Take a Screenshot From Apple TV

Grabbing screenshots is a great way to visually instruct someone on how to use their Apple TV. But there’s no real on-device tool for capturing 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’re not accessible to you. Called “stackshots,” these are used by Apple Support for diagnostic purposes. You can capture these shots by pressing the Volume Down and Play buttons simultaneously on the Siri Remote.

In this guide, however, you’re not capturing screenshots directly onto your Apple TV device for diagnostics. Instead, you want screen captures for instructional purposes, wallpaper creation, and more. This requires a Mac to capture the Apple TV output using AirPlay and Apple’s QuickTime Player app.

Keep in mind that you can’t control the Apple TV device using your mouse and keyboard. You’ll still need to use the Siri Remote. You also can’t play media while streaming your Apple TV device to a Mac due to digital rights management. If you try, you’ll see the following denial:

This Video Cant Be Played warning

You can read more about High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) in a separate guide.

Verify Your Connections

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

Apple TV Settings App

Once inside, scroll down to the “Network” option on the list and press the trackpad to open the submenu. Verify you’re connected to the same network name (SSID) as your Mac computer.

Apple TV Network Settings

Read our guide for additional information about setting up your Apple TV device on the local network.

On the Mac end, click on the Wi-Fi or Ethernet symbol parked on the menu bar at the top of your screen. Make sure you see a checkmark next to the same network name (SSID) shown on the Apple TV device.

MacOS Check Network Connection

Take Your Screenshots

First, locate the QuickTime Player app on your Mac. It’s designated as a silver “Q” highlighted by a blue background within 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 app stuffed in the “Other” folder.

Using Launchpad to locate QuickTime

Once the QuickTime Player app loads, click the “File” option on the menu bar and then select the “New Movie Recording” option on the drop-down menu.

QuickTime New Movie Recording

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

In this example, we’re using the Apple TV labeled “Living Room.”

QuickTime Select Apple TV Device

Move to the screen connected to your Apple TV device and record the random four-digit number. As shown below, you’ll also see the name of your Mac requesting access.

AirPlay Passcode Apple TV

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

Apple TV AirPlay Device Code Mac

That’s it. You should now see your Apple TV unit streaming to your Mac via QuickTime. As a visual verification, you’ll see a red border outlining 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 shot using the QuickTime app as a frame.

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

Kevin Parrish Kevin Parrish
Kevin Parrish has been writing online since the mid-1990s. For a decade, he wrote reviews, previews, news, and more covering PC and console gaming. In 2008, he began covering hardware and devices after Tom's Hardware closed its dedicated gaming website. He's published news, reviews, how-to guides, and op-ed pieces on websites like Digital Trends, Android Authority, Tom's Hardware, Tom's Guide, and Maximum PC.
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