Apple TV has many uses, but two are at the forefront: managing digital data and streaming multimedia. Sadly, native support for VPNs has never been part of its functionality, and it’s uncertain whether it will ever be. This isn’t a big deal for a casual user who goes online occasionally, keeps few personal files, and uses a separate Internet connection. But for most people, protection of privacy and security online and the ability to bypassing geo-blocking aren’t an addition – they’re a necessity. This is what motivated us to demonstrate how to add VPN to Apple TV. So, let’s get into it.
1. Add VPN to Apple TV by connecting to the router
The most convenient and efficient way to add a VPN to Apple TV is to install VPN firmware to a router. Alternatively, you can configure a VPN connection within the router firmware that supports VPNs. Afterward, all that’s left is to connect your Apple TV to the Wi-Fi network or use the built-in Ethernet port on the back. VPN providers have their way of doing the “router part”. For example, we taught you to add ExpressVPN to the router. The second part is universal, and looks like this:
- Power your Apple TV on, and get to the home screen.
- Go to Settings > Network.
Note. Go to Settings > General > Network for Apple TV 3rd generation.
- Select the name of the wireless or wired connection.
- If asked, enter the password.
- Congratulations – you connected to the VPN on your Apple TV.
2. Add VPN to Apple TV by sharing a VPN connection
The second method to add a VPN to Apple TV includes connecting to a VPN configured on another device and operating system. Although you can do this on Windows, Linux, and Android, we’ll assume you, as the Apple user, own a Mac and an iOS device. With that said, here’s how to create a virtual VPN router for use with Apple TV devices:
We demonstrated the Mac VPN set-up process already. With that done, here’s how adding a VPN on Apple TV works:
- Open the Apple menu again.
- Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.
- Click on the Sharing option.
- In the left sidebar, put a checkmark in front of Internet Sharing.
- Select the options on the right side according to the way you connect your Apple TV to the network.
- Note. We’ll assume you’re using an Ethernet cable.
- Under “Share your connection from:” select Wi-Fi.
- Under “To computers using:” put a checkmark in front of Ethernet.
- Follow steps 4 through 6 in sub-step 2 of the method below.
- Connect to the Wi-Fi, and you enabled VPN on your Apple TV.
First, set up a VPN connection on iPhone and connect to the VPN. Here’s what to do next:
- Go to Settings.
- Select Personal Hotspot.
- Tip. If it isn’t there, open the Cellular menu entry first.
- Toggle Allow Others to Join.
- Remember your Wi-Fi password, and switch to your Apple TV.
- Follow steps 4, 5, 6 in sub-step 2 below, then step 10 above.
- Tip. Be wary of your mobile data usage.
3. Use DNS tunneling for older Apple TV generations
This method, as well as the one below, is inferior to the two methods above, regardless of the VPN provider. It allows you to change the location and bypass the VPN blocks, making it ideal for streaming, hence the ExpressVPN’s name for the feature, MediaStreamer. And while in this case, it comes with a no-log policy, it doesn’t have encryption or VPN tunneling and is unsuitable for security or privacy-sensitive activities. With that said, follow these steps to add VPN to older Apple TV devices:
1. Obtain DNS settings
You might be familiar with this since we went over obtaining MediaStreamer for ExpressVPN MediaSteamer in the past. The equivalent feature for other VPN services is often named StrongDNS (with StrongVPN, for example) or SmartDNS (in NordVPN‘s case). Here’s what to do in the case of ExpressVPN:
- Check our guide for adding ExpressVPN to PS 5, and follow steps 2, 3, and 4 in method 2.
- Instead of step 5, visit the ExpressVPN Apple TV Setup page.
- If prompted, sign in again and enter the verification code sent to the registered e-mail address.
- After logging in, check the section named “ExpressVPN for Apple TV”.
- Keep the tab browser open or write down the 4-number MediaStreamer DNS server IP address that looks like “111.222.333.444”.
2. Enter DNS setting for older Apple TVs (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation)
Follow these instructions to finish configuring DNS tunneling on Apple TV:
- On your Apple TV, go to Settings.
- Select iTunes Store, then Location.
- Scroll down and choose the United States.
- Go back to the home screen, then open Settings.
- Go to Network.
- Select either Wi-Fi or Ethernet, depending on the unprotected Internet connection you’re using.
- Scroll down and choose Configure DNS.
- Switch from Automatic to Manual.
- Recommended. Jolt down your current DNS address for safekeeping.
- Enter the 4-number DNS IP Address from step 5 in sub-step 1 above.
- Restart Apple TV by going to Settings > General > Restart.
3. Apply VPN service DNS settings to a newer Apple TV
Got an Apple TV device released after September 2015, e.g. Apple TV HD (4th generation), or the 4K version, whether 1st or 2nd generation? This is the guide for you, then. First, pick up the MediaStreamer IP address for DNS using sub-step 1 above. Then, to complete adding DNS settings on your Apple TV, look at sub-step 2 above. Follow step 1 under it, skip to step 5, and continue following steps 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. At that point, restart your newer Apple TV by going to Settings, then System, and finally, Restart.