Apple TVs are becoming a mainstay in the workplace, whether for a conference room display, a public kiosk, or your CEO's office. While it's admittedly pretty sick as an enterprise employee to waltz in and airplay your PowerPoint from your phone, this trend of onboarding Apple TVs also means that IT departments have an additional genre 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:
Using Apple Configurator and Apple Business Manager (ABM) or Apple School Manager (ASM) to enroll with ADE
Enrollment using Apple Configurator
Which of these enrollment methods is right for you and your organization? Let's examine the different processes and each option's benefits and potential shortcomings.
Enroll Apple TV into MDM via ADE
Picking the proper enrollment method for you and your organization is crucial to your device management strategy and a topic you'll need to discuss with your coworkers. However, most organizations should opt for Automated Device Enrollment.
Previously known as the Device Enrollment Program, Apple Device Enrollment (ADE) leverages Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager to automate the enrollment of devices into your chosen MDM. By synchronizing your MDM server with your ABM or ASM account, devices like Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and Apple TVs — purchased directly from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller — can be automatically enrolled into your MDM server. When these devices connect to the internet, they receive configuration information from your MDM server, which means they are ready for use straight out of the box. By implementing ADE, you can save significant administrative costs, benefitting both you and your users.
If you don't already take advantage of ADE, you should. All you need is a complimentary ABM or ASM account and an MDM solution like SimpleMDM. You can try it out for free for 30 days.
Use ABM & Apple Configurator to enroll devices with ADE
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 lets you manually add existing Apple TVs to your ABM or ASM account. Once in ABM or ASM, you can easily assign the MDM server for each device through wireless or wired pairing. Here's how it works.
Every Apple TV released since the Apple TV 4K (first generation) in 2017 has been built without a USB port and must pair wirelessly with Apple Configurator. Not gonna lie — this process can be an absolute pain, but hopefully, these tips can help make it easier.
Wireless pairing tips:
- Ethernet is your best friend – make sure the Apple TV and Apple Configurator Host Mac are connected to the same network.
- To pair wirelessly, the device will need tvOS 10.2 or later.
- If at first you don't succeed, unpair and pair again.
- Your device does not have to be at the setup screen to initiate this process.
- Before you start, take a gander at this Apple Support Pairing article.
Open the Apple Configurator App on your Mac.
Navigate to the Apple Configurator menu item > select Paired Devices.
On your Apple TV: Navigate to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Remote App and Devices. Stay on this exact page.
Return to Apple Configurator on your Mac and locate the Paired Devices pop-up window.
Enter the verification code now shown on the Apple TV into the prompted dialogue box.
If it pops up and shows a Pairing Failed error, click Cancel out of the error. Sometimes, the device will already be connected and reflect paired status once you exit the error.
Tip: if you're having issues with the device showing as paired in PairedDevices but not showing in Apple Configurator, try clicking the X next to the device and selecting the prompt to Remove the device and then repeat the steps for the initial wireless pairing.
7. Once you see the Apple TV presence in Apple Configurator, the device is ready to be prepared. Follow this guide written for wired devices at the Prepare step (basically, skip the step to plug in a cable).
Connect the Apple TV to a Mac running Apple Configurator using a USB-C to USB-A cable.
Select the Apple TV and click Prepare.
Select Manual Configuration.
Select Add to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager, Supervise devices, and Allow devices to pair with other computers and click Next.
Ensure New Server… is selected and click Next.
Enter Apple Business Manager as the MDM server name, leave the default hostname and URL, then click Next.
The enrollment URL verification will time out. Click Next.
At the certificates window, click Next.
For the Assign to Organization window, select New Organization and click Next.
Enter your ABM or ASM credentials and click Next.
Click Generate a new supervision identity and click Next.
Select which steps to show during setup assistant and click Next.
Add or create a Wi-Fi profile if you use Wi-Fi, then click Prepare.
If asked to allow changes to your certificate trust settings, enter your credentials and click Update Settings.
Click Erase when prompted that the configurator couldn't act because the device has already been prepared.
If you receive an error message, repeat the preparation process, accepting the defaults. You should notice that your Apple Business Manager organization info was automatically added.
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.
A dialogue prompt will ask if you are sure. Click Confirm.
In your MDM server, click on the enrollment you assigned to the device. The Apple TV status should indicate awaiting enrollment. If you don't see the device, click Sync with Apple.
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.
When prompted to confirm this action, click Erase.
Once the Apple TV has been restored, proceed past the "Hello" screen on the device.
At the remote management screen, click Continue.
The device should now say enrolled on your MDM server.
This process can be tedious, but it's excellent for enrolling already-owned devices and devices that didn't come directly from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller.
Enroll Apple TV into MDM with Apple Configurator & group enrollments
ABM and ASM provide a lot of functionality for sysadmins managing Apple devices. But if you cannot 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.
Make sure you have a group enrollment already configured. To create a group enrollment in SimpleMDM, click Enrollments > Add Enrollment> Group Enrollment.
Name your group enrollment, assign an initial device group (optional), and click Create.
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.
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.
Select Manual Configuration from the drop-down menu. Select Supervise devices and Allow devices to pair with other computers. Since we won't add this device to an ABM or ASM account, ensure Add to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager is NOT checked.
At the MDM server screen, select New Server… from the drop-down list, then click Next.
Enter the name and URL for your MDM server, then click Next.
Keep the default trust anchor certificate selected and click Next.
Select or create your organization profile, then click Next.
Select which steps to show during the setup assistant, then click Prepare.
You may need to rerun the process if you continue past the "Hello" screen and don't arrive at the remote management screen. Select the same options, which should be defaulted the second time through. The Apple TV should now be enrolled in your MDM server.
Apple TV: Not just for home use any more
Organizations are finding more value in Apple's powerful media streamer. Using 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 find a way to stop the tiny Apple TV remote from sliding between the cushions of the breakroom couch...
Time to get on the AppleTV bandwagon? Manage them with SimpleMDM and try for 30 days.