Three Ways To Take Screenshots on Apple TV

How To Take Screenshots on Apple TV

Apple TV screenshot of Alto's Adventure game
You'll sometimes want to show friends just how well you're doing in games on your Apple TV.

Whether it is to tell friends about great games like Altos Adventure (illustrated), to discuss fantastic apps, or just to get a little troubleshooting support, you may sometimes want to share what's happening on screen on your Apple TV. Here is what you need to know:

What You Need

Solution 1 - The Easy Way

  • An Apple TV
  • A connected TV set with HDMI cable
  • Apple Siri Remote
  • A USB-C to USB-A cable
  • Xcode
  • A Mac with QuickTime Player

    Solution 2 - The Expert Way

    • An Apple TV
    • A special dongle
    • Apple Siri Remote
    • A USB-C to USB-A cable
    • A Mac with QuickTime Player

    Solution 3 - The Smart Workaround

    • An Apple TV
    • A connected TV set with HDMI cable.
    • Apple Siri Remote
    • A USB-C to USB-A cable
    • A Mac with QuickTime Player

    Every smartphone, tablet, or computer user regularly captures images of what they see happening on their screen, so why is it any different on Apple TV

    Gamers, educators, and troubleshooters all need to be able to take images in this way, while as television becomes an increasingly socially connected medium it's a no-brainer to expect most of us will need an easy way to share images of what's going on on our television screens.

    How It’s Done

    I suspect in future we’ll see this capacity introduced in Apple TV, but while we wait this is the easiest way to achieve the task, using an Apple TV and Mac.

    Solution 1 -- The Easy Way

    Connect

    First you must connect your Apple TV to your Mac using a USB-C cable. You’ll find a small USB-C input at the rear of your Apple TV. You should then plug your Apple TV into power and connect it to your television set using an HDMI lead. If you fail to connect to HDMI then the screenshot will just be a black rectangle.

    Install Xcode

    Xcode is Apple’s powerful development software. Developers use it to create applications across Apple’s four product families, including Apple TV: iOS, tvOS, watchOS and macOS devices all see apps made using Xcode. In this tutorial we’re only going to use Xcode to capture screenshots on Apple TV. You can download Xcode here, but you should know it is a 4GB download that occupies over 9GB of space on your Mac once installed.

    Use Xcode

    Now with your Apple TV connected to your Mac you must launch Xcode. Once the application is launched you must Click Window>Devices in the Menu bar in Xcode. You must select your Apple TV and click the Take Screenshot button.

    Where are the pictures? Images will be stored wherever your Mac regularly stores any other kind of screenshot, usually the Desktop. Screenshot resolutions are 1,920-×-1,080, no matter how you set resolution on your device.

    Solution 2: The Expert Way

    Kirk McElhearn has a second way to capture screenshots on Apple TV. You can also use QuickTime Player and any Mac that’s equipped with an HDMI port to take screenshots or capture video of what’s happening on your Apple TV.

    This also needs you to possess a special dongle that makes your system think you are also running an HDMI TV.

    Just connect the Mac to your Apple TV using a USB-C cable, plug the dongle into your Mac, launch QuickTime Player and choose File>New Movie Recording. You should click the ‘v’ shaped arrow you see just beside the gray and red record button to see a list of input choices. Select your Apple TV.

    What’s actually happening in the second method is that your Apple TV has been tricked into thinking your Mac (inside QuickTime) actually is an HDTV, enabling you to use the standard Mac Command-Option-4 keyboard sequence to take screenshots of events that are taking place on screen. It is unfortunately an imperfect solution as you are unable to record any DRM-protected video (such as iTunes movies) in this way.

    Solution 3: The Smart Workaround

    You can also use QuickTime Player to record on-screen events without a dongle, though you do need a television. In this case you connect your Mac to your Apple TV with the USB-C cable and link Apple TV up to your TV using HDMI. In QuickTime Player you choose File>New Movie Recording. Once again you should click the ‘v’ shaped arrow you see just beside the gray and red record button to see a list of input choices. Select your Apple TV and now you can capture video or still images at will.

    I hope you enjoy capturing images from your Apple TV.