How to Use Photos on Apple TV

Montage of diverse people, places and things

John M Lund / Getty Images

Apple TV Photos lets you explore all your most loved pictures and videos on your TV screen, including Apple’s new Memories feature, slideshows, albums, and more.

How It Works

Apple TV doesn’t download your photos and videos, it streams them from your iCloud. This means that before you get to use Photos on Apple TV you must activate photo sharing on iCloud on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC, which means enabling iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream or iCloud Photo Sharing on your devices. You must then log your Apple TV into iCloud.

To Log Into iCloud on Apple TV

  • Open Settings>Accounts, select iCloud and select Sign in.
  • You’ll need to enter your Apple ID, select Continue and enter your password to sign in.

Now you’re signed into your iCloud account you have three different image sharing options:

iCloud Photo Library

If you use iCloud Photo Library on your devices you can stream all your photos and videos from the service.

iCloud Photo Sharing

This is the option to choose if you only want to access albums you’ve chosen to share with friends and family. It’s also the option to choose if you want to access albums shared with you by your friends from iCloud.

My Photo Stream

This option lets your Apple TV access the last 1,000 photos or videos you’ve captured on your iPhone, iPad or uploaded to your Mac. You can use this feature at the same time as iCloud Photo Sharing but it is not available with iCloud Photo Library.


If you don’t want to use iCloud you can also stream images to your Apple TV using AirPlay. Just select an image, video or album and flick up from the bottom of your iPhone or iPad display to access AirPlay in Control Center, or use the AirPlay option on your Mac. (You can AirPlay Amazon video, too).

Get to Know Photos

Photos is pretty simple. It gathers all your images within one page and tries to make them look beautiful. The software doesn’t select the images that you see, you need to manage your own Photos library on your devices if you want to make sure you aren’t sharing blurry pictures of your thumbs (or anything else) on your TV. You can also set any of these images as a screensaver on Apple TV.

The tvOS 10 interface divides things into four tabs: Photos, Memories, Shared, and Albums. Here is what each of these can do for you:

  • Photos This collection gathers all your images and videos in the order in which they were taken. You navigate through the collection with your Siri Remote, to see an item in full screen just select and click on the image.
  • Memories Just like the latest OS versions on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, Apple TV’s Photos app brings Apple’s fantastic Memories feature. This automatically goes through your images to collect them together into albums. These are based on time, location or people in the images. This makes the feature an excellent way to rediscover moments and places you may have forgotten about.
  • Shared This is the tab that lets you access any images you’ve shared to iCloud using iCloud Photo Sharing, or images shared with you by friends or family using the same service. The only snag is you can’t yet share images with others from the Apple TV, presumably because the images are not stored on your device.
  • Albums In this section, you’ll find all the albums you’ve created in Photos on your devices, for example, that album of holiday snaps you created on your Mac should be here, so long as your iCloud settings are correct (see above). You’ll also find all the automatically created ‘smart’ albums for video, panoramas and more. You can’t yet create, edit or share albums on your Apple TV.
  • Live Photos You can also see Live Photos on your Apple TV. All you need to do is select the image, press and hold the trackpad on your remote and after around a half-second, the Live Photo will begin to play. If it doesn’t work at first you may need to wait a few moments as the image won’t play until more of it has been downloaded from iCloud.