How to view your photos on Apple TV

Want to show off video from that Yosemite trip last month, or look at some family photos? The Photos app on the Apple TV can do all that and more. Here's how the app works.

Before we get started, you'll first need to make sure you've activated iCloud's photo services (either iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Photo Sharing, or My Photo Stream) on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC — otherwise, you won't see much.

How to get started with the Photos app

Unlike Apple's other devices, your Apple TV can't download images from the web or Messages to add to your Photos library — it relies solely on iCloud's photo sharing options to present your images. As such, you'll need to log in to iCloud to make that happen, then turn on one of iCloud's photo sharing options.

How to log in to iCloud

  1. Select the Settings app.
  2. Select Accounts.

  3. Select iCloud.
  4. Select Sign in.

  5. Enter your Apple ID.
  6. Select Continue.
  7. Enter the password associated with your Apple ID.
  8. Select Sign In.

How to enable iCloud's photo sharing options

You have a few different choices when it comes to viewing images on your Apple TV:

  • If you're subscribed to iCloud Photo Library, you can stream your entire collection of images and video
  • If you just want to share albums you've shared with friends and family (or vice versa) you can turn on iCloud Photo Sharing
  • If you aren't subscribed to iCloud Photo Library, you can turn on My Photo Stream, which lets your TV access just the last 1000 photos or video you snapped.

You can read more information about each of them below, and make your choice:

How to stream photos to Apple TV

Don't want to stream your library locally on your Apple TV? You can avoid the whole iCloud thing altogether by using AirPlay. Here's how to go about it.

Meet the interface

Once you've set up your photos, it's time to take a look at the Photos app on Apple TV. Depending on whether you're running tvOS 9 or 10, you'll see three or four tabs along the top of the screen to help you navigate your way through the app.


Photos on Apple TV

This displays all your photos and videos in chronological upload order. You can use the Siri Remote to navigate your way through each image; select an image or video, and you can view it in full screen. Just be careful about the selfies you put up on the 60-inch screen — you don't want to scare anyone!

Memories (tvOS 10 or later only)

Memories on Apple TV

The Memories feature automatically and algorithmically collects photos and video into albums based on time, location, or faces in the images. The more images you add to iCloud, the more memories the app can generate.


Shared photos on Apple TV

This tab allows you to view any images you've shared to iCloud with your family and friends (or vice versa). Unfortunately, you can't share images and albums from the Apple TV — only view photos and videos you or a friend has shared.


Photo Albums on Apple TV

Here, you'll find any and all Albums you've created, along with Apple's "smart" albums for video, panoramas, and more. As with Shared, you can't create or edit albums on your Apple TV, only view them.

Want to know more?

If you're looking for even more fun things the Photos app can do, check out our article on setting your pictures as a screensaver:

Updated May 2018: Updated all information to be accurate for tvOS 11.3.

Apple TV 4K


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