For reasons best known to Apple, there is no web browser available on the Apple TV. Despite the fact that the Apple TV runs a version of iOS there is not a version of Safari designed for Apple TV and there is no substitute web browser available in the TV App Store. 

But before you drown in disappointment, there are a few ways in which you can surf the web on your Apple TV. Read on to find out how.

We'll look at three ways in which you can access your favourite websites on your TV screen, including popular TV Catchup channels, FaceBook, Google's search engine and more. Read about how to watch OnDemand TV channels on Apple TV here.

Method 1: Surf the web on your Apple TV using AirPlay

This is the easiest way to surf the web on the Apple TV. It's ideal if you want to share the surfing experience with friends and family who are in the room with you, or if what you are looking at on the web would benefit from a bigger screen. 

Using Apple's AirPlay you can stream the screen of your iPhone or your Mac to your TV screen.

Pros: You can see everything that you see on your iPhone or Mac on the TV screen.

Cons: You might as well be looking at your iPhone or Mac screen, and when it comes to scrolling and typing you will be. You won't be able to use your iPhone for anything else while you are mirroring it's screen on the TV.

How to view your iPhone screen on your TV

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone to view Control Centre.
  2. Tap on Screen Mirroring Choose your Apple TV.
  3. You may be required to enter an AirPlay code for the Apple TV you are connecting too. This code will appear on the TV Screen attached to the Apple TV.
  4. Navigate to Safari on your iPhone and surf the web.
  5. If you rotate our iPhone into landscape you should be able to view the web using the full screen of your TV (some apps, like Facebook won’t rotate).

How to view the screen of your Mac on your TV

  1. Click on the AirPlay icon from the menu bar at the top of the screen (a triangle pointing into a box)
  2. Choose your Apple TV from the options
  3. You may be required to enter an AirPlay code for the Apple TV you are connecting too. This code will appear on the TV Screen attached to the Apple TV.
  4. Your Mac display may alter so that it is optimised for the Apple TV (this made everything smaller on our MacBook screen) .
  5. There are a few different ways you can set up AirPlay on your Mac and TV screen. You could mirror the Mac screen on the TV, in which case you will see everything on your Mac duplicated over on the TV.
  6. However, if you want to surf on your TV screen, while leaving your Mac free to do something else, you can change the arrangement of your screens - this would be ideal if you wanted to stream video to your TV while typing into a Pages document on your Mac at the same time.
  7. Open System Preferences > Display and click on Arrangement
  8. Deselect Mirror Displays, the screen will flash off and on again and you will no longer be mirroring.
  9. Now based on how you arrange the screens you can drag your Safari (or other browser) window over to the Apple TV screen. To figure our which display is which in the illustration under the Arrangement tab click on the screen and you will see a red outline on the one that represents the Apple TV. Drag in that direction and the browser will appear on your TV screen.
  10. You can now use your mouse, or trackpad to scroll around the browser on your TV screen.
  11. We find it preferable to use a separate keyboard and mouse because they feel less connected to your Mac and therefore you feel more like you are surfing the web on the TV. Even better if you have a wireless mouse and keyboard. One reason why this feels more natural is that you don’t need to look at your Mac at all while surfing.
  12. Remember that you won’t be able to continue using your Mac while someone else surfs the web on the TV screen (or rather you can, but there will be a battle over the mouse and keyboard). It’s the perfect set up for showing video on the TV screen - perhaps something on All4 or another Catch Up TV channel - while using your Mac for something else.

Read more about using AirPlay to stream from your Mac to TV here.

Method 2 - Surf the web using AirBrowser on your iPhone

One issue with surfing the web on your TV screen via your iPhone and AirPlay is the fact that you have to scroll and swipe around on your iPhone so you might as well be doing your surfing on that device rather than the TV. As we said earlier, it’s ideal if you want other people in the room to see what you are looking at, but otherwise, we’re not sure what you really gain.

Here's where AirBrowser comes in.

Pros: AirBrowser puts a web browser on your TV screen while reserving the iPhone for controls and a keypad. You get a full desktop view of the web pages. 

Cons: Not all elements of web pages worked in AirBrowser. Some forms were difficult to fill in if they used multiple choice. It costs £5.

AirBrowser places controls for browsing the web on your iPhone - so you can swipe around the page, or type using the iPhone keyboard, but the actual web page appears on the TV screen.

  1. Download AirBrowser from the App Store on your iPhone (it costs £4.99)
  2. Open the AirBrowser app.
  3. You will be asked to Connect Second Screen, the animation shows you how, except the animation shows how it worked in iOS 10, rather than iOS 11.
  4. Swipe up on Control Panel and choose Screen Mirroring.
  5. Choose your Apple TV.
  6. Now you should see a browser on the TV screen and a url bar on the iPhone. Tap on the URL bar and enter the name of the site you wish to visit, or a search phrase.
  7. On the TV screen you will either see the website you wished to visit or the results of your Google search.
  8. To scroll down the page swipe upwards with two fingers.
  9. To click on a link use one finger to track to the link and tap.
  10. To go back to the previous page tap on the back arrow at the top of the iPhone interface.
  11. To view all the tabs you have open tap on the central icon that shows 9 dots.
  12. You can view the site as it would appear on desktop or mobile by swiping between the two options at the bottom of the page.

We did encounter a few difficulties using AirBrowser. For example when it came to signing in to use services sometimes we weren’t able to because where a site used a multiple choice selection tool for, say, your date of birth or title, it wasn’t possible to select an option.

At other times we found that we couldn’t play video because it was in Flash. The browser seems to fool the site into thinking it’s a Mac, but of course your TV and your iPhone can’t download Flash so you can’t view the content.

Another issue we had was when viewing iTV player. We were able to get it to play the content but we weren’t able to select full screen view in order for the video player to fill the TV screen. Instead we were able to increase page size by zooming in (pinch to zoom). We had more success with iTV player than any of the other TV services. On my5 we got a video playback errors.

Read more about watching OnDemand TV on your Apple TV here.

Method 3 - Using tvOSBrowser to surf the web on your Apple TV

This one is a little more complicated to set up, but essentially gives you a web browser on your Apple TV. You’ll need an Apple Developer account (which is free), Xcode and a USB-C cable or an adapter. If that doesn’t sound like you it probably won’t be worth you reading any further.

Pros: This is the closest you will get to an web browser app for the Apple TV.

Cons: It's not easy to install and probably isn't worth the effort.

Of course if you like tinkering with things like this, then go ahead. This would probably interest you too: How to jailbreak an Apple TV.

  1. We’ll assume you have a developer account. If not you need to set one up here developer.apple.com/account.
  2. Download Xcode from the Mac App Store.
  3. Get a USB-A to USB-C cable.
  4. Download the source code to tvOSBrowser using Xcode (you can get it from here https://github.com/steventroughtonsmith/tvOSBrowser)
  5. This is where it all gets a little complicated. You have to remove some code in order to get the tvOSBrowser to work. We suggest you read this tutorial here.