12 Tips and tricks for mastering your new Apple TV

BY Osas Obaizamomwan

Published 4 Jan 2016

The Holiday Season is just over and many of us have come into some pretty great gifts during this time. The 4th Generation Apple TV is a great gift to have come across. The newest version offers a 32 or 64 GB hard drive that can be filled with popular apps like HBO GO, Netflix, Hulu and so on. And this time around, owners can download a bunch of apps like the addictive Crossy Road from the App Store. But what else can you do with your brand new device? Take a look at our nice list of Apple TV tips and tricks.

12 Advanced tips for your Apple TV 4

1. Siri’s advanced features

The highlight of the new Apple TV is the Siri voice comprehension feature built into the new Siri Remote. Siri can search for movies, open apps and even check the weather all by using only the sound of your voice. This feature is what truly sets the new Apple TV apart from its competition and past iterations, simplifying the most frustrating part of the streaming TV box ecosystem: navigation. Looking for an action movie? Instead of scrolling to the categories option, you can simply ask Siri to show you some action movies. 

Siri - Apple TV Search

Searching is a breeze (well, most of the time) and downloading apps is easy,  but some of her advanced commands are even more impressive. When watching a movie, you can ask “what did he/she just say?” and Siri will rewind a movie or show 15 seconds and temporarily turn on closed captions. You can also enable closed-captions, fast forwards, rewind, and much more just by speaking. 

Siri Commands

At any time, you can also ask her the score for a current sports game, whose the director of a movie, or to launch an app, which is obviously pretty convenient. While voice commands may have their drawbacks, particularly when identifying unique spellings or similar sounding words, using Siri is still, probably the fastest way to navigate to most things in the Apple TV interface. Experiment and see what works, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as to what she can accomplish.

2. Move apps around the Home Screen

When you begin downloading and adding apps to your Apple TV home screen, you can later rearrange the order in which these apps are laid out. Again, this action will be very similar to what you would do on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. All you need to do is tap and hold the Siri Remote touchpad on the app that you would like to move. This will place it into “wiggle mode”. Once in wiggle mode, you can move the app wherever you need.

Wiggle mode Apple TV

When you are happy with the new placement, click the trackpad once, and the app will pop into its new location.

Move Icons

3. Deleting Apps

If you would like to delete an app from your Apple TV, simply enter into wiggle mode (tap and hold the trackpad) and press the Play button. There will be a little reminder telling you so at the bottom of your Home Screen.

Delete - Apple TV

When you hit the Play button, you will be asked to confirm if you’d actually like to delete the selected app. Click Delete, and the app will be removed from your device.

Delete - Confirmation

How to move or delete apps on your new Apple TV How to move or delete apps on your new Apple TV

4. Use the Remote app to navigate the Apple TV and control playback

Apple offers a Remote app on the iOS App Store that can control playback on the Apple TV and most other Apple devices as long as they are on the same Wi-Fi network. Download the app from the App store and set it up by tapping, Set Up Home Sharing and entering your Apple ID information.

After clicking “OK” you will see your Apple TV listed and can control all navigation through your iPhone. This solves one of biggest difficulty even with the newest Apple TV: clunky searching, particularly with hard to spell words that even Siri can’t understand. Now, you can type in text on you iPhone and search like a breeze. Check out our guide on how to easily link your iPhone to your Apple TV using the Remote app. 

You can also pair other devices (keyboards, remotes, and controllers using bluetooth). Just follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings -> Remotes and Devices -> Bluetooth.
  2. Turn your device’s Bluetooth on now
  3. Find your Bluetooth device listed under Other Devices.
  4. Select the device you want to pair

5. Download the Pluto TV app to make your Apple TV (almost) like a cable box

pluto resized

Download the Pluto TV app it can provide you with a cable-like interface that makes finally cutting the cord that much more palatable. Pluto aggregates content from a variety of sources on the web and combines them into a familiar interface. While the content is not the best of quality, the selection is improving and is entirely free to watch and they have a large variety of channels. 

pluto app rezised

6. Increase sound quality when using a Hi-Def sound system

If you have an external sound system, you can greatly increase the audio quality output from the Apple TV by disabling the “Reduce loud sounds” option in the audio settings menu.

screen 1

This setting is enabled by default and is designed for systems outputting through regular tv speakers. If you use an external audio setup, disabling this feature will make sure you get the highest quality audio while using your Apple TV.  If you are not using an external sound system however,  it is recommended that you keep this option enabled.

7. Add more photos to your Aerial screensaver

The Aerial screensavers are a pretty popular option for 4th Generation Apple TV owners. These high-res videos look great on the big screen and make for an easily enjoyable screensaver. But, the lack of new videos being added, can cause the Aerial screensaver to become pretty repetitive. If you would like to increase the amount of times Apple downloads new Aerial videos, you can do so with ease. Head to Settings -> General -> Screensaver and click.

Apple TV

In the following menu, you will see Download New Videos. By default it is set at monthly. But you can choose between monthly, weekly, daily, or never.

Download Videos - Aerial

Of course, the more often you download, the more Aerial screensavers will be added. Each batch of downloads is also 600 MB, so if you are on a data limit, be aware of that. And remember that there is no way to pick and choose which Aerial video will display. So, if there are new downloads that you don’t care for, there really isn’t much you can do about it.

You can also use your own photos as a screensaver instead.

8. Add Accessibility Shortcuts

You can add accessibility shortcuts by enable the option in Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Accessibility Shortcut. 

Accessibility shortcut

In the following menu you can select your shortcut preference.

Closed Captions - Accessibility

I think that Closed Captions is the most useful, since with the shortcut I can toggle it ON or OFF with a quick triple-click of the Menu button on the Siri Remote.

You can also use these other shortcuts with just the Menu Button:

  • One click takes you back to the previous menu or screen
  • Holding the Menu button will take you back to the Home screen
  • Double-clicking the Menu button will start the screensaver

9. Add Multiple Apple IDs to your new Apple TV

I live an apartment with two other roommates, each with their own Apple ID and each with their own set of things to do on the new Apple TV. If you would rather everyone use their own Apple accounts you can add several accounts to the device. This makes it easier for purchasing apps or streaming music from Apple Music.

Head over to Settings -> Accounts -> iTunes and App Store -> Add New Apple ID. 

New Apple ID

Enter in your Apple ID account information. This is way faster to enter if you already have the iPhone Remote app linked to your Apple TV.

Once you are down, the Apple TV will save that new Apple ID to the list. You can switch between accounts at anytime. The current account being used will have a small gray check mark next to it.

Apple ID - Accounts

All your app will remain the same, regardless of which Apple ID is being used. However, certain purchased or payment-linked apps may only be accessible to the corresponding Apple ID.

10. Switching to Apple TV input from the Apple TV Remote

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. Not all TVs support this feature, but if yours does then you can wake the Apple TV from sleep, turn on the TV set, and have it automatically switch to the Apple HDMI input all by Airplaying content from another Apple device. 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. This should happen by default if your TV is HDMI-CEC compliant. If it is not, then this option will be grayed out. 

Many newer TV’s (2007 and later) in the last couple of years have this feature, but it may be turned off by default. Each TV brand has their own name for this setting, so a little research may be necessary to turn this feature on if you do have it.  Once set up, say goodbye to that frustrating regular TV remote or getting up to change the input channel, the Siri Remote is all you need.

11. Stream media from your computer to your Apple TV using Plex

plex icon resized

If instead of Airplay you would prefer a slick Netflix-like interface, or if you are trying to play local media from a Windows machine, the Plex media app is absolutely worth the setup time. First, you’ll need to install the Plex Media Center app which can be found here. Then make an account and link the app to any media directories you would like to stream.

plex interface resized

The Plex app can stream movies, TV shows, music and even photos from you laptop or desktop by turning it into your own personal media server.  Follow their directions here for a detailed setup guide. After the media server is running on your computer, download the Plex Apple TV companion app and sign in from your account and voila! Now you have your own personal Netflix. Plex also provides an iOS app that can stream content from your computer to your phone as long as the Media Center Program is running. Unlock the full potential of your Apple TV and turn it into a powerful local media center with Plex, you definitely won’t regret it.


12. Other Siri Remote tips and shortcuts

  • Sleep your Apple TV by pressing and holding the Home button (looks like a mini-TV)
  • Restart your device by holding the Home button and Menu button
  • Double-click the Home button to bring up the App Switcher
  • One click takes you back to the previous menu or screen
  • Holding the Menu button will take you back to the Home screen
  • Double-click the Menu button to start the screensaver
  • Triple-click the Menu button to launch your Accessibility Shortcut
  • Tap and hold the trackpad button to enter wiggle mode to move apps around
  • Tap and hold the trackpad button to enter wiggle mode and press the Play/Pause button to delete apps
  • While watching a video you can skip back 10 seconds by clicking the far-left on the Siri Remote trackpad
  • While watching a video you can jump forward 10 seconds by clicking the far-right on the Siri Remote trackpad
  • When using Apple Music you can skip tracks by clicking the right of the trackpad
    • Pause a track by clicking the trackpad once
    • Restart the track by clicking the left side
    • Go back a track by double-clicking the left side of the trackpad

As you can see the new Apple TV is powerful machine with a big step up on the navigation-front thanks to the gesture touchpad and Siri control,  its biggest selling point is its ability to expand functionality with a thriving app ecosystem. With more developers looking towards the Apple TV, owners have a lot to look forward too in the new year!

Let us know what you think of the new Apple TV in the comment section.