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How to pair, control your Apple TV with a Bluetooth keyboard

A recent update to the Apple TV line brought with it the ability to pair a Bluetooth keyboard to the streaming device. Take a look at how to pair and use the keyboard.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

With the release of iOS 6.1 for iOS devices, the Apple TV line quietly received an update as well. The update adds iCloud support for purchased music, Up Next support (although this was already present on an Apple TV), and the ability to pair a Bluetooth keyboard to your Apple TV. By pairing a keyboard you can control playback, navigate, and enter search queries all from the comfort of a physical keyboard.

  1. To pair a keyboard, make sure you've updated your Apple TV to the latest OS. You can update it by going into Settings > General > Update Software.
  2. Once you've updated, you'll need to go back into Settings > General and then select the new Bluetooth item, right under Remotes. After selecting Bluetooth your Apple TV will immediately start scanning for Bluetooth devices; be sure to have the keyboard powered on and in pairing mode.
  3. Select your keyboard from the list of discovered devices and follow the on screen prompts.

Now that you've paired a keyboard, you can begin using it to navigate and control your Apple TV. Here's a basic rundown of which keys do what:


  • The arrow keys will move the blue selection box around the screen.
  • The Return key is the equivalent of the select key on the default Apple TV remote. You can press it once to select an item, or hold it in to bring up more options.
  • The Escape key is your back, or Menu button. You use Esc to back out of screens with each key press, or hold it in to back out to the main screen.

During video playback:

  • Press the space bar to pause playback. Press it again to resume.
  • Left and right arrow keys will fast-forward or rewind the video.
  • Press the up arrow twice to bring up item description.
  • Press and hold Return for subtitles and AirPlay speaker options.

During music playback:

  • Press the space bar to pause playback. Press it again to resume. The same goes for the Return key.
  • Left and right arrow keys will restart or start playing the next song.
  • Press and hold Return will bring up the music menu. Allowing you to control Up Next, browse more music from the artist or album or even launch Genius.

I think I've found all the keyboard commands, but could have missed a few. If you find one, mention it below in the comments and I'll update the list.

I have been using a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover and it's working just fine, although it's a bit on the large side to just leave sitting on my lap. Hopefully the new feature will launch a new line of smaller Bluetooth keyboards designed specifically to work with the Apple TV. I'm intrigued to see how Apple is going to use this in the future, as well. I've got my fingers crossed that a Spotlight-like search feature is first on the list.