Sync a Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard with Apple TV

Jan 29, 2013 - 6 Comments

You can now sync a Bluetooth keyboard with the Apple TV and use it to navigate and search on the device. This nice little bonus feature arrived along with the iOS 6.1 update, though it’s technically labeled for the Apple TV as 5.2 update, but regardless of the versioning and naming convention it’s an appreciated feature and finally brings the Apple TV in line with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad for supporting wireless keyboards. It’s not going to function as a workstation (yet at least), but it does offer another way to navigate Apple TV.

Use a Wireless keyboard with Apple TV

As we mentioned, you’ll need the newest Apple TV system software installed to sync keyboards. If you’ve never done that before, it’s not complicated.

Update to the Newest Apple TV OS

Updating Apple TV is done either by connecting it physically to iTunes, downloading the IPSW and manually updating, or, what is typically the fastest and certainly the easiest, by using Over-The-Air update:

  • On the Apple TV, go to “Settings” and then “General”
  • Choose “Update Software” then “Download and Install”
  • Let the update install and the Apple TV reboot

Now that you’re on the appropriate OS version, here’s what you’ll need to do to sync a wireless keyboard with the Apple TV.

Connect a Wireless Keyboard to the Apple TV

We’ll use the Apple Wireless Keyboard as the example because it’s common, but this should work the same on any other compatible bluetooth keyboard:

  • Open “Settings” again and then go to “General” followed by “Bluetooth”
  • Place the wireless keyboard into pairing mode, on the Apple Wireless Keyboard this is done by holding the power button
  • Wait for the Bluetooth keyboard to pop up on the Apple TV screen and go through the brief setup procedure, entering the pairing code to confirm the proper keyboard will be connected

With that done you can now use a bluetooth keyboard as the primary input device on the Apple TV, which can make searching media and entering text quite a bit easier.

Three cheers to Macgasm for pointing this out.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Apple TV, Tips & Tricks


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  1. John says:

    I think this is a great addition. Whether using a keyboard, iPhone or iPad.

  2. HJKeats says:

    Why go through all the trouble of adding a keyboard when the app ‘Remote’ from either your iPhone or iPad will do the trick…

  3. Damian D. says:

    I am a bit hesitant to be excited about this feature because I think it is actually a step back in good usability. As Brent points out in the comments, it would make better sense to use other devices such as the iPhone to control the TV. Having a TV controlled with a keyboard brings me back painful memories of 2004 with TVs with really bad Internet connections and poor navigation control. Why are you so excited about this development?

    • Dorje Sylas says:

      Why should a phone/pod/pad be needed? If they add bluetooth mouse support and begin treating it like an actual computer in some sense it won’t be 2004 again.

      Then again keep in mind back in 2004 the Operating Systems driving those Interent TVs were also trash. Before iOS, before Android. Before the mobile hardware powering them was the functional equlivent of the computers of that time (or better). The AppleTV is almost as good as the PowerBook I had back then.

      What makes this ‘happy’ is its yet another crack in Apple rather nonsensical denial of treating the AppleTV like what is, a computer attached to a TV.

    • Don says:

      So speaks a person who hasn’t added a dozen contacts to the Flickr links in the photos, or typed in a lot of searches to the YouTube app, or…

      I use the remote app on my iphone to make that marginally less painful, sure, but if your use case for the AppleTV means a lot of text entry this is a nice solution.

      More to the point, why be down on an easy value-add for the people who it benefits? Nothing about this indicates the AppleTV is moving towards REQUIRING this sort of thing. But it’s an easy thing to throw in given the shared code with the iDevices that have offered this for a while.

  4. Brent says:

    Is this new? I thought we’ve been able to do this since 5.1 but I could be wrong.

    I always use my iPhone to control my Apple TV anyway.

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