A handy Automatic Downloads feature has been available on the fourth-generation Apple TV as of tvOS 10. However, tvOS editions of the apps you purchase on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch won’t automatically download to the Apple TV unless you manually turn this feature on.
In this quick tutorial, we’ll show you how to enable and use Automatic Downloads on your fourth-generation Apple TV.
iOS device(s) used to buy or download universal apps and the Apple TV you wish their tvOS counterparts to automatically appear on must be signed in to the same Apple ID account.
If you use the Family Sharing feature, Automatic Downloads won’t automatically put family members’ universal apps on your Apple TV’s Home screen.
Enabling Automatic Downloads for Apple TV apps
1) Open Settings and navigate to the Apps section in the top-level menu.
2) Set Automatically Install Apps to “On”.
Now when you download a universal iOS app to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, it automatically downloads to the Apple TV as well.
By default, Apple TV apps are automatically updated when new versions are released. If you’d rather manually check if any updates for your installed Apple TV apps are available in the App Store, set Automatically Update Apps to “Off”.
Your Apple TV will no longer silently update apps in the background. If you prefer automatic app updates to be turned on, you can see which updates have been installed recently under Purchased → Recently Updated in the App Store.
Seeing availability of tvOS versions of iOS apps
If you dislike Automatic Downloads or don’t want every single universal iOS app to appear on your Apple TV’s Home screen, feel free to disable Automatic Downloads and check for tvOS editions of your iPhone and iPad apps manually.
This is very convenient because apps that you currently have on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch that lack Apple TV support may become available for tvOS in the future without you even knowing it.
1) Launch App Store on your fourth-generation Apple TV and highlight the Purchased tab at the top of the screen.
2) In the lefthand column, highlight a section titled Not on This Apple TV to see a list of all the universal iOS apps you downloaded that are not on this Apple TV.
In the righthand section, highlight a universal iOS app you wish to download to your Apple TV, then click the Touch surface.
3) The app page will load. Highlight the Install button with a cloud icon on it, then click the Siri Remote’s Touch surface to begin downloading the app to the device.
You could even create a recurring reminder on your iPhone so that you don’t forget to check this section occasionally. I recommend setting a weekly reminder on Friday as the App Store is updated with new arrivals every Thursday.
Re-downloading previously bought Apple TV apps
You can download your previous Apple TV app purchases at any time
1) To see the apps that you previously bought through your Apple TV, launch the tvOS App Store and highlight Purchased at the top of the screen.
2) Click the All Apps option in the lefthand column to see a list of your past purchases.
2) Now select an app you wish to re-download to this device and press the Touch surface to land on its page.
3) You should see the Install button (it has a cloud icon on it) in place of the usual Buy/Get button, which tells you that either you previously bought or downloaded this Apple TV app and later deleted it from the device or that this is a universal iOS app that has been refreshed recently with support for the Apple TV.
Highlight the Install button and click the Siri Remote’s Touch surface to re-download this app to the Apple TV without being charged again.
The following related tutorials may come in handy:
- How to configure Automatic Downloads in iTunes for Mac
- Preventing iTunes from automatically backing up iOS devices
- How to configure Automatic Downloads on iPhone and iPad
- Stopping your iPhone from automatically downloading app updates
- Preventing Mac from automatically downloading macOS updates
- Delaying iOS software updates until after midnight
Do you use Automatic Downloads on your Apple TV and if not, why?
I find this feature to be quite useful because I blog about apps for a living and want to ensure that any iPhone and iPad apps that are also available on tvOS automatically download to my Apple TV’s Home screen.