How to Use Your Apple TV With an iPad

Toss the tiny Siri Remote and use your iPad instead

While Apple TV is a cool streaming device, its best use may well be as an iPad accessory. Not only can the iPad control the device, taking over for the Siri Remote that comes with Apple TV, but the iPad's display can also be sent to Apple TV through AirPlay, which lets you view the iPad on your big-screen television. 

With AirPlay, you can stream music through your TV's soundbar, play iPad games on your HDTV, show off the photos on your iPad, or watch a movie.

Information in this article applies to iPads running iOS 12, 11, and 10, except as indicated. A second-generation or later Apple TV is required.

The iPad as an Apple TV Remote Control

Apple TV is an excellent addition to an entertainment system, but its Siri Remote isn't one of Apple's standout products. The tiny device is awkward to use and easy to lose between the cushions of your couch.

Your iPad can not only function as a surrogate remote for Apple TV while the Siri Remote is misplaced, but it's also a better remote. The iPad's on-screen keyboard makes entering text and conducting searches much faster, and you can use voice dictation on your iPad to tell Apple TV the name of a movie you want to watch.

The Apple TV Remote app is a free download at the App Store for both iPhones and iPads.

Setting up the Apple TV Remote App

After you download the Remote app:

  1. Turn on your Apple TV.

  2. Launch the Apple TV Remote app on your iPad, and select Apple TV on the screen that appears.

    Apple TV Remote app opening screen on iPad
  3. Usually, the devices pair immediately because they are on the same Wi-Fi network. If not, a different screen opens. Enter the code that appears on the Apple TV screen into the fields on the iPad to pair the devices.

    Apple TV Remote app number entry screen for pairing

    If you have trouble pairing the devices, go to the Apple TV. Open Settings, choose Remotes and Devices, and select your iPad in the list of pairable devices. Pairing is only necessary the first time you use the remote app.

After the devices are paired, the iPad adds the Apple TV Remote app to Control Center for easy access.

Using the Apple TV Remote App

When the app opens, you see a simple screen.

Apple TV Remote app interface on iPad

Use the entire screen of the iPad as a trackpad to swipe or tap. Think of it as a much larger version of the trackpad on the Siri Remote.

The additional controls are sparse, just like on the Siri Remote, and they work similarly.

  • Press Menu to exit a screen and view the previous screen.
  • Tap the TV icon to go to the Watch Now screen. Press and hold the TV icon to bring up the Sleep Now screen where you can turn off the Apple TV.
  • Use the Play/Pause icon to start and stop the media that is playing.
  • Tap the microphone to activate Siri for a search.

Secret iPad Keyboard for the Apple TV

You don't need to download the Apple TV Remote app to use your iPad's keyboard with your Apple TV. The iPad and iPhone have a hidden app called the Apple TV Keyboard installed on them in iOS 10 and later.

This app pops up automatically on your open iPad's screen whenever Apple TV asks you to type something, as long as the two devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. This is a great feature when you consider how difficult it is to type letters using the Siri Remote.

The iPad, Apple TV, and AirPlay

Controlling Apple TV with the Remote app on your iPad is cool, but what makes Apple TV such a great iPad accessory is AirPlay Mirroring. AirPlay is Apple's protocol for communicating between devices, allowing you to stream music to AirPlay-compatible speakers or stream music and video to Apple TV.

This means you can use apps or play games on your iPad while viewing them on your big TV screen.

When you add AirPlay Mirroring of your iPad's display to your TV, it's easy to see why Apple TV adds value to your iPad.

How to Mirror Your iPad Display on Apple TV

As long as you have an iPad 2 or later running iOS 5 or later, and a second-generation Apple TV or later, using AirPlay mirroring is a breeze.

  1. Connect both devices to the same Wi-Fi network.

  2. Turn on your Apple TV.

  3. Pull down from the top left corner of the iPad screen to open Control Center in iOS 12 or iOS 11. (Pull up from the bottom of the iPad screen to open Control Center in earlier versions of iOS.)

  4. Tap Screen Mirroring in iOS 12 or iOS 11. (Tap AirPlay in earlier versions of the iOS.)

    A screenshot of an iPad's Control Center with the Screen Mirroring button highlighted
  5. Tap Apple TV in the list of devices that appears.

    A screenshot of an iPad's Screen Mirroring menu with the Apple TV option highlighted

The screen from your iPad is mirrored to your TV immediately.

Stop Mirroring

To disconnect AirPlay and stop mirroring:

  1. Open Control Center again.

  2. Tap the button that says Apple TV on it.

    A screenshot of an iPad's Control Center with the Mirroring button highlighted
  3. Tap Stop Mirroring at the bottom of the next screen.

    A screenshot of the iPad's Screen Mirroring screen with the Stop Mirroring button highlighted
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