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How to Set Up & Use ExpressVPN on Apple TV

Callum Tennent oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his VPN advice has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society.

Our Verdict

The easiest and best way to use ExpressVPN on your Apple TV is to set up its dedicated tvOS app. If the ExpressVPN app is not listed in the App Store, upgrade your Apple TV to the latest tvOS 17 software.

Using ExpressVPN with Apple TV

Up until recently, Apple TV’s operating system (tvOS) didn’t support native virtual private network (VPN) applications. Now that it does, several VPN providers have released dedicated tvOS apps.

One of these VPN services is ExpressVPN. Using it is by far the easiest way to unblock geo-restricted applications on Apple TV.

There are also four other ways to use ExpressVPN with Apple TV, for instance using MediaStreamer (a Smart DNS solution) or using your Apple device’s AirPlay.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through each setup method in detail. If you do encounter problems, we’ve prepared some workarounds to fix ExpressVPN not working on your Apple TV.

Once set up, you’ll find that ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for Apple TV, easily unblocking popular streaming apps across the vast majority of its 3,000 servers.

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How to Install ExpressVPN on Apple TV

There are five ways to set up and use ExpressVPN on Apple TV in order to stream geo-blocked video content.

  1. Use the dedicated tvOS application.
  2. Use AirPlay and mirroring to stream from your mobile device.
  3. Install ExpressVPN on your router.
  4. Use MediaStreamer, ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS feature.
  5. Connect Apple TV to the internet through your computer.

ExpressVPN Apple TV App

ExpressVPN Apple TV Setup Methods Compared

The table below summarizes how the five setup methods compare against each other:

tvOS App AirPlay MediaStreamer Router Connect via Computer
Set-up Difficulty Very Easy Easy Easy Hard Moderate
Location Spoofing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Netflix Support Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Encryption Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Hides Your IP Address Yes Yes No Yes Yes

We’ll explain each of these setup methods in the following sections, starting with the easiest first.

How to Use the ExpressVPN App on Apple TV

By far the easiest way to use ExpressVPN on Apple TV is through its dedicated tvOS application.

The process to download and install the software is straightforward and should get you up and running in a matter of minutes.

Below are the full step-by-step instructions on installing ExpressVPN’s app on your Apple TV.

  1. Go to your Apple TV’s App Store to download and install the ExpressVPN app and select Install.
    ExpressVPN on the tvOS App Store

    ExpressVPN on the tvOS App Store.

  2. When installing the ExpressVPN app, make sure you allow ExpressVPN to add VPN configurations to your Apple TV.
    Adding ExpressVPN configurations to Apple TV

    Adding ExpressVPN configurations to Apple TV.

  3. Sign into the ExpressVPN app using your account credentials.
    Signing into ExpressVPN on Apple TV

    Signing into ExpressVPN on Apple TV.

  4. Once you’ve signed in, you’ll be presented with ExpressVPN’s typical homescreen. You won’t be connected to any VPN server at this stage.
    ExpressVPN disconnected on Apple TV

    ExpressVPN disconnected on Apple TV.

  5. You can quickly connect to a nearby VPN server location by clicking the large Connect button.
    ExpressVPN connected on Apple TV

    ExpressVPN connected on Apple TV.

  6. To change VPN server location, click on the chevron next to the location you’re connected to (in this instance USA – New York). This opens up the full list of server locations available in ExpressVPN.
    ExpressVPN Server Locations on Apple TV

    ExpressVPN Server Locations on Apple TV.

  7. Once you’re connected to your preferred server location, install and/or open the streaming app you want to unblock.

How to Use AirPlay with ExpressVPN to Stream on Apple TV

AirPlay enables you to play videos from your Mac, iPad, or iPhone and cast them to your Apple TV.

Before ExpressVPN released its tvOS app, using Airplay was the simplest way to unblock restricted video content on Apple TV.

With AirPlay, you can run the ExpressVPN app on your computer or mobile device to unlock content there, and then watch it on your TV.

Since tvOS 14, you can stream in 4K from your mobile devices to your Apple TV, too.

To use ExpressVPN with AirPlay on Apple TV, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for ExpressVPN and download the app on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. You can also get a 7-day ExpressVPN free trial on iOS devices, too.
  2. On a Mac, open the ExpressVPN app and select > Preferences > General. Make sure the “Allow access to devices on the local network” setting is ticked. Otherwise, your Mac can’t discover the Apple TV.
  3. Connect to a VPN server in the country of your choice. To watch BBC iPlayer, for example, connect to a server in the UK.
  4. Open the streaming service on your device and stream your chosen content.
  5. To enable AirPlay video streaming on a mobile device, tap the AirPlay icon in the video window. On a Mac, click the AirPlay icon and then select your Apple TV.
  6. Choose your Apple TV. Your mobile device and Apple TV need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
  7. You will see your video on your TV.

It’s worth knowing that Apple mobile devices also support mirroring, a feature that shows the contents of your screen on your Apple TV.

Mirroring isn’t optimized for video, though, and in our experience delivered poor-quality video with audio synchronization problems.

Moreover, Netflix blocks mirroring as well as AirPlay. In Airplay’s case, it’s because Netflix has removed support for it, and blocking it on both the Netflix app and website.

Your best option to unblock Netflix is to use the ExpressVPN tvOS app.

How to Use MediaStreamer Smart DNS with Apple TV

Smart DNS services lets you change the domain name servers (DNS) that your internet connection uses, so you appear to be in a different country.

You do not benefit from the encryption or privacy protections of a full VPN, but using Smart DNS is an easy way to unblock geo-restricted content on Apple TV.

ExpressVPN has an effective Smart DNS solution called MediaStreamer. It successfully unblocks US and UK apps such as BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, American Netflix, and Prime Video.

Here’s a quick video demonstrating how to use MediaStreamer with Apple TV:

Using ExpressVPN's MediaStreamer on Apple TV.

If you want to unblock apps in other countries, then we recommend you use ExpressVPN’s dedicated tvOS app

Manually configure Smart DNS on an Apple TV to stream US Netflix

MediaStreamer is a simple way to stream US Netflix directly on Apple TV.

The way you set up MediaStreamer depends on whether you have a static or a dynamic IP address. If your IP address changes over time (dynamic) it’s harder for ExpressVPN to identify you and give you access to MediaStreamer.

Whichever way you set it up, you’ll need to have an ExpressVPN account and you’ll need to tell ExpressVPN your IP address, so it can verify you as a paying subscriber and let you use its DNS servers.

In this section, we’ll show you:

How to Check Whether Your IP Address Is Static or Dynamic

On Windows, follow these steps to find out whether you have a dynamic IP address:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Command Prompt
  2. At the prompt, type in ipconfig/all
  3. Find the line that says “DHCP Enabled”. If it says YES, that means you have a dynamic IP address. If it says NO, you have a static IP address.

On macOS, follow these steps to find out whether you have a dynamic IP address:

  1. Go to your system preferences.
  2. Select Network, and then Advanced.
  3. Go to TCP/IP.
  4. Find “Configure IPv4”. If it says USING DHCP here, you have a dynamic IP address. If it says MANUALLY, you have a static IP address.

If you have a static IP address, skip ahead to these instructions. If you have a dynamic IP address, read on.

How to Set Up MediaStreamer on Apple TV With a Dynamic IP Address

If you have a dynamic IP address, ExpressVPN recommends you use the free Dynu service to create a dynamic hostname it can use to recognize you.

The IP address behind the dynamic hostname is updated by an app on your device whenever your IP address changes. As a result, the same hostname can always be used to reach you.

EXPERT TIP: You can simplify setup and avoid having to run additional software by giving ExpressVPN your IP address, even if it’s dynamic. However, you will have to open the ExpressVPN app to update your IP address whenever you want to use MediaStreamer.

How to Set Up Your Dynamic Hostname

To set up Dynu, you will need to install some software on a computer or mobile device. This will check, every two minutes, whether your IP address has changed. If it has, it updates Dynu with your new IP address, so your hostname still works.

Make sure you do this at home – your device needs to use the same external IP address as your Apple TV.

To set up your dynamic hostname, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Dynu’s website and create an account. You’ll need to provide your name and email address, and make up a username and password.
  2. Verify your email address by clicking the link that is emailed to you.
  3. Log in to Dynu.
  4. Select DDNS Services.
  5. Enter your choice of hostname in the Host box under Option 1. You can choose the Top Level domain name in the menu on the right. The default is fine.

    Dynu Hostname Entry Field

    Enter your choice of hostname.

  6. Click the Add button.
  7. Turn off the settings for Wildcard IPv4 Alias, Wildcard IPv6 Alias, and Enable IPv6 Address.

     Dynu IP Address Settings

    Enter your IP address settings.

  8. Click Save. Your new hostname is now ready to use.
  9. Now, you need to install the Dynu IP Update Client on your computer or mobile device.
  10. Open up the Update Client, and log in using your Dynu account details. Click Save.
  11. If MediaStreamer stops working, open the Dynu client and click Save to update your IP address.

Give ExpressVPN Your Dynamic Hostname

Now you have a dynamic hostname that ExpressVPN can use to recognize you. You need to tell ExpressVPN about it. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the ExpressVPN DNS settings page. Log in if required.
  2. Enter your dynamic hostname in the Dynamic DNS hostname box. It will be a combination of the hostname you chose and Dynu’s domain name, such as
  3. Click Save Hostname.

Set Up MediaStreamer on Apple TV

Now that you’re authorized to use MediaStreamer, you can set it up on your Apple TV device.

  1. Go to the ExpressVPN setup page. Log in if required.
  2. On the right, take a note of the MediaStreamer IP address.
  3. Go to your Apple TV.
  4. On 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation Apple TV devices, go to Settings > General > Network.
  5. On later Apple TV devices, go to Settings > Network.
  6. Choose your current connection, which will be Wi-Fi or Ethernet depending on how Apple TV is connected to the internet. If you’re using Wi-Fi, select your Wi-Fi network.
  7. Scroll down if necessary, and select Configure DNS.
  8. Select Manual.
  9. Make a note of your current DNS settings. If anything goes wrong or you stop using MediaStreamer, you can use these to restore your connection. If you haven’t used manual configuration before, you can set Configure DNS to Automatic to reset your DNS settings.
  10. Enter the IP address for MediaStreamer.
  11. On 3rd gen and earlier devices, restart Apple TV using Settings > General > Restart.
  12. Now you’re ready to stream movies from Netflix US on your Apple TV.

How to Use MediaStreamer on Apple TV With a Static IP Address

If you have a static IP address, you don’t need to use Dynu. You just need to find out your IP address. Use our IP checker tool and take a note of your IP address.

Now you need to give ExpressVPN your IP address so they can make sure you are a paying subscriber. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the ExpressVPN DNS settings page. Log in if required.
  2. Add your IP address under IP Address Registration. Click Register My IP Address. Toggle the option to Automatically Register My IP Address, which helps to track changes to your IP address.
  3. You can update your IP address by signing in to your ExpressVPN account or using the ExpressVPN app on your device.

Now that you’re authorized to use MediaStreamer, you can set it up on your Apple TV device using the instructions above.

EXPERT TIP: Use the service’s 30-day refund promise to try ExpressVPN risk-free.

How to Install ExpressVPN on Your Router

By installing ExpressVPN on your router, you can spoof your IP address and protect all of the devices in your house, including your Apple TV.

You don’t need to install the VPN on any other devices: simply connect them to your router as you normally would.

ExpressVPN's router app interface

ExpressVPN comes with a dedicated app for routers.

The easiest way to install ExpressVPN on your router is to buy a pre-flashed router from Flashrouters. It costs a minimum of $150, but it’s far simpler than setting up a VPN router yourself.

Make note that you’ll need a separate ExpressVPN subscription plan in order to use your pre-flashed router.

To manually install ExpressVPN on your current router, you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible, first.

You’ll need a router that fully supports the OpenVPN protocol – older routers usually only support L2TP/IPsec or PPTP.

Most Asus routers support OpenVPN, while other models may need a change of firmware. This is a complicated process, but you can find instructions in our VPN router setup guide. Or, read our guide on setting up a VPN on Apple TV.

The basic steps are:

  1. Download and install the ExpressVPN firmware on your router.
  2. Configure the router using ExpressVPN’s dashboard.
  3. Connect your Apple TV to your router as you normally would.

When you have installed ExpressVPN on your router, you can find your Apple TV’s network settings in Settings > Network. Select “Configure Wireless” and choose your connection.

How to Connect Apple TV to ExpressVPN on Your PC

A final, alternative approach is to run ExpressVPN on your computer, and then connect Apple TV to the internet through your computer.

This gives you the full capabilities of a VPN, including protecting your privacy. The downside is that you need to have your computer running all the time you’re using Apple TV. You can’t use a phone for this.

To connect Apple TV to ExpressVPN on your computer, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install ExpressVPN on your computer. You’ll need a subscription, but there’s a risk-free 30-day refund guarantee.
  2. Set up a virtual router or a mobile hotspot on your computer.
  3. Configure ExpressVPN. Disconnect the VPN and change your protocol in ExpressVPN by selecting “Protocol” in the preferences menu. On Windows, choose the OpenVPN protocol. If you’re using macOS, you’ll need to use L2TP/IPsec.
  4. Connect ExpressVPN. Choose a server in the country where you want to unblock content. For example, choose the US to stream US Netflix.
  5. Connect your Apple TV to your computer’s internet connection. On your Apple TV, go to Settings > Network. Select “Configure Wireless” and choose your computer’s connection.
  6. Stream media on your Apple TV. Your connection will go through your computer, and through the ExpressVPN service running there, protecting your privacy and unblocking restricted content.

Is ExpressVPN a Good VPN for Apple TV?

ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN for Apple TV, with outstanding streaming speeds and an exceptional ability to unblock geo-restricted content.

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve seen connecting overseas as shown in the table below:

Destination Server Download Speed Loss
US (Same Country) 3%
UK (London) 7%
Germany 13%
Japan 17%
Australia 17%

The speed results in the table above are particularly impressive, and we streamed foreign content on Apple TV without experiencing any buffering.

These fast streaming speeds, coupled with a formidable ability to bypass video geo-restrictions, make ExpressVPN the best VPN for streaming we’ve reviewed.

In our Apple TV tests, the VPN unblocked 18 Netflix regions, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Max (HBO), Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and many more popular apps.

The only real downside to ExpressVPN is that it’s more expensive than most other VPNs. Its cheapest price, available through its 15-month plan, works out at $6.67 per month. In comparison, ExpressVPN’s main competitor NordVPN costs just $3.29 per month on a two-year subscription.

Remember you can also trial ExpressVPN first, if you’re not comfortable subscribing to the service straight away. Also, keep in mind the VPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee, which they’ve always honored in our tests.

How to Fix ExpressVPN Not Working with Apple TV

Of all the different methods of using ExpressVPN with Apple TV, MediaStreamer Smart DNS is by far the most likely to not work.

You’ll know MediaStreamer is not working by identifying either of the following issues:

  • You can only see your local streaming library.
  • You see an error message that says “Failed to load content”.

If you’re facing either of these problems, here are some common solutions to get ExpressVPN working with Apple TV again:

  1. Verify that your IP address is correctly registered with ExpressVPN.
    The IP address recorded in the DNS settings of your ExpressVPN account must match the IP address displayed in our IP checker tool. If they’re different, press the ‘Register my IP address’ button in your ExpressVPN account settings.
  2. Check that MediaStreamer unblocks the streaming service.
    If ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS tool doesn’t work with a streaming app, you’ll see your local library. This is because MediaStreamer bypasses any connection it cannot unblock and reverts to your local network connection.
  3. AirPlay: Make sure your Apple TV is connected to the same network as your phone.
    If your Apple TV is using its default settings, you can only AirPlay content when both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network. To fix this, either connect both of your devices to the same network or change your AirPlay settings so that this is not necessary. You can do this by visiting Settings > AirPlay > Allow Access > Everyone.