons you have installed on Kodi on this machine. At the moment there’s nothing here, but on the right hand side there’s a button that says Get more…

Kodi Weather 4

Here you can select which weather service you want to use. There’s no harm in trying a few of them out. You can only have one weather service active at any time and you can switch back and forth between services very easily.

Installing Yahoo! Weather

Yahoo! Weather is one of the more popular Kodi Weather services because it is easy to configure and doesn’t require any additional information from the user other than what city you want the forecast for.

From the Get More… window, scroll down until you see that Yahoo! Weather add-on and click it to install. After a very brief installation process, you’ll be back at the Weather – Settings window, but Yahoo! Weather will appear on the top line as the Service for weather information.

Kodi Weather Yahoo 1

Yahoo! Weather is now installed, but it still needs to be configured for your particular city. There is a single Settings option on the second line of the main window, directly underneath the Service for weather information line. Click on Settings to pull up the Location Setup window.

Kodi Weather Yahoo 2

You can enter in several different cities depending on how simple or complicated you want your weather forecast to be. For me, I’m only interested in the city closest to me: Orlando, Florida. To enter a city, click on the line that says Location 1.

Kodi Weather Yahoo 3

On the popup keyboard, type in the name of the city. I tried several different cities and small towns of various sizes and I wasn’t able to find one that Yahoo! couldn’t recognize – even several ‘one stoplight’ towns I know.

Kodi Weather Yahoo 4

If there is more than one entry for a particular city, Yahoo! will ask you to choose which one you meant. Since I’m not looking for the Orlando in South Africa or Brazil, I chose the top entry: Orlando (Florida -US).

Kodi Weather Yahoo 5

Once you make your selection, you’re taken back to the Location Setup screen. Repeat the process for as many cities as you want weather information for. Once you’re done, click OK to continue.

Go back to the Kodi home screen and click on the Weather option to bring up the latest Yahoo! Weather information.

Kodi Weather Yahoo 6

Within Yahoo! Weather, the sidebar menu will let you scroll through multiple locations if you have have them set up. It will also let you manually refresh the data and quickly jump back to the Weather Settings menu.

Installing OpenWeatherMap Extended Weather

If you’re like me and you want a little bit more substance to your forecast, you’ll want to opt for OpenWeatherMap Extended instead of Yahoo! Weather.

From the Get More… window, scroll down until you see that OpenWeatherMap Extended add-on and click it to install. After a very brief installation process, you’ll be back at the Weather – Settings window, but OpenWeatherMap Extended will appear on the top line as the Service for weather information.

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 1

More data comes with a catch, though. To get the most out of this service, you’ll have to register at http://openweathermap.org/appid . The service is free for individual users and it will refresh the data once every minute. Otherwise, you’ll only get updated information once per hour. It’s up to you, but if you’re taking the time to install a weather addon for Kodi, I’d recommend getting giving them your name and email (if you’re concerned about spam, you can set up an account at GMail just for registering with this weather service) and get access to “almost real-time” updates.

Once you (this will be easier to do on your DroidBOX® device’s Browser or Chrome app) go to OpenWeatherMap.org, you’ll see a page like the one below. Click on the orange “Sign Up” button and get your custom API key. Note: here’s where copy/paste will be your friend. The API key is extremely long and it’s very easy to make a mistake. If you have the option (long click on the key and select copy), please just copy it and paste it into Kodi. It’ll save you a lot of headaches trying to type it in.

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 5

Once you have the API key entered, or even if you skipped that part, it’s time to add your location data so you can get a custom forecast.

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 2

You can enter in several different cities depending on how simple or complicated you want your weather forecast to be. For me, I’m only interested in the city closest to me: Orlando, Florida. To enter a city, click on the line that says Location 1.

 

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 3

Once you make your selection, you’re taken back to the Location Setup screen. Repeat the process for as many cities as you want weather information for.

Don’t click OK yet though…..There are Advanced and Expert settings to talk about first.

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 4

The Advanced settings will let you choose what days your weekends fall on, which I guess is good for people who work non-standard schedules (or live in parts of the world that have their days of rest/religious observance on different days). Your “weekend forecast” will actually be on your weekend.

It also lets you enable logging, show longitude and latitude when searching locations, change the zoom level and toggle whether you’re downloading weather maps.

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 8

The Expert settings show your inputted locations and their ID codes. There’s really not much to do here, but I included it for completeness sake.

Once you’re done, click OK to continue.

Go back to the Kodi home screen and click on the Weather option to bring up the latest OpenWeatherMap Extended information. The first page will show your 14 day forecast, which is longer than most weather apps I’ve seen.

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 6

If you open the sidebar menu, there are options for a Daily forecast, 36-hour forecast, Weekend forecast, Hourly forecast and Maps. It will also let you manually refresh the data and quickly jump back to the Weather Settings menu.

Kodi Weather OpenWeather 7

The Maps functionality is what sets this add-on apart from the rest. You can toggle between maps showing Precipitation, Clouds, Temperature, Wind, and Pressure.

 

Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive Kodi setup guide. To do that would likely double or triple the length of this article. There were topics that I touched on only briefly, and others which I didn’t mention at all.

However, this guide should help you get a Kodi 16 Jarvis installation up and running from scratch and get you to the point that you can start enjoying your media.

If you’d like further resources, two of the best places to get more information are the Kodi Forums and the Kodi Wiki. There you can search different topics and see comments and tips from some of the developers who created Kodi, or people who have been using it for years.

My advice is to follow this guide, but then to start playing around. Tweak. Modify. Ask questions. There’s so much that Kodi can do. Enjoy!
We hope this guide has helped answer some of your questions about Kodi. With the information presented at our blog ,
the other guides here at this How To site & the videos at our YouTube channel, the assistance of our community at the DroidBOX® forum , that you’ll soon feel at home in Kodi, watching your favourite videos. If you need technical assistance, let us know which guide(s) you have already used, and at which point the process differed from that expected. You can e-mail us at [email protected] , and we also have live text chat during office hours, at our main website – https://DroidBOX.co.uk