How To Set Up the Apple TV

Get started with Apple's streaming box

Setting up Apple TV proves why Apple is famous for designing great interfaces and creating products that are a snap to set up and use. Hooking up the Apple TV is a snap. It should take you just a few minutes to go from opening the box to streaming video from the internet and playing music through your home theater.

Whether you have the more recent models—the Apple TV 4K and 4th generation—or older models like the 2nd and 3rd generation versions this article provides tips on how to get your device hooked up and streaming.

Already an iPhone user? You can skip most of these steps and set up your Apple TV even faster. Find out how in How to Set Up the Apple TV With Your iPhone.

How to Set Up the Apple TV 4K and 4th Generation Apple TV

The latest versions of Apple's set-top hardware has even more features than their predecessors, but you can still get them running in a couple of minutes. Here's how.

  1. Begin by connecting the Apple TV to your TV or home theater receiver with an HDMI cable (HDMI 2.0 for the Apple TV 4K) and plugging the Apple TV into power. You can connect Apple TV to the internet using ethernet (plug in a cable now) or Wi-Fi (you'll do this during set up).

  2. Turn on your TV and set it to the input that the Apple TV is connected to. The Apple TV setup screen will appear.

  3. Pair the included Siri Remote to your Apple TV by clicking the touchpad at the top of the remote.

  4. Use the Siri Remote to follow the onscreen prompts to set up the Apple TV. You'll choose a location and a language, sign in with your Apple ID, pick screensaver settings, and more.

  5. Sign in to your TV provider account, if you have one. This option unlocks access to streaming video content in apps your TV provider supports (e.g., official apps of networks).

  6. When setup is complete, you can start installing apps and watching content.

How to Set Up the 3rd and 2nd Generation Apple TV

The setup process for older models of Apple TV is similar. Here's what to do.

  1. Unbox the Apple TV. Plug the cable into your HDTV or receiver and your Apple TV. Connect the device to a power outlet. The Apple TV will boot up, showing you the Apple logo onscreen.

  2. Choose the language you want to use for the menus using the remote.

    The volume up and down buttons move the highlight up and down; select using the center button.

  3. The Apple TV scans for available Wi-Fi networks (assuming you're using Wi-Fi. The Apple TV can also connect via Ethernet). Find yours and choose it, and then enter your password and select Done.

  4. Choose whether you want your Apple TV to report diagnostic information to Apple or not, and continue. This option shares information about how the Apple TV is running (if it crashes, etc.) with Apple but does not send personal information.

  5. Make sure Home Sharing is enabled on your main home computer. Home Sharing allows you to stream content from your iTunes library so you can watch it on your big screen. You can use the Apple TV to connect to the Internet and get content from there without turning on Home Sharing, but you'll get more use from the Apple TV with it on.

    Sign in to Home Sharing with the same iTunes account you use with your main iTunes library.

  6. At this point, you should be all set and at the Apple TV home screen. You can now play music or video from your iTunes library via AirPlay or access web-based content at the iTunes Store, Netflix, YouTube, or other locations.