iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iOS and iTunes Tips & Tricks | iLounge

Tips & Tricks

Reducing loud sounds on the new Apple TV

Another small new feature added by Apple in the new fourth-generation Apple TV is the ability to adjust the dynamic range of your audio input. This is particularly useful for watching TV later at night, or anytime you prefer to use lower volume levels so as not to disturb others — it enhances detail such as spoken dialogue, while softening music and other loud background noise.

Changing the name of your Apple TV

While your new Apple TV would have prompted you to give it a name during the setup process, if you were in a hurry to get going you might have just selected a default name like “Apple TV” without giving it too much thought. However, if you want to choose a more descriptive name — particularly useful if you use AirPlay and have multiple devices around the house — you can easily go back in and change it to just about anything you want.

Skipping backward and forward on the Apple TV

With the Siri Remote’s touchpad for the fourth-generation Apple TV, some of the traditional navigation features from the prior Apple TV are not necessarily obvious right out of the gate. For example, on older Apple TV models you can skip back or forward a few seconds by holding down the FF or RW buttons on the Apple Remote, but of course these buttons are missing from the new Apple TV, which now requires you to do this by manipulating the touchpad instead.

Placing apps in the top row on the Apple TV

Although Apple TV users have been able to reorder their app icons since Apple TV Software Update 5.1 three years ago, Apple traditionally always treated the top row of icons – Movies, TV Shows, Music, Computers, and Settings (and later iTunes Radio in the U.S.) – as immutable; even if you preferred to use other services, you were always stuck with those five in the top row.

Checking your Siri Remote battery level

The Siri Remote on the new fourth-generation Apple TV incorporates a rechargeable battery, and Apple promises “months” of battery life on a single charge, at least for whatever the company considers “typical use.” You shouldn’t need to charge your remote often, but if you’re curious to check how much battery life is remaining, you can do this by going into the Apple TV Settings and selecting “Bluetooth” under “Remotes and Devices.”

Your Siri Remote will be shown on this screen with a battery indicator showing how much juice is left. Of course, you can plug the remote in at any time to charge it up — just use a Lightning cable with a USB wall charger or a port on your computer. It will take about 9 hours to reach a full charge, but the good news is that you can also still use it while it’s charging back up.

Switching between apps on the new Apple TV

With the advent of the App Store for the Apple TV, Apple’s new tvOS borrows some user interface features from its iOS cousin, including the concept of a “Home” button and screen, as well as the App Switcher for quickly navigating between apps and closing them if necessary. You can bring up the App Switcher with a double-tap of the Home button; the user interface should be familiar to anybody who has ever used an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

In the App Switcher, you can of course use the touchpad to swipe between open apps, and dismiss or close an app simply by swiping up on the touchpad, much like you would in iOS. tvOS apps also remain suspended in the background much like they do on iOS, so you can use the Home button to pull up the App Switcher or return to the Home screen and still pick up right where you left off when you go back to your app — as long as tvOS can keep it in memory while you’re running other apps.

Quickly setting up a new Apple TV using your iPhone

Expecting a new Apple TV under the tree this Christmas? With the latest Apple TV software you can now set it up in a flash right form your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. All you need is to have a recent device running iOS 7 in close proximity. Plug in the new Apple TV and once the initial setup screen appears, simply unlock your device, enable Bluetooth, and place the iPhone within about a foot or so of your Apple TV.

You’ll see a prompt on the iOS side asking you to enter your Apple ID and password, at which point your iCloud and iTunes login information and Wi-Fi and Home Sharing passwords will be transferred from your iOS device to the Apple TV, saving you the trouble of entering information using the cumbersome on-screen keyboard and Apple Remote.


Enabling Conference Room Display on the Apple TV

If you’re setting up your Apple TV for AirPlay use in a business or school environment, or simply have a lot of different friends over connecting up to it with their iOS devices, there’s a useful new feature in Apple TV 6.0 that allows you to display AirPlay connection instructions overlaid on the screen saver.

The feature is called Conference Room Display, and can be found under Settings, AirPlay. By default it simply displays the Wi-Fi network name and Apple TV name, although you can also choose to add a custom message at the bottom of the AirPlay instruction window or choose your own a background photo to show up instead of the standard screen saver.

Organizing Home Videos in iTunes

Last year, iTunes 11 introduced a new “Home Videos” category, providing a great way—in principle—to use iTunes for storing personal videos and syncing them with other Apple devices without cluttering up the main “Movies” category. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the release of Apple TV 6.0 and iOS 7 that the category become fully supported across all of Apple’s current hardware devices.

The “Home Videos’ category will remain hidden in iTunes and on other devices until you actually place something in it; to categorize a video as a “Home Video” simply import it into the main “Movies” section and then open the properties by selecting it and choosing File, Get Info, selecting the Options tab and setting the Media Kind field to “Home Video.”


You’ll need to sync the video to any iOS devices the old-fashioned way, since iCloud doesn’t support non-purchased video content, at which point a new “Home Videos’ button should appear in the iOS “Videos” app.

Enabling automatic Apple TV Software Updates

One of the more subtle new features in the Apple TV 6.0 Software Update is the ability to have future updates downloaded and applied automatically—a great feature if you don’t feel like waiting for an update to apply when you’re getting ready to watch your favourite show. You can find this option and switch it on or off under Settings, General, Software Updates from the Apple TV menu.

Note that this feature is enabled by default on new Apple TV units and disabled by default if you’re updating from an older version. If you leave it disabled you will still be prompted to apply updates manually whenever new Apple TV software is available, as in prior versions.


Deleting Photo Stream content from your Apple TV

Accessing your iCloud Photo Stream and other Shared Photo Streams from your Apple TV is a really handy way to view your photos and show them off to friends and family. You may not know that you can also delete photos or even entire Shared Photo Streams right from your Apple TV without having to return to your iOS device or computer. To do this, simply highlight a photo or Photo Stream and hold down the Select button on the Apple Remote until a pop-up menu appears with an option to “Delete Photo” or “Delete Photo Stream.” This also works with Photo Streams that have been shared with you by other users;  “Unsubscribe” will appear on the menu in this case instead of the delete option, allowing you to remove only your copy of the Shared Photo Stream.

Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t just remove these items from your Apple TV—as on iOS the items will be removed from your iCloud account and any other devices that sync with it.

Controlling who can AirPlay to your Apple TV

The Apple TV’s AirPlay feature makes it a great accessory to bring your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch content to the larger screen. By default, however, this feature is wide open; anybody running iOS or iTunes on the same network can freely broadcast content to your Apple TV at the tap of a button. For most home users this isn’t a huge problem, but if you have kids in the house, or you otherwise use your Apple TV on a network shared with other iOS users, you may find it useful to restrict AirPlay access to your Apple TV—particularly since starting AirPlay from another device will interrupt whatever you may currently be watching.

The good news is that Apple has provided a couple of options for this, both of which can be found in the AirPlay section under your Apple TV’s Settings menu. If you don’t want your Apple TV to be accessible via AirPlay at all, you can simply toggle it off from here. Alternatively, you can use an onscreen code or a password to prevent AirPlay access to your Apple TV from iOS devices or iTunes. The Onscreen Code option will display a one-time code on the Apple TV screen whenever a user attempts to select it for AirPlay, requiring the user to enter this code on their device before AirPlay streaming will begin; the password option will simply prompt the user for whatever password you choose to set here, again refusing to begin AirPlay streaming unless the proper password is supplied.

Sending audio to AirPlay speakers from an Apple TV

With the Apple TV increasingly providing access to cloud-based iTunes content, it’s becoming less necessary to keep a computer on to serve up your iTunes library. If you have AirPlay speakers in your house, you may think that you still need to keep iTunes up and running to stream content to those, but you can actually do it all from your Apple TV. Last year’s 5.1 update brought back the ability to send audio to remote AirPlay speakers—a feature that ironically was available on the first Apple TV with AirTunes, but clearly didn’t make the cut for the revised second-generation model.

You can access and select AirPlay speakers from the Apple TV Settings menu, but there’s an even faster way to switch over to an external set of speakers when listening to audio: Simply hold down the centre “Select” key on your Apple Remote and a pop-up menu will appear with a “Speakers…” option. Selecting this option will list all of the AirPlay speakers available on your network to choose from. Simply select the speakers you want to direct your audio output to. As an added bonus, you’ll see an additional option to adjust the volume for the remote AirPlay speakers by using the left and right buttons on the remote.

Using multiple iTunes accounts on an Apple TV

If you have an Apple TV in your household and share multiple iTunes Store accounts in your family, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to tie your Apple TV into only a single account. Since last year’s Apple TV 5.1 update you can easily configure and save more than one iTunes Store account on the Apple TV and easily switch between them. Not only does this allow you to use a different account for purchasing or renting content, but it also provides quick and easy way to switch cloud-based movie and TV show libraries; switching to a different account immediately provides access to browse and stream all of the content that was purchased with that account. Note that the accounts specified here are completely separate from the account you use for Home Sharing, so there’s no need to worry about losing access to your local library when switching to a different iTunes Store account.

This even works with accounts in different countries. You will initially need to change your country setting to match each account when first logging into it, however once the credentials have been saved, the Apple TV will automatically switch to the appropriate country when switching accounts. As with iTunes on the desktop, switching accounts will turn iTunes Match off, requiring it to be re-enabled when returning to your primary iTunes Store account. Unlike iTunes and iOS devices, however, there is no 90-day restriction on using content from different accounts, presumably since content can only be streamed to the Apple TV and not downloaded and saved for use on other devices.


Improved Netflix Video Quality

Earlier this year Netflix began gradually been rolling out a new, higher-resolution “Super HD” streaming option, providing higher-quality 1080p HD content for at least some subscribers. The catch? You must be using a supported device and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) must be part of Netflix Open Connect and provide you with a sufficiently fast Internet connection—at least 5Mbps.

The good news is that the third-generation Apple TV is in fact fully supported, but whether this will work with your ISP is another story entirely. You can easily check if your ISP is supported by visiting Netflix’s Super HD page, and if so you should see a “Super HD” logo appear on your Apple TV on any content available in the higher quality form. Many U.S. Netflix users on Time Warner, Comcast, and Verizon briefly saw the option appear last night, but it has since disappeared. This may be an indication that some of the major U.S. ISPs are beginning to roll the service out, however.

Reorganizing or Hiding Main Menu icons on the Apple TV

This week Apple released another Apple TV Software Update adding five more content providers for users in the U.S., including HBO GO, WatchESPN, Sky News, Qello, and Crunchyroll. However, if you’re not already an HBO or ESPN cable subscriber or a fan of music videos or Japanese Anime, you may find these new icons do little more than clutter up the nice Apple TV main screen. The good news is that you can reorganize these icons to move them farther down or even hide them from the main screen entirely. To reorganize the icons, simply highlight the icon you want to move and hold down the center button on your Apple Remote until they all start jiggling; you can then simply use the direction arrows to move the icon almost anywhere else you want, although the first row is fixed—you can’t move icons into or out of this area. Hiding icons uses a different method, requiring a quick visit into your device’s Parental Controls. 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 enable the 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 in the first row cannot be hidden.

Be sure to check out Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of Apple TV 5.3 for more information on what’s new in the latest Apple TV update.

Enabling Video Playlists on Apple TV

If you have an Apple TV, chances are good that you have at least some movies and TV shows in your library. If you’re a heavy iTunes user with a lot of video content, you may already know that you can organize these into playlists within iTunes, but you may have noticed that by default, there appears to be no way to access these playlists directly on the Apple TV. The good news, however, is that this capability actually does exist on the Apple TV—it’s just turned OFF by default. If you take a quick trip to the Audio & Video section in your Apple TV Settings menu you will see a “Show Playlists” option that is set to “Music Only” by default; simply toggle this to “All” and a new “Playlists” entry will appear at the top of your movie and TV show listings. Keep in mind that this is only for content in your iTunes library, however—unlike music playlists for iTunes Match subscribers, video playlists are not synced to the cloud.

Using a Bluetooth Keyboard with the Apple TV

This week’s Apple TV Software Update 5.2 now allows users to pair and use a Bluetooth keyboard with the second- and third-generation Apple TVs, providing support for navigating menus and entering text into username, password and search fields. Users can now pair a Bluetooth keyboard at the beginning of the initial setup process, making it much easier to enter their Wi-Fi password and Apple ID.

In addition to the obvious features, however, the Apple TV supports a few additional keyboard features. The Return and Escape keys act as the Select and Menu buttons on the Apple TV Remote, respectively, and you can hold down the Return key to access various options menus in the same way as you can do with the Select button on the Apple Remote.  Media playback and track navigation keys also work on the Apple Wireless Keyboard and most other Bluetooth keyboards in much the same way as they do with iOS devices and Macs, and if you have an iOS-specific keyboard with a Home key, this can be used to immediately return back to the main Apple TV menu. Even more useful, lists support a “find-as-you-type” feature whereby you can simply key in the letters of a song, artist, album, movie or TV show that you are looking for to navigate directly to it, saving you the trouble of holding down the “down” button to scroll through a long list of items.

For more information o how to pair and setup a Bluetooth keyboard with your Apple TV, be sure to check out our article, Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of Apple TV 5.2.

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.

Be sure to check out Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of Apple TV 5.1 for more information on what’s new in the latest Apple TV update.

Manually adding images to Photo Stream

Apple’s Photo Stream service does a good job of automatically syncing your latest photos across all your Macs and iOS devices—but what happens when you need ubiquitous access to an older photo? Well, you can manually sync your device and transfer it over, or you can just use Photo Stream to your advantage to send it back out to your devices. To do so, just drag and drop any image or collection of images you want from iPhoto or Aperture on your Mac into your Photo Stream, and viola—all of those photos will now appear in your Photo Stream on your iOS devices, for the next 30 days, at which point they’ll “expire” to make room for new memories.

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2015 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy