This awesome list of 34 Apple TV tips and tricks will help users learn to do more with the tvOS streaming set-top box without having to spend a lot of time dabbling through settings trying to figure things out.
While we’ve discussed some nifty Apple TV features in the past, we thought it might be a good idea to compile a good list of some solid tips and tricks that you may not know about for the new fourth-generation Apple TV.
Like many Apple products, the Apple TV is a simple device, but it contains a lot of potential that many users have yet to unleash.
You can do things like mirror your Mac’s screen or your iPad’s screen to your television, customize the Apple TV home screen to your liking, play games through the Apple TV, and even use your iPhone or iPad as an Apple TV remote.
Without further ado, here are 34 Apple TV tips and tricks that you can use to make your living room entertainment experience way better.
Use Your iPhone or iPad to Set Up Your Apple TV
Just like the third-generation Apple TV, you can set up your new Apple TV the easy way without having to navigate through on-screen menus manually by using your iPhone to set it all up.
All you need to do is make sure that your iPhone or iPad is running at least iOS 9.1 and connected to your preferred WiFi network and that Bluetooth is on. Then, simply just set your iPhone or iPad on top of the Apple TV and it will detect the automatic setup. We have a more thorough guide that you can go over.
Rearrange Home Screen Apps
If you’re not quite happy with how your home screen apps are laid out, you can actually rearrange them to better suit your needs.
Simply just highlight the app that you want to move and then press and hold down on the trackpad on the Apple TV remote. The app icons will begin to jiggle, and from there all you need to do is use is swipe across the trackpad to move the app to the desired location on the home screen.
Mirror Your Mac’s Display to Your TV
Apple has a feature called AirPlay that allows you to stream content from a Mac or iOS device to your Apple TV to play on your television. You can also use it to mirror your Mac’s display to your television.
Simply click on the AirPlay icon in your Mac’s menu bar and then select your Apple TV from the list. From there, your Mac’s display will show up on your television and you can use that to show off photos to friends and family and what not.
Mirror Your iPhone or iPad’s Screen to Your TV
Similar to how you can mirror your Mac’s display to your television, you can do the same thing with your iPhone or iPad.
Simply bring up Control Center on your iPhone or iPad and tap on AirPlay. From the list that pops up, click on your Apple TV and then enable Mirroring. Your iPhone or iPad’s screen will now appear on your television.
Play Games on Your Apple TV
One big feature of the new Apple TV is the ability to play games right on the set-top box, and many of the popular games that you’ve played on your iPhone in the past can now be played on your television.
The best part is that you don’t need to AirPlay the games to your TV. The games are stored locally on the Apple TV and you simply use the remote as a controller, or you can buy a third-party gamepad.
Download Third-Party Apps
On previous Apple TV models, you only had the apps that were available, and many of them you probably didn’t use. However, the new Apple TV allows you to download third-party apps, providing much more content to watch on the device.
There are a ton of Apple TV apps available, and we made a huge list of some that you should check out.
Use Your iPhone or iPad as a Remote
The remote that comes with your Apple TV is pretty cool, especially with it having a trackpad and a Siri button, but it can easily become lost. If you can’t find your Apple TV remote, you can actually use your iPhone or iPad as a remote.
By downloading and installing the Remote app, you can turn your iOS device into an Apple TV remote and control the streaming box using your iPhone or iPad.
Use a Universal Remote with Your Apple TV
If you’re not a big fan of the Apple TV remote or would just rather use the universal remote that you already have, you can program it to work with your Apple TV.
Using the Apple remote, navigate to Settings > Remotes and Devices and choose Learn Remote. Select a setting on your universal remote that doesn’t control any of your current devices and then hit Start.
Rename Your Apple TV
If you have more than one Apple TV in your house, it may be a good idea to rename them so that you know which one is which.
To do this, navigate to Settings > AirPlay > Apple TV Name and choose from the list depending on where that particular Apple TV box is located, such as Living Room, Bedroom, etc.
Put Your Apple TV to Sleep Immediately
There’s a way that you can shut off your Apple TV, or rather, put it to sleep. However, it involves a few steps and navigation menus to go through before you can actually turn it off.
However, there’s a quick way you can immediately put your Apple TV to sleep, and all you have to do is press and hold down on the Home button on your Apple TV remote and then select Sleep.
Get Back to the Home Screen Quicker
If you’re sick of pressing the Menu button down five times to finally get back to the home screen, there’s a quicker way of doing so.
On the older Apple TV, you would hold down the Menu button to get back to the home screen, but on the new remote you can simply click the Home button to get back to the main screen.
Set Up Parental Controls
If you have kids and don’t want them to watch just anything on the Apple TV in your living room, you can set up restrictions so that they can only watch content that you approve.
Navigate to Settings > General > Restrictions. This is where you can set up all sorts of restrictions for movies and TV shows, like restricting content based on rating, and preventing your kids from purchasing or renting any movies or TV shows without your permission.
Access Your Photos on Your Apple TV
Any photos that you’ve taken on your iPhone or iPad can be immediately available to view on your Apple TV by enabling My Photo Stream on both your iOS device and your Apple TV.
First, to enable it on your Apple TV, simply open the Photos app and click on Turn on iCloud Photos.
Next, to turn on My Photo Stream on your iOS device, navigate to Settings > iCloud > Photos and turn on My Photo Stream. Now whenever you take a photo, it will show up on your Apple TV in the Photos app.
Use Your Photos as a Screensaver Slideshow
Your Apple TV can use Apple’s own Aerial wallpapers, which are really cool and fun to watch. However, if you want to use your own photos, you can make that happen as well.
Since you already enabled iCloud Photos in the previous tip, all you need to do is navigate to Settings > Screensaver > Type and select My Photos. From there, you can select to use your own photos as your Apple TV’s screen saver.
Watch Trailers to All the Latest Movies
You could technically go to YouTube and search for a movie trailer you want to watch, but it’s not the best option when it comes to watching from a collection of trailers.
If you’re simply just interested in watching some random movie trailers of the latest movies, the Trailers app is a good app to use if you’re wanting to find a movie that you might want to go see in theaters. While it used to be a default app on older Apple TV models, you’ll have to download it from the App Store on the new Apple TV.
Purchase and Rent Movies & TV Shows
While this technically isn’t a hidden tip or trick of any kind, many new Apple TV users might not be aware that you can purchase or rent movies and TV shows right on the Apple TV and begin watching it immediately.
The Movies and TV Shows app toward the top of the home screen allow you to browse the iTunes catalog of video content that you can either buy or rent. After you make a purchase, you can start watching it right away on your Apple TV. It’s perhaps the easiest way to buy or rent movies and TV shows.
Quickly Pair a Remote with Your Apple TV
Do you have more than one Apple TV in your house, but can only seem to find one Apple TV remote? You can use it to control any Apple TV box.
Since the new Apple TV remote uses Bluetooth, you’ll need to pair a new remote to the box, which can be done by simply holding the Menu button and the Volume Up button at the same time.
Bring Up the App Switcher
Just like on the iPhone and iPad, the new Apple TV now has an app switcher.
To activate it, simply double-click the Home button. From there, you can swipe through all the apps that are open. If a particular app is frozen or acting up, you can highlight it and then swipe up to force-close it.
Manually Start the Screensaver
In the settings you can set how long it takes for the screensaver to activate, but if you want to manually start it at any time, there’s a quick shortcut to make that happen.
Double-clicking the Menu button while you’re at the home screen will force the screensaver to start if you don’t want to wait for it to automatically appear.
Quickly Restart Your Apple TV
If your Apple TV is acting up in general, it might be a good idea to restart it and give it a fresh start.
You can restart your Apple TV from the settings, but the easiest way is to press and hold the Menu and Home buttons at the same time.
Quickly Change to Uppercase/Lowercase
The on-screen keyboard on the Apple TV is rather lacking — it’s just not that great, but here’s a neat trick that can make it easier to use.
Simply clicking the Play/Pause button will change the keyboard from lowercase to uppercase, and vice versa. You can also hover over any letter and hold down the trackpad to bring up a menu, which includes the uppercase or lowercase version of that letter.
Delete an App from the Home Screen
Did you download an app or game, but no longer use it? There’s a way to quickly delete them from your Apple TV right from the home screen.
Simply hover over the app you want to delete and then hold down the trackpad until all of the apps start to jiggle. From there, click the Play/Pause button to delete the highlighted app or game.
Skip Ahead 10 Seconds in Any Video
On the Apple TV remote, you can swipe to scrub through a video, but if you only want to fast forward a few seconds, you can click on the right side of the trackpad to skip ahead 10 seconds. The same can be done on the left side of the trackpad to rewind 10 seconds.
Make the Trackpad More Touch Sensitive
If you feel like the trackpad isn’t as sensitive as you’d like, you can raiser or lower the sensitivity in the settings.
Go into Settings > Remotes and Devices and select Touch Surface Tracking to change the sensitivity of the remote’s trackpad.
Quickly Jump Back to the Music App
The Music app on the Apple TV is the only app that can play content while on currently being open, so when you play a song and exit out of the app, that song will continue to play.
However, there’s a quick trick to use that can get you back to the Music app instantly. Simply hold down the Play/Pause button for a few seconds until it takes you directly to the Music app.
Check the Remote’s Battery Level
Your Apple TV remote uses an internal battery and it can last for months on one charge, but you can view how much battery life it has left.
To check the battery level, navigate to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
Allow the Remote to Adjust Your TV’s Volume
A really cool feature of the Apple TV remote is that it can control the volume of your TV or audio receiver.
Go into Settings > Remotes and Devices and select Volume Control. From here, the Apple TV can learn the volume buttons on your regular remote and replicate it with the volume buttons on the Apple TV remote.
Connect Bluetooth Headphones
If you want to watch a movie on your Apple TV but don’t want to bug anyone else in the house, you can connect a Bluetooth pair of headphones to your Apple TV for quiet listening.
Go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth and your Apple TV will begin to look for devices in range. Make sure your headphones are in pairing mode and you can then connect them to your Apple TV.
Add Another Apple ID
You may have not known this, but you can add another Apple ID to your Apple TV and have multiple Apple IDs associated with your Apple TV box.
Go to Settings > Accounts > iTunes and App Store > Add New Apple ID. After you add a second account, you can switch between them by going into Settings > Accounts > iTunes and App Store and then selecting the account you want to use at that time.
Equalize Movie Volume
If you’re watching a movie that includes both loud explosions and quiet dialogue, you might benefit from a unique Apple TV feature.
Go to Settings > Audio and Video and select Reduce Loud Sounds. You can also tell Siri to “reduce loud sounds” during a movie without going into settings.
View a Complete List of Siri Commands
Siri can do all sorts of things on the Apple TV, but if you’re not sure where to start, you can simply click the Siri button once and a list of commands will pop up that you can use with Siri.
From there, holding down on the Siri button will activate Siri and you can then say a command.
Check the Strength of Your Apple TV’s Internet Connection
If your content is stuttering and you might think it’s your WiFi signal to the Apple TV that’s the culprit, you can go into Settings > General > About and see your WiFi signal strength at the bottom. It will display in five circles just like on the iPhone.
Play Unsupported Video Files
The Apple TV can only play a handful of video file formats that Apple allows, but with an app called Infuse, you can play any video you throw at the Apple TV.
However, since you can’t plug in an external hard drive, Infuse will instead play videos from another device, like your laptop or NAS, or even a hard drive plugged into your router via USB.
Watch Live TV
If you don’t want to switch back and forth between your Apple TV and watching live TV, you can get your Apple to play live television using an app called Channels and plugging in an ethernet HD tuner.
Something like the HD Homerun TV tuner can work great, and the Channels app brings the live TV capabilities to life.