Kodi is a hugely popular open source media player available for just about any device and operating system and offers something slightly different to standard media players. Customisation is key, and thanks to a number of third-party add-ons, Kodi can be used to watch live TV, catch up on the latest TV shows and listen to music.

While it's not available to download via the App Store, we show you how you can install Kodi on your second-fourth- and fifth-generation Apple TV. We would also include instructions for first- and third-generation Apple TV users but sadly, it’s not possible at the time of writing.

Read next: What is Kodi, and why should I care?

What is Kodi?

Formerly known as XBMC (or Xbox Media Centre), Kodi is a completely free open source media player available for just about any operating system or hardware platform including iOS, tvOS, Mac, Android, Windows and even the Amazon Fire TV stick just to name a few, although it's not always easy to install.

In its simplest form, it allows users to play videos, music, podcasts directly from the internet, as well as media files from local and network storage. Granted, users can already use AirPlay to stream content to the Apple TV via an iOS device, but Kodi offers something slightly different.

It’s the level of customisation that makes Kodi what it is. Users can customise the skin of the app, and more importantly, a variety of add-ons are available enabling extra functionality. With the right add-ons, users can stream content via the likes of Amazon Prime Instant Video, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube.

There are even a handful of apps that provide Kodi users with live TV complete with an EPG and PVR support. We don't, of course, condone the use of pirated TV streams, but we can't ignore that it is one of the main desires of those installing Kodi on an Apple TV.

How to install Kodi on the Apple TV 4K

When Apple unveiled the Apple TV 4K in September 2017, there was only one physical change to the device: the removal of the USB-C port, which was used for the below method of installing Kodi on a fourth-gen Apple TV.

Many assumed that would be the end of Kodi on the Apple TV, but where there's a will, there's a way - although this one may cost you a few dollars and requires a Mac running macOS Mojave.

Websites like this one will register your Apple TV's UDID (unique number) with a paid developers account, allowing you to install Kodi on your Apple TV by 'official' developer means.

In full disclosure, we haven't used the service linked above so can't comment on its reliability, and we have our suspicions that this may be against Apple's T&C's, but it's still a way to get Kodi on the fifth-gen Apple TV for those that want it.  

How to install Kodi on fourth-generation Apple TV

So, how do you install Kodi on a 2015 (fourth-generation) Apple TV? It’s not as easy as installing an app from the App Store, but it is possible with a little know-how (and a Mac, sorry PC users!). In fact, before we go any further it's probably worth noting you’ll have to download the following software to install Kodi on a fourth-gen Apple TV:

  • The latest version of Xcode (free)
  • iOS App Signer utility for Mac (free)
  • The latest Kodi .deb file for tvOS (free)
  • Free (but active) Apple Developer account (Sign up here if you don’t have one)

You’ll also need to buy a USB-C to USB-A cable if you don’t have one already. You can find them pretty easily online, like this one available on Amazon for only £8.99. Once you’ve bought your cable and downloaded the above apps, follow the following steps to install Kodi on your Apple TV:

  1. The first step is to connect the Apple TV 4 to your Mac using the USB-C to USB-A cable mentioned above.
  2. Once the Apple TV is plugged in, open the latest version of Xcode and select “Create a new Xcode project” from the main menu. Select “Application” under the tvOS section on the left-hand side of the window, then select “Single View Application” and click “Next”.
  3. The next step is to specify options for the ‘new project’. Give your project a product name and organisation name (these can be made up) and make sure you fill in the Bundle Identifier. Bundle Identifiers usually take a reverse-domain style name (like com.arcade.kodiappletv) and like the other fields, this can also be made up. Once you’ve filled out all fields, click “Next” and save the project somewhere that’s easy to access.
  4. If all goes to plan, you should see an error in the main Xcode window stating that the software can’t find a “matching provisioning profile”. Don’t worry – just click “Fix Issue” and allow the software to resolve the issue.
  5. Resolving the issue requires access to an active Apple Developer account, and you should be prompted to sign in with the Apple ID associated with the developer account. Click “Add” and sign in using your email address and password. Some users report that the software will continue to ask for login details but don’t worry, it’s not a huge issue. Simply select your Apple ID from the drop-down box and click “Choose” to proceed. Xcode will now resolve the issue and create a provisioning profile based on your personal developer account.
  6. Once the issue has been resolved, the next step is to select the Apple TV from the dropdown at the top of the Xcode window (alongside the Play and Stop buttons on the top left-hand side).
  7. Open the iOS App Signer app and select the relevant “Signing Certificate” from the dropdown. Do the same for the “Provisioning Profile” field, selecting the name of the project you created in Xcode. The “Input File” is asking for the Kodi .deb file so click “Browse” and locate the file you downloaded earlier. You can leave the "App Display Name" field blank if you don’t want to rename the app on your Apple TV home screen.
  8. Once you’ve filled out all the relevant fields, simply click “Start”. The iOS App Signer app will create an IPA file based on the Kodi .deb file, ready to be installed on the Apple TV.
  9. In Xcode, click Window > Devices, select your Apple TV from the list on the left-hand side and click the “+” button under the “Installed Apps” header.
  10. Finally, locate the IPA file created within the iOS App Signer app and select it. The package should then be installed on your Apple TV, ready to be used.

That’s it! You should now have access to Kodi on your fourth-generation Apple TV.

If you're more of an iOS user, you might be interested in how to get Kodi on an iPhone or iPad without jailbreaking.

How to install Kodi on second-generation Apple TV

Thankfully for those that have a second-generation Apple TV, the Kodi installation process is a lot simpler - although there is a downside.

Unfortunately, Kodi no longer officially supports the second generation Apple TV, meaning you won’t be able to access some of the newer features (or any of those announced in future).

Don’t throw the Apple TV out just yet, though, as you can still install Kodi 14.2 “Helix”, the last version of Kodi to run on the Apple TV 2. All you need is a Mac, an Apple TV 2 and Terminal.

  1. On your Mac, open Terminal and enter the following command “ssh [email protected] ” making sure to replace “YOUR.ATV2.IP.ADDRESS” with the IP address of your Apple TV. You’ll then be prompted to enter a password – if you haven’t changed this yourself, the default password is alpine.
  2. Enter the following commands, one line at a time:

apt-get install wget
wget -0- http://apt.awkwardtv.org/awkwardtv.pub | apt-key add -
echo “deb http://apt.awkwardtv.org/ stable main” > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/awkwardtv.list
echo “deb http://mirrors.kodi.tv/apt/atv2 ./” > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/xbmc.list
apt-get update
apt-get install org.xbmc.kodi-atv2

And there you have it! Once your Apple TV restarts, you should find Kodi on the Home screen ready to be used.

We have a guide to watching live and catch up TV on Apple TV here.