How to use AirPods with Apple TV

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Apple TV airpods
You kids don’t know how good you have it.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Are you a late-night movie watcher with sensitive neighbors? Do you hate watching your Apple TV with the volume set too low? Then you might love today’s tip. Did you know that you can use your AirPods with your Apple TV? Sure you did. But did you also know that you don’t need to dig around in your Apple TV’s menus to hook them up? There’s a Siri Remote shortcut that makes switching ultra-convenient.

How to quick switch audio outputs on Apple TV

Apple TV AirPods
Press and hold, and you’re in.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Here’s the tip, by way of Wolfboyz on Reddit: Apple TV has a shortcut to switch audio output devices. Just press and hold the Play/Pause button on the Apple TV remote when viewing the Home Screen, and you’ll see a panel listing all available AirPlay speakers. Even though AirPods use Bluetooth and not Wi-Fi, they still show up here thanks to the magic of Apple’s integration.

Use Siri

Another way to quickly switch audio outputs is to use Siri. Invoke Siri and say “Audio settings.” This will open up the Audio Output screen, and you can use the remote to quickly pick your output. This version only appears to open up your most-recently-used audio settings panel, so you may find yourself deep in the Settings app, instead of on the Audio Output panel. But if you recently switched speaker/headphone outputs, then this is almost as quick.

AirPods and HomePod

These tricks work thanks to the fact that AirPods are tied to your Apple ID, so if you’re signed in on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, they’re already paired.

And if you’re using a HomePod, you can use this same trick to pop up the audio output settings, and choose the HomePod instead, just like you can from an iPhone or iPad.

It’s a shame that Apple doesn’t make these great tricks and shortcuts more obvious. Then again, I guess it’s my job to dig them up and pass them on.