Do you sometimes get frustrated with your Kodi box? Wish you had an ultimate Kodi setup with a smooth and seamless TV-watching experience?
Well, I have that kind of smooth experience with my Kodi boxes, and I’ll share exactly what I do to set it up.
In this comprehensive tutorial, I’ll go over everything about my Kodi setup process from start to finish so you can follow along with your own Kodi box.
Choose a Device to Run Kodi
The first thing you need to do, especially if you’re new to Kodi, is to decide which device you are going to install Kodi on.
Kodi is cross-platform software so it runs on a ton of different operating systems and hardware architectures. The Kodi download page looks like this (which should give you an idea of what it supports).
So, with that in mind I will let you know a little bit of advice from my experience.
Kodi on Windows
I’ve been a long time user of Kodi on Windows. Back in the day (several years ago), Windows was the best platform to run Kodi (or XBMC at the time). I remember when the XBMC team was working on getting it to run on Android.
Kodi on Android
Fast-forward today and now Android is by far the most popular OS used for running Kodi.
Kodi on Xbox One
Since the beginning of 2018, Kodi has been available to download on Xbox One. I’ve been using off and on since then. There have been times early on where it was pretty buggy, but lately has been a lot more stable.
My Recommendation for Kodi Hardware
While you can install Kodi on your main computer or on your Android phone, I recommend having a dedicated device hooked up to your TV so that you can leave Kodi open and running at all times. That way, when you want to watch TV, you don’t have to wait for Kodi to boot up.
If you’re looking to buy a new device to run Kodi, read my review of the best Kodi streaming boxes.
Install the Kodi Software
Now that you’ve chosen a device to run Kodi, now let’s install it. This step is pretty simple and straightforward.
The installation of Kodi will be a bit different depending on the operating system you’re using.
- If you are running Windows 10, then you can now find Kodi in the Windows Store. Go ahead and install it there to get automatic updates.
- If you are running an Android device that has the Google Play Store on it, install it from there to get automatic updates.
- For Android devices without Google Play (like Fire TV devices), you’ll need to manually sideload the app using this tutorial.
- For all other cases, visit the Kodi download page, and see the download and/or guide that fits your case.
Install Your Favorite Kodi Add-on
I’ve tried a lot of unofficial video streaming add-ons for Kodi, and the best ones have been in the line of forks starting with Genesis, then Exodus, then Covenant. These were my favorite add-ons, and now there are so many forks of these add-ons. While some other add-ons can be really good for a specific niche, the add-ons of this type are by far the best overall. This is because…
- They gives you access to all TV shows and movies in one add-on
- They support Real-Debrid integration (via URLResolver)
- They have Trakt.tv integration that support both lists and watched status/progress
- They’re simple and clean looking
So, head on over to my Current List of the Best Kodi Streaming Add-ons. Pick one and install it using my installation tutorial.
When you’re done installing a Kodi streaming add-on, come back here for the rest of the setup (the important part!)
Setup Trakt.tv Integration
What is Trakt?
Trakt.tv is a very well-designed website that is used to “scrobble” TV shows and movies. Scrobbling simply means that it keeps track of what has been watched. It also keeps track of progress through episodes or movies so that you can pick up where you left off.
Trakt also lets you manage “Lists” of TV shows and/or Movies. So when your friend tells you about a new show that you should try out, you can easily add it to your list using the Trakt.tv website on your phone.
What Does Trakt Bring to Kodi?
With Trakt.tv integration in Kodi, that new show that you added will be waiting for you on Kodi when you get home. You can start watching it on Covenant, then stop it half way through, go to a different TV with a different Kodi box, open a different add-on that also supports Trakt like SALTS, and automatically resume that same episode where you left off!
That’s the kind of awesome value Trakt integration brings to Kodi. No longer do you have to Merge Kodi Streaming Add-ons into the Video Library and then Sync Add-on TV & Movie Libraries Across Multiple Kodi HTPCs. Trakt made those old methods obsolete and keeps your Kodi experience seamless across multiple Kodi boxes.
How to Setup Trakt.tv on Kodi
There are actually 2 sets of steps to setup Trakt on Kodi. One for lists and one for scrobbling.
You need to authorize your trakt.tv account in the add-on settings to pull in and sync your Lists.
- In the add-on settings area, go to Accounts > Trakt and select “Authorize”.
- Follow the instructions by going to this URL in a browser or on your phone and entering the code that it gives you.
- It will have you login or create a free account.
- Accept the authorization and you’re done with this part of the setup. You should see your username next to Authorize in the add-on settings.
You also need to install the Trakt.tv add-on to enable scrobbling and episode progress syncing.
- Go to Add-ons > Download Add-ons / Install from Repository > Kodi Add-on Repository > Program add-ons > “Trakt” > Install.
- Now select Trakt again go to Configure > Synchronize and turn on both “Sync movie playback progress to Kodi” and “Sync movie playback progress to Kodi”.
- If you don’t want to be bothered to rate things you watch, go to the “Rating” tab and turn everything off there.
To setup your Trakt list in Kodi:
- Create a new “List” in your Trakt.tv account and call it something like “SubscriptionList”. (in My Profile > Lists)
- Add all your favorite shows to your new SubscriptionList by browsing the Trakt.tv website, or do it from the Kodi add-on by hitting menu on any show or movie and selecting “Trakt Manager”
- You can find your TV show list in the add-on under My TV Shows > TV Show Lists > SubscriptionList (or the name of your list)
To setup New Episodes that come from Trakt:
- In the add-on settings, in General, set New Episodes to “Trakt Episodes”
- Now you can see new episodes from your Trakt list under “New Episodes” in the add-on
Subscribe and Connect Real-Debrid to Kodi
Subscribing to Real-Debrid is by far the #1 best thing you can do to improve your Kodi experience.
It’s not just me saying that. I’ve recommended Real-Debrid to all my friends and family, and all of them agree that it was a day & night difference after setting up Real-Debrid. Also, I do not receive any money from Real-Debrid, so I’m not trying to sell you something here. I just know how it helps.
Now, let me share a little background on why Real-Debrid exists and what it does.
Streaming add-ons like these simply aggregate links to videos on streaming websites all over the Internet. Over the years, these streaming websites have started getting bombarded with traffic coming from Kodi users who are using add-ons like these. Many of them have responded by blocking or throttling their bandwidth to free users, while they offer high bandwidth streaming to their premium paying users.
Since there are so many of these streaming websites, it would unfeasible and expensive for users to go and subscribe to many of these individual sites.
So, these streaming websites banded together under umbrella subscriptions offered by companies like Real-Debrid. The streaming sites win because they don’t have to advertise to get people to buy a subscription to their single website, but instead make a little bit of money off of the massive amount of people signing up for Real-Debrid. Kodi users win because now there’s one cheap subscription that gives premium access to all the major streaming sites.
To install Real-Debrid on Kodi:
- In the add-on settings area, go to Accounts > URLResolver
- Under Universal Resolvers, fine RealDebrid and select “(Re)Authorize”.
- Follow the instructions by going to this URL in a browser or on your phone and entering the code that it gives you.
- It will have you login or create an account.
- Accept the authorization.
- Sign up for a Premium subscription by logging in to real-debrid.com and clicking on Premium at the top. Pick a plan based on how many days you want to pay for and checkout. With the 180 day plan, it comes out to about $4 per month.
Once this is setup, you will have see “REALDEBRID”, “Debrid”, or “RD” in the sources that come up when you pick videos to watch. Those sources are almost always reliable, high bandwidth sources that just work. No more hunting through a list of sources to find a good one.
Now that you have reliable sources that default to the top of your list, take your Kodi experience to the next level by enabling “Auto Play”. Auto Play will not show you the list of sources, but instead will automatically try the first source. If it’s broken, it will move to the next one, and so on. Since the top of your source list will be filled with Real-Debrid sources, Auto Play will work great!
To enable Auto Play:
- In add-on settings, go to the Playback tab.
- Set Default Action to “Auto Play”.
If you want to learn more about Real-Debrid, or see a tutorial with screenshots, check out How to Get Reliable Kodi Stream Sources with Real-Debrid.
Troubleshoot Kodi Buffering Issues
While Real-Debrid makes a huge difference in the reliability of video streams, there can always be some issues from time to time.
I’ve helped a lot of people troubleshoot their Kodi streaming issues, and I’ve compiled a list of troubleshooting tips for Kodi streaming issues.
Also, you should definitely take a look at Kodi’s Hidden Cache Settings to help with buffering issues.
Install a Skin and Use Home Widgets
At this point, it’s you’ve got a sweet setup that is functional and reliable. But what about the looks?
Also, did you know that a Kodi skin can do much more than improve the looks? It can also greatly improve the functional experience of Kodi by giving you home screen widgets of newest episodes from your favorite shows. You can even set up custom menu items that point to where ever you want… like your Trakt List within your add-on of choice.
I’m not going to go through the steps to set that up here. Instead, I’ll send you to my in-depth tutorial on setting up the Arctic Zephr theme with the features I mentioned above.
Here’s my tutorial on how to have an awesome Kodi home screen that dynamically pulls in new episodes from your favorite TV shows as configured in your Trakt.tv account…
Setup Kodi Live TV PVR with a TV Tuner and Antenna
One thing that you may notice is missing from the setup so far is live TV. You can’t get live local news and sports in a typical streaming add-on.
While there are sports add-ons, they’re not the same as watching them live over broadcast TV in HD from your local TV station.
Well, the good news is you can setup Kodi Live TV if you have a TV tuner and a digital antenna. However, again, this requires an in-depth tutorial which you can check out here…
Protect Your Privacy With a VPN
While I know it’s not illegal to stream content in most countries, I still recommend using a VPN on your Kodi setup.
Add some extra piece of mind about your TV & movie streaming machine by making sure all your streaming traffic is encrypted and hidden from your Internet provider.
There are other benefits as well. Check out my post on 4 Reasons Why Kodi Streamers Need a VPN.
Other Cool Things You Can Do With Kodi
Here are a few Kodi related tutorials I’ve written which won’t apply to everyone, but I want to share them in case you’re interested.
This first one was one of my earliest discoveries that blew my mind with what you could do with Kodi. I’ve since then discovered the Trakt.tv integration which basically negated this. However, if you’re interested, check out this tutorial…
If you want to watch live TV using Kodi, but run it through an Xbox One and use Kinect voice commands and an Xbox controller to change the channels in Kodi, check out this pioneering tutorial which includes a video demonstration…
Do you have home automation? Check out this tutorial and video demo showing how to make the status of Kodi change the color of lights…
What About Kodi Builds?
I want to make a note about Kodi builds because I’m sure many of you will ask, what about this build or that build.
I personally don’t like Kodi builds. They are meant to pack a bunch of features and add-ons into a single installer so anyone can just install it and get everything right out of the box without any setup.
Builds allow people to get deep into Kodi without having to learn how it works. Many of these build developers quickly abandon it, while masses of people continue to install it. When stuff breaks because add-ons get out of date, the users who don’t know how to setup anything in Kodi are left to just complain and don’t get any support. This gives Kodi a bad name and leaves users with a bad taste.
Instead, I advocate education and the DIY method. YOU should understand what you’re installing and how to use it. It’s very easy to follow the instructions to install add-ons yourself, so I don’t bother with builds.
Let’s Hear From You!
I would love to get your feedback on this.
Was this a total game-changer for you? Let me know… and share it with a friend!
Have you stumbled across some issues during the setup? Give me the details on where you are getting stuck and I would love to help out if I can.
Leave your comments below. Thanks!