Is it possible to set up a VPN on Apple TV? The short answer is “no”. Apple doesn’t allow for VPN configurations on the Apple TV. However, if you’re wanting to stream content from Netflix, Disney+, Hulu or any other geo-restricted service, there is another option: Smart DNS. Here’s a quick setup tutorial for your Apple TV.
I’m going to walk you through a simple 3-step process to configure your Apple TV to stream geoblocked content. You have the option of either watching my brief video tutorial below or scrolling down to browse the screenshots.
The important thing to remember is that you need a VPN service that offers both VPN and Smart DNS products. Are you not clear about the difference between the two? Check out my guide to SmartDNS here.
*Note: Some of the links found is this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to use one of these services. I don’t recommend anything I don’t personally use, however, and I work with each provider to offer exclusive discounts for you, such as 3 months of free service with ExpressVPN.
Video Tutorial | VPN for Apple TV
Take a moment to watch the walk-through video below, or scroll down to read the full tutorial.
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As you can see in the video above, it’s not a terribly complicated process, but it’s also not intuitive.
For this reason, I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on how to set up your Apple TV with Smart DNS (which, again, is what’s actually happening when you’re trying to set up a VPN for Apple TV).
Note: Another possible way to use Apple TV with a VPN is by installing a VPN on your internet router. This is an entirely different process that I won’t cover here.
How to Setup a VPN on Apple TV | 3 Steps
Time needed: 20 minutes.
Below are the three steps required to setup a Virtual Private Network on an Apple TV. I’m using ExpressVPN in this example, but it can be done using any VPN that offers SmartDNS.
- Create a DDNS Hostname (IMPORTANT)
Although somewhat confusing, this first step is to create a DDNS Hostname. This is critical to setting up a VPN on Apple TV. Let me explain.
In order for a VPN provider like ExpressVPN to offer you SmartDNS services, they need to be able to verify that the Apple TV you’re using is actually yours. Otherwise, anybody who had the right DNS address could just jump on with ExpressVPN and use it for free.
The problem is that every time you connect your Apple TV to the internet, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns you a new IP address. This is called your dynamic IP address.
Since neither you nor ExpressVPN can predict exactly what this dynamic IP address will be, you need to create a DDNS or “Dynamic DNS” hostname. This turns your dynamic IP address into something more static.
You can sign up for a free DDNS on a website like Noip.com. It doesn’t matter what hostname you choose, just as long as you can remember it.
- Update VPN/SmartDNS with DDNS Hostname
Now that you have a DDNS Hostname, you need to update your VPN service settings so that they know to associate that hostname with your account. For ExpressVPN that looks like this:
Within the DNS Settings of your online account, there’s a section called the “Dynamic DNS registration”. This is where you’ll put the hostname from NoIP or any other DDNS provider that you just created.
Now that ExpressVPN knows your address, we can move to setting up a VPN on Apple TV (which, in reality, is SmartDNS).
- Update DNS Settings on Apple TV
The final step you need to take is to copy the DNS address from your VPN/SmartDNS and manually set this within the settings of your Apple TV.
In this example, ExpressVPN provides the DNS address under the Apple TV setup menu.
Navigating Apple TV DNS Settings
The following is a quick visual explanation of what you need to do within the settings of Apple TV to change the DNS settings.
Turn on your Apple TV: Once there, open the “Settings” app.
Click on “Network”
Once you’ve found your wireless or ethernet connection, click on that and find “Configure DNS”.
Click the button that says “Manual”.
At this point you’ll get a screen that prompts you to enter a 12-digit number. This is where you’ll input the number your VPN/SmartDNS gave you.
You’re almost done! After you’ve confirmed the DNS address, you’ll want to restart your Apple TV to make sure the changes take effect. To do this, go back to the initial settings app screen and find “System”.
Click on “Restart” and give your Apple TV a few minutes to restart.
At this point your Apple TV should be configured through a Smart DNS server that will allow you to access geo-restricted content so you can watch Disney+ anywhere in the world or stream Netflix in China.
Frequently Asked Questions: Apple TV & VPNs
The following are common questions I get about installing a VPN on Apple TV. Some of this information has already been covered above, but is included here for the sake of brevity.
While Apple does not support the installation of VPN software directly, it is still possible to install the VPN on your wireless router or to take advantage of SmartDNS to manually change your DNS on an Apple TV, effectively giving you access to geoblocked content.
While most any VPN can be installed on a WiFi router, the best VPNs for Apple TV offer a feature known as SmartDNS. Unfortunately, not many VPNs do this. Those that do include ExpressVPN, StrongVPN, 12VPN and others.
No, you can’t. It is possible to install NordVPN on your WiFi router, but since NordVPN doesn’t offer SmartDNS features like ExpressVPN or StrongVPN, there is no way to change the DNS settings on your Apple TV to access geo-restricted content.
If you want to use your Apple TV while you travel internationally, you’ll need to make sure that you not only have access to WiFi, but that you also have SmartDNS configured on the Apple TV since many services such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu restrict their content internationally.
Final Thoughts | Setup VPN on Apple TV
It may look complicated, but I promise you it isn’t. Setting up a VPN on Apple TV, or rather Smart DNS on Apple TV, requires a bit of initial set up with a DDNS address.
After that, though, everything is basically “set it and forget it.”
Once you do that, it will be possible to watch The Big Bang Theory on Netflix, sports, and plenty of other great, geo-restricted content on your Apple TV.
As I said above, I used ExpressVPN for this example just to make things easy (click here to get 3 months of free ExpressVPN service!). There are many other VPN services that will work on an Apple TV. Just make sure that they also offer Smart DNS services.
If you have any questions about setting up a VPN on Apple TV, please leave a comment below. Enjoy!