What is Automatic Setup for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, and how does it work?

Automatic Setup is Apple's proximity-based process for transferring data, settings, and content from an old device to a new one. You can use Automatic Setup on your iPhone, Apple Watch, or Apple TV. Here's what it is and how to go about it!

What is Automatic Setup, and how does it work?

Apple's Automatic Setup feature began as an easier way for users to set up the Apple TV with "tap-to-set-up," which let you use your iPhone's sensors to quickly connect to your Apple TV and automatically enter in data like an Apple ID and Wi-Fi network. Since then, the feature has evolved and expanded to cover not only the Apple TV, but new iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models as well.

Automatic Setup is great because it lets users skip much of the form-filling present in older versions of setting up new devices — you shouldn't have to manually enter Wi-Fi network names and passwords, Apple IDs, or settings from previous devices. It's also proximity-based, keeping that data secure by requiring you to physically have both old and new devices in the same location.

Apple uses a slightly different method to automatically set up each device, depending on whether it's an iPhone or iPad, Apple Watch, or Apple TV.

How to use Automatic Setup to set up a new iPhone or iPad

You can use any current device running iOS 11 to set up a new iPhone or iPad by transferring the settings from your current device to your new device when in close physical proximity. Here's how!

How to transfer data from your old phone to your new iPhone

How to use Automatic Setup to set up a new Apple Watch

iPhone pairing

iPhone pairing (Image credit: iMore)

There are a few ways to pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone, depending on what makes the most sense for your needs. Automatic Setup lets you quickly sync your Apple Watch's internal signifiers to your iPhone and get everything set up.

How to set up a new Apple Watch

How to use Automatic Setup to set up a new Apple TV

Once you get your new Apple TV, you'll have to set it up from scratch. Apple offers two different ways of initializing your Apple TV: Set Up With Device, and Set Up Manually. If you don't have your device handy, Rene has a great how-to on manually setting up your Apple TV; otherwise, the easiest and best way is to use your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

How to automatically set up your Apple TV with your iPhone

What do you think of Automatic Setup?

Let us know in the comments below.

Updated January 2018: Updated with more info about Automatic Setup.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.