How to connect AirPods to an Apple TV

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Watching Apple TV isn’t always a group activity: Sometimes, it’s preferable to keep things quiet when there are other people in the room, babies trying to sleep, or competing types of media in the background.

In these cases, your AirPods can make a perfect match with an Apple TV, allowing you to watch or listen in silence while still enjoying the high-quality sound. But first, you have to connect them! Our guide will go over everything you need to know.

Important note: This type of pairing will work with any AirPods or Apple TV models you have. However, the results will be much better if you have AirPods that can support Dolby Atmos audio features (like the AirPods Pro, third-generation AirPods, or AirPods Max) and an Apple TV that can also support Dolby Atmos (the Apple TV 4K or later models). Dolby Atmos is the technology that enables things like Spatial Audio on Apple devices. Here we go.

Make sure everything is on the same iCloud account and updated

Prep all your devices before you begin. Put your AirPods in their case, and charge them up. Turn on your Apple TV and make sure it’s updated to the latest tvOS version. You will also want to check that your AirPods and your Apple TV are both logged into the same account and syncing with the same iCloud, as this will make setting up easier.

Turn on the Apple TV and open your AirPods case

Step 1: Check that your Apple TV is turned on and signed in to the right account. Then open your AirPods case near your Apple TV.

Airpods held in front of laptop.

Step 2: When everything is connected to the same iCloud account, Apple already has everything it needs to know about your AirPods. So, when you open the case — or wear them — near your Apple TV, you should see a notification pop up to press the TV Button on your remote and connect your AirPods. If it doesn’t work at first, try unpairing them from any other devices and attempt the process again.

AirPods Connected to Apple TV.

Pair your AirPods manually if necessary

Sometimes automatic pairing doesn’t work as it should. In this case, you should try to pair your AirPods manually. This is an easy process, too.

Step 1: With your Apple TV and AirPods both on, take your Apple TV controller and press and hold the Play button — the central round button at the top of the remote. This will pop up a brief menu of available nearby Apple devices, and your AirPods should be on the list. Select them, and Apple should add them without further trouble.

Apple TV Audio Connections.

Step 2: If this still doesn’t work, you can skip down to our final section on what to do if you aren’t using the same iCloud account for a workaround.

Apple TV AirPods icon.

Adjust Spatial Audio if you prefer

Remember, if you have a more advanced version of AirPods like the AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro, they support Spatial Audio via Dolby Atmos on the Apple TV 4K and newer versions. If any audio includes support for Dolby Atmos, this can provide your ears with richer sound. If you have the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, you can also choose levels of noise cancellation. These features can be controlled directly from the Apple TV menu.

Step 1: Once your compatible AirPods have been paired, you can visit the Control Center menu again, and you should see an AirPods icon you can select. This will open a new menu for enabling/disabling Spatial Audio.

Step 2: Shoose your Noise Cancellation settings if possible – you can choose between Noise Cancellation, a Transparency Mode to hear more, and turning Off active cancellation entirely.

Apple TV Remotes and Devices.

What if you aren’t using the same iCloud account?

This isn’t very usual, but you may want to pair AirPods temporarily or a friend’s AirPods that aren’t part of your account. In this, case, it’s best to treat them like any other Bluetooth device you want to pair to the Apple TV.

Step 1: First, go to Apple TV Settings. Then choose Remotes and Devices. From here, select Bluetooth.

Step 2: In the Bluetooth menu, you should see all nearby detected Bluetooth devices, including your AirPods (try opening your AirPods case if you don’t see them listed here). When you find your AirPods, select them. They should then pair and go from Not Connected to Connected.

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