We hope you’re feeling a little creative today. If you’re hoping to setup a VPN on Apple TV, you’re going to have to be. While the Apple TV is a great streaming device, it’s not the most user-friendly for anyone who wants to install new apps. And yes, that includes popular VPN apps as well. Thankfully, there are a few creative ways to get around this limitation. We’ll cover the two best ways to setup a VP on Apple TV with a quick reason explaining why we like each option.
Related: How to Install Kodi on Apple TV
Before We Proceed
With a bit of finagling, you can get popular apps like Kodi working on your Apple TV. However, some Kodi users have received copyright notifications will streaming TV and Movie shows. This does not happen often, but it is something ISPs in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia are now doing. To avoid this situation, many users are now turning to virtual private networks (VPNs).
Our recommended VPN service is IPVanish. Through testing different VPN programs, we’ve found that IPVanish provides an excellent user experience, especially for those seeking anonymity and privacy while streaming. IPVanish also maintains hundreds of servers across the globe, making it much easier to find a fast connection.
How to Setup a VPN on Apple TV
- Install a VPN on a router
- Install a VPN on your Windows computer and use it as a wifi hotspot
We’ll provide you detailed walkthroughs on how each of these, with an explanation for why we prefer these options.
Setup a VPN on Apple TV: Router Method
Let’s talk about the router method. There’s a good chance that you may or may not have a router that will work with this method. However, we prefer this method because it will cover all of your Internet-connected devices that use that wifi router, or connect to that router through Ethernet. That includes your Apple TV. It’s a good, efficient workaround to the fact that you can’t install a VPN on your Apple TV. That said, this is the more time-consuming method, so if you’re into something a bit easier, skip down to the second option instead.
For illustration purposes, we’ll be providing this explanation using the VPN service IPVanish. Do note, however, that this may not work with every VPN service.
Step 1: Check Your Router’s Operating System and Install Your VPN
IPVanish and most other VPN software that work on routers require that your router is running using specific router operating systems (known as firmware, in this case). There are two that work here: DD-WRT or Tomato. IPVanish can work with both of these router systems. However, DD-WRT has been updated more recently, while Tomato has not had a new software release since 2010. For that reason, we’ll focus on DD-WRT.
- You will also want to install your VPN before starting, as you’ll be putting the VPN software onto the router rather quickly.
The chances are good that you don’t have DD-WRT installed on your current router. However, there’s a good chance it will work with the router you have.
Check DD-WRT’s list of compatible routers.
Did you find your router? Click on “Install Guide” next to your router. DD-WRT provides a very detailed guide on how to install its software for all supported devices.
Step 2: Install IPVanish on Your Router
Now that DD-WRT is installed on your router, it’s ready to receive IPVanish. Now, do the following:
- Go to the IPVanish download page. At the bottom, select either OpenVPN or PPTP. OpenVPN is probably your best option, as it provides a better level of security. If you do want PPTP, however, click here for a detailed guide
- Go to your router’s administration page (now run through DD-WRT) by typing in your router’s default IP address. Most are either 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1, although some might be 10.10.0.1 or 10.0.1.1. If you’re unsure, click here to check router IP addresses by device brand
- Click on Services and enter in your information. This should be the same as it was before you installed DD-WRT
- While in Services, click Enable next to System Log. Then, click on Save. This will allow you to save the log information for any changes, which helps IPVanish customer service assist you should something go wrong.
- Scroll back to the top of the page and select the sub-tab labeled VPN. There, click OpenVPN Client and select Enable
- You will now see more options. Next, select Server IP/Name and put in the IPVanish host you wish to connect to. In the image, you’ll see that the hostname In the example, hostname ‘lax-a01.ipvanish.com’ was entered. To find IPVanish server host names, click here. Use the city abbreviation as well as the number and put “ipvanish.com” at the end. Example: dal-a01.ipvanish.com for a Dallas-located hostname. Important: this will only work if you have an account already setup with IPVanish
- Where you see Port, enter 443.
- Where you see Tunnel Protocol, select the drop-down and choose TCP
- Where you see Tunnel Device, select the drop-down, and choose TUN
- Where you see Encryption Cipher, select the drop-down and choose AES-256-CBC
- Where you see Hash Algorithm, select the drop-down, and choose SHA256
- Where you see nsCertType Verification, leave this alone!
- Where you see Advanced Options, select Enable
- Under Advanced Options submit each of the following exactly as written here:
- Use LZO Compression: Click the button labeled Enable
- NAT – tick the radio button labeled Enable
- Local IP Address: leave this alone
- TUN MTU Setting: leave this configured at 1500
- MSS-Fix/Fragment across the tunnel: – leave this alone
- TLS Cipher: click the drop-down, and select AES-256-SHA
- TLS Auth Key: leave this alone.
- Where you see Additional Config, enter the following. Also, where you see IPVanish Hostname, replace the phrase with the server hostname you chose above:
persist-remote-ip keysize 256 tls-remote [IPVanish hostname**] auth-user-pass /tmp/auth.conf script-security 3 system
- Where you see CA Cert, click here, copy that full text, and paste it into the empty box
- Make sure to review everything above before hitting save. If it looks correct, click Save. Then, go back to the top and select Security
- In the Security section, find where it says Log Management. Select Enable and High from the drop-down. Click Save. This is another logging step in case you run into issues
- The page will refresh after the previous action. Now, select Administration. There, select Commands, and under Commands find the empty box labeled Command Shell. Enter the following information with your IPVanish user information within the quotation marks (don’t delete the quotes):
#!/bin/sh touch /tmp/auth.conf echo "[YOUR USER NAME*]" > /tmp/auth.conf echo "[YOUR PASSWORD**]" >> /tmp/auth.conf
- After you’ve entered the above information, select Save Startup. The information you just entered will now show up inside a new box called Startup
- Now, click on the Management tab. At the bottom of that page, select Reboot Router. Wait a few minutes after your router has restarted, then go to https://www.whatismyip.com or https://www.speedtest.net. Either of these sites should now display an IP address and location consistent with the remote VPN server
Was all of that too complicated for you? IPVanish partners with FlashRouters to sell their routers that come preloaded with the IPVanish settings. This will allow you to skip all of the setups above, although you’ll have to wait until the router comes in the mail. Nevertheless, if your router is getting old, or doesn’t work with DD-WRT, it may be a good option to consider when you’re ready to upgrade to a new router.
Why We Like This Option
We like this option because it covers all of your devices, even those that do not normally work with a VPN service. That includes devices like Roku, iPhone, iPad, Chromecast, and other devices where good VPN apps either don’t exist or are hard to come by. We don’t like how lengthy the process is, however, which is why we only recommend this to those who are trying to connect multiple devices, including their Apple TV, to a VPN service.
Setup a VPN on Apple TV: Wifi Hotspot Method
This is the easiest method to use, especially if you have a Windows 7+ computer or a newer Mac. This will turn your computer into a wifi hotspot similar mobile phone tethering.
Important: This method works best when you’re connected through Ethernet.
To get started, you’ll need to do the following:
- Download and install the IPVanish software
- Create your IPVanish account
- Connect your computer to the internet via an Ethernet cable
With those taken care of, the process is now simple, but we’ll break it up based on Mac and Windows users. For Windows, we’ll explore this option via Windows 10.
Wifi Hotspot for Windows Users
To setup a wifi hotspot on your Windows computer, do the following:
- Hit the Windows button and Q at the same time to open the search box
- Type in Hotspot and select Change mobile hotspot settings
- Under Share my Internet connection from select Wi-Fi or Ethernet (Ethernet is best)
- Under Share my Internet connection with others select the bar to turn it On
Your wifi hotspot is now ready to use! Simply connect your Apple TV to your hotspot.
Wifi Hotspot for Mac Users
To setup your wifi hotspot on your Mac, do the following:
- Go to your System Preference
- Under Internet and Wireless, click on Sharing
- Where it says Share your connection from, select Ethernet
- Where it says To computers using, select AirPort
- Click on Airport options, and adjust any of your settings as you see fit (such as password and network name)
- Exit the Airport Options screen, and then on the left, select Internet Sharing and then Start
Your wifi hotspot is now ready! Now, simply connect your Apple TV to your hotspot connection.
Why We Like This Option
It should be pretty easy to understand why we like this option. It’s easy, quick, and for the all intents and purposes, painless. However, it does require you to connect your computer to an Ethernet connection, which may or may not cause some limitations for you. Additionally, this may not be possible on a desktop. Laptops running Windows 7+ MacBooks have wireless capabilities that your average desktop may not have built in.
Still, this option is preferable as it allows your computer to act as a wireless router. That way, the VPN connection your computer is using gets shared to the connected devices. We like the router option better than this one as it allows for more mobility for your computer, but this option is just as good if you have a long Ethernet cord available or if you have a spare computer that you can simply use as a dedicated hotspot machine.
Why Can’t I Directly Install a VPN on Apple TV?
Unfortunately, Apple’s TVOS is not quite friendly to anyone that wants to install new software on the device. While it does have a limited ability to install new streaming apps, you’ll have to get creative just to install something like Kodi onto the device. That said, you should find success with the options we listed above. Until Apple decides to make their TVOS more open to a wider range of applications, you’re going to be stuck coming up with creative alternatives.
Sam Cook is a full-time content strategist by day, a part-time freelance content writer since 2015. In another life, he was a high school English teacher for nearly a decade. Based in sunny New Orleans, he writes long-form educational content on technology, including Insurtech, Fintech, HRtech, and content streaming. He loves whittling down complex ideas within these areas that make decisions easier for buyers. When he’s not reading books with his son Miles and playing video games with the family, you can find him immersed in his growing collection of Euro-style board games.