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Apple TV Tips

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Apple TV tips

Since its launch in 2007, Apple TV has become more than just a hobby. As the platform matures, Apple TV has much more to offer. The following tips will help you get more out of your Apple TV experience. This article contains general tips for Apple TV. Appledystopia features specific Apple TV tips for Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes Radio. For a complete list of every Apple TV channel, check out “Apple TV Channels“.

Hold Down Menu Button to Go Back to Main Menu

When you start drilling down into Apple TV’s many menus, it is a bit tedious to get back to the main menu. Fortunately, there’s a great shortcut. Simply hold down the Menu button until the main menu appears. You can also jump to the top row of icons by pressing the menu button once, while on the main menu.

hold down Menu to go to main menu

Restart Apple TV

Once in a while, you may need to restart your Apple TV. Apple TV is much more stable than it used to be. I haven’t restarted my Apple TV in several months. Nonetheless, if the need arises, instead of drilling down into the Settings menu, simply hold the Menu and Down buttons for six seconds. You’ll see the light on your Apple TV flash rapidly and it will restart. This is also great if your Apple TV freezes and you are unable to access the Settings menu.

hold Down and Menu for six seconds to restart Apple TV

You can also use the Siri remote to restart the new, fourth generation Apple TV. Simply hold down the Menu and Home buttons until the light flashes on your Apple TV.

Restart Apple TV 4 with Siri Remote

Use Remote to Sleep Apple TV

If you’re tired of drilling down into the menus to put Apple TV to sleep, there is an easier way. Simply hold down the play/pause button on the remote until the device goes into sleep mode.

Unfortunately, this only works when you’re on the main menu. It won’t work if you are in the middle of watching a video or inside of a sub-menu.The restriction makes sense. The play/pause button’s overloaded behavior could be confusing when watching a video. You can quickly access the main menu from anywhere by holding down the menu button.

If you want Apple TV to sleep and wake in the middle of a video, simply set the sleep time to a short interval, such as 15 minutes (Settings > General > Sleep After). You can just pause a video and your Apple TV will sleep and wake to the video. You may see a blank screen when your Apple TV wakes. Simply press the pause/play button to resume your video.

Skip by Time or Chapter

You probably know that pressing the left or right buttons on the ring will fast forward or rewind video. This can often be a bit tedious. It is possible to skip ahead by chapter or time interval using the same buttons. Simply press the down button on the ring once while your video is playing. You will see a progress bar marked with vertical lines. Pressing left or right on the ring will skip the video forward or backward by one mark. If you are watching a video in iTunes, this same functionality will allow you to skip chapters in a video. You will notice that the vertical lines are not spaced evenly, because they mark chapters instead of fixed time intervals. To make the progress bar disappear, you can either wait a moment or press the up button on the ring.

Watch Video in Slow Motion

It’s possible to watch some Apple TV content in slow motion. This works both forwards and in reverse. Simply press the play/pause button to pause the video, then press left or right to view slow motion video in reverse or forward, respectively. This only seems to work with iTunes movies and TV shows. It won’t work with Apple TV channels that stream content.

Move Menu Items

You can speed up access to content channels by rearranging the icons on the main menu. First, select an icon that you wish to move. Next, hold down the center select button until the icon starts to jiggle. You can now move the icon, which forces other icons to move. When the icon is in the right place, press the center select button. You may need to repeat the process. When you move other icons, the icon you just moved might move somewhere else. Perhaps this is Apple TV’s first built-in game? I recommend moving often-used channels in proximity to Settings. If you put your Apple TV to sleep manually (Settings > Sleep Now), it will wake to that screen. Holding down the Menu button will take you to the top menu, with the focus on Settings. If your most-used channels are near Settings, it will take fewer clicks to access them. You cannot move any of the icons on the top row. After a recent update, Settings is no longer on the top row, and can be moved.

Type Special Characters With On-Screen Keyboard

The best way to enter text on Apple TV is using the Apple Remote app. Many times, this just isn’t convenient. You might be charging your iPhone or iPad in a different room. If you just need to enter a few characters, it is often easier to just grab the small Apple remote and use the on-screen keyboard. There’s a neat little trick you can use with the on-screen keyboard. If you need to enter a special character, such as an “ñ” or “é”, you can easily do this with your Apple remote. Simply hold the center select button down on the root character (n would be the root for ñ) and the special character options will pop up. It also pops up a delete key, making it much easier to delete text. I use this feature quite often, more for the delete key than for special characters. I usually just use the on-screen keyboard to enter text. Apple TV offers smart and dynamic search capabilities. I can usually find what I am looking for by just entering a few characters.

Use Apple Watch to Control Apple TV

I personally think the Apple Watch is a bit superfluous, but it does offer a little more convenience. If wielding the Apple Remote or your iPhone proves challenging, you can now use your Apple Watch to control Apple TV. The Apple Watch includes the Remote app, which can control Apple TV and access your iTunes library.

Specific content channels are also launching Apple Watch apps. Hulu supports the Apple Watch. Unfortunately, you will have to start playback of a Hulu video on your iPhone to use this feature. It doesn’t really offer direct Apple TV integration. You can use it to beam Hulu from your iPhone to Apple TV with AirPlay. At best, the Hulu Apple Watch app will provide information about the show on your Apple Watch. Instead of a generic remote interface, you will see an image of the show or movie. That’s amazing! Please take my $400, Apple!

If you are interested in purchasing an Apple Watch for this purpose, you may want to wait. There are compelling rumors that Apple will be launching a new Apple TV unit. The new device is supposed to have a touch screen remote with Touch ID and Siri integration.

Hulu App for Apple Watch

Multitask with Apple TV

It’s possible to listen to music and browse videos on other channels, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. Sometimes it can take a while for me to find something I want to watch. There’s so much content available, finding the right thing can be time-consuming. You may also want to manage your video lists or rate videos you have watched. Thankfully, you can do this to your own sound track. Simply start music playback with any of the built-in channels or AirPlay. This will even work with podcasts (both audio and video). Next, open a channel and start browsing. The music will automatically stop when you start playing a video. You can also stop the music by pressing the play/pause button on the remote. When a new track starts playing, you’ll see the track information displayed on the lower left corner of the screen. This is a great way to stay entertained while searching for even more entertainment.

Apple TV multitasking

Put Apple TV in Your Conference Room

Apple TV is a perfect addition to any conference room. Using Conference Room Display, it is possible for anyone to beam content to a shared Apple TV, without Apple ID authentication. To enable Conference Room Display, go to Settings > AirPlay and turn on Conference Room Display. This will replace the regular screen saver with instructions as to how to use Conference Room Display. Users simply need to be on the same WiFi network and pick the corresponding Apple TV. It is even possible to add a custom message or photo to the screen saver. It’s a perfect touch for corporations wishing to maintain their brand identity when presenting to clients. Apple TV Conference Room Display If you don’t see options for AirPlay or Conference Room Display, they may be hidden. It is possible to restrict access to these features. If this is the case, simply go to Settings > General > Restrictions and make the appropriate changes. Changes to Restrictions are protected by a 4-digit passcode. You may need to ask your IT support staff to make this change. You can connect an Apple TV to a flat screen TV or even a digital video projector. The ability to beam presentations wirelessly is quite useful. It eliminates the need to connect clumsy cables. You can even beam a presentation or video from a desktop computer that isn’t located in the conference room. As long as it is on the same WiFi network, it will work.

Improve AirPlay Security

Most people will never need to secure AirPlay on their Apple TV. After all, if your Apple TV is in your home, only people on your WiFi network can access it. If your Apple TV is in a conference room or other public location, securing the device will prevent malicious users from beaming content over AirPlay. As Apple TV becomes more popular, it is being installed in conference rooms, schools, cafés and other public settings. Some may share a WiFi network with a neighbor. AirPlay security prevents any unauthorized broadcasting on your Apple TV.

AirPlay security is turned off by default. You can turn this setting on by clicking on Settings > AirPlay > Security. If you don’t see this setting, you may need to upgrade your Apple TV’s software. This can be done by clicking Settings > General > Software Updates > Update Software. Follow the onscreen instructions to upgrade your Apple TV’s software. Some of the security features also require that your iOS device or Mac have recent operating systems. Check out “How To Upgrade iOS” for more information on best practices for upgrading your device.

Apple TV security settings

The AirPlay Security screen offers three methods to secure broadcasts. The Onscreen Code option will display a code on your TV when a user attempts to use AirPlay. The user must type in the code on their device to make a connection. This will ensure that only someone in the room can beam content over AirPlay.

If you desire more security, the Password option will allow you to set a password on your Apple TV. Users must enter the password on their iOS device in order to use AirPlay. Unfortunately, anyone with access to your Apple TV can remove the password. This security is not meant to protect sensitive information, but merely to prevent malicious users from beaming content to an Apple TV.

Password and the Onscreen Code are mutually exclusive. You can only use one or the other. Require Device Verification will work in combination with the other security methods. When activated, Require Device Verification will display an onscreen code when a device tries to initiate an AirPlay connection. The user must enter this code on their device or computer. This code only needs to be entered once — it is an activation code.

Not every iOS device or Mac supports these features. The Onscreen Code requires iOS 6 or later. Require Device Verification only works with iOS 7.1 (or later) and Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks (or later).

Hide Menu Items

As Apple TV continues to grow, the main menu is getting a bit crowded. There’s quite a few content channels I never use, particularly the few that require a cable subscription. You can hide any icon on the main menu by going to Settings > General > Restrictions. Scroll down the list and hide channels by clicking the center Select button. If your Apple TV is running version 6.1 or later, there’s a new way to hide menu items. From the Main Menu, hold down the center Select button on an item you would like to hide. Next, press the play/pause button. A list of options will appear. Select “Hide This Item” and the icon will disappear from the Main Menu. You can restore the item by going to Settings > Main Menu. Click the center select button on the item to toggle “show” back on. (continue…)

Show and hide icons on Apple TV's main menu

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UPDATE: Apple TV 4 is a vast improvement over previous models. With its App Store and tvOS operating system, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re interested in buying an Apple TV 4 or already own one, check out the Apple TV 4 Unofficial Manual.


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