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How to install and use ExpressVPN for Apple TV

Discover how to install and use ExpressVPN for Apple TV for improved privacy, security and unrestricted streaming. Get step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting guidance.

ExpressVPN on Apple TV overview

Installing ExpressVPN on Apple TV is possible – if you know how.

The Apple TV is a premium streaming device released by one of the biggest technology companies in the world and designed with the same sleek user experience of any Apple device – from the iPhone to the Macbook.

But if you’re looking for a more secure streaming experience, you’ll want a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data. Using a VPN will help keep your online activities and Internet Protocol (IP) address hidden from hackers, trackers and even your internet service provider (ISP).

But how? The best VPNs protect your data when accessing online services, allowing you to divert your internet traffic through a VPN server and hide it from prying eyes. And it makes sense to enlist a VPN provider like ExpressVPN for any internet-connected gadget you’re using, whether it’s your smartphone, laptop, wifi router or streaming stick, for continued safety and privacy across your entire suite of devices.

Anyone searching the App Store on their Apple TV will notice that there aren’t any VPN apps available at first glance – unlike on the Fire TV Stick or mobile and desktop devices – making things a little harder to set up. But there’s still a way to get all the benefits of ExpressVPN on your Apple TV, which we’ll go over below.

Why use ExpressVPN with Apple TV?

ExpressVPN is a great choice for anyone looking for their first VPN. It’s a user-friendly service with an easy interface, slick design and fast speeds compared to older, more sluggish VPN options.

The primary benefit of a VPN is as a security measure. ExpressVPN uses the market-leading 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard, which uses a multi-stage encryption process to ensure your data isn’t visible to your ISP or cybercriminals looking to hack your information. It’s the same security measure used by the US federal government, so you can be sure your data is safe and that any surveillance by oppressive governments, for instance, is severely hindered.

VPNs use “tunnelling” to effectively tunnel their way through the internet, with your device on one side and the VPN server on the other. All your data is inside this tunnel, including your IP address and browser activities, ensuring no one can snoop in. You may also want to use ExpressVPN – one of the best VPNs for Mac – for your desktop and mobile devices.

But aside from privacy and security, there’s also the added benefit of bypassing region restrictions when accessing online services and content libraries. ExpressVPN runs thousands of servers across 94 countries worldwide, and connecting to any of them is possible.

There may be a slight time delay when tunnelling to a server in another hemisphere, but you can use the internet as if you’re physically present in that location. It’s highly useful when travelling, enabling you to access company intranets from abroad or watch your favourite YouTube channel regardless of where you are.

How to install ExpressVPN on Apple TV

There are two primary ways to install ExpressVPN on Apple TV. Usually, you would try to download ExpressVPN directly, but you won’t find it – or any other VPN providers – on Apple’s tvOS platform. Thankfully, there are some workarounds.

The best method is to use a VPN-compatible router, which connects to ExpressVPN and ensures any devices using the router’s internet are connected to the VPN too. 

1. Set up ExpressVPN on your router

First, you’ll need a router that can run ExpressVPN. Many bog-standard internet routers aren’t capable of running a VPN, however, so you may need a specialist router like ExpressVPN’s Aircove, which we tried out when writing this guide, and can be connected to your existing router to funnel wifi through your VPN (You can see a list of other compatible routers on the ExpressVPN website).

expressvpn router

Once you have your router, plug it into your existing router’s local area network port or an ethernet wall outlet using an ethernet cable. If you’re using the Aircove, use your smartphone to scan the QR code on the underside of the router and connect to the Aircove’s wifi signal, or otherwise follow the setup instructions that came with your model. You may need the activation code given to you when you first subscribed to ExpressVPN in order to connect the router to your subscription.

Then head to expressvpnrouter.com on your smartphone to check out the dashboard for your router, where you can connect/disconnect from your VPN and manage any connected devices.

expressvpn media stream on android phone

Once your VPN-enabled router is ready, you can connect any other devices to its specific wifi signal. On your Apple TV, head to “Settings” and find the “Network” menu, connecting to the same signal. That’s it!

appletv set up

2. Use MediaStreamer to access global content libraries

If you don’t want the trouble or cost of a separate router, there is one other thing you can do.

One of ExpressVPN’s key features is MediaStreamer, a Domain Name System (DNS) service. While it doesn’t offer the full security or privacy benefits of a VPN, it allows you to bypass region restrictions when accessing content through YouTube or other streaming services.

MediaStreamer ExpressVPN
Geo-locked content
IP address hidden
Encryption
Extra security features

MediaStreamer is also a lot easier to set up. First, head to expressvpn.com/dns_settings and register your home IP address, making sure to toggle the “Automatically register my IP address” option.

dns settings for appl;etv

Next, head to expressvpn.com/setup#apple-tv. You’ll see a 12-digit number on the right-hand side of the screen, which contains the IP address for your DNS service.

expreessvpn apple tv settings

Head to your Apple TV’s settings, open the “Network” menu and select your wifi connection. Press the wifi signal again to see more information, then scroll down to “Configure DNS” and select “Manual”, inputting the 12-digit number you just looked at. Finally, restart your Apple TV (“Settings” > “System” > “Restart”) and enjoy.

dns address apple tv

Setting up ExpressVPN on Apple TV

So, what next? If you went through the router option, expressvpnrouter.com is the place to finish configuring your setup. A prominent “Connect / Disconnect” button lets you turn the VPN on and off, with a server location listed above it. If you want to change your server location to a specific country, select the three dots on the right of the listed location and choose from the given list. 

Generally, a server close to your location makes for better speeds, but connecting to a server in another region can unlock different content libraries than you’d usually be able to access.

If you swipe to the right in the dashboard, you’ll see grouping options, which lets you group devices into different categories. Each group can have distinct settings enabled, including blocking trackers, ads or malicious sites; you can also make a group that blocks adult sites or the internet entirely at certain periods of time, making it ideal for parental controls on devices used by children in the home. It’s also possible to make a group of devices connected to the internet without a VPN.

In the top-left part of the dashboard, the hamburger (three rows of lines) icon takes to more specific settings, including VPN protocols. A protocol is just a set of instructions used to create an encrypted connection, each with its upsides and downsides regarding speed, security and reliability. In general, you can let ExpressVPN pick the most appropriate one automatically, though it’s worth playing around if you find your internet a little slower than you’d like.

Benefits of using ExpressVPN on Apple TV

It might not be immediately obvious why a VPN is needed on a streaming device compared to a laptop or phone. But you’re still accessing online services, entering private log-in and payment information, possibly using browser applications and leaving an online footprint that otherwise doesn’t stay hidden. 

If you’re also keen to access some content libraries from other regions, a VPN can be a big boon. It’s very helpful if you’re a regular traveller and want to access your usual services wherever you are, making it one of the best VPNs for iPhone and other portable devices.

We should mention ISP throttling – this is something your ISP may do to reduce congestion on a busy server, limiting the bandwidth you can use for data-heavy activities, such as video streaming. Over the past few years, Netflix has accounted for around 10-15 per cent of all web traffic downloads worldwide; with YouTube in a similar ballpark, it makes sense for ISPs to clamp down on the most data-hungry services. But a VPN can encrypt your information, so your ISP can’t tell that you’re streaming, meaning you can bypass these bandwidth restrictions.

Troubleshooting ExpressVPN on Apple TV

If your connection is unstable or internet speeds have noticeably dropped, consider switching to a different VPN server. Generally, the closer your actual location to a server, the faster the connection should be. Still, the encryption process means some slight delay is inevitable, and sometimes a specific server is unusually busy.

If you can no longer access a specific app or service through your VPN, it may be unavailable in the region where your VPN server is located, or the service has detected the VPN and refused to play nicely. In either case, you may disconnect the VPN or use ExpressVPN’s Split Tunnelling feature, which can separate devices into VPN and non-VPN groups.

If in doubt, it’s always best to contact ExpressVPN customer support for more assistance.

In summary

ExpressVPN is a great choice for securing your Apple TV streaming device, even if the VPN provider’s app can’t be directly downloaded from the App Store. Whether you’d use a VPN-capable router or rather make do with ExpressVPN’s SmartDNS feature for bypassing region restrictions on streaming services, there are various ways to get the support, security, privacy or server-hopping benefits of a VPN on your Apple device. For more information, be sure to check out our full ExpressVPN review.

Installing ExpressVPN on Apple TV FAQs

Apple TV’s tvOS platform doesn’t support VPN applications directly, meaning you can’t simply download a VPN from the App Store (as you would on your iPhone or Macbook). However, you can set up ExpressVPN on a compatible router and connect it to your Apple TV.

A VPN is a great way to side-step region-based restrictions on content libraries. Connecting to a VPN server in another part of the world makes it possible to access different content that usually wouldn’t be available to you.

While a VPN generally provides more online freedom, there are restrictions to consider. You’re still limited to whatever services and apps are supported on the Apple TV in the region where your chosen VPN server is located, so be sure to check the services you need are available.

You can’t set up ExpressVPN directly on Apple TV, but you can get all the benefits by setting it up on the router that enables your Apple TV’s internet connection.

The ExpressVPN app isn’t available on any versions of Apple TV, though every generation of the Apple streaming hardware can connect to an ExpressVPN-enabled router.

Yes! There are plenty of great VPNs, such as NordVPN or Surfshark – head to our best VPN guide to learn more.

Yes. ExpressVPN can run simultaneously on up to eight devices – though it’s capped at five for anyone with a month-by-month subscription. Remember, though, that if you set up ExpressVPN on a router, it only counts as one device, even if you connect every device in your home.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.77 /Month
£6.77 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.27 /Month
£4.27 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.53 /Month
£4.53 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month
henry st leger

Henry St Leger

Consumer Tech and Software

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former news and features Editor at TechRadar, where he specialised in consumer technology, software, and home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, soundbars, and smart speakers.

He has been writing about technology and related topics for over six years. His work for the Independent Advisor focuses on cyber security and internet-connected software including VPNs.

Henry has written for a wide number of prominent websites including NBC News, Healthline, The Times, Edge, T3, iMore, and GamesRadar.