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How to Use Surfshark with Apple TV

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Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
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Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio

Surfshark is a good option for Apple TV. It’s easy to install and has fast-enough speeds for 4K video. It also works with every popular streaming app, including Netflix and Hulu. Find out how to set up Surfshark on Apple TV in this step-by-step guide.

Illustration showing someone using Surfshark VPN on Apple TV

Surfshark can hide your Apple TV’s IP address and spoof your location. This allows you to change Netflix region and access streaming apps that aren’t available everywhere, like BBC iPlayer and HBO Max.

The problem is that the tvOS App Store doesn’t support VPN apps, so you can’t download Surfshark directly onto your Apple TV.

Instead, you’ll have to install Surfshark on a separate device or use a proxy workaround.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to AirPlay to Apple TV from your iPhone and how to use Surfshark’s Smart DNS tool. We also tell you how to create a virtual router from your Mac and how to install Surfshark on your physical router.

We provide detailed instructions for each of these installation methods. We also help you figure out which option is best for you.

You’ll also see troubleshooting tips in case Surfshark stops working with Apple TV, as well as what makes Surfshark a great Apple TV VPN, based on our research. Finally, we provide a premium and free alternative VPN to use if Surfshark isn’t the right VPN for you.

Our Advice: If you aren’t already a subscriber, try Surfshark free for 30 days by taking advantage of its money-back guarantee.

How to Set Up Surfshark on Apple TV

Unlike on other devices, you can’t download the Surfshark app on your Apple TV.

To help you decide which installation method is right for you, use our flowchart/table below:

Flow chart describing how to set up Surfshark on Apple TV

How to set up Surfshark with Apple TV.

Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of each installation method, too:

AirPlay
Smart DNS
Virtual Router
Install on Router
Difficulty
Very Easy
Easy
Moderate
Hard
Netflix Libraries
0
1
10
10
BBC iPlayer
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Encryption
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Hides IP Address
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Speed
Very Fast
Very Fast
Fast
Very Fast

In the following section, we’ll give easy-to-follow instructions on each setup method.

How to Use AirPlay with Surfshark on Apple TV

PROS CONS
  • Simple to set up
  • Works with most streaming apps
  • Good streaming quality
  • Doesn’t work with Netflix
  • Requires an iOS device

Using AirPlay, you can connect to a Surfshark server on your iPhone or iPad, then cast content to your Apple TV.

Your Apple TV doesn’t have to be connected to a VPN for this to work. This is by far the easiest way to get Surfshark running on your Apple TV.

However, AirPlay won’t let you stream Netflix. Netflix started blocking AirPlay streams in 2019, citing a “technical limitation.”

Here are the full instructions on how to use AirPlay with Surfshark on Apple TV:

  1. Make sure your iOS device and Apple TV are connected to the same WiFi network. This method will not work if you’re using cellular data.
  2. Make sure your iOS device and Apple TV are connected to the same WiFi network. This method will not work if you’re using cellular data.
    Download Surfshark onto an iPhone
  3. Connect to a server in the country where the streaming service is available. For example, to access BBC iPlayer, connect to a UK Surfshark server.
    Connecting to a UK server in the Surfshark iOS app
  4. Open the app for the streaming service you want to watch. You may have to create a new Apple ID if the app is not available in your country. Then, tap the TV show or movie you want to stream.
    Unblocking BBC iPlayer with Surfshark
  5. Tap the AirPlay icon located at the top right of the screen.
    AirPlaying from iPhone
  6. Select your Apple TV under Speakers & TVs.
    Selecting Apple TV from AirPlay options
  7. The video will now display on your Apple TV.
    Streaming The Apprentice using a UK Surfshark server

EXPERT TIP: Make sure to use AirPlay and not Screen Mirroring. Screen Mirroring works similarly to AirPlay, but streams in a much lower quality.

How to Use Surfshark Smart DNS with Apple TV

PROS CONS
  • Streams US Netflix & Hulu
  • Easy to set up
  • Streaming quality can be poor
  • Doesn’t encrypt internet traffic
  • Requires providing your IP address to Surfshark

Smart DNS works by redirecting traffic from certain streaming sites to proxy servers in regions around the world. It’s ‘smart’ because it ignores all other traffic, like cloud syncing and app updates.

We found that Surfshark’s Smart DNS feature only works with US Netflix and Hulu. Although Surfshark claims it also unblocks Disney+ and HBO Max, we’ve never seen this in our testing.

Generally speaking, Smart DNS has many drawbacks compared to a VPN. Streaming quality is sometimes poor, and it doesn’t anonymize your activity. You’ll also have to give your IP address to Surfshark so they can verify you’re a paying subscriber.

However, Smart DNS is still useful because it can be quickly and easily set up on devices that don’t allow VPN apps, like Apple TV.

In the video below, watch how we set up and used Surfshark’s Smart DNS to unblock US Netflix.

Alternatively, read our step-by-step instructions detailing how to set up Surfshark’s Smart DNS feature on Apple TV:

  1. Log in to your account on the Surfshark website. Click Smart DNS on the left-hand side.
    Configuring Smart DNS through a Surfshark web account
  2. Click Get Started.
    Completing the steps to configure Smart DNS in a Surfshark web account
  3. Select Activate Smart DNS.
  4. Make a note of the three DNS addresses listed.
    Surfshark DNS addresses
  5. On your Apple TV open the Settings app and select Network.
    Opening Settings on tvOS
  6. Click the name of your WiFi network.
    Selecting WiFi network on tvOS
  7. Press Configure DNS and choose Manual.
    Choosing Manual DNS option on Apple TV
  8. In the following screen, enter DNS Address 1 that you recorded from step 4 of these instructions. Then press Done.
    Changing DNS address on Apple TV
  9. Restart your Apple TV. Then, you’ll be able to stream US Netflix and Hulu.
    Unblocking Hulu on tvOS using Surfshark Smart DNS

    EXPERT TIP: If you can’t access US Netflix or Hulu, try DNS Address 2 and DNS Address 3.

How to Connect Surfshark to Apple TV Using a Router

PROS CONS
  • Hides IP address and encrypts all traffic
  • Works with all popular streaming apps
  • Expensive
  • Difficult to change server location
  • Hard to set up in most cases
  • Surfshark doesn’t have a native router app

If you want full encryption on your Apple TV, you’ll need to connect it to a router. You can also create a virtual router, which we detail in the section below.

Installing a VPN on your router will encrypt all the traffic on your network, not only from your Apple TV. It’s the best method if you want full security, but the worst if you want convenience.

Disappointingly, unlike many VPNs, Surfshark doesn’t allow you to buy routers pre-installed with its software. You’ll have to do it yourself.

You won’t be able to do this on the vast majority of routers, though, especially one supplied by your ISP. You’ll need a router that supports VPN clients or DD-WRT.

If your router does support VPNs, we recommend reading the specific installation instructions from Surfshark’s website. The method is difficult and varies significantly depending on the router’s make and model.

Here are the basic steps for setting up Surfshark on your router:

  1. Check that your Surfshark is compatible with your router. You’ll find this in your router’s user manual.
  2. Flash Surfshark onto your router. The process for this depends on the router you own.
  3. Connect your Apple TV to your new connection. Settings > Network > Wi-Fi > select the WiFi network.

How to Connect Surfshark to Apple TV Using a Virtual Router

PROS CONS
  • Works with 10 Netflix libraries
  • Unblocks HBO Max, Hulu, DAZN & more
  • Full VPN encryption
  • Easy to change server location
  • Quite difficult to set up
  • Needs an additional computer
  • Requires an ethernet cable and access to the router

You can also connect your Apple TV to Surfshark by creating a virtual router from your Mac. This method is simpler and cheaper than using an internet router.

You keep all the benefits of a VPN router, too, including full VPN encryption and the choice of Surfshark’s entire server list.

Our research has also found that Surfshark is the best VPN to use when creating a virtual router on Mac. Surfshark is the only VPN that allows you to share a secure OpenVPN connection.

Here’s how to share your Surfshark VPN connection from your Mac to Apple TV:

  1. On your Mac, download Surfshark from the App Store.
    Downloading Surfshark from the Mac app store
  2. Plug one end of the ethernet cable into your router and the other to your Mac. If your Mac doesn’t have an ethernet port, you’ll have to use a USB adapter.
    Plugging an ethernet cable into an iMac
  3. Open the Surfshark app on your Mac.
    Opening the Surfshark app from Spotlight
  4. Go to Settings > Protocol > OpenVPN (UDP).
    Selecting the OpenVPN protocol in the Surfshark Mac app
  5. Connect to a server in the country where you want to unblock content from. For example, to stream DAZN Canada, connect to a Surfshark server in Canada.
    Connecting to a Canada server in the Surfshark Mac app
  6. Open System Preferences and click Sharing.
    Accessing macOS network sharing settings from system preferences
  7. Click Internet Sharing from the left hand column and pick Surfshark OpenVPN (UDP) from the Share your connection from dropdown menu.
    Sharing Surfshark's VPN connection using a Mac virtual router
  8. Tick WiFi, then click WiFi Options. Use these details:
    • Network Name: (make up your own)
    • Channel: 11
    • Security: WPA2 Personal
    • Password: Use a secure alphanumeric password

    Choosing network settings for Mac virtual router

  9. Press Ok. Then, tick Internet Sharing. When the warning message appears, click Start.
    Confirmation message to turn on internet sharing on Mac virtual router
  10. Connect your Apple TV to the same WiFi network.
    Selecting WiFi network on tvOS
  11. Restart your Apple TV. You’ll now be able to stream content from your chosen location.
    Unblocking DAZN on tvOS using Surfshark

Troubleshooting: Is Surfshark Not Working with Apple TV?

Surfshark works reliably on Apple TV, but you might still encounter problems from time to time.

Below, we explain how to fix the most common problems we saw while testing Surfshark on Apple TV.

  1. Create a country-specific Apple ID.
  2. Connecting to a Surfshark server in another country won’t change your App Store location. To change country with Surfshark on Apple TV, you need your Apple ID to be tied to the region.

    For example, to download the Hulu or HBO Max app from the tvOS App Store, you’ll need a US-based Apple ID. Likewise, you will need a UK account to access BBC iPlayer and All 4.

    To do this, create a new Apple ID from your iOS device or Mac in the usual way. When prompted to enter your region, choose the country whose content you wish to access.

    Once you’ve created the account and downloaded the apps, they will remain accessible from your home screen. You’ll still be able to open and use them while logged into your original Apple ID.

  3. Verify that your IP address is up-to-date in your Surfshark account.
  4. To use its Smart DNS feature, Surfshark requires you to provide your current IP address. Check yours by using our IP checker tool.

    If your IP address in your Surfshark account is different, you won’t be able to access any geo-blocked streaming services.

    To update your IP address, navigate to the Smart DNS section of Surfshark’s website and click Change IP. Surfshark will automatically update the IP address associated with your account.

  5. Make sure your Apple TV and iOS device are on the same network.
  6. If you’re using AirPlay, you’ll only be able to beam content to your Apple TV when your iPhone and iPad are on the same network as it.

    To fix this, simply connect your iOS device to the same WiFi network. If you’re still having issues, turn off mobile data and WiFi Assist from your iPhone or iPad’s settings.

    As well, remember that AirPlay doesn’t work with Netflix. Instead, you’ll have to use Surfshark’s Smart DNS or install it on a router.

Is Surfshark a Good Choice for Apple TV?

Surfshark is an excellent Apple TV VPN. It works reliably with most streaming services, has fast download speeds, and uses top-tier encryption.

We’ve tested 71 VPNs on our Apple TV, and Surfshark came out as the third-best option. It’s not perfect, though. Some of the other VPNs we tested had better platform support and faster speeds.

The benefits of using Surfshark with Apple TV:

  • Easy-to-use Smart DNS feature. Though limited, this feature can be used to quickly and easily unblock US Netflix and Hulu without the need for complex installation.
  • Good apps for Mac and iOS. This is useful for using Surfshark on another device to AirPlay content to Apple TV.
  • Works well with all streaming sites. When using a virtual or internet router, Surfshark unblocks 10 Netflix libraries and all other popular streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and HBO Max.
  • Fast international download speeds. We were always able to stream content in HD without buffering.
  • Strong encryption features, such as AES-256 encryption and WireGuard. This is essential for protecting sensitive traffic, such as iCloud syncing and App Store purchases.
  • 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee. Before committing to a long-term subscription, you can test Surfshark on Apple TV yourself.
  • 24/7 live chat support. If you get stuck when setting up Surfshark on Apple TV, the VPN’s customer support team are knowledgeable and always available.

The drawbacks of using Surfshark with Apple TV:

  • Smart DNS only works with US Netflix and Hulu. Using it, you won’t be able to stream BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, or Prime Video.
  • No router app. UThis makes it more difficult to change servers and configure the VPN once it’s installed on a router.
  • No pre-flashed routers are available. You’ll have to manually Surfshark onto a router yourself. This is difficult and only recommended for experienced users.

Overall, we recommend Surfshark for Apple TV users who want a top VPN for a budget price.

How Does Surfshark Compare to Other VPNs?

Although Surfshark is one of the best VPNs you can get for Apple TV, there are better all-round VPNs.

By choosing another VPN, you can unblock more streaming services, configure it using a router app, or save money.

Here’s Surfshark compared to some of its top competitors:

Attribute
Surfshark
ExpressVPN
Windscribe Free
Cheapest Monthly Price
$2.30
$6.67
Free
Smart DNS
Yes
Yes
No
Router App
No
Yes
No
UK-US Download Speed
56Mbps

72Mbps

41Mbps

US Netflix
Yes
Yes
No
Server Network
3,200

3,000

10

Overall, Surfshark is a good choice for Apple TV and certainly one of the best in its price range. However, ExpressVPN beats it in each of our key testing categories and Windscribe can be used totally for free.

ExpressVPN: The Best Overall VPN for Apple TV

ExpressVPN logo

ExpressVPN is very easy to use on Apple TV, making it our top-ranked Apple TV VPN. It’s fast, it always works with US Netflix, and it’s compatible with more devices than any other VPN.

Unlike Surfshark, ExpressVPN includes an app for routers. Using it, you can easily switch server location and quickly configure security settings. With Surfshark, this process is much more difficult and time-consuming.

ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS service, named MediaStreamer, also works with more streaming services than Surfshark’s. Using MediaStreamer, you can stream US Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and lots more. With Surfshark’s Smart DNS, you can only stream Netflix and Hulu.

However, ExpressVPN costs almost three times as much as Surfshark. It’s worth the extra price if you can afford it, but Surfshark is still a fine choice if you’re on a budget.

Windscribe: The Best Free VPN for Apple TV

Windscribe logo

Windscribe is a good alternative to Surfshark if you don’t want to spend a cent. It can be used for free, with no payment details required. As you’d expect, though, Surfshark is better than Windscribe Free in every area.

Most of all, Windscribe doesn’t include a Smart DNS feature with its subscription. To get access to it, you have to pay an additional $40 a year. Surfshark’s Smart DNS tool is included with every VPN subscription.

Windscribe Free also doesn’t work with US Netflix, nor does it unblock as many Netflix libraries as Surfshark. Surfshark can stream 10 Netflix regions, including the US.

Additional research by Luke Williams

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more. Read full bio