We’ve pulled together the best Apple TV tips, tricks, and hidden features to Take your streaming to the next level.
Apple TV, this little black box, has become an essential part of our living rooms, right? It’s our gateway to a universe of entertainment – movies, shows, music, games, and much more. But, what if I told you that there’s a whole lot more you could do with your Apple TV? Beyond just streaming your favorite shows on Netflix or jamming out to some Apple Music. Trust me when we say that just a little bit of time invested in learning about this stuff pays off big as you use your Apple TV day after day. By the time we’re done, you will be an Apple TV power user.
The latest Apple TV 4K features the A15 Bionic chip, support for HDR10 , and a Siri Remote with a USB-C port for charging. Apple typically updates the Apple TV infrequently, releasing a new model around every three years.
Announced in October 2022, the third-generation Apple TV 4K is the newest and only Apple TV in the company’s lineup.
In this article, we’ll unveil the 20 best Apple TV tips, tricks, and hidden features that will take your experience from good to stellar! Lets get started.
The best Apple TV tips and tricks in 2023
Here are the best tips and tricks for Apple TV:
1. Personalize your Home Screen with the Top Shelf
Want to have quick access to your most-watched shows or apps? Well, who doesn’t? The ‘Top Shelf’ feature makes this possible. This neat Apple TV trick is like having your TV greet you with your favorite content every time you switch it on.
Here’s how you do it:
- Navigate to an app, then press and hold the clickpad center (Siri Remote 2nd generation or later) or touch surface (Siri Remote 1st generation) until the app starts to jiggle.
- Drag your favorite apps to the top row of the Home Screen; when you highlight a top-row app, content shortcuts appear at the top of the screen.
- To save the new arrangement, press the clickpad center (Siri Remote 2nd generation or later) or touch surface (Siri Remote 1st generation).
Voilà! Your most-loved content is now at your fingertips, ready to jump in action at your command.
2. Dark Mode – Easy on the Eyes
Here’s an Apple TV trick that’s not only helpful but also adds a touch of elegance to your viewing experience. Dark mode! It’s not just for your other Apple devices; your Apple TV can get in on the action too.
Hit the Settings icon, then navigate to General _> _Appearance. From there, you can select Light, Dark, or Automatic. Selecting Dark will keep the Apple TV in dark mode all the time, while selecting Auto will shift from light during the day to dark during the night — just like the iPhone.
3. Mastering the Art of Voice Search with Siri
In our next Apple TV trick, we harness the power of Siri, our reliable AI assistant. Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that Siri on Apple TV is more powerful than on your iPhone? Yes, you heard that right!
Not only can Siri find a particular show or movie, but she can also search by actor, director, genre, and even app. Just press and hold the Siri button on your remote and make a command. For example, say, "Show me Oscar-winning movies" or "Find comedies on Netflix."
But, that’s not all. Here’s a tip within a tip: You can also ask Siri to skip ahead, rewind, turn on closed captions, and even identify who’s currently on the screen. Isn’t that cool?
4. Use SharePlay
This is a feature I don’t think people use enough, but it’s great for watch parties. Apple calls it SharePlay, and it requires that the people that you watch with have an iPhone or iPad, too, at least. What you do is start a FaceTime call — add as many people as you want. Once you have them on the call, go to your Apple TV and make sure that your user is selected. You can do that by pressing and holding the TV button on the remote, then checking the upper portion of the pop-up window to verify you’re logged into your Apple ID.
At that point, you can start playing a movie or TV show, and because you are on a FaceTime call already, the Apple TV will ask if you want to use SharePlay. Say Yes, and then you’ll be asked to confirm whether you actually want to start SharePlay on your iPhone or iPad. Once you agree, you and your friends can watch the content together in sync.
5. The Magic of Aerial Screensavers
Now, let’s talk about Apple TV’s screensavers – they’re not just pretty pictures. They’re gorgeous aerial views shot from drones flying over some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. But, did you know you can control them?
When an Aerial screensaver is playing, you can lightly tap the touchpad on your Siri Remote to bring up a location identifier at the bottom of the screen. Want to see more? Swipe left or right on the touchpad to change locations.
And here’s another Apple TV tip for the screensaver lovers: You can adjust how often Apple updates these screensavers by going to ‘Settings’ -> ‘General’ -> ‘Screensaver’ -> ‘Download New Videos.’ Choose from ‘Daily’, ‘Weekly’, ‘Monthly’ or ‘Never’ – the choice is yours!
6. Listen with Spatial audio
Next in our Apple TV tips and tricks, I want to highlight using spatial audio with head tracking. This is the best at-home surround experience that doesn’t involve a massively elaborate home entertainment system. To really take advantage, you’ll want AirPods Pro, AirPods Pro 2, newer Beats Headphones, or my favorite for this, the AirPods Max.
- Make sure that you’re wearing your AirPods Pro (1st or 2nd generation), AirPods Max, AirPods (3rd generation), or Beats Fit Pro, and that they’re connected to your Apple TV.
- Go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth. Or you can press and hold the Home button on your Siri Remote while you’re playing audiovisual content in a supported app.
- Choose your AirPods or Beats from the list.
- Choose Spatial Audio while you’re playing multichannel content, or Spatialize Stereo while you’re playing two-channel stereo content. But to get the best experience, I suggest using head tracking — this changes the soundstage depending on where you turn your head, so if you turn your head to the left as you are facing your TV, then the audio will seem to come from the TV. But if you don’t want this, you can turn it off. Either way, to access this, open Settings > Accessibility > AirPods, then toggle Center audio on TV on or off.
7. Quick Access to Apps with the Home Button
This Apple TV trick is a great way to bounce between apps without returning to the home screen. It’s perfect for those of us who love to multitask.
Press the TV/Home button (the one with the TV icon) twice quickly to open the Apple TV App Switcher. This displays a horizontal list of your open apps. Navigate using the touchpad and select the app you wish to switch to. To close an app, swipe up. Easy as pie!
8. Quickly Restart Your Apple TV
If you’re troubleshooting your Apple TV and need to restart it several times, going through the settings screens to select Restart is quickly going to grate. Fortunately, you can perform the same action simply by holding down the Home and Menu buttons simultaneously for six seconds.
9. Using Your iPhone or iPad as an Apple TV Remote
Next, let’s talk about the Apple Remote app – a lifesaver when your Apple TV remote is playing hide and seek. If you haven’t used it yet, you’re missing out. The app turns your iPhone or iPad into a full-fledged remote control with a touchpad, playback controls, and even a keyboard for easy text input.
So, how do you turn your iPhone or iPad into a handy Apple TV remote? Let’s break it down:
If your iPhone or iPad is running version 13 of the operating system or later, Apple TV Remote should automatically be added to the Control Center. If you’re using an older version — or if you don’t see it there for any reason — you’ll need to start by adding it.
- On your iPhone or iPad, start the **Settings **app.
- Tap Control Center. Check to see if Apple TV Remote is in the Included Controls section of the page. If not, scroll down and find the Apple TV Remote in More Controls. Tap the plus symbol to the left of the remote to add it to Included Controls.
- Open the Control Center by swiping down from the top right of the screen. (If you are using iOS 11 or older, open the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.)
- Tap the Apple TV Remote button from the collection of buttons at the bottom of the screen.
- If this is your first time using the remote, you will be asked to select your Apple TV from the list and then enter a four-digit code that’s displayed on the Apple TV screen.
- Enter this code on your iPhone or iPad, and voilà! Your device is now a remote.
10. Rename your Apple TV
You can rename your Apple TV. Yeah – who knew? This can come in handy if you have more than one Apple TV in your house and want to know at all times which one is which on your network. To name your Apple TV, head over to Settings -> General -> About -> Name. At that point, you can choose from Apple’s default list of names.
Apple lets you name your Apple TV based on the room it might be in, such as the living room, but if you want to get even more creative, you can designate a custom name. We named ours Dave. Hi, Dave!
11. Reduce Loud Sounds for Night-time Viewing
Do action-packed films with sudden loud noises disturb your peace, especially during late-night binge sessions? Fear not, as Apple TV has a solution. ‘Reduce Loud Sounds’ is a fantastic feature that keeps the volume at a consistent level, so sudden loud noises won’t jolt you out of your seat.
Navigate to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Video and Audio’ -> ‘Reduce Loud Sounds’ and toggle the switch on. Now, you can enjoy your movies without disturbing your slumbering family members or neighbors.
12. Use Apple TV’s Picture-in-Picture Mode
Want to keep watching your favorite show while navigating other apps on Apple TV? Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode makes it possible! It lets you shrink a video down into a smaller window while you browse or use other apps.
To activate PiP, start playing a video and then press the Home button on your Apple TV remote. Your video will shrink to a corner, and you can navigate the rest of your screen freely. To switch back to full screen, select the PiP window and click the full-screen icon.
And guess what? You can even move the PiP window to different corners of the screen. Just highlight the PiP window, click and hold the touch surface on the Siri remote, and drag it to your preferred corner. Now you can keep an eye on your favorite show while you browse!
13. Customize Your Apple TV’s Screensaver Photos
Did you know you can personalize your Apple TV screensaver with your own photos? That’s right! You can transform your TV into a digital picture frame showcasing your favorite memories.
Here’s how you do it:
- Open the Photos app on Apple TV, then navigate to the Shared Albums or Albums category in the menu bar.
_Note: _If you don’t see the Shared Albums category, go to Settings > Users and Accounts > [default user account name], then select Photos and turn on Shared Albums.
- Select an album, then select Set as Screen Saver and confirm.
Now, instead of Apple’s aerial screensavers, you’ll see your own photos whenever your Apple TV goes into screensaver mode.
14. Stream Music Through Apple TV with AirPlay
This tip is for the music lovers. Use Apple TV as a wireless speaker via AirPlay to play music from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. You can stream Apple Music, Spotify, or even a podcast.
To start streaming, select the AirPlay icon on your device and choose your Apple TV. Your tunes will now play through your TV’s speakers (or your home theater system if you have one connected).
15. Apple TV as a Gaming Console with Apple Arcade
Your Apple TV doubles up as a fantastic gaming console with Apple Arcade. With a single subscription, you get access to a plethora of games that can be played with the Siri Remote or a compatible game controller.
Just open the App Store on your Apple TV, navigate to the ‘Arcade’ tab at the top of the screen, and start exploring. You’ll find games in every genre, from action and adventure to puzzles and platformers. There’s something for everyone!
16. Adjusting Video and Audio Output Settings
You know what’s better than watching a movie in HD? Watching it in the best quality that your TV can provide! By default, your Apple TV tries to match the original frame rate and dynamic range of content, but you can manually adjust these settings using a quick Apple TV trick. Here’s how:
- Navigate to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Video and Audio’ -> ‘Match Content’.
- Turn on ‘Match Dynamic Range’ and ‘Match Frame Rate’.
Now, your movie night just got even better!
17. Creating Multiple User Accounts
Got a house full of Apple TV users? You can create multiple accounts to keep everyone’s preferences and recommendations separate.
Here’s how you can add a new user on Apple TV:
- Go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Users and Accounts’ -> ‘Add New User’.
- Select ‘Enter New…’ to manually enter the Apple ID of the new user.
Switching between accounts is a breeze. Just hold down the Home button, select the user icon at the top of the screen, and choose your profile.
18. Quick Restart with a Special Shortcut
Your Apple TV acting up? A quick restart might just do the trick. You can go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘System’ -> ‘Restart,’ but here’s a quicker way:
- Press and hold both the Back (Siri Remote2nd generation or later) or buttons on the Siri Remote until the Apple TVstatus light blinks rapidly. Then let go
- your Apple TV will restart.
19. Restricting Content with Parental Controls
If you’ve got kids at home, parental controls can come in handy. You can restrict explicit content, block purchases, and even limit who can AirPlay to your Apple TV.
Restrictions include Allow, Restrict, Block, Show, and Hide.
To set up Parental Controls:
- Go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘General’ -> ‘Restrictions’.
- Choose ‘Enable Restrictions’ and create a four-digit passcode.
Now you’re in control!
20. Using AirPods with Your Apple TV
For those nights when you want to catch the latest action flick without waking up the whole house, AirPods are your best friend. Here’s how you can connect them to your Apple TV:
- On your Apple TV, go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Remotes and Devices’ -> ‘Bluetooth’.
- Open the lid of your AirPods charging case and press the button on the back of the case until the LED light starts flashing white.
- Your AirPods should appear under ‘Devices’. Select them, and they’re connected!
Now, you can enjoy your movie night without disturbing anyone else.
21. Customizing the Menu Button
Did you know that you can customize the behavior of the ‘Menu’ button on your Apple TV remote? By default, it takes you back to the previous screen. But, if you’d prefer it to take you straight to the Home screen, you can change it:
- Go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Remotes and Devices’ -> ‘Home Button.’
- Change it from ‘Home Screen’ to ‘TV App.’
Now, pressing the Menu button will take you directly to the TV App!
22. Pairing a Gaming Controller
Who said Apple TV is just for binge-watching? It’s a great gaming platform too. If you’re a gamer, you can pair your gaming controller to the Apple TV for an enhanced gaming experience.
Here are the steps:
- Put your controller in pairing mode (the method varies between controllers).
- On your Apple TV, go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Remotes and Devices’ -> ‘Bluetooth’.
- Select the controller from the ‘Other Devices’ list.
23. Using Apple TV App for Seamless Streaming
The Apple TV app is like your personal streaming concierge. It integrates content from various streaming services so you can browse, watch, and subscribe to channels without hopping between different apps.
Here’s a pro-tip: You can use Siri to directly search within the Apple TV app. Just say something like, "Search for nature documentaries in the Apple TV app," and let Siri do the magic.
24. Sleep Mode Shortcut
Did you know there’s a quick shortcut to send your Apple TV into sleep mode? Just hold the ‘Home’ button on your remote, and select ‘Sleep’. And to wake it up, press any button. It’s that simple!
25. Navigating with the Apple Watch
And now for the final Apple TV trick up our sleeve: Did you know you can control your TV using your Apple Watch? It’s a fantastic and convenient feature, especially when your Apple TV remote goes MIA.
Here’s how to set it up:
- Open the Remote app on your Apple Watch.
- Choose ‘Add Device’. You’ll see a four-digit code.
- On your Apple TV, go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Remotes and Devices’ -> ‘Remote App and Devices’. Enter the code displayed on your Apple Watch.
And just like that, your Apple Watch is now a remote control for your Apple TV!
That’s it for our roundup of Apple TV tips, tricks, and hidden features. We hope these insights will help you get the most out of your Apple TV.