Skip to main content

How to connect your AirPods to an Apple TV

Watching your favorite movies and shows on an Apple TV isn’t always a group activity — sometimes, other people in the room would prefer if you kept your streaming to yourself.

When that's the case, you can pair your AirPods with an Apple TV, allowing you to watch or listen in silence while still enjoying high-quality sound. But, you may ask, "How do I connect my AirPods to my Apple TV?" Our guide shows you how to pair AirPods (or AirPods Pro 2) with Apple TV in a few easy steps.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • Apple TV set-top box

  • Pair of Apple AirPods

Important note: This type of pairing will work with any AirPods or Apple TV models you have. However, the results will be much better if you have AirPods that can support Dolby Atmos audio features (like the AirPods Pro 2, third-generation AirPods, or AirPods Max) and an Apple TV that can also support Dolby Atmos (the Apple TV 4K or later models). Dolby Atmos is the technology that enables things like Spatial Audio on Apple devices — we have an explainer of how to set that up, as well. Here we go.

everything you need to know about icloud new
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Make sure everything is on the same iCloud account and updated

Prep all your devices before you begin. Put your AirPods in their case, and charge them up. Turn on your Apple TV and make sure it’s updated to the latest tvOS version. You will also want to check that your AirPods and your Apple TV are both logged into the same account and syncing with the same iCloud, as this will make setting up easier.

Turn on the Apple TV and open your AirPods case

Step 1: Check that your Apple TV is turned on and signed in to the right account. Then open your AirPods case near your Apple TV.

airpods apple 3 720x720
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: When everything is connected to the same iCloud account, Apple already has everything it needs to know about your AirPods. So, when you open the case — or wear them — near your Apple TV, you should see a notification pop up to press the TV Button on your remote and connect your AirPods. If it doesn’t work at first, try unpairing them from any other devices and attempt the process again.

how to connect airpods apple tv connected
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pair your AirPods manually if necessary

Sometimes automatic pairing doesn’t work as it should. In this case, you should try to pair your AirPods manually. This is an easy process, too.

Step 1: With your Apple TV and AirPods both on, take your Apple TV controller and press and hold the Play button — the central round button at the top of the remote. This will pop up a brief menu of available nearby Apple devices, and your AirPods should be on the list. Select them, and Apple should add them without further trouble.

how to connect airpods apple tv audio connections
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: If this still doesn’t work, you can skip down to our final section on what to do if you aren’t using the same iCloud account for a workaround.

how to connect airpods apple tv icon
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Adjust Spatial Audio if you prefer

Remember, if you have a more advanced version of AirPods like the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro 2, they support Spatial Audio via Dolby Atmos on the Apple TV 4K and newer versions. If any audio includes support for Dolby Atmos, this can provide your ears with richer sound. If you have the AirPods Pro 2 and AirPods Max, you can also choose levels of noise cancellation. These features can be controlled directly from the Apple TV menu.

Step 1: Once your compatible AirPods have been paired, you can visit the Control Center menu again, and you should see an AirPods icon you can select. This will open a new menu for enabling/disabling Spatial Audio.

Step 2: Choose your Noise Cancellation settings if possible – you can choose between Noise Cancellation, a Transparency Mode to hear more, and turning Off active cancellation entirely.

Check out our deeper dive on how to use Spatial Audio on Apple TV 4K as well.

how to connect airpods apple tv remotes and devices
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What if you aren’t using the same iCloud account?

This isn’t very usual, but you may want to pair AirPods temporarily or a friend’s AirPods that aren’t part of your account. In this, case, it’s best to treat them like any other Bluetooth device you want to pair to the Apple TV.

Step 1: First, go to Apple TV Settings. Then choose Remotes and Devices. From here, select Bluetooth.

Step 2: In the Bluetooth menu, you should see all nearby detected Bluetooth devices, including your AirPods (try opening your AirPods case if you don’t see them listed here). When you find your AirPods, select them. They should then pair and go from Not Connected to Connected.

Choose to use Spatial Audio from app to app

Spatial Audio can be a very neat sound effect, or it can be a disorienting experience, depending on the type of content you are listening to. Fortunately, Apple provides an intuitive way of customizable Spatial Audio based on the app.

Step 1: Connect your AirPods to your Apple TV as we instructed above, and put them on.

Step 2: Start watching a particular app on your Apple TV.

Step 3: While that app is playing, hold down the TV button on your Siri Remote to open the Control center. Select Spatial audio here to toggle it on or off as you prefer, just like we mentioned above. Since you are in a specific app, Apple TV will remember that and apply that Spatial Audio setting only to that app.

Step 4: Of course, not all apps have the Spatial Audio option, so you may not always see it.

Enable Personalized Spatial Audio

Apple TV also supports another feature called Personalized Spatial Audio. This requires an Apple TV with tvOS 16 and at least an iPhone 10 with iOS 16. If that's not a problem, you can go through a quick setup process where your iPhone scans your ears to customize Spatial Audio based on their unique features. We have a whole guide on how to turn it on.

Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
Let’s discuss an Apple TV 4K with a camera
An actual picture of an Apple TV, with a camera lens added by Photoshop's generative AI feature.

This Apple TV with a camera is not real — it's a product of a real Apple TV 4K and Photoshop. And that's likely as close as you'll get to one. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Here’s a not-so-secret secret about tech companies: They discuss all the things all of the time. Good ideas. Bad ideas. Good ideas that turn out to be bad. Bad ideas that, surprisingly, turn out to be good.

Read more
AirPods 4: Everything we know about Apple’s next wireless earbuds
Apple AirPods 3 in their case..

If the many rumors are true, Apple will announce and start selling the next version of its wildly popular AirPods in 2024. While the details remain thin, here's what we know (and what we think we know) about the fourth-generation Apple AirPods.
AirPods 4?
Let's start with the obvious: the name. Keep in mind, we're talking about the successor to the two AirPods models that Apple sells that do not have active noise cancellation—the AirPods 2 and AirPods 3, or AirPods second- and third-gen as Apple prefers to refer to them. In other words, the non-"pro" version of the AirPods.

Apple tends to be a creature of habit when it comes to product names, so there's every reason to think that the next version will follow the existing AirPods naming convention and be called AirPods fourth-generation. (Apple uses numbers and really the generation bit as a way to differentiate, but you get the idea.)

Read more
Best Apple deals: Save on AirPods, Apple Watch, iPad, MacBook
Apple MacBook Air M1 open, on a table.

Apple makes some of the most popular tech on the planet. Apple devices offer premium hardware and designs, and its software ecosystem makes work and play easier, more convenient, and often more fun. Apple devices regularly earns spots among the best smartwatches, best laptops, best wireless earbuds, and best tablets. All of these devices offer a great opportunity to save right now, as some of the best Apple deals we’ve seen are currently available to shop. We’ve rounded them all up into one place for your convenience, so if you’re in the market for a new MacBook, Apple Watch, iPad, or something else made by Apple, read onward for more information on the best Apple deals taking place right now.
Apple AirTag (4-Pack) -- $83, was $99

Insert the Apple AirTag into your bag, gadget, or any item that you may misplace, so that you can track it if you lose it. The Apple AirTag is one of the best Bluetooth trackers if you're using an iPhone or iPad because not only does it offer a one-tap setup, but it can utilize the millions of devices in Apple's Find My network to help you find your stuff if it goes beyond the Bluetooth range of 30 feet. It's powered by a replaceable battery that can last for more than a year before you need a new one.

Read more