6 ways to enter text on your Apple TV fourth edition

How to enter text without tears, probably

Despite its advanced technologies Apple’s fourth generation Apple TV came in for some criticism when it first appeared. Why? Because its on screen keyboard text entry system seemed insanely limited in comparison to the box itself. Things have changed. Here are the five ways you can now type on an Apple TV.

Old fashioned

Initially the only way to type you can use your Apple Siri Remote control to select letters from an alphanumeric text entry list extending across from left to right of your TV screen. You will come across this entry system any time you try to search for anything on any app on your TV. Using this system is slow, clunky and frustrating, but there are some shortcuts you should explore:

Recent: When in the keyboard tap the Recent button to quickly access any passwords, account names or search terms you’ve used recently.

Tap and hold: Tap and hold any lower case key to quickly find capitalized and accented versions of the character, enabling you to avoid switching between uppercase, lowercase and symbol keyboards. Or tap Play/Pause and the next character you type will be capitalized.

However, using this keyboard remains slow, so Apple now offers some alternative ways to enter text.

Remote App

If you used an earlier generation Apple TV and an iPhone its highly probably you used the handy Remote app to control what you did with your television. When the new Apple TV unit shipped it did not support Apple’s Remote app, bit this now changed and it does. Here’s how to use it:

Also read: 7 signs Apple is changing television

  • Set up with Home Sharing by selecting that option in Remote, signing in with your Apple ID and opening Settings > Accounts > Home Sharing on your Apple TV. You may need to sign in on the Apple TV.
  • Set up manually by launching the Remote app on your iPhone and choosing Add a Device. A four-digit code should appear. Now you have that code open Settings>Remotes and Devices>Remote app on Apple TV, select your iPhone and enter the 4-digit code.

In future when you need to enter text you’ll be able to use Remote and the much better keyboard it provides to enter those characters.

Siri Dictation

Apple also lets you dictate text to your Apple TV. Go to Settings>General>Dictation to turn the feature on. In future, when you need to enter text into a text field you can do so using Siri and your Apple remote:

  • Select the text field
  • Hold down the Siri button and wait a fraction of a second
  • Begin dictating text in words and phrases, or spell out complex terms, user names or passwords.
  • Remove your finger from the Siri button when you are done.

With luck Siri will have heard you correctly and clumsy key-based text entry will become a thing of the past. (Don’t forget the more you use Siri the better it becomes at understanding you).


Apple’s latest tvOS 9.2 also lets you use Apple and third-party Bluetooth keyboards to navigate your Apple TV.

You’ll need to put Bluetooth keyboard you want to use into pairing mode before choosing it in Apple TV Settings>Remotes and Devices>Bluetooth. You may be asked for a passkey or PIN.

You will now be able to use the keyboard to enter text in any search or text entry box inside any app you use.

With Apple Watch

If the iPhone you use with your Apple Watch is also paired with Apple TV and the Remote app, then you can also use your smartwatch to enter text on Apple TV, though you will be limited to tapping through the on-screen keyboard, at least until someone at Apple has the bright idea of enabling Siri Dictation via Apple Watch.

With an MFi Bluetooth controller

Finally, if you use a Bluetooth controller such as the SteelSeries Nimbus Wireless controller you can also use this to enter text, albeit only by selecting characters on the on-screen keyboard.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story?Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon