The latest Apple TV may be two years old, but it still makes a good gift idea. If you subscribe to Apple’s ecosystem, the Apple TV still makes a lot of sense because of its tie-ins to iOS, and because of AirPlay mirroring. But first you’ve got to get things configured.
Setting up an Apple TV is theoretically simple, but just in case you need help, here’s how to set it up for maximum enjoyability. First, plug the power cord into a socket and connect the HDMI cable to your TV, then wait for the initial setup screen to appear. You can finish the process either with your iOS device or the included remote.
From an iOS Device
To set up from an iOS device, it needs to be running iOS 7.0 or later (sorry iPhone 4 owners). Switch on Bluetooth, and make sure you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network you’ll want your Apple TV connected to. Touch your iOS device to the Apple TV, and wait for prompts to appear on both.
Next, you’ll enter your Apple ID and password on your iPhone or iPad, and choose whether you want your Apple TV to remember these credentials for future iTunes purchases (your life will be easier if you say Yes), and if you want it to send performance data back to Apple (up to you). Once you’ve done this, the Apple TV goes into a configuration process. You’ll want to keep your iOS device within 10 to 15 feet of your new set top box during the entirety of this setup process.
Using the Apple Remote and a Mac
Alternatively, you can set up your Apple TV using the included Apple remote. This is not optimal. But if it’s your only choice you’ll be happy to know that setup is largely the same, except that you will need to select your Wi-Fi network from a dropdown menu and then enter your password using the onscreen keyboard.
Once that’s done, you need to set up Home Sharing with iTunes on your desktop. Make sure you’re using the latest version of iTunes (on a Mac, under the Apple menu in the left-hand corner, click “Software update” to check; on a PC, in iTunes, go to Help > Check for Updates). Then go to File > Home Sharing > Turn on Home Sharing, and enter your Apple ID and password. Do this on any PCs or Macs in the house that you want to share with your Apple TV. Then, on the Apple TV, go to Settings > Computers > Turn On Home Sharing, and enter the Apple ID and passcode associated with that computer.
Share Over AirPlay
Now that your Apple TV is set up, you can use AirPlay to stream photos, videos, or music from your iOS device (or iTunes on your Mac) to your TV. Make sure your iOS device and the Apple TV are on the same Wi-Fi network, then swipe up from the bottom of the screen to get to Control Center. Tap the AirPlay button, then select the device you want to AirPlay to: For photos, video, or music, you can select the Apple TV, which will have a TV icon next to it; for music, you can also just select speakers if you have AirPlay-enabled speakers in your home.
Don’t sit things on top of your Apple TV, this can interrupt its wireless signal. If you don’t want to use Wi-Fi during setup, you can connect it to an Ethernet cable. This is definitely advisable if you have a fickle home wireless connection.
After configuration is done, your Apple TV is ready to use. You can go into apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go and enter your log-in credentials either using the Apple remote or the Apple Remote app. If you are trying to use the Apple Remote app and having issues, make sure you’ve updated to iOS 8.0.2 or higher—this was a bug that has since been addressed.