12 Cool Things You Can Do With Apple TV

Apple TV Tim CookKevork Djansezian / Getty ImagesApple CEO Tim Cook discussing Apple TV.

Even though the third-generation Apple TV is over two years old, it keeps getting better.

Apple has added a bunch of new channels to Apple TV over the years like HBO GO, Hulu, Disney, and a lot more.

But that’s not all the Apple TV can do.

We put together 12 tips for your Apple TV that will open it up to more content, stream video more reliably, and let you control it all with your phone.

Ditch the Apple TV remote and use your iPhone or iPad instead.

The Apple TV remote is pretty lame. It's small, the buttons are too close together, and it's difficult to input text for searches in Netflix and other on-screen menus.

With the latest version of Apple's Remote app for iPhone and iPad, you can control your Apple TV over your home's WiFi network with a higher degree of control. Plus, search is a snap because you can type stuff on your device's keyboard. The free app is available for iPhone and iPad.

Download it here.

Put that HBO and ESPN subscription to good use.

Already subscribing to either HBO or ESPN? Apple TV's addition of HBO GO gives you access to every season of every HBO show, available on demand, along with HBO movies and specials. Watch ESPN allows you to stream live ESPN straight to your Apple TV.

You'll need to make sure you have an HBO GO account or ESPN subscription. Just sign in with your cable provider's credentials.

Install Plex to your non-jailbroken Apple TV

For those wishing to skip the jailbreaking process, or for owners of a third-generation Apple TV, PlexConnect is for you.

PlexConnect lets you stream any multimedia file format to your television. There's also an iPhone and iPad app for greater functionality. Think of it as AirPlay without restrictions. Setup time is quick, and you can follow these directions over at Github.

Stream non-iTunes content without jailbreaking

We found this nifty app for Mac called AirFlick that lets you push any video or audio file directly to your Apple TV without jailbreaking it. It will also transcode non-iTunes files on the fly, so there's no waiting to watch. It's a good way to watch different kinds of content on your Apple TV without hacking it.

Check out Bob Roche's video tutorial for a walk-through.

Transcode your video files to an Apple TV-friendly format.

If you already have a bunch of videos on your computer that aren't compatible with iTunes, there are several programs you can use to transcode them. iMovie, which is included when you buy a new Mac, is a good start. You can also use QuickTime Pro, which is available for both Mac and PC for $US29.99. HandBrake is a free app for Mac, PC, and Linux that works well too.

These will all let you dump your videos onto your iPad and then beam them to your Apple TV using AirPlay.

Rip your DVD library and never use a disc again

Instead of downloading a movie from iTunes that you already own, rip your DVD collection for streaming to your Apple TV. If you have a Mac, try RipIt ($24.95) or HandBrake. For PC, HandBrake will work too.

Use AirPlay Mirroring to put whatever you're watching on the big screen.

AirPlay Mirroring allows you to take whatever you see on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac and beam it wirelessly over to your big screen TV. Directions and the list of compatible iPhone/iPad devices are available here, and the list of supported Macs here.

It's worth noting that not all apps are AirPlay compatible, as it is up to the app developers to incorporate AirPlay functionality. But it can be used to play games, show keynote presentations, or perform product demos on a regular TV.

Use your Apple TV on an older television

Out of the box, Apple TV will only work with newer televisions that have HDMI ports. If you have an older TV, you can buy an adaptor that will allow you to use it with composite cables. (The red, yellow, and white ports). HDMI-Component adapters sell for around $US30 - $US45 on Amazon. Browse around to find the best price.

Use an Ethernet cable for a more reliable connection.

If your Apple TV is close enough to your router, connect it to the internet with an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi. Since you'll be streaming a lot of video on your Apple TV, an Ethernet cable will give you a more reliable connection, especially if you have an older router.

Looking for more cool Apple tips and tricks?

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