New to Apple TV Plus? Here are 9 of its coolest hidden features

How to get a free trial, download episodes, turn on subtitles and dark mode and more on Apple TV Plus.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
4 min read
Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus -- Apple's $5-a-month streaming service -- houses a number of popular, exclusive shows like Ted Lasso, Dickinson and Schmigadoon. The tech giant launched Apple TV Plus in 2019, aiming to compete with NetflixDisney PlusHBO Max and others.

Here are a few hacks to make sure you get the most out of the service.

Get an Apple TV Plus free trial

Normally Apple TV Plus costs $5 a month or $50 for an annual subscription. You can still get a free trial of the service, but Apple changed up the time periods in June. Now, if you're planning to try Apple TV Plus out with the free trial, there are three options.

If you're signing up for the first time, you qualify for a seven-day free trial before the $5 monthly charge kicks in. If you buy a new (or new-to-you) iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod Touch or Mac, you'll qualify for a three-month free subscription. To get the free trial period, you have to redeem the offer within 90 days of purchase. 

Lastly, if you can, take advantage of the Apple One bundle -- which lets users combine different services like Apple MusicApple Arcade, Apple News Plus, storage service iCloud and the new Apple Fitness Plus for one price. By subscribing to Apple One, you can try Apple TV Plus free for one month. 


Ted Lasso, a fish-out-of-water sports dramedy, has been one of Apple TV Plus' most popular shows. 


The Apple TV app has a dark mode option, too

Dark mode gained serious momentum over the last year and it seemed like every app was adding the option. The Apple TV app is no different. You can put the app into Dark Mode or choose Automatic, which makes Dark Mode activate at night only. To set it up on your Apple TV or another device, choose Settings > General > Appearance > choose Dark or Automatic

Reduce Loud Sounds in your Apple TV Plus volume settings

Yes, we know about volume controls, but the Apple TV app's Reduce Loud Sounds option does only that -- reduces loud sounds. This way, if you've bravely chosen to watch a horror movie alone or a war film with dozens of thunderous explosions, you won't be constantly raising and lowering the volume. On your Apple TV, choose Settings > Video and Audio > Reduce Loud Sounds


Hailee Steinfeld stars as Emily Dickinson in her new Apple TV Plus show, Dickinson. 


Download Apple TV Plus movies and episodes of your favorite shows to watch offline

When you know you're going to be away from Wi-Fi, you can download shows and movies in the Apple TV app to watch offline later. You can do this on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac. Simply open the app and select the movie or show you want to download. Tap the cloud-shaped download button. The icon will appear next to each individual episode of a show and will be next to a movie's title. When the download completes, you can find the content in the Library section of the app. 

When you're finished with the content, go back into the Library section of the app and tap Edit. You can select which titles you want to get rid of and then tap Delete Download. 

Go behind the scenes with iTunes Extras

ITunes Extras is a feature that lets you go behind the scenes of your favorite movie. Certain titles will have "extras" like trailers, gag reels, deleted scenes, alternate endings and more. To find out if a film you want to watch in the Apple TV app has iTunes Extras, open the Movies app and select a title. Scroll down past Viewers Also Watched. If the title has iTunes Extras, it'll be in a preview section next to the trailers. 

Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry

Billie Eilish's documentary is available on Apple TV Plus.

Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus sleep mode lets you doze while you stream

If you like to doze off with the TV as background noise, you can customize Apple TV to "go to sleep" when you're ready. On your Apple TV, go to Settings > General > Sleep After to set a time frame for the app to turn itself off. 

Turn on subtitles in Apple TV Plus

Subtitles virtually eliminate the risk that you might miss an important plot point, even if you're not watching a foreign movie or you're not hard of hearing. To get subtitles on Apple TV, you can swipe downward while watching a show or movie and turn them on. If you're not a fan of keeping subtitles on throughout a movie, you can also ask Siri "What did he just say?" if you can't understand a character. The title will rewind to where the last person spoke and turn on subtitles temporarily. 


Reese Witherspoon (above), Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell star in The Morning Show.

Apple/Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman

Follow your favorite shows so you don't miss new episodes

Although I'm perpetually adding movies and shows to my watchlists that I'll probably never watch, I like being able to know when a new season of a show is out. The Apple TV app can track shows you watch automatically under the Up Next section in Watch Now. It pulls the shows from across multiple streaming services, except for Netflix. For example, mine shows several titles I was watching on Hulu. 

When new episodes become available, they'll jump to the front of the queue. Along the same lines, if you're not sure what to start watching, you can ask Siri "What should I watch?" for some suggestions. You can also ask to see popular movies or what shows are trending. 

Restrict adult content from the kids

You probably don't want your kids watching everything you do on Apple TV, so the app has a way to make sure there's no content overlap. You can assign a PIN code to movies or shows with a specific rating so your kids can't access them. It only applies to iTunes content though, so that means shows and movies you've bought or rented through Apple. On the Apple TV, you can set a PIN code by going to Settings > General > Restrictions. Set the code and then you can decide what counts as Allowed Content.