Apple TV: Sync or stream differences and set up (software version 1.x)

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

There are two ways to get iTunes content from your computer to Apple TV—syncing and streaming. This document explains the differences between syncing and streaming on Apple TV with software version 1.x.

What happens Copies content from your iTunes library and stores it on Apple TV for you to enjoy following the syncing process. Sends content from your iTunes library to Apple TV to enjoy during the streaming process. Content is not stored on Apple TV.
Available in iTunes Source list Apple TV will be available as a device in your iTunes Source list. After the "Connect to New iTunes" step, Apple TV will not be seen as a device in your iTunes Source list.
Computer status After content is synced to Apple TV your computer can be powered off. Your computer must remain on and awake(1) during the entire streaming(2) process and iTunes must be running.
Photos Photos can be synced and be used as Apple TV screen savers. Stream your favorite photos from iPhoto or Aperture.
Access to iTunes libraries Apple TV can sync with one iTunes library. (3) Apple TV can stream up to five iTunes libraries via streaming in addition to the one it syncs with.
Networks Can sync over 802.11b/g/n and Ethernet Wireless video streaming requires 802.11g/n

(1) Apple TV will stop streaming if the computer or portable computer it’s linked to enters standby, hibernation, or sleep modes.
(2) You may experience some intermittent delays from potential sources of interference.
(3) A library configured for syncing content can also be a source for streaming content. Whereas a library configured for streaming can only stream content and not sync content.

Apple TV is syncing with Bob's Mac and can also stream from Bob's Mac or Joe's PC or Jane's Mac

Sync or Stream to Apple TV

The setup for syncing or streaming always starts with Apple TV and finishes with iTunes.

  1. On Apple TV’s main menu select Sources.

      - to Stream: select Connect to New iTunes
      - to Sync: select Syncing

  2. Apple TV will generate a unique passcode for either function. Make a note of the passcode.

    Be sure to write down the passcodes from your TV screen.

  3. Go to iTunes, select Apple TV from the Devices list.

  4. Enter the passcode.

  5. iTunes will confirm if the passcode was accepted. From this screen, you are given the option to rename your Apple TV (the name will appear under Devices in iTunes). Click OK.

Turning off Syncing

At any time you can turn off syncing and switch to streaming only:

  1. From Apple TV’s main menu, select Sources.
  2. Select Syncing > Turn Off Syncing.
  3. Press Menu to go back to the Sources menu.
  4. Select Connect to New iTunes, and a new passcode will be generated. Make a note of the passcode.
  5. Go back to iTunes select Apple TV from the devices list.
  6. Enter the new passcode. iTunes will confirm the passcode is accepted.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Go back to Apple TV and select Sources from the main menu.
  9. Select your iTunes Library to browse the content.

Published Date: Feb 18, 2012