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Take Control of Apple TV
Feb 26, 2018

Take Control of Apple TV, Second Edition

Everything you need to know about the Apple TV!

Whether you’re considering an Apple TV or you already have one, you can more fully enjoy Apple’s entertainment device with this ultimate guide by TidBITS managing editor Josh Centers. You’ll learn how to set it up and use it to watch movies and TV shows, play music, display your photos, give presentations, and run all manner of apps on the big screen.

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, enabling parental controls, and turning on single sign-on.

You’ll learn how to use the built-in TV app, and how you can best view home movies and any DVDs or Blu-ray discs you own.

The book also looks at using an Apple TV to listen to your music or Apple Music, download and play podcasts from iTunes, and browse your photos. And you’ll find recommendations for apps that bring fitness, food, mapping, shopping, art, gaming, and more to your big screen.

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

  • Connecting your Apple TV to iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Sharing, or to photos stored on your local computer
  • The easy Siri Remote shortcut for sleeping your Apple TV
  • Checking the battery level and charging your Siri Remote
  • Three ways to rewind on the Siri Remote
  • Alternatives to the Siri Remote
  • Beaming the display of your Mac or iPhone screen to your TV
  • Making Mac or iOS audio play through your TV’s speakers
  • Ripping DVDs and Blu-ray discs
  • Running iTunes Home Sharing to play media from a local computer
  • Using Plex Media Server to take your media library beyond iTunes
  • Essential items to pack if you’ll be giving a presentation via an Apple TV
  • What you can do with Conference Room Display mode
  • How to tell if 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 as well as the newer 4K model, but after you buy the book, you can visit the Ebook Extras topic to download the first edition, which focuses on the second- and third-generation Apple TV models. For information on what has changed with the Apple TV since the release of the most recent version of this book, see What’s New with Apple TV.

What's New

What’s New in Version 2.2

This new version of Take Control of Apple TV is updated for tvOS 11, which Apple released in September 2017. It’s also generally updated to reflect the state of the Apple TV in early 2018:

  • To find out what’s new in tvOS 11, see “What’s New in tvOS.”

  • Apple has integrated an Apple TV Remote into the iOS 11 Control Center. See “Using the iOS 11 Control Center.”

  • I discuss the new Apple TV 4K in “Decide Which Apple TV to Buy.”

  • The Disney Movies Anywhere service has been replaced by the new, more-encompassing Movies Anywhere. See “Access Purchased Movies and TV Shows.”

  • Single sign-on now works with many more TV providers. If you haven’t tried it yet, see “About Single Sign-On.”

  • iOS and iTunes now offer new ways to control Apple TV playback. See “Using the iOS 11 Control Center and AirPlay from iTunes.”


What Apple TV models does this book cover?

This book covers the fourth-generation Apple TV as well as the newer 4K model, but after you buy the book, you can visit the Ebook Extras topic to download the first edition, which focuses on the second- and third-generation Apple TV models.

Update Plans

April 5, 2019—tvOS 12 was released in October 2018, with support for Dolby Atmos sound, new Aerial screensavers, and improved app authentication, but not much else. For information on what’s about to change with Apple TV based on Apple’s March 2019 announcements, see What’s New with Apple TV. We are still formulating a plan for when and how to cover the new material in an updated version of the book.

Posted by Joe Kissell

  1. What’s New with Apple TV

    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.

    Posted by Josh Centers (Permalink)

  2. Updated Presets in HandBrake 1.0

    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.

    Posted by Josh Centers (Permalink)

  3. Josh Explains What’s New with Apple TV and tvOS

    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.

    Posted by Michael Cohen (Permalink)

  4. Changes to Plex Authentication on Apple TV

    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 and enter the code on your TV screen.

    Posted by Josh Centers (Permalink)

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

    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)!

    Posted by Michael Cohen (Permalink)

The Author

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 and the Tech Night Owl. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and children.