One of the great new features of the Apple TV is the ability to take a screenshot. Previous Apple TVs didn’t do much more than play videos. Now with so many apps, you might want to save what’s on the screen. Right now, there are two main ways of doing this. Both of these methods require a USB-C cable.
Xcode Screenshot: Available to Most Mac Users
Even if you don’t plan on software development, Xcode is a handy and free app to have on your Mac. After you connect the USB-C cable to your Mac (I keep mine connected all the time), open Xcode. For practical reasons, you’ll need to have your TV on to do this. That way you can see what will show up on your screenshot.
What is a USB-C cable?: We explain these new connectors in detail here and a Google engineer tested and reviewed a bunch of them.
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In Xcode, go to Window ->Devices and select your AppleTV. The shortcut shift+command+2 also works. You’ll see the Take Screenshot button right under the identifier. The screenshot will show up on your Mac’s desktop as a .PNG file. The result is a perfect screenshot.
Want a different location?: By default, screenshots show up on the desktop. A handy terminal command explained here lets you change that location (I set my location to Dropbox).
QuickTime Player in El Capitan
This is a much easier way to take screenshots, but you’ll need to be running El Capitan to do it. It won’t work on earlier versions of MacOS.
After you connect your USB-C cable, open up Quicktime Player. By default, an open dialog box comes up. You can ignore that. From the File menu, select New Movie Recording. Look for the red circle that acts as the record button. Next to that button is a down arrow. Under Camera, select Apple TV. Now what’s appearing on your AppleTV is mirrored on your Mac.
There is no direct screenshot option here. Instead, you can use your favorite screenshot utility. I use Skitch. All Macs have the ability to take a screenshot with the key combination. In the Applications->Utilities folder, you’ll find the Grab utility. That’s another option for taking screenshots from what you see in Quicktime Player.
In this example, I let the Movie Recording title bar show up, but I could have hid it.
You don’t need to start recording for this option to work. Your Apple TV’s screen will mirror in the Quicktime Player. If you want, you can create a video of what’s playing on your AppleTV. Click the red circle to start recording. When you’re done, click the grey square.
This option is great when you want to create a tutorial! Some content could be restricted due to copy protection, though. I like this best for screenshots because I can extract many clips from one session. You can even create an animated gif from the movie.
Need help with Quicktime Player?: We have a guide to some great tips and tricks to make editing easier.
Screenshots are great for troubleshooting with tech support. Inventive programmers might come up with some easier ways to do this, but until that time these options have you covered.