One of the slickest and best-equipped ways to stream content to your TV, the Apple TV is super popular – yet the vast majority of users don’t think to pair it with a VPN.
Using a VPN on your Apple TV allows you to get around regional content blocks by spoofing your location, opening up access to more services from around the world.
A VPN also lets you keep your browsing private, which ensures that your ISP can’t snoop on what you’re doing, or pass those details onto third parties.
Installing a VPN to cover your Apple TV isn’t quite as straightforward as doing the same with your smartphone or home computer, but it is possible.
What You'll Need
As you may well expect, there are two basic things you’ll need no matter what solution you opt for:
- An Apple TV 4th generation or 5th generation. That’s any Apple TV manufactured from 2015 onwards, plus the model more commonly known as the Apple TV 4K.
- An VPN account. So long as the provider is of a decent reputation then it should work just fine for what we’re going to lay out in this guide.
Apple is notoriously cagey about the apps it’ll allow on its devices and, as yet, there are no bespoke Apple TV VPN apps (like the kind you might find for your Amazon Fire TV Stick).
That said, setting up a VPN on your Apple TV is really no more difficult than connecting to a WiFi network, and this guide will walk you through the simple steps involved.
If you prefer, you can set up your VPN on your router; that’ll allow you to run every device through your VPN without the need for additional set-up. This will also give you privacy protection.
We’ll explain the difference in approaches as we walk through the guide.
Method 1: Configuring the DNS on Your Apple TV
The first method involves changing settings on the Apple TV device itself. This looks daunting, but it’s actually really straightforward. Apple’s designed its Settings screens to be clear and easy to navigate.
Before you start, head to your VPN provider’s website. Log in and look for the IP address of the DNS server you need to use and make a note of it for later.
To set up the VPN:
- On your Apple TV, head to the Settings app
- Look for General > Language and Region, then select Apple TV Language
- Make sure your region matches the region that you want to switch to using your VPN
- Navigate back to Settings > Network > WiFi.
- Change the Automatic DNS setting to Manual
- Type in the IP address you picked up from your provider’s website
- Select Done
There’s one important point to bear in mind if you use this method: you don’t benefit from encryption.
It’s an easy way to change your server location, but it won’t afford you the privacy you might want.
We have two alternative methods below that solve this problem.
Method 2: Using Your Router
If you don’t feel comfortable changing your Apple TV’s settings, you can install your VPN on your router.
This is, in theory, a pretty simple procedure, although some routers don’t support VPN connections. If you use the basic router supplied by your ISP, you may need to buy a different model to achieve this.
The big advantage to it is that your router will funnel all network traffic through your VPN without the need for additional configuration.
To see how it’s done, read our comprehensive guide on How to Install a VPN on a Router.
Method 3: Using a Virtual Router
A virtual router sounds fancy, but essentially it’s just a device on your network that can double up as a WiFi hotspot.
For example, if you have a Windows laptop, you can use it to create an additional network access point or hotspot. Once you’ve got the VPN up and running on the laptop, any device connected to its hotspot will benefit from the same protection and coverage.
You can do the same thing with a desktop computer, smartphone, or even a tablet. Just be sure to connect your Apple TV to that newly-created hotspot, rather than your home WiFi, and it’s all set.