Of all the products that Apple makes, the least known is probably the Apple TV (reviewed here). Until recently Apple's set-top box was hidden away on the Apple Store in the iPod section, however, now the Apple TV got its own section of the store.
The lack of attention on Apple's part is probably not so surprising given that it is a product that Apple used to refer to as a hobby, but it's unfortunate because at £79 it's one of the best Apple products you can get for your money.
Apple's lack of attention to the Apple TV means that there is little guidance about the product and little in the way of instructions for using the device - and troubleshooting problems with the Apple TV. Apple does have an Apple TV support section on its website, but it only seems to touch on the basics.
In this article we will look at some Apple TV tips, as well as giving guidance on setting up the Apple TV and troubleshooting problems with it.
If you are thinking of buying an Apple TV it might be worth holding off for a month or two - Apple is expected to launch a new set top box at some point this year, read about it in our new Apple TV release date story. However, we are sure that any new features that come to the Apple TV will work with the existing box, so if you are very keen to buy one, you are unlikely to have too many regrets.
What is an Apple TV?
The Apple TV is a 10cm squared box that's less than an inch high and plugs into your HDTV so that you can watch movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store. You can also play content from Netflix (for a £5.99 a month subscription); view videos on YouTube and Vimeo, and stream music and photos from iCloud. You can also view whatever is on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch screen, and push content from your Mac to your TV screen.
Apple continues to add more features to the Apple TV via software updates, these updates have included Sky's Now TV service that allows people who aren't Sky subscribers to sign up for 24 hour access to sports events for £9.99 a pop, or Sky's Entertainment and Movies packages for £6.99 a month and £9.99 respectively. Sky claims to have 800 films available on the Movies channel.
While it is possible to watch iPlayer programmes on the Apple TV this is only when streaming from the iPhone, iPad or Mac. There are hopes that BBC iPlayer might get its own Apple TV app soon. Read: How to watch TV on Apple TV, get iPlayer, Sky Go and more on Apple TV
How to set up an Apple TV - the basics
First things first. If you've just bought an Apple TV, here's how to set it up.
1) Get an HDMI cable for your Apple TV
You need an HDMI cable to connect Apple TV to your TV and you won't get very far without one. Unfortunately Apple doesn't include an HDMI cable in the box, so you'll need to buy one separately. Apple sells a 1.8m HDMI to HDMI cable for £15, but you can get HDMI cables for less, and you could even pick one up for less in your local Tesco. Once you have the cable, connect your Apple TV to your television, power it on and wait until your Apple TV displays the setup screen.
2) How to use your iPhone or iPad to set up your Apple TV
When you first plug in and turn on your Apple TV (you'll likely need to wake it up by pressing the button in the middle of the remote) you will see this screen. It allows you to chose your language, tells you how to get Voice Over functionality, and also indicates that if you have an iPhone 4s or later, a third generation iPad, an iPad mini or a fifth generation iPod touch running iOS 7 or iOS 8 you will be able to use your iOS device to set up your Apple TV wirelessly (as long as that Apple TV is running Apple TV software 6.0 or later).
Unlock your iOS device and turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and you'll be able to transfer the following from your iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV:
- Wi-Fi network and password
- iTunes Store account details
- Language and region format preferences
You will also need to make sure that you are connected to the same Wi-Fi network you wish the Apple TV to join.If you aren't connected to WiFi you will get a warning that you need to be.
All you need to do is touch your iOS device to your Apple TV and wait for the prompts before enter your Apple ID and password on your iOS device (you will have to type the whole thing, TouchID doesn't work here). You can then choose whether the Apple TV should remember your Apple ID password, and if you want Apple TV to send data to Apple.
3) Set up the Apple TV without an iPhone or iPad
If you don't have an iOS device to hand, setting up the Apple TV isn't complicated; it's just much more frustrating as you will need to add passwords and other information such as your Wi-Fi network details by scrolling around an on screen keyboard that's in alphabetical order. In no time you will be wishing there was an easier way. Luckily there is: more on that below.
Setting up the Apple TV should be a simple matter of logging into your Apple account and finding and logging on to your WiFi network.
We definately recommend using an iOS device to set up your Apple TV though if you have one to hand.
4) Update the software on the Apple TV
You may need to perform a software update on the Apple TV. To do so scroll across the 'apps' on the screen to Settings using the right side of the black circle on the Apple Remote that came with the Apple TV. Once you are on Settings press the button in the middle of your remote and then navigate to General > Software Updates > Update Software and check whether your software is up-to-date. If it isn't wait while the latest update downloads.
While you are here you could choose to Update Automatically, or not. Generally we'd say that leaving the Apple TV to automatically update itself would be best, but there have been times when updates have caused problems so if you are the cautious type it may be worth turning automatic updates off, just make sure you check from time to time to see if there is an update or you will miss out on new channels and other new features.
5) Make sure your settings are correct on Apple TV
While in Settings > General you can also make sure the time zone settings, language settings, and sleep settings are the way you want them to be.
For example, although we set our Apple TV up using the iPhone it still put us in the Los Angeles time zone.
You can choose to set the time zone automatically, just select Set Automatically. When we did a couple of seconds later the Time Zone switched to London.
Tips for navigating the Apple TV interface
Finding your way around the Apple TV interface is simple, but the lack of buttons on the remote control can sometimes be confusing. Here's our guide to navigating the Apple TV.
1) Button layout
Apple prides itself on it's minimalist remote control. You'll find the Select button in the centre, encircled by the up, down, left and right navigation buttons. Below those are the Menu and the Play/Pause buttons. That should be all the buttons you need (if you find the lack of buttons frustrating though read the section below about using alternative remotes).
2) Using the Select button
You navigate around the Apple TV menus using the left, right, up and down controls. When you see something you wish to access just press the central Select button.
3) Menu button to step back, and get straight back to the home screen
Wherever you are on the Apple TV just press the Menu button to go back a step. If you are fed up with clicking back through sub menus to get to the home screen? Rather than go back through every sub menu you opened you can get straight back to the home screen by pressing and holding down the menu button for a few seconds.
4) Browse Apple's Movies, TV Shows
Navigate to and click on Movies or TV Shows icons on the Apple TV home screen to see the selection of entertainment Apple has on the iTunes Store, including any films or TV shows you have purchased.
You can navigate around Purchased (where anything you already own will be available to download from iCloud), Top Films/TV Programmes (what's popular/new to iTunes), Genres (comedy, action, etc), Genius (recommendations based on what you have previously watched) and Search.
If you wish to step back, or access another part of that menu, press the Menu button on your Remote. If you find something you would like to watch select it with the button in the middle of the remote, and choose to Buy or Rent. (Many of these films and TV shows are also available on Netflix for a monthly subscription, more on that below).
5) Fast forward and rewind on Apple TV
When you are playing content just hold down the Right button to fast-forward; press the button again to increase the fast-forward speed (there are three speeds) – same applies for rewind, just press the Left button.
6) Slow Motion on Apple TV
To move forward or back in slow motion, press the Play/Pause button to pause the video, then press the Right or Left button. To skip forward or back in 10-second increments, press the Play/Pause button to pause the video, then hold down the Right or Left button.
7) Skip ahead on Apple TV
To skip to the next or previous chapter (if no chapter markers are present, this will skip 1/20th of the video length, or 30 second intervals whichever is longer) press the Down button, then Right or Left to skip chapters.
8) Read about what you are watching
When you are watching content on the Apple TV just press up on the remote control to view information about what you are watching.
9) How to remove channels from your Apple TV menu
You can choose which apps appear on the Apple TV's home screen. Right now you can see the following services on the UK version of the Apple TV: movie and box set streaming service Netflix; Now TV; YouTube; video community Vimeo; concerts and music documentaries from Qello; music videos and concerts from Vevo; photos from Flickr; Japanese anime from Crunchyroll; live Korean TV from KORTV (why?); business reports from Bloomberg and WSJ Live; Sky News; Sky Sports Now TV service; more sports from NHL and MLB (yawn); You Tube; and Red Bull TV, and a few other bits and bobs that you probably will never even look at.
If you want to remove any of these channels from your Apple TV home screen you can press and hold the select key on the remote until the item jiggles and then press the directional buttons to move it or press the Play/Pause button to see more options including 'Hide This Item'. This is a great way to remove all the random American sports channels, and the truely baffeling KORTV.
Apple only introduced this simple way to reorganise your home screen in 2014. Prior to that it was necessary to Settings > General > Restrictions. You'd see all the channels listed with the word "Show" next to them. Just scroll to the channels you wish to remove and select "Hide". It looks like you need to enable Parental Controls, but you don't.
10) How to rearrange icons on the Apple TV Home Screen
You can also rearrange icons on the Apple TV home screen. Press and hold the button in the centre of your remote and when the apps start jiggling you can move them around using your up, down, left and right keys. It's just like iOS on your iPad or iPhone. Press Menu when you are done.
11) Put Apple TV to sleep/stand by mode
Put the Apple TV to sleep by holding the central select button for a few seconds when on the main menu (this trick used to work but appears not to now).
Alternatively, go to Settings > Sleep Now on Apple TV.
12) Reset Apple TV
Press and hold the Menu and Down buttons for six seconds. But remember you will need to set the Apple TV up again afterwards.
Netflix tips for Apple TV
Probably the best thing about the Apple TV is Netflix. For just £5.99 a month you get access to tons and tons of great TV shows and movies. Once you have subscribed to Netflix you'll be able to watch Netflix content on your Apple TV as well as your Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone and other gadgets, like games consoles.
While you can get Netflix on other devices, we think that the Apple TV interface is the best and easiest to use and explore. You'll find hundreds of TV shows, movies and doccumentaries. We recommend the best way to find content you will like is to find a film or TV show you enjoy and see what similar shows and movies are recommended. There is so much content available on Netflix it can be overwhelming and sometimes it looks like it's just a load of old movies you don't want to watch, but dig a bit and you'll find loads of great content.
1)Play next episode in Netflix
In Netflix, press Play on the episode in the summary episode-list page to play it directly rather than select the episode first.
2) Play next unwatched episode in Netflix
If you press play on a series (either from the Search results or from the main menu) it will play the next unwatched episode.
When you get to the end of an episode Netflix will automatically play the next one. You can see why people get hooked!
3) See subtitles in Netflix
Hold the middle button to set subtitles in the Netflix app.
4) Find out programme information
Press up on the control to see details of what you are watching.
5) Get US Netflix in the UK
We don't necessarily recommend it, but we do have a guide to getting US Netflix on your Apple TV.
Remote control alternatives for Apple TV
The Apple TV remote might be a thing of beauty but it’s also a slippery little blighter that gets lost easily. Arguably it isn’t the most ergonomic item either, and can lead to hand cramp with frequent use.
Luckily, you can program the Apple TV using your iPhone, a bluetooth keyboard, or your existing TV remote, which can be useful if it contains additional playback buttons that aren’t ordinarily used, or if its standard controls aren’t recognised by the TV when the Apple TV is in use.
Alternatively, if you’ve an old TV or set-top box remote control no longer in use you can use that instead, or utilise an inexpensive universal remote, we'll show you how.
1) Control your Apple TV from your iPhone or iPad
The metal remote that comes with the Apple TV isn’t the only way to control Apple’s set-top box. If you have an iPhone or iPad you can download the Remote app from the App Store. Before the app can work you will need to enable Home Sharing on your iPad or iPhone.
When you have downloaded the app open it and you will be taken to a screen that invites you to set up Home Sharing, tap on that and insert your Apple ID and Password (Touch ID doesn't work here). Once you have done that Home Sharing will be turned on on your iOS device.
You can also turn on Home Sharing in iTunes in your Mac. Go to iTunes > File > Home Sharing > Turn on Home Sharing. As before enter your password and log in.
You will also have to turn on Home Sharing on the Apple TV. To do so go to Settings > General > Computers and Turn on Home Sharing.
With Home Sharing on you will be able to access the content in the iTunes library on any of your devices from any of your devices, as long as they all use the same Apple ID.
Once Home Sharing is on on your devices you will see them in the Remote app. If they don't show up just close and restart the app. (We had to download an update to our Remote app to get it to work).
You can now tap the Apple TV image to access controls for the device. You swipe your finger around on the screen of your iPhone or iPad, just as you would a track pad. Swipe up to go up, swipe down to go down. And tap to select what you land on. Tap Menu to go back to the menu screen on your Apple TV.
The best thing about using the iPhone app is, without a doubt, being able to use the keyboard to enter search terms and passwords. For example, entering your Netflix email address and password need not be a hassle using the keyboard on your iPhone. As long as you remember your password that is.
When you no longer need the keyboard you can tap hide (top right) or bring it back by tapping the keyboard icon.
2) Adding a new remote to the Apple TV
To setup a new remote, use the standard Apple remote to open Settings and then click General > Remotes > Learn Remote. Then click the Start button. Press and hold the buttons on the new remote that match the on-screen symbols. Release only when the blue progress bar beneath has filled. Follow the steps and give your new remote a name. Optionally, following this you can continue the steps to configure playback controls, if your remote has them.
If you’re looking for a use for the old Apple remote, you can use it with your MacBook or iMac to control iTunes playback – just open System Preferences, click Security & Privacy, then click the Advanced button. In the dialog box that appears click Pair and follow the instructions. Remember that you can only use the remote in a room that the Apple TV isn’t in, however, because it will still respond!
You can also set up a universal remote to control the Apple TV (it has to be a universal remote - chances are your existing remote won't suffice). Connect a universal remote to your Apple TV in Settings > General > Remotes.
3) Use a bluetooth keyboard with your Apple TV
Apple’s documentation states that only recent Apple Wireless Keyboards (where “recent” means “all but the original 2003 model”) are officially supported by the Apple TV (running software version 5.2 or higher). However, the company also points out that “third-party Bluetooth keyboards that use the Apple keyboard layout may also be compatible.” In our tests we found that various third-party Bluetooth keyboards and iPad keyboards worked perfectly well.
To pair your keyboard with the Apple TV, you need to do the following:
Put the keyboard in pairing mode. Many Bluetooth keyboards have a dedicated Pairing button that you press (or hold) until a light flashes to indicate pairing mode. Others (including Apple’s Wireless Keyboard) require you to press and hold the keyboard’s power button until the pairing-mode light flashes.
Use your Apple TV’s remote to navigate to Settings > General > Bluetooth. The Apple TV will automatically begin searching for nearby Bluetooth devices that are in pairing mode.
Once your keyboard appears in the list, select it and press the Select key on the Apple TV remote.
After a few seconds, you’ll be prompted to type, on the keyboard, a four-digit code that appears on your TV’s screen.
Type that code and press Return or Enter, and you’ll receive a confirmation message that the keyboard is now paired with the Apple TV.
From now on, whenever you turn your Bluetooth keyboard on, it will automatically reconnect to the Apple TV - you’ll see an on-screen indicator that looks like Apple’s Wireless Keyboard with a link symbol above it.
The arrow keys on your keyboard function just like the Up, Down, Back, and Forward buttons on the Apple TV’s remote. The Return and Enter keys on your keyboard act as the remote’s Select button, as you’d expect, and you emulate the remote’s Menu button by pressing Escape on the keyboard.
The best thing: when you’re scrolling through menus on the Apple TV, you can type the first few letters of any menu item to jump directly to it. if you have an Apple Wireless Keyboard, or any Mac- or iPad-focused keyboard with media-playback keys (Play/Pause, Previous, and Next), you can use them to control media playback.
How to view photos on the Apple TV
The Apple TV is a great gadget if you want to view your photos on your large TV screen. Here's how:
1) How to view a Mac photo album on the Apple TV
To view photos from your Mac on your Apple TV you need Home Sharing turned on in iTunes on your Mac and on your Apple TV.
To turn on Home Sharing, open iTunes on your computer, choose File > Home Sharing > Turn On Home Sharing, then enter your Apple ID and password and click Turn on Home Sharing.
Now in iTunes choose File > Home Sharing > Choose Photos to Share, then select Share Photos from and choose a source, either your whole photo library, Faces, Events or selected Albums, and click Apply.
Now choose Computers from the Apple TV menu and choose Photos. Select an album and you can add music, transitions and other slideshow effects using settings. You can also set it as a Screen Saver.
To start a slideshow, from inside the album click up on the Remote until you have Slideshow selected. Choose the settings for your slideshow, including the music, and the style of slideshow. There are lots of Slideshow styles to choose from, from a Photo Wall that looks like the Apple TV is panning around a gallery, to a Scrapbook, or Ken Burns style.
If you want to add music, select Default Music, you shoudl then see a link to the music library on your Mac, and then the choice of going to your Music library, or choosing from Recently Played, or Top 25 Most Played. What you can't do is choose a particular track.
When you have chosen your Slideshow style, select Start Slideshow.
You can also set the album to be your default Screen Saver. From within the album click up on the remote and across to Screen Saver. The Apple TV will ask you if you wish to use that album for your Screen Saver, click on Yes.
Remember, if your computer is off then you won't be able to view the slideshow as these images are stored on your Mac.
2) Create an iCloud photo stream to view on an Apple TV
Another way to view photos on your Apple TV is using iCloud Photo Sharing. Start by creating a photo stream. To set up a Photo Stream on your iPad or iPhone go to Settings > iCloud > Photos, and the use the toggle to turn Upload to My Photo Stream on to automatically upload all the your new photos to all your devices.
If you don't want every picture you take to appear on your Apple TV, you can create a separate photo stream by turning on iCloud Photo Sharing (you can actually share this with up to 100 people if you want). Now when you have a photo you wish to share, tap through to the Share Sheet and select iCloud. At this point either create a New Shared Stream, or add to an existing stream, and share with your iCloud address.
The next step is to get your Apple TV home page and scroll down to iCloud Photos. It will request that you sign in to use features such as iCloud Photos, iMovie Theatre, and Family Sharing. Select Yes to sign into iCloud. (Remember that if you have installed the Remote app on your iPhone you can enter the password using the keyboard, you just need to open the app). Wait while it connects. Nect it will ask if you want to use My Photo Stream as your Screen Saver, you could choose to say yes, or you might prefer to pick a particular album to share with anyone who happens to be visiting.
Once you access your iCloud Photos you will have access to all the photos in your photo stream, along with photos from any friend's who share their photo libraries with you, and photos you share with others via iCloud Photo Stream.
If you don't see your photos that are in your Shared Stream, go to Settings on your Apple TV and choose iCloud > iCloud Photos Settings and turn on Photo Sharing and turn on My Photo Stream. It can take a few minutes for your photos to appear but when they are there you will be able to choose to view them in a slide show and even as your screen saver.
You can also stream photos this way from your Mac. In iPhoto or Aperture create an album, then choose Add to iCloud and select the Photo Stream you wish to share.
A shared stream can hold a maximum of 5000 photos and videos combined, but none of these eat into your iCloud allowance.
Apple is supposed to be launching a service soon that will store all your photos, whether taken on iPhone, iPad or stored on your Mac, in the cloud, so that you can access them all on any of your devices as any time. We'll update this section of this feature when this new service launches.
3) Share photos from your iPhone or iPad to the Apple TV
The easiest way to view a photo from an iPhone or iPad on the TV screen is to select the image and click on the Share icon (the box with an arrow coming out of it). Then choose the AirPlay icon to view the image on the TV screen. Once you are connected to the Apple TV any photo you open on your iPhone or iPad will appear on the big screen too, so you can swipe through an album, or choose to play a slideshow.
To stream a slideshow from your iPhone to the Apple TV, select the Share icon again, and tap Slideshow > Start Slideshow.
4) What to do if Apple TV isn't playing your photo albums or slideshows
Make sure the Apple TV and the Mac you’re using have Home Sharing turned on - and that they are using the same Home Sharing account. Make sure they are on the same local network.
Make sure you have photos in your photo library or in a folder on your computer (not on an external storage device), and make sure the photos you want to share are selected.
If you are still unable to see the images on your Apple TV try this. In iTunes, go to File > Home Sharing. Select Share Photos From: and click on the down arrow beside iPhoto to choose a folder. Now you can choose a folder of images anywhere on your Mac. Select the folder and choose Open and Apply.
How to use AirPlay to stream content from your Mac, iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV
Using AirPlay it is simple to see any content from your Mac, iPhone or iPad on your TV screen. Here's how:
1) How to share an iPad or iPhone screen to Apple TV
Anyone can stream content from their iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV, they just need to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV.
Swipe up to turn on AirPlay in the Control Center of the device in question and select the Apple TV.
Any item can be viewed – even iTunes purchases or rentals, they just need to be authorised to play on that Apple TV. The device then needs to stay within the Wi-Fi network while you are watching.
To stream a movie or TV show from your iPhone to the Apple TV follow these instructions: Locate the content on your device (if it's in iCloud download it - although you could just stream it from iCloud on the Apple TV itself).
Just play the content on your iPhone and it will stream to the TV screen. If it doesn't, swipe up on the iPhone sreen to enter Control Centre, and select the Apple TV.
2) How to share or stream your Mac screen to your TV via Apple TV
On your Apple TV, click on Settings > General > Network and make sure the Apple TV is connected to the same network as your Mac (and iOS device). Click Menu on the Remote to return to Settings and choose AirPlay. Set AirPlay to On.
On your Mac click on the Apple TV icon in the menu bar at the top right of the screen. The icon looks like this:
You can choose to view a separate desktop on your Apple TV, or you can mirror the desktop on your Mac.
If you would rather mirror your Mac screen on your Apple TV, select the AirPlay icon from the menu, and choose Mirror Built In display.
If you choose to have a separate desktop on your TV screen, you can treat your TV in exactly the same way as you would a separate monitor. To drag a window over to the second display, click on the window and drag it over to the other screen (try dragging left or right, one will be right). This way you could play a video on your TV screen while still using the other screen of your MacBook to work.
We used this technique to stream iPlayer from the web version onto the TV screen while writing this feature. The iPlayer playback was more jittery than usual. We were also able to view content from 4oD and ITV Player this way, although, again this was very sluggish and in the case of ITV Player very pixelated. For a better way of watching TV On the Apple TV read this article: Watch TV on the Apple TV
Expect to find scrolling around the two screens quite difficult and particularly sluggish when using the TV as a second monitor.
When we used the Apple TV to mirror our laptop screen we found the playback quality was better, although still a little jittery.
Another reason to use the Mac for surfing the web rather than trying to do so on the TV screen is that the text is incredibly small and difficult to read if you are over the other side of the room. Luckily there is a better way: Read How to surf the web on Apple TV
How to use AirPlay to stream from your iPhone or iPad to the Apple TV
AirPlay is available on the iPhone 4 or later, iPad iPad mini, 4th gen iPod touch, and the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TV.
For AirPlay to work you need to make sure both devices are on the same WiFi network.
Enable AirPlay by swiping up from the bottom of the screen of your iPad or iPhone and tap AirPlay
Choose the device you want to AirPlay to, e.g. Apple TV.
If you don't see the AirPlay icon, make sure your software is up to date on both products. Verify that Wi-Fi is turned on and that you are connected to the same network.
Make sure that AirPlay is enabled on your Apple TV. To enable or disable AirPlay on Apple TV go to the AirPlay menu: Settings > AirPlay.
The failure to show AirPlay could be due to a weak Wi-Fi connection, interference, or the distance between the Wi-Fi router and your iOS device and Apple TV.
As with the Mac and TV set up you can choose to mirror your screen, or not, although in this case if you choose not to mirror your iPad or iPhone screen you still won't be able to do something else with your iOS device.
In many cases you will only be able to view the screen of your iPhone or iPad if you choose to Mirror it. If an app only works in portrait (like Facebook) you will only be able to view it in portrait. However, if you rotate the device on its side you will be able to view the pages in landscape.
Surfing the web this way is certainly preferable to surfing on the Apple TV via a Mac, because the text is a decent size for viewing across the room. The only downside is that you will find yourself looking at your phone in order to navigate, which rather negates using the TV. There are, however, other ways to surf the web on your Apple TV.
The best audio and video setup for Apple TV
Now your Apple TV is set up lets take a look at the hardware: what plugs in where, and how to ensure you get the best audio and video quality.
The third-gen Apple TV features two methods of sound output: a dedicated optical output (often referred to as TOSLINK or sometimes S/PDIF), and audio output as part of the overall HDMI signal that also carries video.
You can skip this part if you don't have an expensive home entertainment set up in your home. Just plugging your Apple TV into your TV via the HDMI cable should mean that the audio comes through your TV speakers. However, if you have some expensive stereo or AV equipment here's how to set that up.
Here are the options for typical home entertainment setups (tips provided by Keir Thomas).
1) Apple TV and AV receiver and TV
If your AV receiver has HDMI input and output, as most do, connect your Apple TV via one of the HDMI In ports, then connect the AV receiver to the TV via a second cable from the HDMI Out. Alternatively, for optimal quality connect your Apple TV directly to your TV using an HDMI cable, then use an optical digital cable to make a direct connection to your receiver’s optical input. If your receiver only has a coaxial digital input then an inexpensive converter box will be required.
2) Apple TV and AV receiver/TV and also hi-fi system
Connect the Apple TV’s HDMI output to the receiver, then connect the receiver to the TV via its HDMI output. Use the optical output to connect your hi-fi (see below if your hi-fi lacks a digital input). If you’d like to use an optical connection for both your receiver and your hi-fi, an inexpensive optical audio splitter box can be used to provide a signal for the receiver/TV when you’re watching television or movies, and for a hi-fi when you want to use your Apple TV to stream audio. Remember that the signal is digital so there’ll be no degradation in quality!
3) Apple TV and RCA/phono hi-fi, or headphones
For some hi-fi systems with RCA/phono input (that is, the traditional red and white analogue audio inputs) you’ll need an optical digital to analogue RCA/phono converter box. Because this device generates the audio you hear, the hardware inside has a substantial effect on quality. Audiophiles pay entertaining amounts of money for the best examples although perfectly functional examples can be had for less than a tenner on eBay – just search for “TOSLINK to analog converter”.
4) Apple TV: how to get the best picture quality on Apple TV
Ensure you’re outputting the correct HD resolution for your TV by opening Settings, and selecting the Audio & Video heading, and paying attention to the HDMI Output and TV Resolution headings. Then return to the main menu and select iTunes Store, and ensure the correct setting is visible under the Video Resolution heading.
Don’t forget that some TVs might need overscan deactivating to ensure the sharpest possible image without any cropping at the edges. How this is done varies from model to model, so see the TV’s instruction manual, although often selecting the PC/gaming option on the TV does the trick.
If you find overscan being used during AirPlay playback, open Settings on the Apple TV, then select Audio & Video, and turn off the option entitled Adjust for AirPlay Overscan.
Troubleshooting Apple TV
Here are some quick fixes for common Apple TV problems:
1) How to restore Apple TV
Go to Settings > General > Reset, and then select Restore. Restoring Apple TV can take some time.
If restoring doesn’t work or if Apple TV still doesn’t respond, you can restore it using iTunes.
Start by disconnecting the power and HDMI cables from Apple TV. Now connect one end of a micro USB cable (sold separately) to the back of Apple TV, and the other end to your computer. Now plug the Apple TV power cord back power outlet.
Open iTunes on your computer, select Apple TV in the Source list, and then click Restore.
2) Apple TV networking issues
You can resolve many Wi-Fi issues by checking your network connection settings. Find these at Settings > General > Network > WiFi on the Apple TV.
If you discover that you aren't connected to a network, the signal strength is low, or some of these settings are incorrect or blank, try the following steps:
Ensure that Apple TV is within range of your Wi-Fi router or base station.
Confirm that your Wi-Fi router and cable/DSL modem are connected to power and turned on.
Make sure other devices (you Mac, iPhone, iPad) are able to connect to the Wi-Fi network and access the internet.
If your Wi-Fi network uses a password, make sure you are entering it correctly.
Check for obstructions and change the location of the base station and/or Apple TV if necessary.
If security is enabled on the network, temporarily disable it on the base station and try connecting again.
Restart your Apple TV by choosing Settings > General > Restart.
Restart your router.
Connect your Apple TV to your modem via an ethernet cable and verify your internet connection
Check you are using the latest software at Settings > General > Software Update. (Update the software via an ethernet connection if necessary).
If it's still not working, check which IP address the Apple TV is using. If it starts with 169.x.x.x, the router or base station may not be configured properly. Check to see if DHCP access is available. If DHCP is available, go to Settings menu, select General then Network and Configure TCP/IP. Set Apple TV to Automatic. If DHCP isn't available you can also configure the Apple TV with a manual IP address.