How to set up Apple TV screensaver with photos from your computer

By , Dec 10, 2015

Apple TV Siri Remote in hand image 006

The new Apple TV introduced Apple’s fantastic new Aerial screensaver: a rotating selection of high-resolution footage of major cities from around the world, captured beautifully in smooth slow-motion by a very expensive drone.

It’s in addition to existing screensavers—such as Apple Photos, National Geographic and My Photos—that have been present on the set-top box since the 2nd gen model.

But did you know that you can also stream digital photos stored on your computer to the Apple TV? In this tutorial, we’ll be covering setting up your Apple TV and desktop iTunes so that you can create a screensaver with photos from your computer.

This feature takes advantage of Home Sharing.

Home Sharing was designed for personal sharing of iTunes libraries over your home Wi-Fi network with other Home Sharing-devices that have been authorized with the same Apple ID. You can turn Home Sharing on for up to five computers on the home network.

To set up a screensaver on the Apple TV that uses photos from your computer, both devices must have Home Sharing turned on.

How to turn on Home Sharing in iTunes

Step 1: Launch iTunes for Mac or Windows.

Step 2: From the menu bar at the top, choose File → Home Sharing → Turn on Home Sharing. On Windows, hit Control-B to show the iTunes menu bar.

Home Sharing sign in iTunes Mac screenshot 001

Step 3: A splash screen pops up with basic information about the feature. Confirm that you wish to activate it by clicking Turn On Home Sharing.

Home Sharing sign in iTunes Mac screenshot 005

Step 4: You will be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. If your computer isn’t authorized with an Apple ID, iTunes will ask you to authorize it.

Home Sharing sign in iTunes Mac screenshot 004

Upon providing your credentials, hit the Turn On Home Sharing button to continue.

Step 5: iTunes will tell you when Home Sharing is turned on. Click Done to finish.

How to turn on Home Sharing on Apple TV

Step 1: On your fourth-generation Apple TV, go to Settings → Accounts → Home Sharing. On prior models, Home Sharing is in Settings → Computers.

Step 2: Select Turn on Home Sharing.

Step 3: Enter the same Apple ID that you used to turn Home Sharing on in iTunes.

Home Sharing sign in tvOS Apple TV 4 screenshot

Tip: use Apple’s Remote app to speed up typing on the Apple TV.

How to create Apple TV screensaver from photos on your computer

Before you can view photos from your computer on the Apple TV and use them as a screensaver, you must enable one more option in iTunes.

Step 1: Launch iTunes on your computer and ensure Home Sharing is on.

Step 2: Go to File → Home Sharing → Choose Photos to Share with Apple TV.

Home Sharing sign in iTunes Mac screenshot 002

Step 3: A new window should pop up. Tick the box next to “Share Photos from”. In a drop-down menu, select where you want to stream photos from: iPhoto, Photos, your account’s Pictures folder or a custom folder on your computer.

Home Sharing sign in iTunes Mac screenshot 003

Step 4: Now select “All photos, albums, events, and faces” or “Selected albums, events, and faces.” If you’ve chosen the latter, pick the albums, events and faces you want to stream to your Apple TV.

Step 5: Click Apply and then close this window.

Step 6: On your fourth-generation Apple TV, go to Settings → General → Screensaver → Type → Home Sharing. On earlier Apple TV models, go to Settings → Screen Saver → Photos and choose your shared photos under the Computers heading.

Step 7: A shared iTunes library should appear on your fourth-generation Apple TV with My Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Photos and other sections. Select Photos and then choose the album, moments or folder streamed from your desktop.

Apple TV Set as Screensaver

Previews of photos in that album appear on the Apple TV, as shown above.

Step 8: Choose Set as Screensaver and confirm by selecting Yes.

There are lots of different ways screensavers can be shown so feel free to experiment with the transitions and other options until you achieve desired effects.

Shared photo albums, moments or folders also appear in the Computers app.

RELATED: How to use ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ photos as Apple TV screensaver

Your computer must be on and awake, and iTunes open for your Apple TV to cache the photos. After the photos have been cached, the screensaver will work without iTunes needing to be open on your Mac or Home Sharing enabled.

To remove cached photos from your Apple TV, launch desktop iTunes, choose File → Home Sharing → Choose Photos to Share With Apple TV, untick the box next to “Share Photos from,” click Apply and close the window.

RELATED: How to add Apple TV’s Aerial screensavers to Mac

One more trick…

I recommend setting the Apple TV to wake your Mac for services like Home Sharing by selecting Wake for Wi-Fi network access in System Preferences → Energy Saver.

Now if your Mac is in sleep mode and the Apple TV requests access to photos, it’ll automatically wake from sleep. On notebooks, Wake On Demand only works if a MacBook is connected to a power adaptor.

After the request has been fulfilled, the Mac will go back to sleep after its defined sleep interval in the Energy Saver preferences.

Was this tutorial useful?

Chime in with your thoughts in the comment section below and feel free to submit tutorial suggestions at tips@iDownloadBlog.com.

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  • Unknow Unknow

    Atv for watch movies neflix music even screen saver are cool but what should I use my tv as monitor of my Mac? Why do I need play video games in the screen of my fridge

  • John Schur

    Don’t know about newer ATVs but my 2nd Gen, while in shuffle/random mode, grabs only a few dozen photos from the Photos Library and the same pictures show up over and over while most never show up at all. I suppose it’s due to a limited cache…. frustrating, nonetheless.

    • Arne Eigenfeldt

      Same thing here. Over 700 photos in my Library, and it consistently only uses every 5 photo.

  • sir1963nz

    I have just unplugged my ATV4 and put the ATV3 back into service.

    The ATV4 regularly looses access to the network (802.11n Airport express) so I can not stream anything from iTunes, can not get anything from netflix, etc etc etc.

    The only way to “fix” this is to restart the ATV4.

    If anything gets added to the iTunes server, then the ATV4 will stop playing, tells me to turn on home sharing, or the media type is unsupported, or other errors and I have to go and reset the damn thing again.

    I did the TVos update, if anything it made the situation worse. Looks like I will be send the ATV4 back and getting a refund.

    • Mariano Martinez

      Use plex app , the best for streaming movies from your pc or mac