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How to set up a VPN on Apple TV

Apple TV
(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Millions of people use the Apple TV to watch their favorite TV shows, movies, and sports on many different streaming services. But, while the Apple TV is already a feature-packed media streaming device, there are lots more things it can do if you use an Apple TV VPN. Namely, you’ll be able to access geo-restricted streaming content on your Apple TV. 

Unfortunately, you can’t simply install the best VPN on your Apple TV. But there are two other methods of using a VPN service on the Apple TV: Smart DNS or a router VPN. In this article, we explain how to set these up. 

  • Setup a VPN for any device with our simple, comprehensive guide

How to set up Smart DNS

Smart DNS is a technical solution for circumventing geo-restrictions and accessing blocked websites. While VPNs can also do this, they will conceal your legitimate IP address and encrypt your internet traffic.

However, Smart DNS services only remove the DNS address provided by your internet service provider (which shows websites your geographic location) and replace it with one based in a different location. This makes it possible to get around geo-restrictions. Most VPN providers will offer Smart DNS addresses, but it's worth doing your research into which ones do – check out our Smart TV VPN guide for more info.

So, how do you set up Smart DNS on your Apple TV? There are a few steps you’ll need to follow, which are outlined below:

  • The first step is to sign up for a VPN service that supports Smart DNS and find out your Smart DNS addresses.
  • After obtaining your Smart DNS addresses, you can then set up Smart DNS on your Apple TV. To begin this process, head over to the Settings menu on your Apple TV.
  • When the Settings menu opens, go to the bottom of the page and click Network.
  • On the Network page, press the Wi-Fi button. Then, you’ll need to tap the network you’re connected to. 
  • When you’ve done that, a range of Wi-Fi settings will appear. You’ll want to press “Configure DNS”.
  • As soon as you press “Configure DNS”, you’ll be asked to choose between automatic and manual configuration. Opt for the latter. 
  • Now, you’ll need to provide a DNS address. Your VPN provider will have provided two of these, and you just need to pick one of them. When you’ve entered the address, press “done”.
  • To ensure Smart DNS is up and running on your Apple TV, you’ll need to restart it. To do this, head to Settings > System > Restart.

How to set up a router VPN

The other way to use a VPN on your Apple TV is by setting it up on a Wi-Fi router. By doing this, all the devices connected to your Wi-Fi connection (including your Apple TV) will experience the benefits of a VPN service. 

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to set up a VPN on your router:

  • Firstly, you’ll need to choose a VPN service that provides a VPN app and sign up for a subscription. We’d recommend ExpressVPN.
  • If you choose ExpressVPN, you can find comprehensive instructions for setting up its app on a range of compatible routers. These include models from manufacturers like Asus, Linksys, and Netgear. 
  • The setup process is pretty similar on all compatible routers. First, you need to download ExpressVPN’s router firmware and install it on your router following the how-to instructions from ExpressVPN.
  • When you’ve downloaded and installed the firmware on your router, you should reboot it. Once it’s turned back on, the next step is connecting your Apple TV to the router using a cable or Wi-Fi connection. 
  • If your Apple TV is successfully connected to your router, the ExpressVPN router dashboard should load. Finally, log in to your account, and ExpressVPN should be working on your Apple TV. 

Whether you choose to use Smart DNS or a VPN on your router, you can easily get a VPN service up and running on your Apple TV. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy even more streaming content on your Apple TV. 

Which VPN do we recommend for Apple TV users?

ExpressVPN stands out from the competition in terms of price, features, and value. With servers in nearly 100 countries, MediaStreamer Smart DNS functions, blazing connection speeds, and reliable access to multiple streaming services, ExpressVPN offers everything you Apple TV needs. 

While some users may prefer certain features of other top VPNs, it’s the best overall option for most users – and now Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free.View Deal

Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan!