Everything you need to know about the Apple TV!

Take Control of
Apple TV

Third Edition
Josh Centers

Whether you’re considering an Apple TV, already own one, or have a smart TV or streaming device that supports AirPlay and/or the Apple TV app, you can more fully enjoy Apple’s ecosystem with this ultimate guide by TidBITS managing editor Josh Centers. You’ll learn about the best TVs and sound equipment to buy, how to maximize your Apple TV’s picture quality, get the most out of the Apple TV app, control your media with AirPlay, and so much more!

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Josh walks you through cables, ports, and setup, and explains how to use gestures and spoken commands with the Siri Remote—yes, you can talk to your TV! He helps you navigate and customize the Home screen, plus describes getting-started settings such as inputting your Apple ID and enabling parental controls.

You’ll learn how to use the TV app (whether on the Apple TV box itself, on a Mac running Catalina, on an iPhone or iPad, or on a third-party smart TV), and how you can best view home movies and TV shows. The book also looks at using an Apple TV to listen to your music or Apple Music, download and play podcasts from Music or iTunes, and browse your photos.

In Take Control of Apple TV you’ll also read about:

  • What’s new in tvOS 13 (and what was new in tvOS 12)
  • Which Apple TV model to buy—or whether you should get different hardware instead
  • Getting the most out of your the Siri Remote
  • Alternatives to the Siri Remote
  • Using a game controller with Apple TV
  • Controlling Apple TV with Shortcuts
  • Using AirPlay to beam the display of your Mac or iPhone screen to your TV
  • Making Mac or iOS audio play through your TV’s speakers
  • Running iTunes Home Sharing to play media from a local computer
  • What you can do with Conference Room Display mode
  • How to tell whether an iOS app includes a free copy of its Apple TV version
  • How to reset or restore an Apple TV—useful for troubleshooting or for handing your device to a new owner

Compatibility? This book covers the fourth-generation Apple TV (now called Apple TV HD) and the newer Apple TV 4K model. It does not cover earlier generations of Apple TV hardware.

Josh Centers

About Josh Centers

Josh Centers is the managing editor of TidBITS and a freelance writer who has written for Macworld, the Magazine, Boing Boing, and the Sweethome. He has been featured on Daring Fireball, the Loop, TUAW, and Scientific American, and is a frequent guest on MacVoices. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, Hannah, and their two children.

What’s New in Version 3.0

This new version of Take Control of Apple TV has been completely overhauled to reflect the media landscape in 2020, including tvOS 13 and the availability of the Apple TV app outside of the Apple ecosystem. While much of the book is new, here are some highlights:

  • In "Do You Still Need an Apple TV?", I tackle the somewhat existential question of whether you even need an Apple TV box, given that AirPlay and the Apple TV app are available on so many other TV platforms now.
  • In "Control Your Apple TV," I’ve added new sections: "Control an Apple TV with Control Center," "Control Apple TV Media from Control Center and Lock Screen," "Pair a Game Controller with the Apple TV," and "Control Your Apple TV with Shortcuts."
  • I explain how to use the Control Center, introduced in tvOS 13. See "Reveal Control Center."
  • You can now AirPlay media with Siri, which I explain in the "Master AirPlay" chapter.
  • There is a new chapter, "Decipher the Apple TV App," that documents Apple’s Apple TV app.
  • There’s another new chapter, "Play Content from a Computer," that centralizes instructions for viewing media from a Mac or Windows PC on your Apple TV.
  • I’ve removed coverage of ripping CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. These sections took extensive work to maintain, and the market is moving away from physical media. However, I do offer tips for ripping movies in "Share Music and Video with the Apple TV."
  • I’ve also removed details about setting up Plex, since both the server and client change regularly, and keeping that text up to date proved to be an impossible task.

What Apple TV models does this book cover?

This book covers the fourth-generation Apple TV (now called Apple TV HD) and the newer Apple TV 4K model. It does not cover earlier generations of Apple TV hardware.

  • Read Me First
  • Introduction
  • Apple TV Quick Start
  • What Are Apple TV and iTunes?
  • What’s New in tvOS
  • Do You Still Need an Apple TV?
  • Set Up Your Apple TV
  • Control Your Apple TV
  • Learn Apple TV Basics
  • Master AirPlay
  • Decipher the Apple TV App
  • Listen to Music and Podcasts
  • View Your Photos and Home Movies
  • Play Content from a Computer
  • About This Book
  • Josh and Chuck Joiner Cover Apple TV Changes

    Posted by Joe Kissell on March 5, 2020

    Josh Centers discussed the third edition of Take Control of Apple TV with Chuck Joiner of MacVoices. He explains what has changed in the world of Apple TV and what to expect in the updated book.

    What’s New with Apple TV

    Posted by Josh Centers on April 5, 2019

    The Apple TV world had been pretty quiet until Apple’s March 25, 2019 special event that announced some major new things coming to the Apple TV:

    • A redesigned TV app, redubbed Apple TV, that’s built around services, integrates live TV, and will even be available on most popular smart TV platforms, such as Roku
    • Apple TV Channels, which will let you subscribe to à la carte cable channels and streaming services inside the Apple TV app
    • A new streaming service called Apple TV+, which has the backing of big-name celebrities like director Steven Spielberg, media queen Oprah Winfrey, and director J.J. Abrams
    • A new subscription game service called Apple Arcade

    The new Apple TV app will be available in May, with Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade due later in the year. We’re currently evaluating the best way to update Take Control of Apple TV to best cover Apple’s strategic shift. In the meantime, you can read the TidBITS articles Apple Reveals Its Vision for TV and Apple Announces Apple Arcade Gaming Service.

    In the here and now, iOS 12.2 has added some major Apple TV-related improvements:

    • You can now control an Apple TV via iOS Siri using commands like “Pause the bedroom Apple TV.”
    • AirPlay has been improved to play more nicely with multitasking.
    • When AirPlaying content from iOS to an Apple TV, playback controls show in Control Center and on the Lock screen.

    Also, Apple has changed the Apple TV remote logo in Control Center and the Remote app to show a small Siri Remote instead of the Apple TV logo, undoubtedly to prevent confusion with the new Apple TV app.

    To learn more, see the TidBITS article Apple Releases iOS 12.1.1, macOS 10.14.2, and tvOS 12.1.1.

    Updated Presets in HandBrake 1.0

    Posted by Josh Centers on February 16, 2017

    Video-ripping app HandBrake has finally reached version 1.0 — actually 1.0.2 as of this writing. With that comes a few minor changes, but the most significant for readers of “Take Control of Apple TV” are the new presets. The now-legacy AppleTV 3 preset I recommended in the book is still there, but you should instead choose the Apple1080p60 Surround preset, which is now the best-quality Apple-compatible HandBrake preset.

    Josh Explains What’s New with Apple TV and tvOS

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen on December 29, 2016

    Apple TV, slowly but surely, continues to gain features and capabilities, this time with its new TV app and Single Sign-on capability. Josh and Chuck Joiner of MacVoices discuss the state of streaming TV, Apple TV’s place in this dynamic and highly contested market, and what’s new in the latest edition of his book. Adjust your rabbit ears, sit back, and enjoy.

    Changes to Plex Authentication on Apple TV

    Posted by Josh Centers on April 23, 2016

    When we published “Take Control of Apple TV, Second Edition,” the Plex app still required you to enter your username and password to sign in to your Plex account. Thankfully, Plex has now been updated to use browser authentication instead, so you don’t have to type or dictate your credentials with the Siri Remote. When prompted, visit http://plex.tv/link and enter the code on your TV screen.

    Now Playing on MacVoices: The Josh and Chuck Show, Season 2

    Posted by Michael E. Cohen on April 11, 2016

    Apple has new gear for the biggest screen in your home, and that means a new edition of Josh’s Apple TV book and a MacVoices interview. So pop some popcorn, put your feet up, and tune in to watch Josh and Chuck Joiner chat about all the new features found in the fourth-generation Apple TV, including apps and Siri. And, if you have an Apple TV you can watch the interview right on that system (the “Master AirPlay” chapter in the book tells you how)!

    June 26, 2020—We plan to update this book in the fall, after the release of tvOS 14, to cover new and changed features.


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