The Apple TV is a fantastic media streaming box with a continuously updated library of new movies, channels and more importantly, your content. One thing it doesn’t provide is an extensive manual, so we’re hoping to fill in the blanks. Presented here is an easy to use guide to Apple TV. Whether you are looking to learn about every feature or need an answer to a specific question, you can find it quickly using our table of contents. So whether you’re new to Apple TV or looking to find the answer to a specific question, the ultimate Apple TV guide has got you covered.

Apple TV Master Class

Apple TV Guide

How to setup your Apple TV automatically using an iPhone or iPad

Starting with the third generation model, you can setup your Apple TV automatically using any iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 7 or later.
1. Connect your Apple TV to your HDTV using an HDMI cable. Make sure that you’ve selected the correct HDMI input. Plug-in using the supplied power cable and it will immediately start to boot up.

2. English is set as the default language. If you need to make a change, using the included remote to scroll down.

3. Unlock your iOS device. Make sure that you have Bluetooth enabled. (Swipe up to access Control Center – a white background indicates it’s on).

4. Touch the Apple TV with your iOS device.

5. When prompted, enter your Apple ID password on your iOS device.

What this does is allow your iOS device to transfer information about your account and WiFi settings. That concludes the initial setup. You should find yourself on the Apple TV home screen.

7 Awesome Apple TV Remote Tips

The remote is basic, allowing even novice users to find comfort in performing common functions. But don’t let the simplicity of the buttons fool you. There are plenty of neat tricks you can perform with your remote. While it’s not the stuff that will wow friends at a party, it should give you more control that you could imagine. As a reference point, the center button that isn’t labeled is the ‘Select’ button.

Apple TV Remote

1. When watching a video, press and hold the ‘Select’ button for three seconds. You’ll gain access to subtitles, closed captioning, audio, and speaker settings.

2. This trick also works in audio playback mode. Again, hold down the ‘Select’ button for three seconds. This time around, it’ll reveal additional playback controls: Genius, Up Next, browse artist or album and speaker settings.

3. We all have favorite channels, so why not organize your Apple TV home screen, putting your favs at the top. Select the channel you want moved. Hold the ‘Select’ button for two seconds. You should start to see the icon wiggle. Using the four way directional controls, move it anywhere you’d like. When done, press the ‘Select’ button. Repeat this process with each app until you’ve recreated the ideal home screen.

4. Moving icons around is great, but what about all of the apps you don’t use, that are taking up space. You could hide them by using Settings > Main Menu > Toggle Show to Hide. But wait, there’s an easier way. Press and hold the ‘Select’ for 2 seconds, then press Play/Pause to hide an icon.

5. If you hold Play/Pause button for five seconds, it will put your Apple TV in standby mode. Why bother? If you’re a stickler for energy savings, standby mode uses only 0.8 watts as compared to 1.9 watts when in use. To be honest, neither is going have any sort of noticeable affect on your electric bill.

6. Restart Apple TV: Press and hold Menu and Down buttons for six seconds.

7. If you lost your Apple TV remote in the seat cushions and purchased a replacement, you’ll need to pair it with your ATV. On your new remote, press and hold both the Menu and Right for five seconds. If you want to un-pair your remote, press and hold the Menu and Left buttons for six seconds. Yep, one more second for un-pairing.

When and how to replace the battery in your remote

The remote uses a CR2032 or BR2032 lithium 3.0 V coin battery. You should expect fairly decent battery life with moderate usage. When the battery is low and needs to be replaced, your Apple TV will display a picture of the remote with a blue exclamation symbol. These batteries are relatively expensive, with a pack of 5 retailing for under $3 at Amazon. If you have small children or pets, be sure to store these in a safe location.

When the battery needs replacing, you can use a coin to remove the back by inserting and twisting counter-clockwise. When inserting the new battery, be sure that the ‘+’ is facing up. Using your coin, place the cover and turn clock-wise to lock the compartment.

How to use AirPlay on iPhone or iPad to Apple TV

To enable AirPlay, you’ll need to navigate to Settings > AirPlay and toggle to ‘On’.

Setup AirPlay iPad Apple TV

To stream music using AirPlay, open up the Music app and select a rocking album or playlist. Now, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center. Just above the row of app shortcuts and to the right, select AirPlay. Here you can change from playing locally on your iPhone to outputting from your Apple TV.

AirPlay enabled on iPhone

But what about video? Sure thing! The process remains the same. This works from stock apps like Videos, Photos and supported third party apps.

How to mirror your Mac to Apple TV

On your Mac, look at the top right of your menu bar. You should see the AirPlay icon, which is an arrow on top of a box. When it’s not active, it’s completely black. Once we start mirroring, it will change to blue.

Connect to AirPlay display

If for some reason you do not see the AirPlay display, it could be that menu bar item has bee disabled. Navigate to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Displays as shown below. Check the box next to ‘Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available.‘

Enable AirPlay menu

Now back to the AirPlay menu. Your Apple TV should show up as AirPlay in black text, with Connect Apple TV to AirPlay grayed out. Select Apple TV and in a matter of seconds, you should see a mirror of your display on your HDTV. Mirroring essentially means that it’s a duplicate of what you see on your desktop. That can be your Apple Cinema display or your MacBook display. Note: Clamshell mode is not compatible with AirPlay.

Here are some great uses for mirroring your Mac to Apple TV.

How to set up Home Sharing on Apple TV

Home Sharing lets you stream movies, TV shows and music from iTunes libraries to other iOS devices including the Apple TV. To get this done, you’ll need to enable Home Sharing using iTunes on your computer.

Setup Home Sharing

1. Navigate to File > Home Sharing > Turn On Home Sharing

2. Login using your Apple ID and password

3. From your Apple TV, navigate to ‘Computers’. If you are using the same Apple ID, you’ll see a message, “Would you like to use (your Apple ID) to turn on Home Sharing on this Apple TV. You can either say Yes or enter a different Apple ID.”Once you say Yes, your Apple TV will automatically find the iTunes libraries that have Home Sharing turned on using that account. You can always find the list of shared iTunes libraries in the Computers section on your Apple TV.

Home Sharing Apple TV

More on Home Sharing.

How to setup parental controls

Your Apple TV is connected to the iTunes Store where you can purchase thousands of songs, movies and TV shows at a click of the button. In some cases, it’s too easy. Easy for kids who might know how to search, find and buy a movie or ten. In just a few steps, you too can protect your account from accidental purchases or charges made without your authorization.

By setting up parental restrictions on Apple TV, it will require anyone using the device to purchase or rent media, will be required to enter a four-digit passcode.

1. Navigate to Settings > General > Restrictions
2. Select (center button on your Apple TV remote) Turn On Restrictions
3. You’ll be prompted to enter a 4-digit passcode. Make it easy, something that you’ll remember.
4. Enter it once, and press ‘Done’.
5. You’ll be prompted to Reenter your four-digit passcode.
6. Once your passcode is confirmed, your Apple TV will recommend that you keep it in a safe place. Click OK to complete the process.

Apple TV parental controls

When anyone in your household attempts to make a purchase, they’ll have to enter the four-digit passcode to proceed.

setup parental controls on apple tv

How to play iPhone or iPad games on your Apple TV

There are two types of games that can be played on your Apple TV. The first uses AirPlay, creating a dual-screen, with part of the game appearing on your HDTV and other elements on your iOS device. This can be maps, controls or anything that adds to the gameplay.

1. Start the game as you would any other app.
2. Swipe up to reveal Control Center and select AirPlay.
3. Select Apple TV and tap on ‘Done’

Here’s a list of some of the better AirPlay compatible games:

Probably a more practical use for gaming is the Mirror option. Like our earlier tutorial, this mirrors the iPhone, iPad display on your Apple TV. This is typically a good option for racing games like Asphalt 8: Airborne, where you use the iOS device as the controller. If you’re a serious gamer and serious about bring gaming to your ATV, then you should consider an MFi (Made for iPhone) controller. That will give a real, tactile controller and a larger number of games you can play.

1. Swipe up to reveal Control Center and select AirPlay.
2. Toggle the Mirror option to on.
3. Select ‘Done’

How to change the name of your Apple TV

You can easily change the default name. Navigate to Settings > General > Name. You can use any of the presets or a custom name like Man Cave. If you have multiple ATVs in your home, this helps clear up any confusion, especially if you are using AirPlay from your iPhone or iPad.

How to use a universal remote

Most universal remotes that support IR will work with Apple TV. Chances are you’ll be working with a universal remote from Logitech, who seems to be dominating that space. You’ll need to be sure that you are running software version 6.0.2 or later. Here’s how to check what version you’re running and how to update. If you are using a Harmony remote, you need to disable the power management feature. To do so, navigate to Settings > General > Sleep Timer > Set to ‘Never’. For Harmony users, you’ll need to download the ‘My Harmony’ software. Login and you’ll have an option to Add Devices. For the manufacturer, type Apple and the model is Apple TV. You can either use a hardwired tethered connection to sync or if you have a hub, syncing can be done wirelessly.

Watch Plex

If you use a flashlight and shine it on the front of your Apple TV, you’ll see the IR port, which is located in the center. When using your universal remote and sending commands, there must be a clear line of sight between remote and the IR sensor.

How to pair or unpair an Apple TV remote

Why bother pairing? It ensures that your Apple TV will respond to commands from that remote. We covered the quick way to do this using your remote, but what about the old-fashioned way. Navigate to Settings > General > Remotes. Here you can pair and unpair a remote. Now if you lose your remote and need to unpair it, hold the Menu and Left buttons for six seconds. This unpairs the old remote from ATV and allows you to use your shiny new remote.

How to use your iPhone as a remote

There’s an additional way you can control your Apple TV like a super hero and that’s using any iOS device. We’ll touch on it later, but there are instances where having a full keyboard can come in handy. This app also lets you browse, listen and control iTunes Match music on the Apple TV. Start by downloading the free Remote app from the App Store. You’ll also need to have Home Sharing enabled, which we covered earlier.

1. Open up the Remote app and select setup Home Sharing.

2. Login with your Apple ID and password.

3. Tap on the Apple TV icon.

4. You should now how full control of your Apple TV from your iPhone or iPad.

Setup iPhone Remote app

How to connect an Apple or third party Bluetooth keyboard

If the thought of searching for programs one letter at a time doesn’t sound appealing and you don’t want to use your iOS device, another option would be to use a Bluetooth keyboard. This can be either Apple’s keyboard or any Bluetooth capable keyboard. To pair a Bluetooth keyboard, follow these steps:
1. To start the process, make sure that your Bluetooth keyboard is “discoverable”. Most keyboards (and other Bluetooth devices) have a button that puts the device in pairing mode.
2. Using your remote, navigate to Settings > General > Bluetooth.
3. Once it appears, select your keyboard.
4. Apple TV will provide you with a 4-digit code. Enter it using the keyboard.

When your Bluetooth keyboard is powered on, the Apple TV will automatically recognize it. Here’s a short list of the main control keys as they correspond on your keyboard.

  • Arrow keys: Up, down, left, right.
  • Return, enter: Select
  • Escape/ESC: Menu

How to update your Apple TV software

You can easily check the software version by accessing Settings > General > About. To manually check for updates, navigate to Settings > General Update. Here you have the option to Update Software. You can also set it to automatically receive updates.

How to setup Netflix on Apple TV

To use Neflix, you’ll need an account or take advantage of a free trial. Select ‘Already a member’ and you’ll be prompted for your username and password. You only have to enter this once. Netflix on Apple TV also supports multiple users, so different members of your family can have different lists and easily access them.

How to enable cable channel access (HBO Go, Disney, etc.)

In addition to apps like Hulu and Netflix, Apple TV also provides channels for a number of premium cable channels. Depending upon the channel, you will find a mix of live TV and on-demand programming. When you select a channel, you’ll be provided a unique code and a URL to activate service. Basically, this is to confirm that you are a subscriber. When you first setup your Apple TV, you’re going to need your cable company login information, which is often an email address and password. It’s a less than great experience and one that Apple can improve upon.


Apple TV discussion forums

With the Apple TV, you own one of the best media streaming boxes available today, but it’s missing a manual that helps you do so much more than the basics. Have a question that’s not covered in our ultimate guide? Please leave a comment and we’ll add to this resource as necessary. As always, our forums are a great way to get expert advice from our friendly, knowledgable community.

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