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How to set up an Apple TV and Apple TV 4K

Just unboxed a brand new Apple TV 4K? You’re in for a treat. While not inexpensive compared to other options, the set-top streamer is one of the best in its class, offering access to thousands of streaming services — including Disney+, Netflix, and Paramount+ — which can be controlled through Siri right out of the box.




10 minutes

What You Need

  • An Apple TV (preferably 4K)

  • An HDMI cable

  • An Ethernet cable (optional)

  • An iPhone or iPad (optional)

But while Apple’s intelligent voice assistant is capable of handling just about any task you can imagine, there’s one thing it can’t help with: the setup process. So if you hit a bump in the road to streaming bliss, you can always turn to this guide.

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Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Plug it in

First things first: Take everything out of the box and make sure it's in working order. You'll have the Apple TV itself, a power cable, a USB-A-to-lightning cable (for charging the remote), and the Siri remote control.

Step 1: Plug the small end of the power cable into the appropriate spot on the back of the Apple TV and the other end into a wall socket or power bar.

Step 2: Plug the HDMI cable into the Apple TV and the other end into your TV, soundbar, or receiver.

Step 3: Plug in the Ethernet cable if you don't want to use Wi-Fi.

how to set up apple tv setup 2
Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Turn it on

Now that everything is plugged in, it's time to turn it on.

Step 1: Turn on your TV and change its input selection to whatever the Apple TV is connected to. If you’re going through a receiver or soundbar instead, make sure that's what the TV is looking for.

Step 2: You should see the Apple TV setup screen once everything has booted up.

Step 3: Pick up the Siri remote and pair it via the on-screen instructions, which should tell you to press back, TV/control center button (or Menu on a first-generation Siri remote), and the plus button (volume up) all at the same time.

Set it up

If you've got an iPhone or iPad, the rest of the setup is extremely easy as the Apple TV can use your geographical, network, and account settings from either of those devices. Following the instructions on the screen:

Step 1: Unlock your device.

Step 2: Make sure it's connected to your home Wi-Fi network.

Step 3: Make sure Bluetooth is turned on.

Step 4: Hold the iPhone or iPad fairly close to the Apple TV.

Step 5: When prompted, enter the authentication listed on the TV screen.

If you don't use this automated setup process, you'll be asked to enter your network and account information manually, which is a lot less fun.

Your Apple TV will then say that it's activating, connecting things like your iCloud account and HomeKit.

After that, you'll be asked if you want to require a password for purchases. There are three options — always require, require after 15 minutes, and never require. If you've got kids who lack appreciation for things like income and bank accounts, now is a good time to set up a little protection. (You can always change the settings if you want.)

Your Apple TV may also automatically switch display types depending on your TV, such as 4K Dolby Vision at 60Hz. If you like what you see, select OK and keep going. Again, this is a setting you can change later if you want.

And that's it for the main setup process. Anything you do here can be changed in the settings, including additional options for the Siri remote, audio, video, and any other devices you may connect.

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