Among the default actions that come with the Shortcuts app, users with an Apple TV can find the set for the Apple TV Remote app, the built-in tool primarily used in the Control Center to use the iPhone as a remote control for the Apple TV.
With shortcuts, Apple has allowed greater access to Apple TV through a set of actions that allow people to control the following functions:
- Device status
- Apps and games
- Bonus: AirPlay
This article will cover each action, explaining how to configure these Apple TV controls and how to use them for particular use cases. (Author’s note: iPhone screenshots in the piece show the iOS 15 interface for shortcuts, showing the name of each shortcut differently, as well as a category of “Suggestions for next action” below the actions).
But first, it’s important to note that all Apple TV actions require both of them to be on the same network as Apple TV, and to specify which TV if you have more than one.
Activate Apple TV
Wake Apple TV will turn on the specified Apple TV, which includes sending a signal to any connected receiver or television that the device wants to wake up, meaning this action alone can turn on many televisions, even switching them to the appropriate input if is not currently selected.
It’s helpful to place Wake Apple TV before most other Apple TV Remote actions, especially when used in a menuas it ensures that the TV is turned on before attempting to send the main command.
Sleep Apple TV
Similar to Wake Apple TV, Sleep Apple TV will turn off the specified Apple TV and also send a sleep signal to receivers and televisions. Using this is a great way to end a TV session and turn off all connected devices simultaneously.
Start screen saver
One of the most beloved features of the Apple TV is the cinematic slow-motion screensavers that Apple produced specifically for the devices; With the Start Screen Saver action, users can set their Apple TV to display the screen saver immediately.
Here’s a shortcut Just for this, wake up the Apple TV and show the screen saver; sometimes wearing one is just nice.
Show remote control
Show remote control is the main action that the built-in Apple TV remote control actually uses, activating the full-screen remote control for the specified TV. There you can have quick access to the same controls found on the physical Apple TV Remote, which is useful if someone else has the controls or if you’re not near the viewing area where you keep the remote.
It is also important to note that while in Remote view, the device’s volume controls can send HDMI-CEC signals to your receiver or TV to change the volume as well; Using this action you can turn your watch, phone or iPad into a complete remote control.
It is often useful to use Show Remote Control in combination with the Open Application action because that action implies that more steps will be taken within the newly opened application, when it is run that kind of shortcut from the phone, you can have the digital remote control ready to go immediately.
Play / Pause on Apple TV is an action specifically designed to play, pause, or toggle playback on any media that is played on the specified Apple TV, probably by pause firstand then play again to resume.
It can be useful to make use of these in Siri-based shortcuts; I give them names like “Snack break” to talk to Siri to pause the TV while I go to get something from the other room. “Resume TV” it’s also great for returning to the room when you’re ready to start over.
Skipping content for Apple TV Remote also works to move forward or backward in the timeline by specific amounts. With this action, you can configure custom presets for your preferred time periods, such as going back 60 seconds, or go ahead precisely 45 seconds for programs that have a repeating sequence of titles / credits.
Set Captions is another handy Apple TV Remote shortcut, allowing programmatic access to closed captions / subtitles for the current show. With this, you can set Siri-based shortcuts to turn on subtitles in or switched off from HomePod, allowing completely hands-free access to caption controls for the first time.
Combined with the Skip Content action, I have also recreated the Siri feature from Apple TV where you ask “What did they just say?” and the TV will rewind 30 seconds, turn on subtitles, wait 30 seconds, and turn subtitles off again.
Change user account
Switch User Account allows shortcut users to swap the active profile on their Apple TV by adding the action before their other steps in the shortcut or by creating a independent shortcut to change profiles per person.
This is probably most useful if you have multiple family members who want to use shortcuts to control Apple TV; Since HomePod shortcuts run as personal requests through the individual person’s iPhone, they will need their own shortcuts to use HomePod to control Apple TV. .
That means that since Siri already knows who is speaking, the Change User Account account can be used before other Apple TV Remote actions and ensure that the Apple TV is set for the correct person who is speaking; If my girlfriend asks to open the TV app, she can just switch to her account at the same time and her Up Next will be displayed.
Set light / dark mode
Set light / dark mode is another action available to customize the experience that is most useful in conjunction with the user account switch account: if a person prefers to have the light mode and another dark mode, they can switch to their own profile and also switch the appearance in your own dedicated shortcuts.
Set Reduce loud sounds
The other personal preference action for the Apple TV Remote group is Set Reduce Loud Sounds, which, while somewhat confusingly named, allows users to enable “Reduce Loud Sounds” or turn it off / toggle it as needed.
This is another example that is more useful if a particular person in a home prefers to reduce loud sounds when looking at something, but the rest of the home does not want to affect the volume and wants this feature to be turned off, along with Switch. The user account, which runs its own Apple TV shortcuts, can customize its experience within each shortcut.
Apps and games
Open app on Apple TV
The Open App on Apple TV action is also very useful for creating a personalized Apple TV experience for yourself or your home, allowing immediate access to any application or game installed on the specified Apple TV.
This is very useful for individual applications or games, as it allows a trigger like the inevitable “Netflix and Chill” to open Netflix and change the lighting, saying “Alto TV” to open Alto’s Odyssey so you can choose a game, or use “Help me find a movie” to open the Letterboxd app on the TV to view recent reviews.
Using Choose From Menu and multiple Open App instances can also provide you with a way to select from a number of options and open the corresponding application that you have configured in advance; it could have a shortcut that opens every app and game on your Apple TV.
Bonus: set the playback destination for AirPlay
The last action isn’t technically part of the Apple TV Remote group, but it’s helpful to know: Set Play Destination allows you to select an Apple TV and cast your video or music to the specified Apple TV.
This is particularly useful for taking advantage of donated shares from apps like the TV app – once you start a TV show like Ted Lasso, the TV app will add a “Resume Ted Lasso” action to the Suggestions section of Shortcuts. Combined with Wake Apple TV and Set Playback Destination, this can be used to AirPlay the next episode of your show right away on Apple TV: get the shortcut here.
Using shortcuts with Apple TV
Overall, the Apple TV Remote actions are a great set that allows you to get the most out of all your TV settings using Siri, menus, and custom shortcuts per person in a household.
Whether you’re activating them from the HomePod, adding them to the Shortcuts widget, or launching one from Shortcuts for Apple Watch, there’s a lot of potential – add the shortcuts from the piece below to try them out for yourself:
For more shortcuts like these check out mine Shortcut catalog where I hosted updated versions of these shortcuts, as well as many examples of the Shortcuts app.