How to Take a Screenshot on Apple TV Using a Mac

Take a screenshot of the Apple TV

Screen shots are a great way to visually teach someone how to use their Apple TV. But there is no real tool on the device to capture these images. This guide shows you how to take a screenshot on Apple TV using a Mac.

Technically, you can take screenshots on your Apple TV, but they are not available to you. Called “stackshots”, these are used by Apple support for diagnostic purposes. You can capture these photos by simultaneously pressing the volume down and playback buttons on the Siri remote.

In this guide, however, you do not capture screenshots directly on your Apple TV device for diagnostic purposes. Instead, you want screenshots for educational purposes, creating wallpapers, etc. This requires a Mac to capture Apple TV output using AirPlay and Apple’s QuickTime Player application.

Remember, you can’t control the Apple TV device using your mouse and keyboard. You will still need to use the Siri remote control. You also cannot play multimedia content while your Apple TV device is streaming to a Mac due to digital rights management. If you try, you will see the following refusal:

This video cannot be played

Learn more about protecting broadband digital content (HDCP) in a separate guide.

Check your connections

First, make sure your Apple TV and Mac device are on the same Wi-Fi network. On the Apple TV unit, use the Siri remote to navigate and open the “Settings” app. It is designated by a gear icon on a silver background.

Apple TV Settings app

Once inside, scroll to the “Network” option in the list and press the touchpad to open the submenu. Make sure you are connected to the same network name (SSID) as your Mac computer.

Apple TV network settings

Read our guide for more information on the configuration of your Apple TV device on the local network.

On the Mac side, click on the Wi-Fi or Ethernet symbol parked in the menu bar at the top of your screen. Make sure to see a check mark next to the same network name (SSID) as the one displayed on the Apple TV device.

MacOS Check network connection

Take your screenshots

First, locate the QuickTime Player application on your Mac. It is designated by a silver “Q” highlighted by a blue background in the letter. If it’s not pinned to the Dock, you can find it by clicking the Launchpad icon.

MacOS Launchpad Dock icon

On our test Mac, we found the stuffed application in the “Other” folder.

Using Launchpad to locate QuickTime

Once the QuickTime Player application is loaded, click on the “File” option in the menu bar, then select the “New movie recording” option in the drop-down menu.

Recording new QuickTime movies

A window appears on the screen broadcasting the live video from your connected camera. Hover your mouse over the screen until an overlay appears. Click the down arrow displayed next to the red record button, then select your Apple TV device from the drop-down menu.

In this example, we are using the Apple TV called “Living Room”.

QuickTime Select Apple TV Device

Go to the screen connected to your Apple TV device and save the four-digit random number. As shown below, you will also see the name of your Mac requesting access.

AirPlay Passcode Apple TV

Enter these numbers in the pop-up prompt on your Mac and click the “OK” button to continue.

Apple TV AirPlay Mac device code

That’s it. You should now see your Apple TV unit streaming to your Mac via QuickTime. As a visual check, you will see a red border describing the screen connected to your Apple TV device.

Remember, you can’t navigate your Apple TV device using your Mac’s keyboard and mouse (or trackpad). Instead, grab the Siri remote and position the photo using the QuickTime app as a frame.

To take a screenshot, press Shift + Cmd + 5 simultaneously. You will then see a toolbar with three options for capturing a screenshot and two for capturing video. Click the “Capture” button when you are ready to capture a screen. The image will be saved to your Mac, available for editing and sharing with others.

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