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  1. Computer Skills
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Computers

How to Take Screenshots on a 2015 Apple TV 4

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

In this tutorial, I'll show you how it is possible to take screenshots of an Apple TV 4 by using a Mac, the Xcode App—downloadable from the Mac App Store—and a USB-A to USB-C cable.

With previous incarnations of Apple's hobby device, it has not been possible to take screenshots. Well, not easily. And not all the time. The exception was the first incarnation of the hockey puck-sized black box, the Apple TV 2. 

With some jailbreaking software, some command-line trickery and a little knowhow, it was possible to take screenshots. This was not possible on the Apple TV 3 since it was never successfully jailbroken.

With the recent release, on Friday 30th October 2015, of Apple's latest TV device it is now possible to take screenshots relatively easily.

What You'll Need

If you already own an Apple Mac computer, then you're half way there, already. In addition to the Mac, you'll need software, a cable and the Apple TV 4 itself. 

Apples fourth Apple TV Image from Applecom
Apple's fourth Apple TV. (Image courtesy of Apple.com)

Before embarking on this tutorial, ensure that you have:

  • An Apple Mac computer. Ideally a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro
  • An installed copy of Apple's Xcode software
  • A USB-A to USB-C cable
  • An Apple TV 4 plugged into a television via HDMI

I'd recommend that you ensure that you have a clear working area, before you start, and ensure that you can place the Mac close enough, safely, to the Apple TV as it is likely that the USB cable is not more than a metre or two in length.

Note, you can also use a new MacBook to connect to an Apple TV 4. In this instance, you'll need, instead, to purchase a USB-C to USB-C cable.

Getting the Correct Cable

Youll need a USB-A to USB-C cable
You'll need a USB-A to USB-C cable

USB-C is a relatively recent standard for USB cables and is already in use on the MacBook and some Android smartphones. It's likely that, unless you have one of these devices, you'll not yet have the correct cable.

The USB-A to USB-C cable can be ordered directly from Apple or it is possible to source them at any good computer accessories retailer or through Amazon.

Getting Started

1. Download Xcode

Xcode is availabe for free download in the Mac App Store
Xcode is availabe for free download in the Mac App Store

Go to the Mac App Store for Xcode which is available as a free download.

Agree the the licence agreement
Agree the the licence agreement

In order to install Xcode, you must agree to the licence agreement and then authorise the installation using the administrator username and password credentials.

Enter the administrator name and password to proceed with the installation of Xcode
Enter the administrator name and password to proceed with the installation of Xcode
Wait a few moments whilst Xcode is installed
Wait a few moments whilst Xcode is installed

2. Connect the USB-C Cable

Connect the USB cable to the Mac and the Apple TV 4. It will only connect one way round—the larger USB-A end into the Mac. Unless, of course, you're using a new MacBook, in which case you'll be using a USB-C to USB-C cable that will connect either way round.

Ensure, also, that the Apple TV 4 is connected to the television via a compatible HDMI cable. The Apple TV 4 must be connected, to a television, in order to capture screenshots from the device.

3. Launch Xcode

Launching Xcode using Spotlight
Launching Xcode using Spotlight

Using either Spotlight or AlfredApp, press Command-Spacebar or Option-Spacebar, respectively and type Xcode in the search box and press Enter.

Launch the Xcode app
Launch the Xcode app

You'll see the initial Xcode screen, as illustrated above.

4. Select the Apple TV 4 Device

Open Windows  Devices
Open Windows > Devices

From the menu bar, at the top of the screen, select Window > Devices, or simultaneously press the Shift-Command-2 keys.

iTunes may launch automatically
iTunes may launch automatically

You may notice that iTunes launches, automatically, when the connection is made between the Mac and the Apple TV 4. This can be disregarded for the moment.

Apple TV 4 showing as tethered to Xcode on a MacBook Pro
Apple TV 4 showing as tethered to Xcode on a MacBook Pro

In the left-hand pane, at the top of the Xcode window, you'll see the Mac that you are using and the Apple TV 4 listed below it under the Devices heading. You may need to click once on the Apple TV 4 to select it.

5. Taking a Screenshot on the Apple TV 4

The first screenshot taken from my Apple TV 4
The first screenshot taken from my Apple TV 4

In the main pane, you'll see two buttons, the second of which says Take Screenshot. Use the Siri Remote, for the Apple TV 4, to navigate to the screen that you wish to capture, and click the Take Screenshot button.

Screenshot of the Apple TV 4 home screen
Screenshot of the Apple TV 4 home screen

By default, all screenshots are 1920x1080 pixels and will be saved as .png (portable network graphic) files to the Desktop of the Mac, unless you have implemented some Terminal commands to save screenshots elsewhere and/or to change the format to which they are saved.

A screenshot of an app on Apple TV 4
A screenshot of an app on Apple TV 4

It is even possible to take screenshots of apps, as you are using them, on the Apple TV 4. The image above is a screenshot of the Ookla Speedtest app.

Points to Note

When using the Apple TV 4 tethered to a Mac, to take screenshots, it is important to remember:

  • The Apple TV 4 must be connected to a television via a compatible HDMI cable
  • You will not get sounds from the television whilst the Apple TV 4 is tethered to the Mac

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I have explained what is required in order to take screenshots on a 2015 Apple TV 4, how to connect the device you a Mac and what you need to do in order to capture screenshots of the images displayed on an Apple TV 4.

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