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Apple TV Devices

Apple TV Sleep Timer: How To Find It & How It Works

There is an Apple TV sleep timer located in the player’s settings menu, but it doesn’t quite work the same way other sleep timers do.

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An Apple TV player’s sleep timer is located in the Settings app. Once set, the streaming player will automatically shut down after the specified time. However, the way Apple TV’s sleep timer works might not suit everyone and especially those that want to shut the device down at a specific time.

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Apple TV is a popular streaming player. In particular, it is a popular option for consumers that already own one of Apple’s other devices, such as an iPhone or an iPad. One of the benefits of having more than one Apple device is the familiar experience. That said, navigating the Apple TV interface is often very different to an iPhone or an iPad.

Like most devices, Apple TV includes a sleep timer. Unlike most other devices, however, this sleep timer is not designed to shut down after a certain amount of time from when it is set. Instead, the device uses the start of inactivity as when the countdown to sleep begins.

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Finding Apple TV’s sleep timer

The sleep timer can be found in the Settings app on an Apple TV device. Specifically, it is the “Sleep After” setting located in the General section.

Locate sleep timer from the Home screen:

  1. Open the settings app
  2. Click on General
  3. Click on “Sleep After”

By default, the Sleep After timer is set to 15 minutes. However, once clicking on Sleep After, the user will be able to choose from the following times:

  • Never
  • 15 minutes
  • 30 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • 5 hours
  • 10 hours

Once one of these times have been selected, the Apple TV player will automatically go to sleep after the set period of time has elapsed. However, it is important to note that the time starts from when there is no activity. In other words, Apple TV users cannot simply set the timer to 30 minutes and expect the device to shut down 30 minutes later.

Instead, the Apple TV player will wait until the current video has stopped playing and there are no further clicks on the remote control. While this won’t be ideal for everyone, it is currently how the sleep timer on Apple TV works.

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Sleep now instead of later

The Sleep After timer is not the only option, although it is the best for those that want an Apple TV player to automatically go to sleep at some point in the near future. For those that want to immediately put the device into sleep mode, there is the Sleep Now option.

As the name suggests, Sleep Now does not wait for a period of inactivity. In fact, it doesn’t want at all. Instead, the Apple TV player will turn off immediately. To find the Sleep Now option, open the Settings app, scroll down and the Sleep Now option will be at the very bottom. Sleep Now only requires one click to instantly put the device to sleep.

For those that want an even quicker way to put an Apple Player to sleep, there is a remote shortcut. Simply hold down the TV button (the one with a TV icon) for one-to-two seconds. This will then launch the Apple TV’s Control Center. Then simply click on the “Sleep” button to instantly put the player to sleep. For those with a Siri Remote (2nd generation), there is also the option of just holding down the Power button.

Apple TV sleep timer workaround

Although Apple TV players don’t come with an option to set the device to sleep at a specific time — for example, 30 minutes from now and while still watching — there is a workaround. Simply skip the Apple TV Sleep timer altogether.

To explain, if HDMI-CEC is available on the TV the Apple TV player is connected to, and enabled, then when the Apple TV player is put to sleep, the TV will automatically go to sleep as well. This also works the other way around. In other words, users can set the TV to go to sleep at a certain time and when the TV enters sleep mode, so will the Apple TV player.

Again, this workaround will only be available if the TV has its own sleep timer function, supports HDMI-CEC, and HDMI-CEC is enabled. However, it is the best option for those that do want to set more of a specific time for the Apple TV player to go to sleep rather than from when there is no activity.

Even if the TV doesn’t support HDMI-CEC or it isn’t enabled for some reason, the same workaround can be used in conjunction with Sleep After. For example, when the TV’s own sleep timer turns the TV off, the Apple TV device will keep playing in the background and will eventually become inactive before finally going to sleep as well.

By John Finn

John started Streaming Clarity to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingclarity.com or on Twitter

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