How to enroll an Apple TV into your MDM

Brock Bingham headshot
Brock Bingham|September 7, 2022
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Product Article 3 background

Whether for a conference room display, a public kiosk, or your CEO’s office for unspecified reasons, Apple TVs are becoming a mainstay in the workplace, which means IT departments have one more type of device to manage.

Thankfully, enrolling an Apple TV into your company's mobile device management (MDM) server doesn’t have to be complicated. For enrolling you have your choice of three options:

So, which of these enrollment methods is right for you and your organization? Let’s go over the different processes and the benefits or shortcomings of each.

Enrolling an Apple TV into your MDM server via Automated Device Enrollment

Picking the right enrollment method for you and your organization is a topic you’ll need to discuss with your coworkers. However, most organizations should use Automated Device Enrollment.

Formally known as the Device Enrollment Program, ADE utilizes Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager to automate device enrollment. By pairing your MDM server with your ABM or ASM account, Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Apple TVs purchased directly from Apple, or an Apple Authorized Reseller can automatically enroll into your MDM server. This process enables devices to receive configuration information from your MDM server as soon as you connect the device to the internet, meaning your devices are ready to use straight out of the box. Utilizing ADE provides significant administration cost savings for you and your users.

If you don’t already take advantage of ADE, you should. All you need is a free ABM or ASM account and an MDM solution, such as SimpleMDM, which you can try out for free for 30 days.

Using Apple Configurator & Apple Business Manager to enroll devices with Automated Device Enrollment

Automated Device Enrollment is terrific for newly purchased Apple TVs, but what about that collection of already-owned Apple TVs that you need to enroll into your MDM server? Don’t worry. Apple has you covered. Apple Configurator for macOS enables you to add existing Apple TVs to your ABM or ASM account. Once in ABM or ASM, you can easily assign the MDM server for each of your devices. Here’s how it works: 

  1. Connect the Apple TV to a Mac running Apple Configurator using a USB-C to USB-A cable. 

  2. Select the Apple TV and click Prepare.

    Select the Apple TV and click Prepare
  3. Select Manual Configuration.

  4. Select Add to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager, Supervise devices, and Allow devices to pair with other computers and click Next.

    Select Add to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager, Supervise devices, and Allow devices to pair with other computers, and click Next
  5. Ensure New Server… is selected and click Next.

    Ensure New Server… is selected, and click Next
  6. Enter Apple Business Manager as the MDM server name, leave the default host name and URL, then click Next.

    Ensure New Server… is selected, and click Next
  7. The enrollment URL verification will time out. Click Next.

    The enrollment URL verification will time out. Click Next.
  8. At the certificates window click Next.

    At the certificates window, click Next
  9. Enter your ABM or ASM credentials and click Next.

    Enter your ABM or ASM credentials, and click Next
  10. Click Generate a new supervision identity and click Next.

    Click Generate a new supervision identity, and click Next
  11. Select which steps to show during setup assistant and click Next.

    Select which steps to show during setup assistant and click Next
  12. Add or create a Wi-Fi profile if you’re using Wi-Fi then click Prepare.

    Add or create a Wi-Fi profile if you’re using Wi-Fi then click Prepare
  13. If asked to allow changes to your certificate trust settings, enter your credentials and click Update Settings.

  14. Click Erase when prompted that the configurator couldn’t perform the action because the device has already been prepared.

    Click Erase when prompted that the configurator couldn’t perform the action
  15. If you receive an error message, run through the preparation process once again, accepting the defaults. You should notice that your Apple Business Manager organization info was automatically added.

  16. Once the Apple TV finishes wiping, log into ABM or ASM. The device should now be registered to your ABM or ASM account. Assign the Apple TV to the correct MDM server by clicking Edit MDM server and selecting the MDM server you want it to join.

    Assign the Apple TV to the correct MDM server by clicking Edit MDM server and selecting the MDM server you want it to join
  17. A dialogue prompt will ask if you are sure. Click Confirm.

    A dialogue prompt will ask if you are sure. Click Confirm
  18. In your MDM server, click on the enrollment you assigned to the device. The Apple TVs status should indicate awaiting enrollment. If you don’t see the device, click Sync with Apple.

    In your MDM server, click on the enrollment you assigned to the device. The Apple TVs status should indicate awaiting enrollment
  19. The Apple TV will need to be wiped once again. In Apple Configurator, select the device, and click Actions > Advanced > Erase All Content and Settings.

    In Apple Configurator, select the device, and click Actions > Advanced > Erase All Content and Settings
  20. When prompted to confirm this action, click Erase.

  21. Once the Apple TV has been restored, proceed past the “Hello” screen on the device.

  22. At the remote management screen, click Continue.

  23. The device should now say enrolled on your MDM server.

    The device should now say enrolled on your MDM server

This process can be a bit tedious, but it’s great for enrolling already-owned devices and devices that didn’t come directly from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller.

Enrolling Apple TV into an MDM server with Apple Configurator & group enrollments

ABM and ASM provide a lot of functionality for sysadmins managing Apple devices. But if you’re unable to take advantage of ABM and ASM, you can still enroll your Apple TV directly into your MDM server using Apple Configurator and group enrollments.

The process is similar to the previous example with a few key differences.

  1. Make sure you have a group enrollment already configured. To create a group enrollment in SimpleMDM, click Enrollments > Add Enrollment> Group Enrollment.

    Make sure you have a group enrollment already configured
  2. Give your group enrollment a name, assign an initial device group (optional) and click Create.

    Give your group enrollment a name and click Create
  3. In the Enrollments screen in SimpleMDM, click on the group enrollment you created and copy the enrollment link. We’ll need this link when adding our MDM server to Apple Configurator.

    In the Enrollments screen in SimpleMDM, click on the group enrollment you created and copy the enrollment link
  4. With the enrollment link copied, launch Apple Configurator. Ensure your Apple TV is connected to your Mac, then select the Apple TV and click Prepare.

  5. Select Manual Configuration from the drop-down menu. Select Supervise devices and Allow devices to pair with other computers. Since we won’t be adding this device to an ABM or ASM account, make sure Add to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager is NOT checked.

    Select Manual Configuration from the drop down, select Supervise devices and allow devices to pair, and do not check Add to ASM or ABM
  6. At the MDM server screen, select New Server… from the drop-down list, then click Next.

    At the MDM server screen, select New Server… from the drop-down list, then click Next
  7. Enter the name and URL for your MDM server, then click Next.

    Enter the name and URL for your MDM server, then click Next
  8. Keep the default trust anchor certificate selected and click Next.

    Keep the default trust anchor certificate selected and click Next
  9. Select or create your organization profile, then click Next.

    Select or create your organization profile then click Next
  10. Select which steps to show during the setup assistant, then click Prepare.

If you continue past the “Hello” screen and don’t arrive at the remote management screen, you may need to run through the process once again. Select the same options, which should be defaulted the second time through. The Apple TV should now be enrolled in your MDM server.

Apple TVs: not just for home use anymore

Organizations are finding more value in Apple’s powerful media streamer. Utilizing ABM or ASM and Automated Device Enrollment can substantially decrease the resources required to onboard newly purchased devices. For all those other devices, Apple Configurator gets the job done.

Now, if I could just find a way to stop the tiny Apple TV remote from sliding between the cushions of the breakroom couch....

Brock Bingham headshot
Brock Bingham

Born in the '80s and raised by his NES, Brock quickly fell in love with everything tech. With over 15 years of IT experience, Brock now enjoys the life of luxury as a renowned tech blogger and receiver of many Dundie Awards. In his free time, Brock enjoys adventuring with his wife, kids, and dogs, while dreaming of retirement.

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