Limiting content displayed on multiple Apple TVs

Jesse Hollington
By Jesse Hollington - Senior Editor

Q: Has anyone figured out a way to change the display settings for purchased movies associated with an Apple ID on, say, one Apple TV located in a child’s room and a second Apple TV located in the parents’ room? I would like to keep Home Sharing on but prevent some of my purchased movies or recently watched movies (all purchased from iTunes) from showing up in the child’s room Apple TV. The “Parental Control” settings have not enabled me to succeed in doing this. Basically, I’d like to find a way to make “playlists” of my purchased iTunes movies and toggle display and history settings for each of the computers and devices on my home network that are part of Home Sharing. Is this even possible? Thanks.

– Tim

A: While Parental Controls will get you part of the way there in terms of preventing the content from being watched in the child’s room, they unfortunately do not work to actually hide the content completely—as you’ve no doubt noticed the content will still be displayed on the Apple TV, however the user will be required to enter a passcode when attempting to watch anything over the preset rating. Although Parental Controls do allow you to hide other sections, such as the iTunes in the Cloud Movies and TV menus, as well as most of the third-party services, they are not available for anything in the Computers section, and the rating controls do not actually hide content, merely prevent it from being watched without the passcode.

It’s also important to keep in mind that ratings-based Parental Controls only work if your content actually contains ratings. Almost all movies and TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store do, but if you’ve encoded content yourself you may need to use a third-party tool to add appropriate rating information to it for Parental Controls to be effective.

If you want content completely hidden, the only way to deal with this would be to setup a second, independent iTunes library containing only that content, using a second Home Sharing account. This would also require an additional computer for that library that would need to be left on as well—generally not a practical solution in most households.

As an alternative, you may also be able to find an older, first-generation Apple TV for the child’s room. The original Apple TV had an internal hard drive that could be used to actually sync content from your iTunes library, and then display only that content that was explicitly synced to it, in much the same way that iTunes works with an iPod or iOS device.

By Jesse Hollington Senior Editor
Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.