Although streaming movies for free might sound synonymous with piracy, there’s a bevy of free, legal streaming content on the internet. In fact, there’s almost an overabundance of streaming services.
Whether you’re looking for movies or television shows, finding streaming video is totally feasible. It just requires you to search in the right places. With that in mind, here are the best free movie streaming sites to check out.
What to Expect From These Streaming Sites
There’s a ton of free and legal video online, and as such you’ll find a real mix of content. A healthy portion of the movies available to stream for free are public domain works. Because these films have lapsed in ownership and fallen into common property, many sites host such video treasures. These are the sorts of films Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) used to watch and comment on.
But it’s not just B-movies available to stream online. Rather, many big budget releases can also be found. Often, these are ad-supported. Like watching a movie on television, you’ll have to sit through limited commercials. Nevertheless, movies are usually presented uncut. Just don’t expect to see the latest releases.
Instead, you’ll mostly see movies dating back anywhere from a few months to many years. Additionally, you can find some original productions, such as the Snatch TV series on Crackle. Need help figuring out what to watch next? These sites will help you find what to watch next.
It’s no surprise that YouTube ranks among the best free movie streaming sites you can find. There’s a ton of free films to pick from, including many public domain films from channels such as the aptly titled Public Domain Films and Public Domain Cinema. Furthermore, sites such as Popcornflix host full movies via YouTube.
There’s a fantastic mix, from gems like Plan 9 From Outer Space, to action movies such as Recoil with Danny Trejo and Steven Austin, cult classics including Curse of the Puppet Master, and more. You may have to dig for what you most want to watch, but for those with patience, YouTube is a treasure trove of free, legal streaming cinema.
Boasting a solid array of syndicated content and original productions, Crackle is a must for any film buff. Its rotating selection varies, but you’ll find quality movies such as action comedy Hot Fuzz, gothic horror flick Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the masterful 1988 remake of The Blob, Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Aside from films, Crackle features television shows such as Blue Exorcist, Seinfeld, and even original programming like its Snatch original series. With its robust lineup of movies and shows, we think Crackle is one of the best free Roku channels.
Although it’s anime-centric, there’s a mix of movies you can find on Viewster. Notably, Viewster features a robust line up of documentaries, films like Street Fighter II, and Lily C.A.T. Plus, you can legally stream shorts and television series including Murder Princess.
While Vudu is best known for its digital video rentals and sales, the Vudu Movies on Us section makes it one of the best free movie streaming sites. With a comprehensive array of movies such as Bull Durham, Showgirls, and Return of the Living Dead, it’s a fantastic service.
Vudu Movies on Us operates in a similar way to Crackle by providing full, uncut movies with limited commercials. Through hosting films with ads, Vudu is able to offer free movies and TV shows.
You still need to register for a Vudu account to use this service, but it’s totally worth doing so. Moreover, you can use your account to activate digital copies of movies and shows, as well as buy and rent movies from Vudu.
For a free Netflix alternative, check out SnagFilms. With unique categories such as “Before they were stars” and “Athletes & their triumphs,” SnagFilms specializes in fresh content. The library of more than 2,000 videos includes films, shows, and documentaries. Additionally, there’s a portion of original comedy shorts.
There’s a fantastic classic movies category as well. Don’t expect a ton of well-known fare, but for under the radar movies and more, SnagFilms is a gem.
Like Crackle, PopcornFlix presents full movies with limited ads. Here, you’ll find a range of movies in a rotating selection, from Sunset Boulevard and A Clear and Present Danger to Murder on the Orient Express and There Will Be Blood.
Flicks are segmented into categories such as popularity, genre, new arrivals, and staff picks, making PopcornFlix easy to use. With a beefy lineup and excellent navigation, PopcornFlix is an awesome choice for free, legal movie streaming.
Providing free movies and shows, Tubi TV is a fantastic service. Here, you’ll be able to view newer movies including Lords of Salem, A Most Wanted Man, and Bulletproof Monk, as well as older titles such as sci-fi cult classic The Running Man.
Helpfully, Tubi TV offers a “Leaving Soon” category so you can stream movies and shows before they become unavailable, and thus prioritize your streaming queue. You will need to register to watch mature content, but creating an account is painless enough.
Because Pluto TV features a live TV section, it’s easily one of the best free movie streaming sites. You can stream from the likes of Pluto Movies, Fox Sports, and specialized channels like Classic Movies and Horror 24/7. Plus, there’s an on-demand video library for instant movie watching.
With the live television aspect, Pluto TV is a must-have for cord-cutters.
As the name suggests, Classic Cinema Online focuses on older, classic content. Even its website aesthetic captures a decidedly retro vibe with a backdrop of red theater curtains. You can find classics such as Casablanca, Jane Eyre, and The Wasp Woman.
However, the inclusion of movies such as Muscle Beach Party does call into question the definition of “classic cinema.” Nevertheless, Classic Cinema Online is pure gold for old school movies.
On Veoh, you’ll be able to stream tons of movies and shows. There are a lot of older films, such as Nosferatu. It’s akin to YouTube in that Veoh hosts user-submitted content and videos from established sources like CBS.
Since Veoh boasts a solid filtering system, you can select options such as language and video length to find what you want to watch. Veoh ranks as one of the alternatives to YouTube. Just beware of the popups.
Arguably, Kodi’s most significant selling point is that it is open-source. Because it’s open-source, a vast community of programmers and developers has built up around the app. If you’re a skilled coder, you can even make changes to the source code yourself.
The community is responsible for all the good stuff the app offers. Kodi by itself is an entirely underwhelming shell and provides nothing beyond the interface.
Let’s stress that again because Kodi newbies often overlook it: if you don’t have any locally saved media, and you don’t have any interest in learning how to use repos and add-ons, you don’t need Kodi. No media is included in the app. 7 Essential Kodi Tips for New Users7 Essential Kodi Tips for New Users If you’re just starting out on your Kodi journey and don’t have a clue where to begin, we’re here to help with these essential Kodi tips for newbies. Read More
Lastly, be aware that Kodi’s customizability comes at a cost. It requires a lot of user input to make the app run the way you want it to, and it necessitates more effort to keep everything working as time goes by. If you want a plug-and-play app, Plex might be a better choice.
How to Install Kodi
Kodi is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android (mobile and TV), iOS, and Raspberry Pi.
If you’re running the app on a desktop machine or Android, you just need to grab the app from either the website or the associated app store. Windows users can also use the Windows Store version, while Android can download the APK file and sideload the app. Sideloading will make it more difficult to update the app, however, so we recommend using the Play Store method.
If you want to install Kodi on iOS, the situation is a lot more complicated.
Kodi is not available in the Apple App Store. Instead, you need to compile an app using XCode. To get started, you need iOS 10.9 or higher, a copy of Kodi’s DEB file, XCode 7 or higher, an iOS app signer, and an Apple ID.
It’s also possible to install Kodi on iOS by using Cydia on a jailbroken device, but many users don’t want to risk voiding their warranty. However, if you have an older iOS gadget that you’re willing to take a few risks with, it’s certainly the easier approach.
For the other platforms, just get the installation file and follow the on-screen instructions. You will have Kodi running on your device in minutes.
Hopefully, you’re now looking at Kodi’s main interface. But there’s no content there, no setup wizard, and no hint of how to use add-ons and repos.
Don’t worry, we’re going to explain everything, but let’s get some basics out of the way first.
On the left-hand side of your screen, you will see shortcuts for all the different media classes. They are Movies, TV shows, Music, Music videos, TV, Radio, Add-ons, Pictures, Videos, and Weather. If you’re not planning to use all the shortcuts, you can remove some by heading to Settings > Skin settings > Main menu items and sliding the appropriate toggles into the Off position.
As you use Kodi more, you will probably find it’s easier to navigate through the app using your keyboard rather than your mouse.
There are more than 100 different keyboard shortcuts you can use. Some even perform different functions depending what’s on the screen. For example, Page Down will skip to the previous queued video (or previous chapter) if you’re watching a video, but will decrease the rating of a song if you’re listening to audio.
Nonetheless, there are some important keyboard shortcuts that all users should know about. Here are some of the most common:
F9 or –: Volume Down
F10 or +: Volume Up
Spacebar or P: Play / Pause
F: Fast Forward
Leftarrow: Jump back 30 seconds
Rightarrow: Jump forward 30 seconds
I: Show information about the currently playing video
T: Turn subtitles on or off
Note: You can use a keymap editor add-on to change which keys perform which function. Advanced users can also change the shortcuts by editing the userdata file.
Adding Your Media to Kodi
If you’re just starting your Kodi journey, there are probably three forms of media that your keen to add to the app as soon as possible: videos, music, and photos.
We’re going to look at each one individually.
Adding Videos to Kodi
Kodi is a supremely powerful app which skilled users can force to perform all manner of tricks. However, for the vast majority of users, the principal reason for installing the software is to watch videos.
If you want to maximize the enjoyment of watching videos on Kodi, there is an exact process you need to follow.
Prepare Your Video Files
Preparing your video files is crucial because Kodi uses scrappers to search for the appropriate metadata for your videos. Metadata includes artwork, synopses, show/movie descriptions, season numbers, episode numbers, cast lists, directors, and a whole lot more.
This data isn’t essential to being able to watch your videos through Kodi, but it’s the only way to build your library into a vibrant and dynamic list.
So, if you’re naming a TV show, place the files in the following folder structure:
/ShowName/Season XX/ (for example, Friends/Season 05)
For single episodes, name each file as sXXeYY, and for multiple episodes, name the file as sXXeYY-eYY. For example, S05E02.
Specials should be put into the following folder structure:
Movie files can either be saved as standalone files or each saved in their own sub-folder. Use the following structure for the movie file itself:
[Movie Name] (Year) (for example, The Hurt Locker (2008))
Therefore, the folder tree should look like either Movies/ The Hurt Locker (2008).mp4 or Movies/The Hurt Locker (2008)/The Hurt Locker (2008).mp4.
If your content is a disorganized mess, you could try using FileBot. It’s a TV show and movie renamer; it’ll scan online databases and do all the hard work on your behalf. However, FileBot does cost $19.99.
Note: You should keep your movie and TV shows in separate folder trees.
Add Your Videos
Now it’s time to add your video files into Kodi.
To begin, select Videos from the menu on the left-hand side of Kodi’s home screen. On the next screen, choose Files. Finally, click on Add videos.
Now you need to add the video source. “Source” is a word you will come across frequently while using Kodi. It can refer to many different things. In this case, it just means you need to select the folder on your hard drive when you have saved your video files.
You can give your source a name. Typically, you should name it Movies, TV Shows, Home Videos, or something else that’s similarly descriptive.
Now you need to tell Kodi what type of videos are in the source folder. It will allow Kodi to scan the correct online database for metadata. It uses TheTVDB for TV-based metadata and TheMovieDB for film information.
On the final screen, you can set some additional options. They include how frequently Kodi will scan the folder for new content and some movie naming conventions. When you’re ready, hit OK and Kodi will start importing your content. If you have hundreds of TV episodes and movies, the process might take a long time.
Repeat the above steps for each type of video content you want to add.
Adding Music to Kodi
Once your video collection is up and running, it’s time to turn your attention to your music library.
Prepare Your Music Files
Like with video files, if you want Kodi to find the metadata relating to your music, you need to prepare your music collection before you can add it.
Kodi uses the open-source MusicBrainz database for music tagging. The database includes more than 1.2 million artists, 1.8 million albums, and 17.5 million songs.
If MusicBrainz cannot correctly tag your music, you can do it yourself. The file tree of your music needs to follow the Artist > Album > Song structure. For example, Michael Jackson > Thriller > Billie Jean.
Correctly tagging all your music is a painstaking process. But when you’ve finally finished, you’re ready to add your music collection into the Kodi app.
Adding music to your library is a two-part process. Firstly, you need to scan your collection so Kodi can import it. Secondly, you need to scrape your library for additional information. You must finish the first step before you can move on.
To start the scanning process, you need to tell Kodi where your music collection is saved on your hard drive. Go to the Kodi home screen and click on Music in the menu on the left-hand side of the screen. On the next screen, go to Files > Add music. Click on Browse and choose the folder when your music is located.
Now give your music collection a name. If you’re going to import multiple collections, choose something recognizable.
On the next screen, Kodi will ask whether you want to add your media source to the library. Click on Yes and the app will start scanning.
Again, if you have an extensive collection, this process could take a while.
Next, it’s time to scrape your collection for additional information. The additional data comes in many forms: it could include artist style, the formation date of a band, the theme of an album, or even the date and location where the artist died.
To scrape more information, start by clicking on Music on the Kodi home screen. On the next screen choose Artists. Right-click on any artist name to pull up the context menu and select Query info for all artists to start the scrape.
The scraping process could take many hours to finish. It will cover about 300 artists per hour. When it’s complete, you should run it for a second time to make sure any “server busy” responses are fixed.
Adding Photos to Kodi
You will be pleased to learn that adding photos and pictures to Kodi requires much less preparation and time than adding music or video files.
To add a folder of photos, select Pictures from the menu on the left-hand side of the Kodi home screen. On the next screen, choose Add pictures.
A new window will pop up. Click on Browse and point to the folder which contains the images you want to add. When you’re ready, click on OK.
Kodi offers a few features to make viewing pictures more enjoyable. They include a slideshow, a randomizer, and zoom.
A repo (or repository) is a library of add-ons. The add-ons themselves are what allow you to access and watch content. You need to add a repo before you can install an add-on.
Kodi offers an official repo, but you can also find many third-party repos from people who create their own add-ons. The Kodi repo is included in the app automatically.
Sadly, given the recent clampdown on Kodi by the authorities, many once-popular repos have disappeared for good. It’s no longer possible to direct you to “must-have” repos because the situation is so fluid. We can, however, explain how to add repos.
Using the Official Kodi Repo
The official Kodi repo contains loads of add-ons, and many users won’t even need to consider using third-party repos. Available add-ons include BBC iPlayer, Pluto TV, Crackle, SoundCloud, Arte TV, Bravo, BT Sport, and the Disney Channel. Most importantly, all of the add-ons in the official repo are entirely legal.
To browse the official repo from within the Kodi app, select Add-ons from the left-hand side of the Kodi home screen. On the next screen, click on Download (again, on the left-hand side of the screen).
You will now see a list of add-on categories. You can click on any of them to see what’s available. In the image below, you can see the list of video add-ons.
To install an add-on, click on the name of the item in question and choose Install. Once the process is finished, you can launch the add-on from the relevant section of the Kodi home screen.
Installing Third-Party Repos
Before you can install a third-party repo, you will need to do some research online. You cannot simply browse a list of repos from within Kodi.
When you’ve located a repo you want, download its ZIP file onto your hard drive.
Now, head to your Kodi app and navigate to Settings > System > Add-ons. Mark the checkbox next to Unknown Sources.
To install the ZIP file, follow the step-by-step instructions below:
Click on Add-ons on the Kodi home screen.
In the top left-hand corner, click on the box icon.
A new screen will pop up. Select Install from ZIP file.
Use the browser window to point Kodi at the ZIP file.
Highlight the ZIP file you want to install and click on OK.
Installing an Add-On From a Third-Party Repo
The add-ons from any third-party repos will be mixed together if you go to Add-ons > Download > . However, it’s possible only to see add-ons from a particular repo. It makes it much easier to find add-ons you want to install.
To see add-ons from a specific repo, go to the Kodi home screen and click on Add-ons. Next, in the top left-hand corner, click on the box icon.
A new list of options will pop up. Click on Install from repo, and finally, click on the name of the repo you want to browse. To install an add-on, click on its name and choose Install.
As with any app, things can occasionally go wrong.
You can’t do much about buffering on live TV you’re streaming, but buffering issues on locally saved media and on-demand video are quite straightforward to cure.
Usually, the cache causes the issue. Specifically, the amount of memory the cache can use. You can change the cache settings by tweaking the Advanced Settings file.
Black and White Screen When Playing Video on Windows
DirectX is often responsible. Either you don’t have it installed, or you’re running a very old version. Grab the latest copy of the software from the Microsoft website.
Audio Delay Issues on Android
The Android version of Kodi is notorious for audio sync issues. If updating your app does not help, you can adjust the delay manually by going to Audio Options > Audio offset while a video is playing.
No matter what issue you encounter, there are some tried-and-tested steps you can take that frequently make the problem go away.
Updates: Always make sure both the Kodi app and any add-ons you’re using are running the latest version.
Delete recently installed repos and add-ons: Sometimes the code in add-ons can interfere with other add-ons or the Kodi app itself.
Have You Got Kodi Working?
This guide should be enough to get everyone up and running on the Kodi app. To recap, we’ve covered the essential parts of the app, including the initial setup, adding your videos, music, and photos, and installing add-ons and repos.
Did this guide to setting up Kodi answer all of your initial questions? If you’re still unsure about anything related to getting started with Kodi, please leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer it.
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It’s no secret that the future of entertainment is streaming, and the future is now. After the meteoric success of Netflix, virtually every content provider on the planet was eager to get in on the streaming game. For many, the arrival of streaming services meant finally ditching their cable companies and their astronomical bills. Unfortunately, would-be cord cutters found that Internet streaming could still be costly. With Amazon, Hulu, HBO, SlingTV and countless others all throwing their hats into the ring, subscription fees can add up quickly.
In addition to these paid options, there are a plethora of subscription-free websites that allow you to stream to your heart’s content. Of course, the legality of these websites is always a concern. The rise of streaming ultimately led to a rise in copyright infringement and piracy. However, this doesn’t mean that every free streaming site is breaking the law. To keep yourself out of hot water, you’ll want to know how to spot a potentially shady content provider.
How to Spot an Illegal Streaming Site
The law surrounding piracy is complex and can be hard to interpret. Whether or not just watching an illegal stream can land you in prison or have you facing a hefty fine is still up in the air; however, there are other inherent risks. Illegal streaming sites can try to infect your PC with malware, steal sensitive personal information or bog you down with intrusive ads. Have a look at some of indicators of a legit streaming service.
There is an “About Us” or “Contact Us” section. Legit streaming sites are run by people who are transparent about who they are and want user feedback. Lacking these sections could indicate that the owners of the site are trying to remain anonymous.
They tell you where the movies are coming from. Legal streaming sites will disclose how they obtain the rights to host the content they offer. Generally this is done via partnerships with movie studios.
They make money through advertisements. Free sites need cash to keep the lights on. Ads that interrupt viewing (similar to when you’re watching a longer YouTube video) are common.
There’s an app. Android and iOS apps go through a review process before hitting the market to make sure they don’t violate any policies. Simply put, an illegal streaming app would never make it to the public.
There are newer films available. If a streaming site is offering a film that is still in theaters or hasn’t hit home video yet, there’s a good chance it’s illegal.
Legit Free Movie Streaming Sites
While the world of Internet streaming can be scary, there are many free services that are legitimate. While there are many streaming sites currently in operation, the following list highlights some good places to start.
Crackle is owned by Sony Pictures and offers a good selection of free movies and TV shows from Sony’s back catalog. New content crops up at regular intervals; however, titles are usually only available for a limited time. The site is ad-supported, meaning you’ll have periodic interruptions during your stream.
A subsidiary of Screen Media Films, PopcornFlix has a ton of free-to-watch independent films, so long as you don’t mind the occasional ad. In addition to feature-length films, PopcornFlix also boasts original content.
An ad-supported TV and movie streaming platform, TubiTV has the largest library of free TV shows and movies on the Web thanks to partnerships with Hollywood heavyweights like Paramount and MGM. In addition to the more than 40,000 titles currently available, TubiTV boasts new content uploaded every single week.
Classic Cinema Online
Featuring lots of films from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Classic Cinema Online is your one-stop shop. The site features embedded videos from other sites, mainly YouTube. As with a lot of “classic” video streaming sites, its library is mainly comprised of films that have fallen into the public domain.
Top Documentary Films
Have a hankering for real life? Top Documentary Films has you covered. Featuring a wide variety of subjects from conspiracy theories to climate change, Top Documentary Films will undoubtedly give you food for thought.
Viewster has an eclectic library of TV shows and movies to watch with no registration or fees. This ad-supported service features everything from anime to documentaries; however, the titles available change from country to country due to regional licensing agreements.
Do you agree with our list? Which streaming services did we miss that are worth a mention? What is your favorite free streaming service? Let us know in the comments!