Apple TV Setup

Here’s five top tips to get the most out of your Apple TV:

Best Apple TV video settings

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Each TV set will have a slightly different video configuration. You will want to calibrate the TV itself, but the Apple TV also has its own settings, that you will probably need to customise to get the best experience.

Go into the Settings app, select ‘Video and Audio’. If you have an Apple TV 4K, the video output format may be set to 4K HDR by default. On the surface , this seems like the best quality option. However, this means all content is rendered by the Apple TV in HDR, even the content that isn’t available in high-dynamic range including things like most application interfaces.

For the best video experience across the system, change the video output format to 4K SDR. Then, enable ‘Dynamic range matching’ and ‘Frame rate matching’. With these options enabled, the Apple TV will spend most of its time outputting in a 4K SDR format. However, when it encounters high dynamic range video content, it will switch into the appropriate 4K HDR mode. When you finish watching the video, it returns to 4K SDR. You may see a visible ‘switch’ from the TV itself. 

For some older TVs, this format switching can be intensive and takes a long time such that it is an annoyance. If this is the case, then disabling automatic matching and leaving the Apple TV on the permanent 4K HDR mode may be preferred. Assuming your TV set is relatively recent however, the best recommendation is to set the Apple TV to 4K SDR with dynamic matching.

Put the Up Next queue directly on your Apple TV Home Screen

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The top row of the Apple TV Home Screen is called the Top Shelf. Whatever apps you put in the first row can display content above, like interactive previews of the available content inside. Music will show trailers, Photos will show memories from your library, and third party apps like Plex support it as well.

Unlike the iPhone or iPad, this means that the placement of your icons has an effect on the behavior of the home screen. In general, you should put icons in the top row for apps that take advantage of the Top Shelf. Apps that do not support the Top Shelf will merely display a static image for their preview.

One app that I recommend putting in the Top Shelf is the TV app. You can put your Up Next queue (which tracks progress of the shows and movies you are watching from Apple and many third party sources) in the Top Shelf, making it always available at a glance. As of tvOS 13, this is unfortunately not the default behavior. The TV app defaults to showing its own curated set of things to watch, not based on your preferences. 

To change the TV app to show your Up Next queue, open Settings, select ‘Apps’, then ‘TV’. You can then tap to toggle the ‘Home Screen’ setting; change it from ‘What to Watch’ to ‘Up Next’.

Change the TV button on the remote

Getting started with Apple TV: How to set up Apple TV for the best experience (9to5mac.com)

Setup My Apple TV As My ONE Media Source

So why upgrade to Apple TV?  There are 3 key reasons to upgrade:

  1. Unified Watchlist - I not only get a unified watchlist across all my streaming apps - such as Prime Video, Hulu, HBOmax, et al - I also get my 'Live TV' watchlist included in the Apple TV App !!!

  2. Wired Internet Access - by plugging my Apple TV into an ethernet cable and connecting directly to my Internet router in my home, I get the best bandwidth so I can watch 4K content without any buffering or image degrading

  3. One Remote - my Apple Siri remote can control my Apple TV, my TV and my surround sound system, including powering them all on/off

Add The Apple TV App - My Watchlist App - To The Home Row

This lets you immediate see what to watch next

  1. Find the Apple TV App

  2. Move it to the Home Row, ideally to the far far-left hand side

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If I Want 'Live TV', Then I Setup The DirecTV Stream App

The DirecTV Stream app integrates with the Apple TV App!!

AND by signing in AT&T TV as your Apple TV "TV Provider" allows you to access TV Everywhere apps via your Apple TV TV Provider, so you don’t have to sign in to every channel’s app. 

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of tvOS.

  2. Go to the App Store, search for, download & install DirecTV Stream app

  3. Move it to the Home Row, ideally to the right of the Apple TV App

  4. On your Apple TV, go to Settings.

  5. Choose Users and Accounts, then choose TV Provider.

  6. Select your TV provider. You can also scroll down to choose a TV provider from a different country or region. Then select Sign In. 

  7. Select the email that you use for your TV provider account. If it isn't listed, select Enter New and enter your account information.*

  8. Enter your password, then select Sign In.

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Enable Streaming Apps Apple TV App Can Access

The most popular streaming apps integrates with the Apple TV app!!

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of tvOS.

  2. Make sure you have installed the streaming apps you most often use

  3. On your Apple TV, go to Settings.

  4. Choose Apps, then choose TV & scroll down to Connect To TV.

  5. Enable all the TV streaming apps listed

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Adjust Settings For The Apple TV App

  1. Open Settings  on Apple TV.  (I HAVEN"T REVIEWED THESE YET)

  2. Go to Apps > TV, then do any of the following:

    • Use your play history for personalized recommendations and Up Next: Turn on Use Play History.

    • See live sports scores in Up Next: Turn on Show Sports Scores.

    • Set what appears on the Home screen when the Apple TV app is highlighted in the top row: Select “Top Shelf,” then choose What to Watch to see previews of featured TV shows and movies, or Up Next to see what’s in your personal queue.

    • Get Game Start and Close Game notifications for games you’ve added to Up Next: Turn on Games in Up Next.

    • Get notifications about recommended sports and events: Turn on Exciting Games.

    • Turn the sound on or off for background videos that automatically play in the Apple TV app: Turn Autoplay Video Sound on or off.

    • Set which Apple TV channels and apps share content with the Apple TV app: Select an app from the list to turn it on or off.

    • Remove information about what you’ve watched (which is synced with the Apple TV app on other devices): Select Clear Play History. This also removes TV shows and movies from Up Next.

Checklist For Adding Streaming App To Apple TV App

Every once and awhile, I will add a new streaming app to the mix.  Here's my step-by-step checklist to quickly add the app:

  1. Open Settings  on Apple TV.  

  2. Blah, blah, blah

Bonus Home Cinema Setup Option:  One Source Device, One User Interface Including A Watchlist & One Remote

 

I have a Smart TV with its remote, a 5.1 Surround Sound system with its remote and 1 or more source devices, each with their own remotes.   These source devices can be Streaming Media Devices (SMDs) like Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Google TV and/or an Android TV device such a TiVo Stream 4K or NVidia Shield.  I may also have a cable STB/DVR as well as a gaming console such as Xbox or PlayStation.  And I may also have a CD, DVD or Blu-ray player.  

So How Do I Get Down To One Device For Accessing All Your TV-related Content???

Assuming you already are using your Smart TV or a Streaming Media Device for all your streaming media applications, then we just need to sort out two potential issues:

  1. If I don't have an Apple TV steaming device, then I buy a 4K Apple TV (see below) to replace my existing streaming source

  2. Follow these step-by-step instructions of setting up my Apple TV

Behind The Scenes Details

About frame rate and dynamic range matching on Apple TV

Learn how to turn on frame rate and dynamic range matching.

Apple TV 4K1 is designed to give you the best viewing experience based on the capabilities of your 4K television. By default, Apple TV 4K matches the dynamic range to the highest refresh rate that your television supports. For example, if your television supports Dolby Vision at 30Hz, but also supports HDR10 at 60Hz, Apple TV 4K uses HDR10 instead of Dolby Vision.

You can also configure your Apple TV 4K to automatically switch your display format to match the original dynamic range or frame rate of content you're viewing, instead of using the highest capability of your television. For example, your Apple TV 4K uses HDR10 at 60Hz when viewing HDR content, but switches to Dolby Vision at 30Hz when viewing content that supports Dolby Vision. 

Apple TV HD is designed to give you the best viewing experience in HD. You can configure your Apple TV HD to automatically switch your display format to match the frame rate of content you're viewing.

Turn Match Dynamic Range or Match Frame Rate on or off

Go to Settings > Video and Audio > Match Content, then choose from the following:

  • Match Dynamic Range: Turn on to have Apple TV 4K match its output to the original dynamic range of content that you’re watching.

  • Match Frame Rate: Turn on to have Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD match its refresh rate to the original frame rate of content. This applies to content that's mastered at different frame rates, for example 24fps film-based content or other international content.2

If you turn on either of these settings, Apple TV will attempt to automatically determine which dynamic ranges or frame rates your television supports.

If Apple TV can't determine which display formats are available, you need to verify which formats your television can display. To verify a format, go to Settings > Video and Audio > Match Content. Then select a format under Unverified Formats to run a short display test and verify that it displays correctly on your television.

Learn more

When you use content matching, your television switches dynamic range and frame rate based on the content you’re watching. You may experience a blank screen or flickering as your television switches between formats. 

 

  1. Frame rate and dynamic range matching aren’t available on Apple TV (3rd generation) or earlier.

  2. Apple TV matches the frame rate of content encoded at 60, 50, 30, 25, and 24fps. Frame rates match the refresh rate appropriate for your region, for example 29.97fps for NTSC. 25fps and 30fps content uses frame rate doubling to display at 50Hz and 60Hz when available, matching its original appearance while preserving a fluid user interface.

About frame rate and dynamic range matching on Apple TV - Apple Support