Did you get an Apple TV for Christmas? Or have you started using it for most of your TV viewing? Lots of people are.

As well as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV (for Sky programming) there are also BBC iPlayer, ITV and Channel 5 apps available for the Apple TV, and Channel 4’s app is coming soon. This means that many people are ‘cord-cutting’ and avoiding traditional broadcasts (Freeview or Satellite/Cable) – often saving money in the process. Even those that use Sky, say, in their ‘main’ rooms, are choosing Apple TV in the rest of their home. Whilst the interface isn’t perfect, it is simple, the picture and sound quality are excellent, with 4K resolution, and the unit is inexpensive and small enough to put behind every TV. Moreover, it solves the problem of navigating the multiplicity of GUIs for streaming services on ‘smart TVs’ – we still find, irrespective of manufacturer, that there are huge variations in both functionality and usability between models. Tough on customers.

With all this in mind, here are some simple tips for getting the most out of your Apple TVs. Of course, if you’re an SMC customer we can come and do this for you – on a proactive maintenance visit if you have an aftercare plan, or as a call-out if you don’t.

Controlling the TV or AV volume

Start by choosing an Apple TV to work with, it’ll need to be a new-ish one, with the black remote control. You’ll need about 15 minutes to do all of this, as well as your iCloud (and other account passwords) so you might want a cup of tea, too! It is a good idea to name your Apple TV (‘Kitchen Apple TV’). First find the Settings icon (the grey one with the cogs), press that and then General and then About. Click on Name and you can edit the name.

Now to set up the volume – go back to the main Settings list (by pressing Menu) and scroll down to the Remotes and Devices section and click. Once you’re in that menu you’ll see there a number of things you can do.

Whether your TV is connected via an amplifier, or you just want to operate the TV’s own volume using the cute Apple remote go down to the Home Cinema Control section and select Volume Control. You’ll then find there are some simple steps to help you set it up. The on-screen menu walks you through it but contact us if you get stuck.

Adding, updating, deleting and rearranging apps

Now go back to the Settings menu and select Apps. It is normally worth making sure that Automatically Update Apps is set to ‘ON’ but that Automatically Install Apps is set to ‘OFF’. You’ll find that you can configure how most apps work, and their privacy settings. Once you’ve done this go back to the Home screen by pressing the Menu button. This is the screen where you see all of the App icons, like on your phone. If you click-and-hold on the trackpad (the matt, top bit of the remote) you’ll find that the app (or folder) you’re on starts to wobble (just like when you rearrange or delete apps on an iPhone). Once the app icon is wobbling you can press the ⏯ (play/pause) button and see a short list of options. You can delete the app or move it to a new folder – or just press Menu to leave it where it is. If you do this, you can delete any apps you don’t need. When you’ve finished with that app press the ⏯ (play/pause) button again and you can move onto another app. You can explore adding new apps using the blue App Store icon (like on your phone). Add any new ones you want.

You might wish to organise the apps you select (maybe having all the video services you use – iPlayer etc. – on the top row, and then put the less-used stuff in a folder). You’ll find you can name the folders too. Once you’ve done this, sign into your apps with your account credentials and check everything is working right.

Nearly there…

Changing the background colour

Most of our customers at SMC prefer a black background to the Home screen, but if you have a Samsung Frame TV, or your screen is integrated into a white wall or background, you might not like that. Go to Settings again, then General, then Appearance – you can choose what works best.

Controlling TV from your iPhone

In case you ever lose your Apple TV remote you can download an Apple TV app on the iPhone App Store (there is a 3rd party version on the Google Play Store, but we don’t recommend it). This lets you control other Apple TVs you come across (make sure you’re on the same WiFi network!). This is a good time to name your Apple TV if you haven’t (see above).

Making all your Apple TVs work the same – so you never have to do this again!

This is probably the most useful tip for those of us with more than one TV. Once you’ve followed the steps above, and got everything working just how you’d like it, why not have all the Apple TVs you’ve got – and any ones you add in future – act the same way?

The way to approach this is to sign out of iCloud on the other Apple TVs (the ones you haven’t set up yet) and now, on the Apple TV you’re working on, go to Settings again, scroll down to Accounts and click on iCloud (the top item). Just underneath your account name it says, ‘One Home Screen’ – select this to ‘ON’. Bingo – all done.

Now go to your other Apple TVs and sign back into your iCloud account and everything should arrange itself nicely on each of your Apple TVs.

Also – you may have noticed you can also view your iCloud photos here too. Most families just choose to select Shared Albums, to give themselves a bit of privacy – this is perfect for grandparents and others if they use an Apple TV.

If you would like to hear more about our services and how we can help get in touch, we would love to talk to you.