Is it possible to install a VPN on Apple TV? The short answer is yes, although it takes a bit of work to set up. In this tutorial, I’d like to share with you exactly how to configure your Apple TV to connect to a VPN so you can watch shows from anywhere in the world.
The great thing about using a VPN while you’re living or traveling abroad is that you can watch some of your favorite shows on Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services. In many cases (such as when trying to stream Netflix in China), the services is geo-restricted, meaning the entertainment won’t stream.
This is excellent if you want to watch Netflix on your laptop or computer. But what if you want to finally migrate to the big TV screen to watch your shows? Getting a VPN setup on your Apple TV (or even a VPN on the Amazon Stick or Chromecast) seems confusing at first, but if you’ll allow me to guide you through what I learned, you’ll realize that it’s really quite easy.
This simple guide will teach you how to set up Apple TV with a VPN.
Below I’m going to walk you through an example using a service I use called 12VPN. Now, you can use a number of other good VPN services to do this same little trick but I chose 12VPN here just because they offer SmartDNS as part of their package (more on that in a moment) and they work well here in China where I live. This tutorial works can help no matter what SmartDNS system you use, though.
*Note: Some links within this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you I will be compensated if you decide to purchase the service. If this tutorial has been helpful to you, please consider these links as a way of saying thanks!
Simple Apple TV VPN Setup Tutorial
The first thing you need to know as you begin to setup your Apple TV to work outside your home country is that in reality you will be setting up a SmartDNS protocol, not a VPN. This is important to note because not all VPN services bundle VPN and SmartDNS together. If they don’t, you’ll have to purchase a separate SmartDNS service.
Like I said above, I recommend 12VPN because all of their packages (except the mobile phone package) provide you with a VPN and a SmartDNS setup. Thankfully, it’s worked very well for me over the past couple years.
To explain this in the most simple terms, what we are doing by changing the DNS address on our Apple TV is similar to changing the license plate on your car. Nothing else has changed (i.e. your car is still at your home and it’s still red) but the license plate says the car is from a different location. This is how we’re able to get around the geo-blocking that sites like Netflix and Hulu have. We’re just tricking them into thinking that we’re somewhere else without actually being there.
So let’s begin by opening up our Apple TV and finding the settings app, which you can see below highlighted on the right side:
Once you click on the Settings app, you’ll be directed to the next menu where you want to find the “General” tab to click. You can see that here:
Next, we want to find and manipulate our Network settings, so find that tab and click it.
Click on the “Wi-Fi” section, that should already show as being connected to your home wifi…
…and then make sure you choose your wi-fi connection among the many others.
At this point we are going to configure the DNS, so find that setting toward the bottom of your wifi connection setting…
…and then instead of “Automatic” you need to choose “Manual” for your setting.
At this point you will be directed to a screen with a bunch of numbers that looks like this:
Now here you will need to input the DNS address supplied by your VPN or SmartDNS provider. In my case, since I’m using 12VPN like I mentioned before, what I did was log into my 12VPN account and find the SmartDNS button. You can see it here on my dashboard:
SmartDNS can be used on a lot of different devices, such as an Apple TV, an xBox, an Apple Airport, etc., but in this case I’ll just go ahead and click on the Apple TV option:
Once I click on this, 12VPN will supply me with a few different DNS address options that I can input into the Apple TV manual DNS page.
With any Smart DNS provider, you will need to activate Smart DNS for your current IP address (this feature prevents people from just sharing the DNS address with all their friends). 12VPN has a link at the bottom of their page where you can click to activate. You’ll have to make sure you’re not on a VPN while you’re activating SmartDNS so that they can collect your real IP address.
There might be times when DNS somehow deactivates or perhaps you move to a different location with a new IP address. In these cases, just go back to activate another address for your Smart DNS settings.
Conclusion: Apple TV Smart DNS Tutorial
If you’ve done everything correctly, you should be able to open the Netflix or Hulu apps immediately after you’ve activated the service.
If you’re still having problems, you might want to connect with your Smart DNS provider. Just make sure you understand that unlike a VPN which will tunnel through censorship like what I have here in China, a Smart DNS just changes the address so that geo-blocked content can be streamed.
I’d also like to note that not every app on Apple TV will work using Smart DNS. For instance, I haven’t been able to get the “Watch ABC” app to work outside of the U.S. despite the change in DNS settings. Thankfully, though, most of the streaming services will work using this simple fix.
Smart DNS from 12VPN or other services are an excellent way for me to stream Netflix on my Apple TV so that I don’t have to constantly be watching on my small laptop all the time!
How did this tutorial work for you? Please leave any comments below or share this on social media if it’s been helpful. Thanks!
Other VPN Resources
- Three Tricks to Using a VPN that will BLOW your Mind!
- Best VPNs for China (video reviews of each VPN) with discount codes!
- How to Watch the NFL in China
- How to Stream Netflix in China – Simple Tutorial