9 Apple TV tips for new users


The Apple TV ($197.84 at Sam’s Club) may seem like a pretty simple device — a streamer box that connects to your television and works very similarly to an iPhone ($999.00 at Apple) or iPad ($290.08 at Amazon.com). In fact, the TVOS operating system is a lot like iOS, but there are some key differences that you should know when getting started with a new Apple TV.

Here are nine tips and tricks for your brand new Apple TV.

Force a reboot

While the Apple TV works almost flawlessly most of the time, things can go awry from time to time. Apps can freeze or stop working. We’ve previously covered five common Apple TV problems (and how to fix them), but your best friend will almost certainly be the force reboot option. There are two ways to do this:

  • Go to Settings > System and click Restart.
  • Or press and hold both the Menu and TV buttons until the light on the front of the Apple TV begins blinking rapidly. Release the buttons and the Apple TV will reboot.

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Siri remote shortcuts

That’s not the only hidden function of the Siri remote either.

Of course, you can use the power of Siri by pressing and holding the Siri button (the one with the microphone icon on it) and speaking a command. You can say things like, “Jump forward 10 minutes,” “Get me some new shows on Netflix” or “Who directed this?” The list of Siri commands for Apple TV is expansive.

Still, the true beauty of the Siri remote are all the hidden hotkey functions.

  • Long pressing the Home button will give you the option to put the Apple TV to sleep.
  • Pressing Play/Pause while typing acts as a shift key.
  • double-click of the Menu button will start the screen saver.
  • triple-click of the Menu button will activate Accessibility Shortcuts.
  • Double-pressing the Home button opens the app switcher.

Control your TV with the Siri remote

The Siri remote can almost totally replace the remote for your television (at least when using the Apple TV). It’s generally enabled automatically, but if your Siri remote isn’t controlling your TV’s volume, go to Settings > Remotes and Devices and make sure Control TVs and Receivers is set to On. If the volume control still isn’t working, click Volume Control and click Auto.

The Apple TV can also power on and off almost television, but this is dependent upon the television itself. You will need to enable CEC, which has over a dozen different names depending on your TV brand.

Once enabled, when you press a button on the Siri remote, your television should power on. And when you sleep the Apple TV, your TV should also power off.

Pair Bluetooth devices

Whether you’re looking to play some casual games or watch a TV show without disturbing others late at night, Bluetooth is your best friend.

While you can play some simple games with the Siri remote, the Apple TV is compatible with MFi (Made for iPhone) controllers. To pair a controller, turn it on and put it into pairing mode. Then, on the Apple TV, go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth. Look for the controller to appear under Other Devices and click it. Now when you turn it on, it will automatically connect to the Apple TV.

The same goes for Bluetooth headphones, which is especially helpful to late night watching if you don’t want the sound of the television keeping everyone in the house up. And you can replace the Siri remote with a Bluetooth keyboard, if you so wish.

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Use your iOS device as a remote

Speaking of replacing the Siri remote, if you happen to misplace it or break it, replacing it is a cool $59.

But you can avoid replacing it altogether. You can use any iPad or iPhone to control your Apple TV. Just download the Apple TV Remote app. This gives you pretty much all the functions of the Siri remote, minus volume control. But it also comes with the handy option to let you type searches and other text input using the on-screen keyboard on your iOS device, instead of having to hunt and peck with the on-screen Apple TV keyboard.

Control your smart home devices

If you have any smart home devices that work with HomeKit, your Apple TV will act as a hub for them, and you can use the Siri remote to control your house.

Setup is a breeze — just connect your HomeKit devices to the Home app on your iOS device and make sure the Apple TV is signed in to the same iCloud account as you use on your phone. To make sure it’s set up properly, go to Settings > Accounts > iCloud and make sure My Home says Connected.

To test it out, press the Siri button and say something like, “Turn on the lights.”

The real beauty of HomeKit working with Apple TV is that your Apple TV will work as a remote hub, so you can control your home while you’re away.

Take advantage of the TV app

The TV app has become the centralized hub for all the stuff you want to watch. It will track the shows you’re watching and put new episodes in front of all the other stuff under the Up Next section.

The TV app is where you will buy new TV shows or movies and where you can find all your previously purchased items.

It’s easy to gloss over the TV app, but if you take the time to sign in to your TV provider and include all the streaming apps you use, it will become a helpful tool that will reduce the time you spend clicking around to pick up where you left off or finding something new to watch.

Automatically install apps

If you download a new app to your iPhone, it can be automatically installed on your iPad. The same thing can be enabled with your Apple TV — assuming there’s an Apple TV app for something you’ve installed.

To enable this, go to Settings > Apps and click Automatically Install Apps to switch it to On.

Quickly delete apps

You might find yourself going on an application installing spree with your new Apple TV. Or you might have automatically downloaded a bunch of apps you installed on your phone that you never use on your Apple TV.

If you need to quickly free up storage on your Apple TV, you could go through and delete each app individually from the home screen, which is painstakingly slow and cumbersome. Or you could go to Settings > General > Manage Storage to find a list of installed applications, organized from largest to smallest. There you can click the trash can icon next to each app you want to remove and click Delete to confirm.

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