How to watch movies on Kodi

Interested in watching movies on Kodi? This step by step guide will show you how to add and play content whether it’s locally stored or hosted online.

Kodi is highly portable media center software that can be installed on most popular devices including PC, Amazon Fire Stick, and Roku. Because Kodi offers so many customization options it can be daunting to first time users. To help ease new users into things, we’ve created a step by step guide explaining how to do one of Kodi’s most basic functions: watch a movie.

While there are several third-party Kodi addons that claim to have the latest movies, these almost always use unlicensed sources. Because of the legal issues and inherent risk of using third-party addons, we advise our readers to use only official sources

Warning: Kodi should only be used for content to which you have the legal right to access. Neither the Kodi Foundation nor Comparitech advocates the use of Kodi for piracy.

Important: Always use a VPN with Kodi

Some Kodi users have been known to use virtual private network (VPN) software to hide unlicensed streaming from their internet service provider ISP). Despite this, there are many ways in which a VPN can benefit even those who only stream properly licensed content on Kodi.

Because VPNs encrypt your network traffic, they can greatly increase your system’s security. VPNs render the vast majority of Man-in-the-Middle attacks useless. They also prevent your ISP from using your browsing history as justification for throttling your internet speeds.

It’s important to choose your VPN carefully. Some keep logs of your activities while others include harmful scripts or slow your network speeds until they’re almost unusable.

We recommend IPVanish. Unlike many other VPNs, IPVanish offers consistently fast, stable connections to servers in more than 50 countries. Further, IPVanish does not keep any records of your activities and it has dedicated apps for almost every popular operating system. IPVanish is one of the easiest VPNs to install on mobile platforms and can even be installed on the Amazon Fire Stick.

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Accessing movies with Kodi

Kodi can access media using several methods. The easiest two are through stored media and Kodi addons.

Accessing stored media is the easiest method. Kodi can import video and audio files from your local storage (hard drive, USB stick, and so on). This doesn’t require an internet connection and means that your files won’t have to buffer before playing. However, storing lots of files tends to use a significant amount storage space. If you’re using Kodi on a mobile device like a Raspberry Pi, you’ll find yourself quickly running out of space.

That’s where addons come in. These are Kodi plugins that build media libraries from content that is hosted online. These addons are far smaller in size than the equivalent locally stored media but they require an internet connection to work. This guide will show you how to watch a movie using both methods as each has its own advantages.

How to watch locally stored movies

Before we can begin watching locally stored movies in Kodi, we first have to tell Kodi where to find them. To do this, click the gear icon on Kodi’s main page, then choose the Media settings option.

Next, click Videos on the right-hand side. You’ll see all of your currently added video source folders here. If it’s your first time, this list will be empty except for an option marked Add videos. Click this now and use the Browse button to navigate to the folder that contains the movies you’d like to watch.

Once you’ve entered a name for this source, you’ll be asked what kind of video content the folder contains. This is so that Kodi knows which menu option to place this folder’s content under. Select the appropriate content type (in this case it’s movies).

Selecting content type

It’s worth noting that there are various movie information scrapers available that make finding artwork and additional information much easier. You can also use the “local information only” option if you’d like. In this example, we’ll be using the Universal Movie Scraper which you can install by clicking the Get More button and scrolling down the list.

It’s also worth turning off the Scan recursively option. This moves back through your file structure, checking for additional content. While it seems like a good idea at first, it can quickly bloat your library with any small snippets of video you have on your hard drive. Once you’re done, click the OK button on the right and choose Yes on the popup that appears.

If everything’s worked correctly, when you return to Kodi’s home screen and mouse over the Movies tab, you’ll see the videos that were added. Now, simply click one of them to play it.

Movie added to Kodi

How to watch movies with an addon

The process of installing an addon is far simpler than importing videos. In fact, the hardest part is finding the right addon to install since there is a very wide selection to choose from. As well as movies, there are official addons that offer sports coverage, anime, live TV streams, on-demand TV shows, and cartoons.

Once you’ve found an addon you’re interested in, the next step is installing it. The official Kodi repository contains dozens of properly licensed addons and doesn’t need to be manually installed. Since there are other repositories that contain official addons, we’ll walk you through this too.

Installing a repository

First of all, you have to allow Kodi to install repos and addons from unknown sources. To do this, click the gear icon on the home screen, then System settings. Hover over the Add-ons tab and click the Unknown sources option. If it’s enabled, the button should turn white.

Kodi unknown sources enabled

To install a repository, click the gear icon on Kodi’s main page. Next, click the File Manager button on the right. You’ll see a list of your currently added sources. If you scroll down, you’ll see an option marked Add source.

Click this, then enter the repository’s address. If it’s a locally stored ZIP file, you can also navigate to its location manually using the Browse button. Once the location is entered, give the source a name and click OK. Next, return to Kodi’s main page and click the Add-ons tab.

Adding a source in Kodi

Click the box icon in the top-left. On the following page, select Install from zip file and select the source you just added from the list. If there are no problems you’ll see a notification in the top-right telling you that the repository was installed. For help choosing a repository see our roundup of the best Kodi repos.

Installing an addon

The process of installing an addon is similar to that of installing a repository. Begin on Kodi’s main page and click the Add-ons tab, followed by the box icon. This time, choose the Install from repository option. Next, select the correct repository from the list that appears. You’ll see another list containing every addon in the selected repository. Select the addon you’re interested in, then finally click the Install button.

Adding Subtitles

If you’d like to watch a movie or TV show with subtitles, there are a couple of extra steps required. Firstly, click the gear icon on Kodi’s main page. Then, select Player settings and click on the Language tab.

Under the Download Services heading, there are a few options that need to be changed. First, if you want subtitles in a language other than English, choose your preferred language with the “Language to download subtitles for” option. To speed things up, you might want to enable the Auto download first subtitle option although you can always select a specific subtitle file from a given provider’s results if you’d like.

Lastly, you’ll have to select a provider in the Default TV show service and Default movie service options. To do this, select the option and click the Get more button. In this tutorial we’re using the addon, but other subtitle addons could be used.

Kodi subtitles working - Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Finally, start playing your movie and click the second-last option on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Click Download and select your preferred subtitle provider from the list. Kodi will begin to search that provider for the correct subtitle file and display the results if any matches are found. If you find that the search takes a long time even with different providers, try restarting Kodi to see if that helps.

Also, the addon requires an account before it will work. To add this, click the Add-ons tab on Kodi’s main page, select My add-ons, then Subtitle add-ons. Select and click the Configure button. You’ll be able to enter your account information here.

We take a more in-depth look at Kodi subtitles here.


As we’ve seen, Kodi is fairly complex software and this article barely scratches the surface of what it is capable of. For instance, you can use addons like Trakt to automatically keep track of your media consumption, and there are even ways to monitor your system’s performance while Kodi is running.

For now, though, it’s enough to approach Kodi one step at a time. If you’re having any other problems, you might want to consult our Kodi troubleshooting guide. With luck, however, Kodi will be working perfectly and there’ll be nothing stopping you enjoying your favorite films whenever you like.