18 Apple TV Tips, tricks, and hidden features (2023)

Like all other Apple products, Apple TV contains a number of undocumented functions. Check out this list of Apple TV tips & tricks to enhance the intelligence, quality, and use of your device.

1. Choose the Siri remote TV button action

By default, the TV button on the Siri remote opens the Apple TV app. But maybe you prefer it takes you to the Apple TV Home screen instead. 

  1. Open Settings and select Removes and Devices.
  2. Below Remote, select TV Button to change it from Apple TV App to Home Screen.

2. Use Siri to search by voice

Just as Siri is super helpful on your other Apple devices, you can use it to perform tasks on your Apple TV. What makes Siri so useful is that you don’t have to type your requests, you can simply speak them.

  1. Press and hold the Microphone button on your remote. When you see Siri appear on your Apple TV, speak your request. 
  2. When you release the Microphone button, you should see your results on the screen.

3. Allow Siri to recognize your voice

You can turn on voice recognition for Siri to advance voice search. If you have numerous Apple TV users in your home, this is helpful.

You can ask questions like “What should I watch next” or “What song should I listen to now” after activating the function. and Siri will offer suggestions that are specific to you.

  1. Open Settings and select Users and Accounts.
  2. Choose your user account.
  3. Click Recognize My Voice in the Siri section to change it from Off to On.
  4. Pick Confirm with Apple Device to use your nearby iPhone or iPad to confirm.
  5. Follow the prompts on your device to confirm that you want to enable the feature, and choose Done when you finish.

Then, just give the feature a try by asking Siri for something on Apple TV.

4. Change the Apple TV keyboard layout

Perhaps you don’t mind using the Apple TV keyboard to type things like search terms, usernames, and passwords. However, did you know that you could switch its normal linear arrangement for a grid layout? Choosing letters and numbers can be done more quickly by doing this when using a smaller keyboard space.

  1. Open Settings and select General.
  2. Below Language and Region, select Keyboard Layout, which is set to Auto by default.
  3. Then choose Grid.

You can utilise the convenient grid arrangement with the keypad on the left side the next time you see the keyboard input. Select the 123 button to enter digits, then select and hold a letter to enter uppercase letters.

5. Type on your iPhone keyboard

Another option for typing on your Apple TV is using your iPhone’s keyboard. Whenever you access a spot for typing on your TV, you can receive a notification on your iPhone to use its keyboard instead.

  1. On your iPhone, open the Settings app.
  2. Select Notifications.
  3. Choose Apple TV Keyboard.
  4. Turn on the toggle at the top for Allow Notifications.
  5. You can then exit the iPhone Settings app as normal.

You’ll get a notification on your iPhone the next time you access an Apple TV location that needs input. Type in the text form that appears after tapping to open it. As you proceed, your Apple TV will display the characters input.

6. Pair a Bluetooth keyboard or game controller 

If you’d like to use a Bluetooth keyboard or game controller for your Xbox or PlayStation, you can connect these types of devices to your Apple TV in just minutes.

Open Settings → Select Remotes and Devices → Pick Bluetooth.

  • For a Bluetooth keyboard, put that device in pairing mode and select it when it displays below Other Devices. Follow the subsequent prompts to connect the device.
  • For a game controller, pick How to Pair Game Controllers and follow the instructions per your game console.

7. Switch between light and dark mode

You can enable a dark mode on Apple TV, just like you can on your iPhone, Mac, or in some third-party apps. So you won’t have to bother anyone nearby with the presence of the light screen if you’re using your Apple TV in a dark setting.

  1. Open Settings and select General.
  2. Choose Appearance which is set to Automatic by default. This setting switches between Light and Dark mode based on the time of day.
  3. Pick Dark to set dark mode.

8. Use picture-in-picture

Picture-in-Picture (PiP) is a popular way to watch a show or video in a small window while still using your large screen for other things. If you’re ready to perform some multitasking on Apple TV, here’s how to enable picture-in-picture mode for supported apps.

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen after starting the show or video, then tap the Picture-in-Picture icon on the bottom right.

The video will enlarge and shift to the Apple TV’s screen’s corner. The film can then be watched while you carry out other tasks on your TV.

Use the icons in the picture-in-picture window after pressing the TV button on your remote control to shift the screen to a different corner or return the picture-in-picture screen to full-screen mode.

9. Arrange the Home screen apps

Just as important as the Home screen layout on your iPhone or iPad, you can arrange apps to your liking on Apple TV. This includes rearranging, deleting, and moving apps to folders.

  1. Also, like on iOS, you’ll put your app into edit mode, or jiggle mode. Click and hold an app using the touchpad on your remote.
  2. Press the Play/Pause button on your remote to create a new folder with the app, move it to an existing folder or delete the app
  3. You can also use your touchpad to drag the app to another spot on the screen.

To exit edit mode, click the touchpad on your remote.

Organize the Home screen app shelf

The app shelf is yet another organisational tool for your Apple TV Home screen. This has a grey background and is located above your app icons on the Home screen. It resembles the Dock on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

  1. Select an app to put it into edit mode, as described above.
  2. Then, drag an app on the shelf to another spot or off of the shelf completely. 
  3. To place a different app on the shelf, drag it to the location you want. You can have up to five apps on the shelf.

10. Sync the Home screen

If you own more than one Apple TV, you can keep things consistent across the board by syncing your Home screen. Once you enable the syncing feature, you’ll see the same Home screen on your other Apple TVs.

  1. Open Settings and select Users and Accounts.
  2. Choose your user account.
  3. Below iCloud, pick One Home Screen to change it from Off to On.

11. Extend or mirror your Mac display

Perhaps you would want a second monitor for your Mac but the cost is out of your price range. Or perhaps you’d prefer to use a larger screen to view the activities you’re carrying out on your Mac. The screen of your Mac can be enlarged or mirrored on your Apple TV.

  1. On your Mac, do one of the following:
    • Open the Control Center, select Display, and choose Display Settings
    • Open your System Settings and pick Displays.
  2. Click the plus sign to open the drop-down menu on the right. Choose your Apple TV.
  3. Select your Apple TV screen at the top of the Display settings.
  4. Open the Use as drop-down menu and pick Extended display or Mirror display (or another option if you have multiple monitors).

If you want to disconnect it later, return to the Displays settings, open the plus sign drop-down box, and deselect (uncheck) your Apple TV.

12. Customize subtitles and closed captions

Subtitles and closed captions help you see the words being spoken during a movie, show, or video. On Apple TV, you can not only enable these visuals but also customize the appearance.

  1. Open Settings and select Accessibility.
  2. Below Hearing, choose Subtitles and Captioning.
  3. Pick Style.
  4. You can then choose an option to change it, including the background, text, classic view, and outline text. You may see a couple of styles which also include any custom styles you set up.
  5. To set up a custom style, choose Edit Styles and pick New Style. Then, enter a Description (name) and use the Text, Background, and Advanced sections to set up the design. 
  6. When you finish, use the Menu button on your remote to go back and then select your new custom design on the Style screen.

13. Set up restrictions or parental controls

You might want some control over what they can access if you live with kids who also use your Apple TV for movies, games, or other apps. You can restrict what content can be accessed, downloaded, and viewed by setting up restrictions or parental controls.

  1. Open Settings and select General.
  2. Choose Restrictions.
  3. Select Restrictions to turn it from Off to On.
  4. Enter a four-digit passcode and then confirm the passcode.
    Be sure to write down the passcode, add it to Notes, or save it in your password manager.
  5. You’ll see a confirmation that your passcode has been created. Click OK.
  6. You can then use the various sections to set up the restrictions. These include iTunes Store (App Store), Allowed Content, Game Center, and Allow Changes.

14. Reduce loud sounds

While we enjoy the cinematic experience when watching films, sometimes the sound will suddenly and forcefully boom, burst, or erupt. For instance, you might have the volume up for that calm, focused conversation, but when it finishes, the following loud boom makes you want to get up from your seat. Use the Reduce Loud Sounds function at this time.

You can enable this feature in the Settings ahead of time or access it quickly while watching a show.

  1. Open Settings and select Video and Audio. Below Audio, select Reduce Loud Sounds to change it from Off to On.
  2. To enable the feature while watching a show, select the Sound icon on the bottom right and choose Reduce Loud Sounds.

15. Control playback on other Apple devices

You don’t have to purchase several Apple TV remotes to always have one at hand to pause or rewind a show or song. Using the Control Center on your iPhone or iPad, you can easily adjust the playback for your Apple TV with two different methods.

Method one: Control other speakers

  1. On iPhone, open your Control Center.
  2. Select the Now Playing icon.
  3. Tap Control Other Speakers & TVs.

You’ll then see a Pause button for the music playing on your Apple TV. Press to pause and again to play.

Method two: Home controls

If you have your Apple TV set up in the Home app and the Home controls in your iPhone Control Center, this is another option for controlling playback

On iPhone, open the Control Center and select the Apple TV icon. You’ll then see the playback controls display so you can pause, play, move forward, or rewind.

16. Turn on smart home scenes or automations

You might have scenes or automations for playing or pausing what is displayed on the screen if you have your Apple TV set up as a component of your smart home. You may control such scenarios and automations directly from your Apple TV using that. As a result, you can enable one right away without having to wait for the schedule to begin.

  1. Open the Control Center by holding the TV button on your remote.
  2. Select the HomeKit button.
  3. Choose a scene or automation to turn it on.

If you want to access the Home screen at any time during the scene or automation, press the Menu button on your remote.

17. Take advantage of AirPlay

AirPlay is a fantastic feature for sending a show to your Mac screen from your iPhone or a song to your HomePod from your iPad. Take advantage of this tool for doing the same with your Apple TV.

Send an item to Apple TV with AirPlay

Maybe you’re watching a show, listening to music, or browsing photos on your Apple device. You can send your screen or sound to your Apple TV.

Select the AirPlay icon in the app or using Control Center on the device and choose your Apple TV.

Send an item from Apple TV with AirPlay

Picture a party where you and your guests are listening to music or even singing along with lyrics displayed on Apple TV. Why not boost the experience by using AirPlay to send the sound to your HomePod too?

Open the Control Center on Apple TV, select the AirPlay icon, and choose your HomePod.

18. Use Conference Room display

When you want to share something on the big screen with others, you might use Apple TV in the school, office, or at a gathering. Other Apple device owners can accomplish that with Conference Room Display. Additionally, you can add a message, show a certain background image, or need a PIN code to join.

  1. Open Settings and select AirPlay and HomeKit.
  2. Choose Conference Room Display.
  3. Select Conference Room Display on the next screen to change it from Off to On.
  4. You can then add a PIN, create a custom message, and change the background photo.
  5. Click Preview to see how it’ll look.

Check out our how-to on using Conference Room Display on Apple TV for complete details on the feature.

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