Using a VPN on your Mac, iPad or iPhone has become pretty commonplace and it's really easy to get set up with a service like ExpressVPN on these devices. Unlike macOS and iOS devices, the Apple TV doesn't have the ability to download a VPN app and easily connect to a VPN service, making the process a little more tricky (though not impossible).
Instead of simply installing an app, there are a few more steps required to set up an ExpressVPN MediaStreamer connection within your Apple TV's Settings app. Since MediaStreamer is just SmartDNS, it's only really for bypassing geo-restrictions in streaming content rather than the privacy and security a VPN offers.
If you have a VPN-compatible router, you'd be better off installing ExpressVPN on that to offer all of the benefits of a VPN to all of your connected devices, Apple TV included.
We consider ExpressVPN to be the best VPN out there. If you're looking for a good quality service to use on your Apple devices, getting started with ExpressVPN is super easy.
Before you start
Before you get started with ExpressVPN, you'll need to make sure you've signed up for an account. There's no free trial, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee which lets you try it out risk-free. Right now, you can get 15-months of ExpressVPN for the price of 12 paired with that money-back guarantee which is one of the best VPN deals around.
Choose the subscription length you want, from one month to six months or the 12/15-month tier, enter your details, and how you want to pay and you're good to go.
Though there are many VPN providers out there, ExpressVPN comes highly recommended having topped our list of the best VPN services.
How to use ExpressVPN on your Apple TV
ExpressVPN works with Apple TV (and other streaming hardware) via its SmartDNS called MediaStreamer. To use it, the first thing you need to do is register your IP address at ExpressVPN. Here's how:
- Sign into the ExpressVPN website and view My Account to view your Dashboard.
- Select the option for DNS Settings.
- Under IP address registration, click Register my IP address. It is also recommended that you toggle Automatically register my IP address on so you don't have to go through this process each time your IP address changes.
Once you've done that, you need to locate your DNS MediaStreamer details.
- Return to your Dashboard and select Set Up Devices from the menu.
- Select Apple TV and your MediaStreamer DNS server IP address will be visible. Note it down as you'll need this in the next stage.
Now that you have your MediaStreamer details, you can move over to the Apple TV itself to complete the setup.
- On your Apple TV, open the Settings app and navigate to Network > Wi-Fi and select your Wi-Fi connection (or your wired connection if you're using Ethernet).
- Select Configure DNS and choose Manual.
- Enter the MediaStreamer DNS server IP address you found earlier. If you previously had your DNS settings manually configured, it's worth making a note of these in case you want to stop using ExpressVPN and go back to your previous settings. If not, you can always reset it to Automatic. Once you have entered your IP address manually, hit Done.
- Restart your Apple TV in order for the changes to take effect.
ExpressVPN has a helpful guide that outlines exactly how to set up its service with your Apple TV which is worth reading in full.
There's also some handy guidance for using ExpressVPN with your router, which would allow you to stream region-locked content, take advantage of additional features, and enjoy enhanced security.
Why would I use ExpressVPN with my Apple TV?
The main reason you would want to use a VPN with your Apple TV is in order to access content that is not available in your region. If there is content only accessible in certain regions, then ExpressVPN allows you to access it by virtually changing your location.
ExpressVPN's MediaStreamer goes some of the way to achieving this on Apple TV with its SmartDNS tech unblocking a lot of content that would otherwise be unavailable, but you'd be better served using ExpressVPN on your router if you want more control over your desired region plus added encryption and privacy benefits.
Note, however, that this practice goes against the terms and conditions of Netflix and many other streaming services.
There are many more reasons for using a VPN on your other devices, from the added security and privacy benefits to finding cheap airfare. We've put together a guide as to what you can use a VPN for in order to help you figure out if you should be using one. We also have a roundup of the best VPN deals if you want to make a saving on your VPN subscription.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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