Kodi, if you haven’t heard of it, is a legal, open-source media center for Windows, Mac, Linux and a slew of smart TV and mobile operating systems. While it can put all of your media under one roof, Kodi doesn’t really get interesting until you delve into add-ons (for an intro, make sure to read our guide on how to use Kodi).
Because it’s open source, anyone with a knowledge of writing code can create a plugin for Kodi. There is no development kit or anything like that. Simply using Kodi’s add-on generator, anyone can put something up.
Of course, for legal reasons and otherwise, not all add-ons are officially supported by Kodi. We’re here today to show the best add-ons for Kodi that can be found right through the website. If you want something else, make sure to check out our best unofficial add-ons for Kodi as well, as well as the five best VPN for Kodi you’re going to need if you’re going down that route.
Kodi Guide: Everything You Always Wanted to Know
Half of the battle with open source platforms are getting them set up properly. This small add-on seems irrelevant, but couldn’t be further from. Keymap Editor provides a GUI that you can use to configure input mappings for remotes, keyboards or any other input device supported by Kodi.
With Kodi, it’s tempting to bring a keyboard and mouse into the living room and call it a day. While it works for some, it’s very inconvenient for others. If you want your Kodi experience to be a fluid one download this add-on and set it up so you don’t have any hassle navigating later.
Now that Kodi is all set up, you need some content to watch. PlayOn Browser integrates Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video and just about any other streaming platform with Kodi. PlayOn is installed on a local machine and then integrated to stream to wherever you have Kodi located.
What’s better is that PlayOn can record whatever you’re streaming and store it on a media server. That way if something is taken down, you already have it stored in your own library.
The only downside is that PlayOn costs $5 per month to use. However, that’s easily overlooked with the value it offers. PlayOn turns your Kodi device into something like a Roku, and provides expanded functionality to build your personal media library.
Kodi is more than just video, though. Keeping in the realm of streaming, SHOUTcast 2 provides access to over 50,000 internet radio stations to listen to. Everything from talk radio to reggae is found, all for free.
SHOUTcast has some pretty nice filtering features as well. You can search by station, or search similar stations to the track currently playing. Additionally, there are sorting features for the bitrate of each station, and a number of listeners.
Chances are, you already have some sort of media library if you’re using Kodi. Unfortunately, Kodi in its default configuration doesn’t grant the luxuries of tracking what you’ve watched like Netflix or Hulu do.
Trakt is a simple add-on that does just that. It will allow to rate content you’ve watched, compile a watch list and share that across social media.
Like PlayOn, this add-on integrates with a desktop application that compiles all media you have stored. What I like about this configuration is that I can create a watchlist from my desktop and have it immediately available in Kodi and, unlike PlayOn, it’s totally free.
Trakt takes a lot of legwork, though. LazyTV, as the name implies, solves that problem and allows you to binge content without ever lifting a finger. With just a click, you can go to your library, with an intelligently generated list based on your watching habits.
First, LazyTV will launch a randomized playlist of TV episodes. These aren’t just the first unwatched episode either. It’s the first unwatched episode after the last watched episode. It’s a small change, but an important one.
For episodes that don’t need to be viewed in chronological order (i.e. sketch comedy), you can set a filter to completely randomize them within your watchlist. Additionally, you can point LazyTV towards your movie library and bring those into the mix as well.
These next two add-ons help with the eighth entry on this list, organizing your content more neatly. OpenSubtitles allows you to download subtitles for 4 million+ TV shows and movies. There are also 75 different languages available, offering more flexibility than most Blu-Rays.
OpenSubtitles also has daily updates. New TV shows and movies are added to list shortly after release. Personally, I usually turn subtitles off, but they’re paramount if you’re trying to watch TV while others are sleeping, or just trying to see what the actors are whispering.
The Movie Database
The Movie Database furthers what OpenSubtitles does and adds all metadata to your movies. There are also database plugins for music and TV shows that are interchangeable at this point in the list.
In the case of this add-on, it will automatically search and find all metadata, posters and fanart for movies in your library. Having all of this not only makes your library more attractive, it makes it easier to search. By having the metadata, you can browse movies by year, genre or just about anything else.
All of that metadata will help when you install a new skin. While the default Kodi theme doesn’t look bad, it’s nice to experiment with different looks. Mimic is the epitome of experimentation, taking inspiration from two other popular Kodi themes (Aeon Nox and reFocus) and allowing you to completely customize the look.
There are a number of different home layouts. You can change things like where the menu is placed, how your library shows up and the spacing between icons.
This works so well in conjunction with database plugins because all metadata pulls up with an item. You can see things like aspect ratio, resolution, online ratings and more.
Mimic isn’t original by any means. It borrows mainly from the two skins listed above, but small influences can be seen from others as well. What makes it special is the amalgamation of all these ideas and the customization it offers.
Now that you have Kodi setup with content and looking how you want it to, it’s time to bring it across all of your platforms. Kodi and Plex together allow you to access and stream your library, anytime, anywhere.
Plex Media Server can be downloaded on any computer (including servers). It automatically scans and organizes your library, and puts it all into one place. It’s like a middle man between Kodi and your media library.
Certainly not essential, especially if you’ve come up with your own organization method. Still, Plex is very useful for those with large libraries who want it laid out cleanly across all devices.
We think these are the best add-ons you can get from Kodi’s official repository. Of course, add-ons are available for things like YouTube, SoundCloud and Vimeo, options we omitted from this list.
What we searched for were things that may not be obvious, showcasing why Kodi is so special. These add-ons allow you to tune the experience exactly how you want it, from key mappings to organization of content.
What are your favorite official Kodi add-ons? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading. Make sure to check out our Kodi archive for more on this great streaming option, as well as our Covenant installation guide.