When you first install Kodi, its main menu comes with a default layout that allows you to play any kind of media you want: movies, music, tv shows, pictures, weather, etc. But each Kodi user has different habits. Some users never use Kodi to look at pictures or listen to music, for example. For this reason, you may want to customize Kodi’s menu options to optimize it for the content that you most want. This article explains both basic and advanced methods to change menu options in Kodi.
What is Kodi?
Kodi is a software media player from the Kodi foundation. It runs apps called “addons” that allow users to stream video from virtually any website. It can be installed on Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, PC, Mac, and Android or iOS phone. Unlike the default software that comes with Apple TV or Amazon Fire Stick, Kodi is open-source, and its addons are created by independent developers. Many streaming-video users prefer Kodi for this reason.
Kodi is often accused of being used in online piracy. However, there are many addons available for it that only stream from properly licensed 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.
Before we start: Always use a VPN wth Kodi
Many people who stream video from unlicensed sources use virtual private networks (VPNs) to hide their activity. But VPNs should actually be used by all streaming-video users, even ones who only access legal websites.
TV and movie websites often block users from content based on their location. For example, a user in the U.K. who is traveling in France may find that U.K. streaming-sites are inaccessible from there. This is because the streaming site knows the user’s IP address. Using a VPN often eliminates this problem because it hides the user’s IP address.
VPNs also help to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and buffering caused by ISP speed throttling.
Many VPNs are not very effective for Kodi users though. Some keep logs of users’ streaming habits, which creates a privacy risk. Most do not have native apps for popular streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick. And many VPNs do not have servers in enough countries to consistently get around geoblocks.
Basic methods to change menu options in Kodi
How to delete menu items you don’t want
If you want to get rid of some menu options you never use, here’s how to do it:
- From the main menu, click the gear icon in the upper-left corner
- Select skin settings
- On the left side of the screen, select main menu items
- Using the slider bars on the right side of the screen, deselect all of the menu items that you want to get rid of
- Hit escape several times to back out to the main menu. The items will no longer be there, so you’ll have a shorter menu that is easier to navigate
Change the background
Besides customizing the actual menu items, you can also change the background images that appear when you move your cursor over these items. There are two ways to do this. The first way is to click the gear icon, then choose skin settings → artwork → choose background pattern. Each time you click choose background pattern, a new piece of background art will appear. There are seven available by default.
The second way is to install a new set of background images. You can do this by navigating to skin settings → artwork → choose skin fanart pack → get more. This will provide you with a list of background art packages.
After selecting the package you’re most interested in, click install. Wait a few seconds for it to finish installing, then select it again. Now repeatedly click choose background pattern until you find the pattern you like the most.
Use a different color scheme
To change the colors of the menu, follow these steps:
- Click the gear icon
- Select interface settings
- On the left side, select skin
- On the right side, underneath skin, select -colours
- Choose the color package you want from the list of options
Note: If you don’t see “skin” as an option under “interface settings,” make sure it says “expert” beside the gear icon in the lower-left of the screen. If it does not, click it until it does.
The default Kodi estuary skin comes with two different font packages. The first one is called “skin default” and the second one is called “arial based.” To switch to the “arial based” font, click the gear icon, then select interface settings → skin → fonts → arial based.
See also: How to share Kodi libraries using UPnP
Advanced methods for changing menu options
If you want even more options for customizing the Kodi menu, you can install the Estuary Mod skin. This will allow you to add new menu items that are not even available by default.
Keep in mind that despite having the name “estuary” attached to it, this skin is not part of the official Kodi repository and the developer is no longer providing support for it. So if it stops working, there is no one to turn to for help. I tried using the Estuary Mod addon on a windows PC and it worked fine in my testing, but your experience might be different. Still, this is currently the only way to add new menu items to Kodi that are not available “out of the box.”
Estuary Mod is part of the Guilouz repo. Here are the steps to install it:
- Go to the official Guilouz repo github page at this url and click clone or download
- Click download ZIP
- From the Kodi main menu, click addons
- Select the open-box icon in the upper-left corner of the screen
- Select install from zip file
- Navigate to where you saved the file earlier and click to install guilouz repo
- Now go back to the addon installer menu and click install from repository
- Choose guilouz repo
- Select look and feel
- Select skin
- Choose Estuary Mod 17
- Click install
- When it asks you whether you want to switch to this skin, click yes
How to use the Estuary Mod skin to add menu options
Once you’ve got the Estuary Mod installed, you can add new menu items by taking the following steps:
- Click the gear icon in the lower-left corner of the main menu
- Select skin settings
- Choose customize main menu
- Click the plus sign to create a new menu item called <none>
- Click this new menu item on the left side of the screen
- On the right side of the screen, select choose item for menu
- Choose what kind of action you want Kodi to perform when you click this item in the future
The possible actions you can make a menu item out of are divided into nine folders, each with multiple options. Here is a list of some of the most interesting actions I found:
- Watch live TV
- Play DVD
- Eject disk tray
- File manager
- Play a particular file
- Play a particular playlist
- Select a particular source
- Select a particular addon
- Rip audio CD
- Shut down
- Update video library
Related article: The 15 best Kodi skins
Using these methods will allow you to customize Kodi’s menu to fit your personal preferences. If you don’t want to add any new menu options, you can use the “basic” methods described to delete menu options or change the background art, colours or fonts. If you want to add menu items, you can do so using the Estuary Mod skin described here.