Advertisement

The Complete Guide to Setting Up and Using an Apple TV—Part 1

by
Student iconAre you a student? Get a yearly Tuts+ subscription for $45 →

Apple TV is a small, yet powerful device that gives you access to a world of movies, TV shows, sports, music, and more. You can also mirror anything that’s on your Mac or iOS device to your HDTV with AirPlay. All of this is being output at an incredible 1080p resolution!

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to set up and use this powerhouse device. You’ll need:

  • The Apple TV
  • The included power cable and remote
  • An HDMI cable (sold separately)
  • An internet connection.  Either a wired or wireless connection will work, but I strongly recommend wireless

You will learn how to:

  • Connect the Apple TV to a television and a power source
  • Connect an external bluetooth iOS or bluetooth keyboard (optional)
  • Navigate the menus
  • Connect the Apple TV to the internet
  • Use the Apple TV to purchase and/or stream TV, Movies, and Music
  • Mirror a Mac or iOS device to a television

The Setup

To begin, unbox the Apple TV and connect the HDMI cable from the back to an HDMI input on the television. Be sure to note the number of the HDMI port you plugged into. This image from Apple's support site perfectly illustrates the steps I have outlined:

Connecting an Apple TV to your TV
Connecting an Apple TV to your TV

With the television's remote control, change the input source to the same one you connected the Apple TV to. As an example, if you connected the Apple TV to Input 1, change the television's input setting to input source 1

Connect the power cord to the Apple TV and the nearest wall outlet.  You will see the Apple logo flash onto the television as the Apple TV boots up.

Connecting External Keyboards

While connecting an external keyboard—be it physical or an iOS device—may be an optional step, it is a huge time saver. 

Unless you enjoy the tedious input of long usernames and/or passwords, I strongly recommend you connect a iOS or bluetooth keyboard.

Connecting external keyboards to Apple TV
Connecting external keyboards to Apple TV

Connecting a Bluetooth Keyboard

Make sure the keyboard is turned on and in searchable mode.  Then use the Apple TV remote to navigate to the Settings menu, then General, and finally the Bluetooth menu. 

If the keyboard is compatible, it will show up on the list of available devices.  Select it and enter the PIN number from the screen on the keyboard.  Press Enter or Return to confirm and finalize the pairing.

Connecting an iOS Device Keyboard

If you don't have an external bluetooth keyboard handy, you can use an iPhone or iPad as external keyboard.

Install the Remote App from the iTunes store and ensure your phone and Apple TV are connected to the same network as the Apple TV. Launch Remote. 

On the Apple TV navigate to the Settings menuthen General, then Remotes, and finally Remote App menu. Scroll to the bottom and choose your device from the iOS Remotes list. Enter the code listed on the device and choose Done.

The iOS device is now paired. Anytime the Apple TV needs any input, the keyboard in the Remote App will come up and allow you to input as needed.

Menu Navigation

To navigate to any menu on the Apple TV, use the arrow keys to highlight the menu you wish to select and press the middle button, which is the empty silver circle in the center of all the other black buttons.  

Going forward, I’ll refer to this button as the OK button. If you want to return to the previous screen, press the black Menu button on the lower left. If you are using a bluetooth keyboard, use the ESC key instead of Menu to go back a screen.

Apple TV Remote
Apple TV Remote

Connecting to the Internet

The easiest way to connect the Apple TV to the internet is by running an ethernet cable from your router/modem to the ethernet port on the Apple TV. But not all people keep the internet router/modems in the same room as the television. So another option is to connect the Apple TV to the internet using its built-in Wi-Fi card.

If you do not connect an ethernet cable, Apple TV's setup will automatically prompt you to connect to a wireless network after you set the default language.

Connecting Apple TV to the Internet
Connecting Apple TV to the Internet

Use the Apple TV remote to select the wireless network.  Navigate the on-screen keyboard, enter in the router's password. Capital letters and special characters can be found by moving the cursor to the very top menus.

Streaming Content and Purchasing Media

Netflix

Apple TV comes with a number of streaming channels, but Netflix is without a doubt the most popular. Use the remote or keyboard to highlight the Netflix application and select it. 

Enter your Netflix username and password. You may now begin enjoying the full catalog of Netflix streamable content.

Netflix on the Apple TV
Netflix on the Apple TV

Renting or Purchasing Media

To rent or buy a movie or television show press the Menu button until you are back at the main menu, pictured above. Arrow up to either Movies or TV Shows and choose whichever you prefer. Surf through the iTunes Store library until you find a show you would like to watch. 

Highlight your choice and select it. You will be presented with the rent/buy options. Choose the option that best suits you and enjoy.

NOTE: If this is your first rental or purchase via your Apple TV, you will be asked to input your AppleID and Password. This allows Apple to know which account to bill. You only have to do this once.

Mirroring to the Apple TV

One of the most interesting features of the Apple TV is its ability to mirror the screen of any recent iOS or OS X based device.

iOS

To mirror the screen from an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad to the Apple TV, unlock the phone and flick up from the very bottom bezel. Click on the AirPlay icon and then choose Apple TV as the device to mirror to. 

When you no longer wish to mirror your screen, repeat these steps, but choose iPhone instead of Apple TV as the device.

Mirror iPhone to Apple TV
Mirror iPhone to Apple TV

OS X

To mirror from any laptop or desktop running OS X, go to System Preferences then Displays.  In the bottom of the Display Preferences pane, change the drop down box labeled AirPlay Display to Apple TV.  Flip this back to default when you wish to discontinue mirroring.

Conclusion

At a retail price of only $99, the Apple TV packs quite a punch for the money.  After a short easy setup, you too can be streaming, buying, renting, and enjoying just about any modern movie or television out right now. 

Unbox, connect HDMI, and power it up.  Connect it to the internet and you will be enjoying high definition content in no time.

Advertisement