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.
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
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.
1. Download Xcode
Go to the Mac App Store for Xcode which is available as a free download.
In order to install Xcode, you must agree to the licence agreement and then authorise the installation using the administrator username and password credentials.
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
Using either Spotlight or AlfredApp, press Command-Spacebar or Option-Spacebar, respectively and type Xcode in the search box and press Enter.
You'll see the initial Xcode screen, as illustrated above.
4. Select the Apple TV 4 Device
From the menu bar, at the top of the screen, select Window > Devices, or simultaneously press the Shift-Command-2 keys.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.