There are several instances when 2 screens are better than 1.
You may want to follow a workout video while watching Netflix.
Or even compare 2 gameplays at the same time.
The split screen function on your Apple TV is handy in these moments.
So, let’s start setting it up.
Continue reading to find out:
- 5 easy steps to use split screen on your Apple TV.
- 3 reasons this feature doesn’t work and how you can fix them.
- How you can optimize the Picture in Picture function of your Apple TV.
- And this is just the beginning…
How to use split screen on Apple TV? 5 steps
Before we proceed to the specific steps for this process…
You should know that Apple TVs don’t have a split-screen feature.
Instead, they have something called Picture in Picture (PIP) viewing.
And it’s the closest way to enable a split screen setup on your Apple TV.
However, these 2 are slightly different.
A split screen displays 2 or more equally-sized media sources on your TV.
On the other hand…
PIP viewing lets you enjoy 1 media source on full screen. And 1 small viewer from other apps in the corner of your TV.
Note: I’ll use split screen and PIP viewing interchangeably for this guide. They’re different. But they both serve the same purpose of letting you enjoy 2 forms of media at once.
#1: Pick an app to stream on a smaller display
As mentioned earlier, for this setup…
1 of your media sources will occupy the whole screen. And the other 1 will only cover a small corner of your TV display.
So now, simply launch the application you wish to watch on a small viewer.
Note: PIP isn’t available on all apps. Check the developer’s page of your application to see if it supports the feature. If you want a quick workaround for this limitation, check the 3rd fix in the next section.
#2: Play a video in the app
This step is necessary to make the Picture in Picture viewing option appear.
With that, simply play any movie, show, or episode on your application so you can…
#3: Select the Picture in Picture option
Step 1: Show the playback controls on your Apple TV
1st gen Siri remote:
Gently place and rest your finger on the touch surface of your controller.
Tap the clickpad ring, then rest 1 finger on the middle of it.
And when the playback controls appear on your screen…
Step 2: Choose the PIP button
Note: Its icon looks like 2 rectangles stacked on top of each other.
At this point, the app you launched earlier will turn into a small viewer in the lower-right corner of your TV.
So, you can proceed to…
#4: Choose the media you want to play fullscreen
Head to the home screen of your Apple TV.
Then, select any app you wish to play on fullscreen.
Once you do…
You’ll have 2 different media sources playing simultaneously.
So, technically, by now…
You’ve already finished setting up your TV’s PIP.
However, if you want a better streaming experience, I highly recommend that you…
#5: Customize your Apple TV’s Picture in Picture set up
You may move the small viewer playing on the lower-right of your TV to a different corner.
Here’s how you do it:
- Press the TV button on your remote.
- 3 buttons will appear below the small viewer.
- Hover and select the icon on the very right.
- Tap your remote’s clickpad once to move the viewer to another corner.
- Continue clicking until it’s in the place you like.
“Will I be able to hear audio from both apps simultaneously?”
No, you won’t.
By default, this PIP setup prioritizes the sounds from the bigger display on your screen. Thus, it’ll mute the app you set in the small viewer.
But, if you ever want to hear the audio of the tinier display temporarily…
Simply click the TV button on your Apple TV remote. And the small viewer’s sounds will play.
“Can I swap the apps’ sizes?”
Yes, you can. Just follow these 2 steps to do so:
- Show the playback controls on your screen (refer to step 3 above).
- Tap the Swap button. It’ll look like 2 rectangles with arrows pointing to each other.
Note: Flipping the apps will only work if the application on the bigger screen also supports PIP.
You may also wonder: Why does Apple TV come with a lightning cable?
How to turn off split screen on Apple TV?
To turn off the split screen on Apple TV, click the TV button on your Siri remote. Wait for the 3 buttons to appear on the bottom part of the small viewer. And from these, click the icon on the left to bring the little display to full screen.
Alternatively, you may also choose to close the viewer by following these steps:
- Press the TV button on your controller.
- Click close or the middle icon that appears.
You might also want to know: Are Apple TV Screensavers Real? 7 Surprising Facts
Apple TV split screen not working: causes & fixes
#1: Your Apple TV is glitching
Before you try the formal fixes on this list, try to restart your device.
See, this problem usually occurs because of minor glitches. Or because your TV is simply overwhelmed with its tasks.
So, to let your device function like usual again, you need to…
Restart your Apple TV:
Step 1: Make your device’s status light blink
1st generation Siri remote:
- Press and hold the Menu and TV buttons on your remote simultaneously.
- Long press the Back (<) and TV buttons on your controller.
Step 2: Disconnect your Apple TV from its power source
Unplug your device from the outlet. Then, wait for 15 seconds before you…
Step 3: Reconnect your Apple TV to power
After doing so…
Step 4: Restart your device
Turn your Apple TV ON, and head to its Settings app.
Select System from the choices that appear.
Then, tap Restart.
Now, simply wait for your Apple TV to turn ON.
And try using the Picture in Picture mode again when it does.
#2: Your Apple TV isn’t up to date
The PIP feature is only compatible with Apple TV models running on tvOS 14.
So, your device may be outdated if you still have trouble using it.
Don’t worry, though. It’s easy to fix this problem.
Just connect your device to your Wifi. Then, follow these steps to…
Update your Apple TV:
Step 1: Go to your device’s Settings
This is the app that looks like mechanical gear.
Step 2: Select System
You’ll find this near the bottom of your screen.
Step 3: Choose Software Updates
This option is under the Maintenance section.
Step 4: Tap Update Software
You’ll find this at the top of the screen as it’s the first option.
Step 5: Click Download and Install
After that, just wait for your Apple TV to finish updating.
Important: Don’t unplug your device during this process. Doing so will stop the update and may negatively affect your Apple TV system.
Note: If you can’t find the Download and Install option in step 5, your Apple TV is already up to date. So, proceed to the next fix.
#3: Some apps don’t support this feature
It’s certainly nice if you can use any app as a little viewer on your screen.
However, this isn’t the case with Apple TV.
See, the Picture in Picture feature has minimal compatibility.
So, it’s primarily only available to Apple’s own applications like the:
- Apple TV+.
- Apple Fitness+.
And other streaming channels like ESPN or Starz.
That said, if you still can’t use the PIP feature…
Most likely, your application isn’t compatible with this semi-split screen function.
I have a fun and easy workaround for this problem. Just follow the steps below to…
Use PIP on any streaming app through AirPlay
Most apps like Netflix and Hulu can’t use the PIP function on your Apple TV.
But if you open these apps on your iPhone or iPad, then AirPlay them to the bigger screen…
You can turn each of them into a little viewer on your Apple TV.
You can think of it as Apple’s answer to Android’s Cast feature.
And if you’re interested in knowing more about it…
Here’s a video that talks about AirPlay in detail.
Now that you’re familiar with this function, it’s time to…
Step 1: Download the streaming platform you want to use on your iOS device
After doing so, log in to your account if needed. Then…
Step 2: Turn ON your Apple TV’s AirPlay
- Head to your device’s Settings.
- Select AirPlay and Homekit.
- Enter your passcode (if needed).
- Tap AirPlay, the 2nd choice from the top.
- Turn this feature ON.
After following these steps, it’s time to…
Step 3: AirPlay content from your iPhone to the TV
Play any episode or movie on your iOS device’s streaming app.
Then, follow these steps:
- Tap the Cast icon on your phone. (It looks like a rectangle with a diagonal Wifi logo).
- Select AirPlay & Bluetooth devices from the pop-up that appears.
- Choose your Apple TV’s name from the choices.
- Wait for the media from your phone to appear on the bigger screen.
And once it does…
Step 4: Activate your Apple TV’s Picture in Picture mode
You already did this earlier. But let me show you the steps again as a little review.
First, show the playback controls of your Apple TV.
For 1st gen remote: simply rest 1 finger on your remote’s touchpad.
For 2nd gen controllers: press the clickpad ring. Then, place your finger on top of the clickpad.
After that, choose the Picture in Picture button on your screen.
And start customizing this setup to fit your preferences. (You can refer to the 5th step of the how to use split screen on your Apple TV process you read above).
Note: You can try this PIP setup using any iOS app that supports Airplay.