If you’re all-in on the Apple entertainment ecosystem, you probably use an Apple TV. For someone who’s used to Apple software conventions, the Apple TV feels right at home.
But like every other Apple product, there’s more to the Apple TV than meets the eye. The Siri Remote and tvOS seem simple, but they’re hiding several quick shortcuts and pro features beneath the surface that you may not know about.
1. Use Siri to Find Anything
Siri on Apple TV is fairly limited, but surprisingly amazing at its limited jobs. We’ve always maintained that Siri shines when you’re using it to control the device. And that’s never been truer than on the Apple TV.
If you’re in one of the countries that supports Siri on the Apple TV, just hold the microphone button to speak to Siri.
If you’re frustrated by the Siri Remote’s touchpad, this is a good alternative because Siri on Apple TV can do a lot. Try some of these commands:
- “Play The Office”: Just ask Siri to play any TV show or movie. Siri will present you with a list of places where you can stream or buy the media.
- “Play The Office Season 6 Episode 4”: You can get as specific as you want.
- “Jump forward and back”: You can scrub as much as you want without using the finicky touchpad. You can say rewind five seconds or forward 10 minutes and Siri will do it for you.
- “Who stars in this?”: How often do you wonder who the guest actor is in your favorite shows? Next time, just ask Siri and she will show you a list of the cast.
2. Siri Remote Shortcuts
Apple TV’s Siri Remote looks fairly basic, with just six buttons and a touchpad. But almost every button has a double-click and a touch-and-hold action. This means that there’s a lot of hidden functionality here, such as:
- Quickly view audio outputs: Do you frequently switch between your headphones and speakers? Instead of navigating to the info panel, just hold the Play/Pause button to see a list of all available outputs.
- Switch between apps: Double-click the Home/TV button and you’ll enter the App Switcher that’s just like the one on iOS. You can swipe up to quit an app.
- Instant screensaver: When you’re on the Home screen, just press the Menu button once to reveal one of the gorgeous screensavers.
- Time stamps: When you’re watching something, tapping once on the touchpad will reveal the scrubber with the current timestamp. But tap once again and the timestamps will change to the current time and the end time. Next time you’re watching a movie and want to know when you’ll be done, use this trick.
3. Connect a Bluetooth Headset
Apple TV supports a plethora of Bluetooth devices. Other than obvious Bluetooth audio devices like headphones and speakers, you can connect an external keyboard and MFi gaming controllers as well.
Go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth to get started. If the device is in discovery mode, you’ll find it in the Other Devices section. Select a device to start the pairing process.
4. Use Your iPhone as a Remote
Don’t want to reach for the TV remote? Just use your iPhone as an Apple TV Remote instead. This works with Apple’s Remote app from the App Store or the new controls in iOS 11’s Control Center.
Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and add Apple TV Remote to the mix. Now, open Control Center and tap on the Apple TV icon. You’ve now got a fully-featured Apple TV remote handy.
The best part about this is that on a text input field, you can type using your iPhone’s software keyboard instead of dealing with the Apple TV’s atrocious text input method.
5. Disable the TV App Shortcut
Recently, Apple released its own TV app and changed the behavior of the Home button. Now, instead of the Home screen, it takes you to the TV app.
This was supposed to be the new front-end to content from all the apps and services you use. While the TV app has been getting better and does support live sports and smart recommendations, the app is mostly useless if all you do is watch Netflix on your Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video.
If you want the old behavior back, go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Home button and select Home Screen.
6. Change Sleep and Screensaver Settings
Apple TV’s amazing screensavers make for a great backdrop. By default, the Apple TV goes to sleep pretty quickly. If you like watching the screensavers, go to Settings > General > Sleep After and select 30 minutes or 1 Hour.
From the Screen Saver section, go to Download New Video and change the frequency to Weekly or Daily for fresh screensavers (it takes up to 650MB for each video to download). Next, go to the Start After section and reduce the time to 2 minutes.
7. Stream Music or Video to Apple TV With AirPlay
If you don’t have a Bluetooth speaker, you can use your TV or your home theater setup as a speaker instead. The Apple TV can act as an AirPlay receiver for both audio and video, and the process is quite seamless.
When you’re in a music or a video app, tap on the familiar AirPlay icon. You’ll find this icon in the Now Playing widget on the lock screen and in Control Center as well. From this list, select your Apple TV. You can now control the playback from the Apple TV remote as well.
8. Control Your Smart Home
If you’ve got HomeKit devices set up across your home, you can use your Apple TV as a dedicated hub for controlling all your smart home devices. From the Settings app, go to Accounts > iCloud > HomeKit and connect your Apple TV to your HomeKit setup.
Alternatively, you can install Apple TV apps to control your smart home devices.
9. Enable Dark Mode in Apple TV
As long as you’re running the latest version of tvOS, you can enable a cool dark mode and prevent blinding light when you’re watching TV at night.
Go to Settings > General > Appearance and switch to Dark. If you only want to enable dark mode when it’s nighttime, choose Automatic.
10. Make the Apple TV Remote Easier to Use
One of the most frustrating aspects of the Apple TV is the Siri Remote. It’s perfectly symmetrical. There’s no way to tell which end is which without looking at it. It’s also easy to lose behind the couch cushions, which makes the $60 replacement cost frightening. But a simple case will solve all your problems.
Once the Apple TV remote has a case, like this offering from AKWOX, it will be much easier to spot. The case also makes it easy to tell which way you’re holding the remote without looking at it. Bye-bye, accidental swipes!
Don’t Forget the Apple TV Apps
While the tvOS App Store is filled with all sorts of apps, what Apple TV does best is entertainment. Thanks to the Siri Remote, the fast hardware, and Apple’s strive for design consistency, the Apple TV is the best place for consuming media for any Apple user.
If you need proof, check out the best entertainment Apple TV apps.