How to Use Your iPhone to Set up an Apple TV

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

What makes the set up so annoying is typing using the Apple TV's onscreen keyboard. Set up requires logging into your Apple ID, Wi-Fi network, and other accounts using the onscreen keyboard, where you use the remote to select one letter at a (very, very slow) time. 

But if you've got an iPhone, you can skip most of the typing and save time. Here's how.


4th Gen. Apple TV
Apple Inc.
  • 4th generation Apple TV
  • iPhone or iPad running iOS 9.1 or higher (not including iPad 2)
  • Bluetooth enabled on the iOS device
  • Physical proximity between the iPhone and Apple TV

If you've met these requirements, follow these steps to set up your Apple TV the quickest way possible:

  1. Begin by plugging your Apple TV into a power source and connecting it to your TV (in whatever way you prefer; it can be a direct connection, through a receiver, etc.)

Choose to Set up Apple TV Using Your iOS Device

Set up Apple TV with iPhone, step 1
Lifewire / Sam Costello

Once your Apple TV has booted up, you'll have a series of steps to follow:

  1. Pair your remote to the Apple TV by clicking the touchpad on the Apple TV remote
  2. Select the language you'll use the Apple TV in and click the touchpad
  3. Select the location where you'll use the Apple TV and click the touchpad
  4. On the Set Up Your Apple TV screen, select Set Up with Device and click the touchpad
  5. Unlock your iOS device and hold it a few inches away from the Apple TV

Apple TV Set up Steps Using iPhone

Set up Apple TV with iPhone, step 2
Lifewire / Sam Costello

Turn your attention away from the Apple TV for a minute. The next steps — the ones that save you all the time — take place on your iPhone or another iOS device.

  1. On the iPhone's screen, a window pops up asking if you want to set up the Apple TV now. Click Continue
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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, which is another big-time savings.

Apple TV Set-Up: Location Services, Siri, Screensavers

Set up Apple TV with iPhone, step 3
Lifewire / Sam Costello 

At this point, the action returns to your Apple TV. You can set down your iPhone, pick up the Apple TV remote, and keep going.

  1. Choose whether to enable Location Services. This 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. These require a big download — about 600 MB/month — but we think they're worth it. They're beautiful, scenic, slow-motion videos shot by Apple specifically for this use.

Apple TV Set-Up: Diagnostics, Analytics, Start Using Apple TV

Set up Apple TV with iPhone, step 5
Lifewire / Sam Costello

The last set of steps to complete before you can start using the Apple TV are minor:

  1. 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
  2. You can choose to share, or not, the same kind of data with app developers to help them improve their apps
  3. Lastly, you have to agree to the Apple TV's Terms and Conditions to use it. Do so here.

And with that, you're done. You'll be delivered to the Apple TV's home screen and can start using the device to watch TV and movies, play games, install apps, listen to music, and more. And, thanks to your iPhone, you got it done in fewer steps and with less annoyance than if you'd just used the remote. Enjoy your Apple TV!

Want to learn more about installing apps on Apple TV? Check out Can You Install Apps on the Apple TV?