How to set your Apple TV to automatically turn your television on

BY Osas Obaizamomwan

Published 12 Feb 2016

Do remember those TVs that didn’t have remotes with them; and you had to get up every time just to change the channel? Pretty annoying. But nowadays the issue is having too many remotes. So, if you have an Apple TV remote, your cable box remote, and your TV remote, that’s a lot of remotes and inputs to keep switching. 

Thankfully, Apple TV 4 has the ability to automatically turn your TV on and jump to the correct HDMI input. On top of that, the Siri Remote can control the TV’s volume as well. Take a look at how easy this is to set up.

In our 12 Tips and Tricks for mastering your Apple TV, this tip can in at number 10. The new Apple TV supports HDMI-CEC, which means it can intelligently switch to the Apple TV HDMI input when it wakes from sleep and control your TVs volume when content is sent, via Airplay, from an Apple Device. This fancy trick will not work on all HDMI-ready televisions though.

If your device is HDMI-CEC compliant, your 4th generation Apple TV should automatically correct all the settings, leaving you to do… nothing. Yeah, it’s a plug-and-play process for those lucky enough to have it work right out of the box. That means that you should be able to wake your Apple TV and have your TV turn on to the Apple TV connected HDMI input automatically. When you power down your Apple TV (holding the home button) your TV should power down as well. Now, if this isn’t working for you, you’re going to want to read on.

Oh, and if you were wondering what CEC in HDMI-CEC stands for, it is: Consumer Electronics Control. Basically, a compatible HDMI-CEC device can control some of the functions of your TV, like power and volume.

How to set your Apple TV to automatically turn your television on

Before following any of the steps listed below, make sure to check if your device is even HDMI-CEC compliant. I was going a little nuts before I realized that my Samsung TV doesn’t even have that function. Now some of you will run into the same issue I did, where the volume control on the Siri Remote does work on your TV, but nothing else will. This is because most TVs use an IR sensor to detect an external remote an its input. But this sensor requires a direct line of communication, meaning you have to point your Siri Remote directly at the TV in order for it to work accurately. If you TV is HDMI-CEC ready, you shouldn’t need to use the IR function and have the benefit of controlling the volume without the need for a direct line of communication towards your TV. You can check to see what your Siri Remote is using by going to Settings > Remotes and Devices and Volume Control under the Home Theater Control section.

IR Sensor - Apple TV

If you don’t see HDMI-CEC or anything related to that function, your TV probably doesn’t have it. But you can always double-check.

The easiest way to do this is to check your user manual or type in your model number online and see what you can find. You can also search your TV settings to look for the compatibility. But know that you probably won’t see “HDMI-CEC” but rather a cuter, marketing term like “Anylink+”, “EasyLink”, “SimpLink” and so on. Once you have figured out that your device does work with HDMI-CEC and the Apple TV didn’t automatically enable it, you may need to enable it yourself.

First, enable the HDMI-CEC on your TV if it is not already enabled. Then go to your Apple TV and find Remotes and Devices in the Settings and look for the section Home Theater Control. Then just make sure that Control TVs and Receivers ON.

Turn on TV - Apple Remote

Again, this should happen by default if your TV is HDMI-CEC compliant. If it is not, then this option will be grayed out.

That’s all there is to it. Basically, the real work comes into play when trying to figure out if your TV is HDMI-CEC compliant. Once you have that figured out, enabling it or making sure that was enabled by default shouldn’t take more than one or two minutes. Thinking about the complexity of HDMI-CEC and how it detects signals and whatnot would make this seem like a super technical thing, but with the 4th generation Apple TV, you shouldn’t even need to get up from the couch.

Let us know what you think of the HDMI-CEC feature in the comment section.