all about the apple tv

Includes Apple TV Set up instructions

There is a lot you can do with an Apple TV. Renting movies is just the beginning. In this article we will cover all you need to know about the Apple TV and how to get yours working well. I have used my Apple TV very heavily since I first acquired it, and it has changed my buying and renting habits when it comes to movies and tv shows. No more late or overdue fees from the local DVD store. No more frustration as I suffer through a scratched disc rented from the store. No more having to get off the couch to find a DVD to watch. No more flicking through channel after channel to realize there is nothing on worth watching anyway. Just simple browsing with the remote while sitting on the couch, selecting a movie and pressing play. I don't have a cable or pay TV subscription, so I only have to pay for what I want to watch. And all the TV shows I buy, are mine to keep forever and redownload or stream whenever I want.
Read on to learn all about the Apple TV.

What is an Apple TV
Essentially an Apple TV is a small box that connects to your existing television with an HDMI cable and allows you to rent movies, watch movies you own, watch content that you have on your iPad one iPhone and much more.

It is not a TV in itself, and requires that you have a TV that supports HDMI input.

It is not a media centre that stores a lot of content like some other devices you can buy. Instead it is a device for browsing the latest movies that are available for rent, although it is easy to store all the movies you own on your computer and watch them on the Apple Tv.

Some people have asked: can you download an app with the Apple TV? No, you cannot download apps with or in the Apple TV. The apps it comes with is it, and you cannot download apps for your other devices either. The only exceptions to this is to jailbreak your Apple TV which is beyond the scope of this article, and not recommended.


Top 10 features of the Apple TV
In my humble opinion, these are the top 10 feature of the new Apple TV.

1. Rent movies.
You can rent the latest movies from the comfort of your living room, and not have to worry about returning discs to a store or posting them back to Netflix. The content isn't just all the B grade movies either, like some other services.

2. Buy TV shows.
Similar to renting movies, you can purchase TV shows you wish to watch via the Apple TV. Unlike the movie s though, the TV show can then also be downloaded to and watched on any other Apple devie you may have, an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Or you can download the TV show to your PC or Mac via iTunes as well. There is of course no extra charge for redownloading the TV show. Once you bought it, you own the rights to it and can download if for personal use as often as you like.

3. AirPlay.
This feature really sets the Apple TV apart from its competitors. AirPlay is the feature that allows you to send what you see on your iPad or iPhone or iPod touch to your tv via the Apple TV. It is extremely handy when you want to watch video that you have playing on an app like NBA.TV or YouTube on a big screen. As the name implies, no cable is needed to connect the device to the Apple TV, they just need to be on the same WiFi network. It makes it easy to share pictures, or keynote presentations with multiple people.

4. Streaming from Computer.
All I do before I sit down to watch a movie, is turn on my computer in the office and open iTunes. Then I sit down on the couch, and using the Apple TV I can browse through all my movies, TV Shows, home movies, photos, music, podcasts and more.

5. The cloud.
Even if I don't have my computer on, I am allowed to redownload TV shows I alread own. Very handy.

6. Simple Interface.
As with all things apple, it is not hard to just plug it in and start using it. You don't need to be an airline pilot to figure out how to drive it, and with a little tinkering, even the least tech friendly people will be able to operate it.

7. Third Party Apps.
Depending what country you live in, the Apple TV comes with some extra applications that allow you simply watch things from NHL, YouTube, Netflix and more. Very handy.

8. One click purchasing.
No need to renter your credit card details or Apple ID password all the time. Click what you want, click ok, and you bought it. Every purchase in life should be that easy.

9. Can be controlled from your iPhone.
Or iPad or iPod touch actually. You can download a free app made by Apple that allows you to use your phone as a remote control for the TV. Very handy for when the kids have hidden the remote. The best part about using an iPad or iPhone to operate your Apple TV is when you need to enter text. Say I want to browse monster truck videos on YouTube, if I use my iPad or iPhone as the remote, when it comes to search for what I want, a keyboard pops up on the screen allowing me to quickly enter text, rather than slowly selecting each letter on a screen with an up down left right function.

10. It's cheap.
$100 for all the things it can do is pretty amazing. Apple are obviously not going to get rich from selling these things, but it will help them sell more content. And it makes owning an iPad or iPhone that much better I would recommend spending the $100 just for the AirPlay feature alone.

Prices for an Apple TV
So how much does an Apple TV cost?

Although it varies slightly from country to country the Apple TV is very affordable.

US: $99
Australia: $109
UK: £99
Italia: 109 euros
Canada: $109

Renting Movies on your Apple TV
To rent movies on your Apple TV is very simple, and is perhaps the main feature of the device. You cannot buy movies from your Apple TV, but you can go to your computer, buy them on iTunes there, and then watch them from your Apple TV.

To rent movies on your Apple TV, select the blue "movies" icon on the home screen, then along the very top of the screen you should see a menu.
You can chose to see movies you are currently renting, browse the top movies, see your wish list, use genius to help you choose, browse by genre, conduct a search of movie title (or actors, directors etc), or watch trailers for movies still at the cinema.

Once you have found the movie you like, select it, then you are given the option to preview it, rent it, add it to your wish list, or view more about the movie.
Pressing the up arrow on the remote displays more information about the movie.
If you scroll down, you can view customer reviews, see the actors, directors, producers and screenwriters and what other movies they have been involved with.

If you Rent button has the letters HD, then you will be renting this movie in High Definition. The quality is better, but means you will need to download about twice as much data. You may want to change this option by going into settings and finding the option to rent SD (standard def) instead if your internet connection is not good enough.

Once you click on the "Rent" button, a confirmation screen appears (in case you accidentally pressed the button).

Press OK and your movie will start downloading.

You have 30 days to start watching the movie, and once you have started watching it, it will delete automatically after 2 days. You can watch it as many times as you want over that 2 day period.

What if I accidentally rented a movie on my Apple TV?
In my experience, Apple have the best customer service of a large organization in the world. If you contact them and explain what happened, you will probably find they are happy to refund your money.

If your kids are renting movies "accidentally" it may pay to turn on parental controls. Go to settings---> General--->Parental Controls.

How To Connect your Apple TV to your Home WiFi and Computer
Assuming you have plugged your Apple TV into your TV and powered it up, here's what you need to do to connect the Apple TV to your home wifi and to you your computer.

On your Apple TV
Go to Settings
Select General
Select network
Select Configure WiFi
Select the network you want to connect to (not your neighbor's)
Enter the password.

If that went well, you are now connected to your home wifi.

Now, to connect to your computer...

On the Apple TV
Go to Settings
Select Computers
Select Turn On Home Sharing
Enter your Apple ID and password. (The apple ID is the email address you type in when you buy things from iTunes.)
Now go to your computer and open iTunes.
If you don't have iTunes on your computer, you will need to download it. go to
Once iTunes is open, select Advanced up the top.
Select Turn On Home Sharing.
Enter your Apple ID and password.

Now you should be able to access your iTunes content from your Apple TV.
Go to your Apple TV and select the green Computers button on the home screen. You should see a list of things you can browse from your computer.

Another great thing about home sharing is you are now able to access your content from your computer via your iPad and iPhone and iPod touch. I'll save that for another article.

What is AirPlay and how does it work?
Includes How to Mirror iPad or iPhone to Apple TV.
Includes How to airplay from Mac to Apple TV.

AirPlay is the feature that allows you to send things from your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone to your Apple TV. You can also send things from iTunes to the Apple TV, and soon, you will be able to send everything on your Mac to the Apple TV via AirPlay. Stay tuned for updates.

To give it a go, get your iPhone and open up YouTube. Select a Video and start playing it.
If your phone and the Apple TV are on the same wifi network, you should be able to see a little icon next to the play and skip icons. It is a rectangle with a triangle at the bottom of it. Wherever you see this icon, it means you can AirPlay the content to another device. You can buy AirPlay speakers and other AirPlay compatible products.
Press the AirPlay icon and then select Apple TV. It will take a couple of moments, but here content should start playing on your TV in a moment.
Another way to activate AirPlay is to double press the home button, then slide accross to the left twice until you see the AirPlay icon. If you tap it, you are given the option to send content to the device you are using or the Apple TV. If you have an iPhone 4S or later, or an iPad 2 or later, you will see the option to turn on Mirroring. As the name implies, this mirrors exactly what is on the device to your Apple TV. There are a couple of apps that this doesn't work on for copyright reasons, but 99.9% of the time this works great. It's good for games, videos etc. I often use it if I am in the kitchen but want to send stuff like music videos to the tv without going in there.

If you are having trouble getting AirPlay to work, check on your Apple TV in Settings--->Airplay, that the AirPlay is turned on. Here you can also set a password for AirPlay if you need.

Using the Apple TV Remote
The remote that comes with your Apple TV is fantastic. It is not confusing like most remotes you get with a TV purchase. It is small and sits in my hand beautifully. The only bad thing about having a small remote, is it's easy to lose. It needs a tracking system on it or something. Anyway, here's how to use it.

The Menu button essentially takes you back one step from wherever you are. It is good to know this one.
The Play/Pause button is like a select button, and is used to obviously play and pause your movie.
The black circle button at the top is your navigation button. Use it to move up and down, left and right on the screen. It is also used for fast forwarding and rewinding your content on your Apple TV. Please note, if you pause, then try to fast forward it will acutally just do slow forward... very slow. So if you need to fast forward or rewind press play the fast forward. The FF and RR has 3 speeds which is very handy.

Inside the black navigation circle is one last button. This is your select button. Know it. Use it. Love it. It also serves as the "off" button for your Apple TV. You press and hold it for a few seconds from the main menu and your Apple TV will go into standby mode. Not that you need it, as the Apple TV will turn off by itself if you just leave it.

How do I program my own remote to operate an Apple TV
If you don't need another remote in your life, try programming your existing remote control to operate the Apple TV. You will need one of those remotes that allow you to operate multiple devices. My remote can operate up to four, and I wasn't using the button for STB (set top box) so I decided to allocate that one for the Apple TV.

Here's how to do it.
You'll need your Apple TV remote and your other remote.
Turn on your Apple TV
Go to Settings
Select General
Select Remotes
Select Learn Remote
Make sure the remote you want to program is set to the correct device (eg STB)
Select Start
Now follow the onscreen instructions
Press and hold the button you want to use for all of the functions that appear on the screen
It will then ask you to name the remote
Then it will say Setup Complete. DON'T PRESS OK.
Instead, select Set Up Playback Buttons
Follow the same steps to code in the playback buttons, including skip and next chapter.

Once completed, you are good to go. You can always go back and change any of these settings if you need to.

What can you watch on an Apple TV?
There is no end to what you can watch with an Apple TV.
I watch TV shows I buy from iTunes.
I watch movies that I own from my computer.
I enjoy playing music videos that are on my computer on the Apple TV.
Anything I can watch on my iPad I can play through my Apple TV (almost). Things like ABC iView,, content from iBethel and other churches, Joel Osteen, and heaps more. Pretty much whatever I am watching on my iPad on the net or in an App, I can beam to my Apple TV with AirPlay. Same with my iPhone.
You can also enjoy radio, podcasts, audiobooks, iTunes U content, and more with the Apple TV.

How long do I have to watch a movie on the Apple TV
You may want to know how long you will have to watch a movie before you rent it on your Apple TV. Essentially, you have 30 days to press play then it will delete. Once you have pressed play though, you only have 48 hours to watch it before it deletes. You can watch it as many times as you want.
How do I get Netflix on the Apple TV
In certain countries, you can now get Netflix on the Apple TV. If you don't have it, you need to update your software for the Apple TV.
Go to settings
Select General
Select Update Software

Keep your Apple TV connected to the net while it updates and restarts. If you are outside of the US you may not be able to get Netflix on the Apple TV.

It costs an extra $8 a month, and can be purchased from the Apple TV with your Apple ID. Netflix is a service that allows you to stream a bunch of tv shows and movies, without downloading or owning the movie. It's a great idea, but they are still lacking a lot of big name content. Often the movie or TV show I want to watch is not available in Netflix. But have a look anyway.
How to watch the NBA on an Apple TV
If your country doesn't have the Apple TV with a native NBA app on it, download the NBA.TV app from the app store. You can watch highlights for free and beam them to your Apple TV via AirPlay. Or pay a few (hundred) bucks and subscribe to enjoy full games, and AirPlay them to your Apple TV to enjoy them on the big screen. A good Internet connection is a must though.
What can I watch for free on an Apple TV
What you can watch for free on the Apple TV varies from country to country. Obviously, the movies and tv shows that are available easily on the TV cost money, but you can browse YouTube, and Vimeo and there is a lot of good content there that is free. Also, I watch a lot of ABC iView (in Australia ) they have an awesome iPad app, so our family will often set up the latest episode of Dr Who on iView and beam it to the Apple TV. There are lots of sights that make their shows available for free on the net, but usually special interest topics. For $8 if you are in the US, there is a lot on Netflix you can enjoy.
Can I send video or movies from my Computer or PC or Mac to an Apple TV
There are a couple of ways to do this. In the future, it will be even easier. This is because the next edition of Apple's Mac software will have a feature that allows you to send anything on your Mac to the Apple TV.
If you have iTunes, whatever you have playing in iTunes can be beamed to your Apple TV.
There is an app called Air Video (search in the app store). It's for iPhone or iPad or iPod touch. You need to download this app and also the software for your computer, and then you will be able to send any videos (even non apple ones) to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You can then AirPlay that video to your Apple TV. This is a great way to watch movies that you are unable or unwilling to import into iTunes.
What does the latest Third Gen Apple TV have
The newest version of the Apple TV has the ability to display 1080p HD video. That basically means the potential video quality is much better. The price is the same as the old one, so very good value. It's only really worth upgrading if you are a big fan of High Definition video and your TV supports 1080HD.
Activating Apple TV
How do you Authorize Apple TV
When you first set up your Apple TV, you will want to put in your Apple ID and password.
Go to Settings
Select iTunes Store
Select Sign In and enter your details.
Your Apple ID is the email address you use whenever you download something from an apple store.
How do I know what generation my Apple TV is
If you want to know what generation or version of Apple TV you have, check out the following.

1st Gen Apple TV
If your Apple TV is white, you have the first gen Apple TV.
This article isn't much help to you, but check out the following:

2nd Gen Apple TV
If your Apple TV is a little black box, and when you go to Setttings---> iTunes Store---> Video Resolution you can only set the display to SD and 720p, then you have an Apple TV 2nd Gen. This article applies to you and should help. If you have any questions about the Apple TV 2nd gen leave them in the comments and I will endeavour to help asap.

3rd Gen Apple TV
Looks a lot like the 2nd Generation Apple TV, but the changes are on the inside. It's got more guts and can play 1080p HD video (that means almost Blu Ray quality, a very clear sharp picture). Go to Settings---> iTunes Store---> Video Resolution, and if you can adjust the picture to 1080p, you have the 3rd Gen Apple TV. This article applies to you and should help.

Using the iPad iPhone iPod Touch as a Remote for the Apple TV
To use your iOS device as a remote (that means a device running iOS like an iPad or iPhone) go to the App store on your device and search for remote. One of the first apps is a free remote from Apple. Download this app, then open it up and have a play.
If your Apple TV is on the same wifi network at the iPad or iPhone you are using, the Remote App should detect the Apple TV and give you the ability to start controlling it. You can also use the app to operate iTunes on your computer, or access your music from iTunes Match.
Have a bit of a play with the app, as it takes a short time to get used to. You have three icons down the bottom you can press, but to navigate around you use a swipe gesture. Not that hard but a little unfamiliar on a TV. If you need to enter text, a keyboard should appear on your device to make this so much easier.

How to buy movies on the Apple TV
At the time of writing this, the Apple TV is unable to purchase movies. You can always buy them on your computer, iPhone or iPad in iTunes, and then AirPlay them to the device. I am not sure why the Apple TV is unable to perform this simple task. It would make it a lot easier to spend money on the content, and one would think both the movie studios and Apple would make a lot more money. Perhaps in time it will come.
How do I connect my iPhone and iPad to the Apple TV
How to Connect iPad to Apple TV.
How to Connect iPhone to Apple TV.

To see whatever is on your iPhone or iPad on your Apple TV, double tap the home button (of your mobile device). This will bring up the recently used apps at the bottom. Slide them from the left to the right (you want the left most icons on your screen) until you see the AirPlay icon (it's a rectangle with a triangle at the bottom). Pressing this gives you the option to send the video or audio to other devices, including the Apple TV.
If you have an iPad 2 or later, or iPhone 4S or later, you can also activate mirroring. This is the ability to duplicate exactly what is on your iPad or iPhone screen on the Apple TV.

How do I Turn on the Apple TV
If your Apple TV has power, you can just press any button on the remote to turn the Apple TV remote. Activating AirPlay from another device should turn your Apple TV on too.
How do you turn off Apple TV
And how to turn your Apple TV back on
The Apple TV is able to turn itself off after being idle for a time.

Go to Settings
Select General
Select Sleep After
Clicking on sleep after will allow you to adjust the sleep activation time from Never to 10 hours.

If you just want to turn it off (well, standby actually) go to the main menu, then press the select button (the silver one in the middle of the circle on the apple remote). Hold it for 3 seconds. The Apple TV will shut down.

You can also select Settings, then select Sleep Now.

The Apple TV never turns off properly unless you kill the power to it. This is so you can turn it on just by pressing any button on the remote, or by AirPlaying any content from another device. If the Apple TV turned off properly, your iPhone would not be able to see that the Apple TV was on the same wifi network. So it's handy, although confusing.
How do I reset an Apple TV
If you need to reset an Apple TV for whatever reason
go to Settings
Select Reset
Select Restore

If you just want to reset the factory settings, select Reset All Settings.
How do I fast forward and rewind on an Apple TV
The navigation buttons on the remote allow you to fast forward and rewind on the Apple TV. (The black circle button).
If the movie is paused and you try to use it though, it will just move very slow. You need to press play and then then you can fast forward and rewind in 3 speeds.
How do you play a DVD on Apple TV
The only way to play a DVD on the Apple TV at the moment is to rip the content from the TV onto your computer. I do not condone doing this as it more than likely breaks the law. If it is your own content and you have the right to do this, there is software available to help you. Try Googling for copy DVD to computer.
How do I get Subtitles on the Apple TV
To turn on closed captions, or subtitles, for your movies and TV shows on your Apple TV, you need to go to settings, select Audio & Video, Select Closed Captioning. This will turn it subtitles on or off. If you wish to change the subtitle language, go to Subtitle Language (just above Closed Captioning) and select it. This will give you a menu for all the available languages.

If the movie you rent or TV show you buy does not have closed captions, then there is nothing you can do. Movies or shows you stream from your computer will be able to display closed captions (subtitles) on the Apple TV if they were available when you originally bought the movie.
Sorry, there are no results available from Amazon.
How do I play games on the Apple TV
Any game you can play on your iPad 2, or your iPhone 4S, can be seen on the Apple TV using the AirPlay Mirroring feature.
There are some games that work really well with this feature. Check out this list of AirPlay games from Cult of Mac.
What type of cable do I need with an Apple TV
You will need to buy an HDMI cable to connect to your HDTV.

What is an HDMI Cable?
HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. Essentially it is a cable for sending good quality audio and video from one device to another. To learn more check out

How do I Connect the Apple TV to my TV?
Plug the HDMI cable into your Apple TV, and into your television, and make sure the Apple TV power cord is plugged in too. You're good to go.

Where can I get an HDMI cable?
Amazon have some available. I have put some links just below.

What type of TV do I need to work with the Apple TV?
You need a digital television. It can be LCD or Plasma or whatever, as long it is a digital television. HD is good, but not necessary. It will need to have HDMI input as well.