Apple TV Tips And Tricks
Apple - Support - Apple TV 101
06-16-2012 03:22 PM
Rearrange the Apple TV Home Screen Icons
If you’ve always wanted to change how your Apple TV home screen icons where arranged, you’ll be happy the feature has arrived with the Apple TV 5.1 update. Though the top row of icons is stuck where it is, you can arrange the majority of other icons just by doing the following with your remote:
Select the icon to move, then press and hold “Select” to make the icons jiggle
Use the remove to move the selected icon to it’s new placement
Press the Select button again to finish and stop the jiggling
Repeat as desired for other icons, but for now Movies, TV Shows, Music, Computers, and Settings are staying in place.
Though customizing the icon placement may seem like a minor feature, it feels like an obvious step in the direction of importing even more features from the iOS world to the Apple TV OS builds, perhaps with an eventual merging of the two.
Apple TV Tips And Tricks
How to control Apple TV with a third-party remote
Here's a cool Apple TV feature that you probably didn't know about, particularly if you're like me and the third-generation Apple TV is your first foray into Apple's "hobby" device. In addition to the pre-packaged and somewhat spartan remote and Apple's more full-featured Remote app for iOS devices, it turns out you can control your Apple TV with virtually any third-party remote control. We first wrote about this feature about a year and a half ago, but we're guessing there are a lot of Apple TV newbies out there since the recent update, so it's worth a refresher.
On your Apple TV, head into Settings > General > Remotes. There, you'll find an option called "Learn Remote." From there, it's a simple matter of following onscreen instructions; press and hold the button on your remote that you want to have control the corresponding function you see on your TV.
In addition to the basic navigation functions, you also have the option to program more advanced playback functions. This will allow you to set up fast-forward, rewind, next chapter, and a handful of other functions on your third-party remote.
The whole procedure is pretty drop-dead simple, but results will vary depending on your remote. I didn't have any issues setting up the basic navigation functions on the remote that came with my surround sound system, but no matter what I tried I couldn't get the playback controls to pair up with my Apple TV. At the very least, having the basic nav functions let me toss the standard Apple TV remote in a drawer, so that's something.
This is one feature that Apple doesn't go out of its way to advertise, but like many other things Apple's done, I now find myself wishing everything worked this way. If my TV had a programming function like this, I could finally get down to one remote control without having to shell out extra money for a universal remote.
Ah! The single remote dream...never to be fulfilled...again and again! I think I read something about Apple having a project about the ultimate remote in the works. But that was before Steve's passing.
Nor white, nor black. Just the passionate shades between...
Yuno Wataï Minh
Apple TV Tips
It is cool how Apple TV learns the remote. Normally the remote learns the device. This is the first device I've seen that works this way and I bet alot of people don't realize they can use just about any remote to control Apple TV.
That being said there are also some cool things you can things you can do with the original remote like puting Apple TV to sleep by holding the play/pause button.
Here are several tips that every Apple TV users should check out.
5 tips for getting more from your Apple TV
The Apple TV has evolved from a slow, hard-drive-based extension of your computer to a fairly capable media streamer. It’s the only media player on the market that lets you access your iTunes library and previous purchases from Apple, as well as stream content directly from a Mac or iOS device using Apple’s AirPlay technology.
If you have a second- or third-generation Apple TV in your home entertainment setup, here are several tips for getting the most from it.
1. Update your software
Apple has added many Apple TV features over the past year (including some of the ones discussed below) via software updates. Before you continue, make sure you’re running the latest version of the Apple TV software by navigating to Settings > General > Update Software and following the instructions. As of this writing, Apple TV Software Update 5.1 is the current version.
2. Move icons around
Thanks to expanded content options, the Apple TV now displays 20 icons on your TV screen from its main menu. Those extra icons make it harder to navigate around and select the item you want with the fewest clicks of the remote, however.
Thankfully, you now can rearrange the icons to better fit the way you use the Apple TV. To do so, use your Apple Remote to highlight an icon, then press and hold the round button until the icon begins to shimmy. (The effect will be like when you tap and hold an iOS app icon until it starts shaking, but on the Apple TV only that particular icon wiggles about.) You can then use the navigation controls on your remote to move the icon where you want it. Repeat for each icon you want to relocate.
Do you watch a lot of YouTube? And like looking at photos on Flickr? Move those icons up (and while you’re at it, group ones you don’t use much at the bottom).
Keep in mind, however, that you can’t move or replace any of the icons in the first row. So you’re stuck with Movies, TV Shows, Music, Computers, and Settings (in that order) whether you want them there or not.
3. The Menu button is your friend
Once you’ve navigated several levels deep into the Settings app or drilled down into a YouTube search to find something to watch, you have a long way to go to get back to the Apple TV’s main menu. But no matter how far down the rabbit hole you’ve ventured, just click and hold the Menu button on your remote, and you’ll quickly move to the Apple TV’s homepage.
4. Download the Apple Remote app
And speaking of navigation, if you have an iOS device that’s usually nearby when you’re enjoying content on your Apple TV, download the Apple Remote app for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
With the app, you can control navigation and playback on your Apple TV using your Wi-Fi network. And if you have a large iTunes library, the app is a far superior way to find specific content than scrolling through huge lists on your HDTV screen.
Best of all, anything that requires text entry—searching YouTube, entering passwords, and so on—is much easier to accomplish using your iOS device’s virtual keyboard than tediously selecting each character using your hardware remote and the onscreen keyboard you see on your TV.
The Remote app is by no means perfect—it can sometimes be flaky and unresponsive—but it’s incredibly useful at certain times, and well worth keeping on your iOS devices to use as needed.
5. See the highest-quality video you can
Although they run the same software, the big difference between the second- and third-generation Apple TV models is that the third-gen model supports 1080p video resolution versus 720p on the previous gen. In order to see the difference, however, you’ll need to make sure you’ve set up your Apple TV accordingly.
Second, go to Settings > iTunes Store and look in the Preferences section. Assuming you have a 1080p TV and sufficient bandwidth, Video Resolution should be set to 1080p HD, and HD Previews should be set to On.
Note that it does you no good to set the Apple TV to a resolution higher than your TV supports. For example, if your TV can produce only 720p video, don’t configure the Apple TV for 1080p. In some cases, TVs get confused with these conflicting resolutions and will simply refuse to display images from the Apple TV at all.
Hiding Main Menu icons on the Apple TV
Apple has regularly added some great new categories of content to the Apple TV over the past two years, ranging from MLB, NHL and NBA sports options to Netflix and Hulu Plus. If you’re not a sports fan or subscriber to any of these services, however, you may find that the additional icons do little more than clutter up your Apple TV main menu screen. While the new Apple TV 5.1 Software Update now allows you to reorder these icons, you can’t easily remove them while reordering them. However, there is a useful trick to get rid of almost any item you don’t want to see on your main Apple TV menu screen by using the Parental Controls feature. Simply go into Settings, General, Parental Controls, scroll down to the list of items at the bottom and set each one to “Hide” to make them disappear from your Main Menu entirely. You don’t even need to actually turn on parental controls simply to hide items from here, although doing so will allow you to set rating restrictions for iTunes content and leave certain items visible but passcode-protected. Note that the Movies, TV Shows, Computers and Settings items cannot be hidden.
Sync a Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard with Apple TV
You can now sync a Bluetooth keyboard with the Apple TV and use it to navigate and search on the device. This nice little bonus feature arrived along with the iOS 6.1 update, though it’s technically labeled for the Apple TV as 5.2 update, but regardless of the versioning and naming convention it’s an appreciated feature and finally brings the Apple TV in line with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad for supporting wireless keyboards. It’s not going to function as a workstation (yet at least), but it does offer another way to navigate Apple TV.
As we mentioned, you’ll need the newest Apple TV system software installed to sync keyboards. If you’ve never done that before, it’s not complicated.
Update to the Newest Apple TV OS
Updating Apple TV is done either by connecting it physically to iTunes, downloading the IPSW and manually updating, or, what is typically the fastest and certainly the easiest, by using Over-The-Air update:
On the Apple TV, go to “Settings” and then “General”
Choose “Update Software” then “Download and Install”
Let the update install and the Apple TV reboot
Now that you’re on the appropriate OS version, here’s what you’ll need to do to sync a wireless keyboard with the Apple TV.
Connect a Wireless Keyboard to the Apple TV
We’ll use the Apple Wireless Keyboard as the example because it’s common, but this should work the same on any other compatible bluetooth keyboard:
Open “Settings” again and then go to “General” followed by “Bluetooth”
Place the wireless keyboard into pairing mode, on the Apple Wireless Keyboard this is done by holding the power button
Wait for the Bluetooth keyboard to pop up on the Apple TV screen and go through the brief setup procedure, entering the pairing code to confirm the proper keyboard will be connected
With that done you can now use a bluetooth keyboard as the primary input device on the Apple TV, which can make searching media and entering text quite a bit easier.
Apple TV: Tips for Using Remotes
If you've got an Apple TV, there some important things to know about how to control your device when you're watching something. First, if you'd like to skip around in your show by chapter, you can do that by pressing the down button on the Apple Remote:
You can then use the right and left buttons on the remote to move forward and back one chapter at a time. If instead you're using the Remote app on your iOS device, swipe down on the screen first to pull up the chapter guides.
What? That's a swipe down, people.
Then just swipe your finger left or right to skip around in your media.
Note that if what you're watching doesn't have chapter markers (cough cough Netflix cough cough), the Apple TV will let you skip 30 seconds at a time or 1/20th of the length of the media, whichever is longer.
Additionally, there's a special menu you can access while your show is playing so that you can change speakers, jump ahead to a chapter by name (if available), or turn on closed captioning. You do that by pressing and holding the center (Select) button, which'll pause what you're playing and show you a lovely new menu for those options.
On the Remote app, there's a special button to access this, too:
Handy! I find this especially useful to quickly turn on closed captioning if I'm trying to keep the volume down late at night or if I'm having trouble understanding an actor through his accent.
Finally, not everyone knows that you can use third-party remotes to control the Apple TV. To configure yours, go to Settings > General > Remotes on your Apple TV, and pick Learn Remote. You'll then walk through instructions for which buttons on your remote you'd like to use to control your device.
Fixing Apple TV lost network connections
Occasionally, my 1080p Apple TV (ATV) loses interest in connecting to my local network. More specifically, if I go to the Network setting, I find no IP address listed. That’s right. The IP address listing is empty. There isn’t even an invalid self-assigned (169.x.x.x) address. Not surprisingly, when this vanishing act occurs, the ATV can no longer access my iTunes Library or any of the ATV’s internet-based services.
The Apple TV is hooked up to my network via a wired (Ethernet) connection. I had thought this would make for a more reliable connection. Apparently, not in this case.
Some quick diagnostic checks determined that the source of the problem was almost certainly the ATV itself. All the other networked devices – whether connected by Wi-Fi or Ethernet – were functioning as expected. My AirPort Base Station and internet modem both showed all-systems-go. Even my second ATV, connected to another television, was working just fine.
Even the now troublesome Apple TV had been working for over a year without incident. The network loss popped up only in the last month or two. This made me wonder if the cause might be a bug in a recent ATV firmware update.
In any case, my first attempt to get the ATV back on the network was to restart the device. There are at least three ways to do this (as covered in an Apple support article). I had success with the first method: selecting Settings > General > Restart. Presumably, the others would have worked as well.
Choosing Restart may be all you need to get an offline Apple TV back online
Unfortunately, a restart was not a permanent fix. The network loss continued to re-occur about once every two weeks. As long as restarting restored the connection, I wasn’t too concerned. Still, I continued to seek a solution that would squash the bug entirely.
In one Apple Support Communities thread, numerous users have reported a similar Ethernet-based network loss. As in my case, restarting the ATV typically restored the connection. A permanent fix was more elusive. Various settings changes were recommended, but none seemed to be a consensus solution. One posting suggested adding Google’s Public DNS Server (008.008.008.008) to the network settings. But this assumes you already have a functioning IP address. I didn’t.
Another thread described similar symptoms, except that they were with Wi-Fi connections. In one more thread, users reported a network failure limited to Home Sharing rather than the entire connection.
In at least some cases, the Wi-Fi failures may be due to a faulty ATV. As reported in a recent Macworld article, “a small subset” of third-generation Apple TVs qualify for a free replacement by Apple. To qualify, your device must have a serial number matching the criteria cited in the article.
I checked my Apple TV. My serial number was almost a match. It ended in the required DRHN. But it did not have one of the required third and fourth character pairs (instead, the matching pair was with the fifth and sixth characters). I assume that means close, but no cigar. Then again, my problem was with an Ethernet connection, not Wi-Fi.
Unfortunately, several questions remain unanswered. Do the Wi-Fi and Ethernet symptoms have the same underlying cause? For cases that do not qualify for a unit replacement, did a firmware update trigger the problem? If not, what is the sure-fire permanent solution? Hopefully, the answers will emerge sometime soon.
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