How to Use Your iPhone to Set up an Apple TV

Get your streaming box up and running quickly

Setting up the 4th-generation Apple TV isn't hard, but it involves a lot of steps, and some of those steps are tedious. Luckily, if you have an iPhone, you can cut out the most annoying steps and speed through the set-up process. 

What makes the setup so slow is typing using the Apple TV's onscreen keyboard. But the iPhone lets you skip most of that–or at least do the typing on the more user-friendly phone keyboard. Here's how.

Instructions in this article apply to the 4th-generation Apple TV and newer and iPhones running iOS 9.1 and later.

How to Set Up Apple TV with an iPhone

Setting up your Apple TV with an iPhone is way faster and easier than using your Siri Remote and the onscreen keyboard. Here's what to do.

  1. Plug your Apple TV into a power source and connect it to your TV.

  2. Pair your remote to the Apple TV by clicking the touchpad on the Apple TV remote.

  3. Select the language you'll use the Apple TV in and click the touchpad.

  4. Select the location where you'll use the Apple TV and click the touchpad.

  5. On the Set Up Your Apple TV screen, select Set Up with Device and click the touchpad.

    Set up Apple TV with iPhone, step 1
  6. Unlock your iOS device and hold it a few inches away from the Apple TV.

  7. On the iPhone's screen, a window pops up asking if you want to set up the Apple TV now. Click Continue.

  8. Sign in to your Apple ID. This is one of the places this approach saves time. Instead of having to type out your username on one screen and your password on another on the TV, you can use the iPhone's keyboard to do that. This adds the Apple ID to your Apple TV and signs you in to iCloud, the iTunes Store, and the App Store on the TV.

  9. Choose whether you want to share diagnostic data about your Apple TV with Apple. There's no personal information shared here, just performance and bug data. Tap No Thanks or OK to continue.

    Set up Apple TV with iPhone, step 2
  10. At this point, the iPhone not only adds your Apple ID and other accounts to your Apple TV, but it also grabs all the Wi-Fi network data from your phone and adds it to your TV: it automatically finds your network and signs into it.

You can also connect your Apple TV to your router with an Ethernet cable, depending on your preference.

Finish Setting up Your Apple TV

Your iPhone's role in setting up your Apple TV is now over. Follow these steps to finish the process with your Siri Remote.

  1. Choose whether to enable Location Services. This feature isn't as crucial as on the iPhone, but it provides some nice features like local weather forecasts, so we recommend it

  2. Next, enable Siri. It's an option, but the Siri features are part of what makes the Apple TV so terrific, so why would you turn them off?

  3. Choose whether to use Apple's Aerial screensavers or not.

    Aerial screensavers come with large downloads (around 600 MB/month).

    Set up Apple TV with iPhone, step 3
  4. Choose to share diagnostic data with Apple or not. As noted earlier, this doesn't have personal data in it, so it's up to you

  5. You can choose to share, or not, the same kind of data with app developers to help them improve their apps

  6. Lastly, you have to agree to the Apple TV's Terms and Conditions to use it. Do so here.

  7. You'll return to the Apple TV's home screen and can start downloading apps and watching your favorite shows and movies.