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How to: Connect your Apple TV to a media server

Ever wanted to play content on a network-attached storage (known as a NAS) device, such as a DLNA media server, on your Apple TV? We'll show you how it's done.

The Apple TV is an incredible media streamer, though it's limited by being tied to Apple's own ecosystem. The Apple TV can't communicate to a device which doesn't use Apple's AirPlay standard. Not on its own, at least. By using an iOS app that supports DLNA, Bluetooth, or any wireless communication standard (click here for our explanation of the most popular standards), you can bridge the gap between your Apple TV and NAS.

For this How To, we'll use the C5 iOS app for iPhone and iPad (download it here for free). With it, we can communicate with any DLNA, Bluetooth, Chromecast and AirPlay capable device. In this case, we'll be connecting to a DLNA-enabled NAS and pushing the content to our Apple TV.

Step 1 - Download C5

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Our favorite media player is C5. It's free to download and has minimal advertisements. There's an option to remove advertisements for a fee, though the free version will work just fine. C5 can play almost any file format in high quality, and supports a plethora of wireless standards. Here's the download link again .

Step 2 - Choose your media

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Choose what type of media you want to push to the Apple TV. We'll assume you have videos stored on a NAS, so go ahead and choose Video (the interface remains the same no matter which media you choose to browse).
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Under Select Source, tap the right arrow until you've reached your NAS. Enable DLNA folder browsing if your content is sorted into folders.

Step 3 - Select the Apple TV as a player

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For iPads: On the right-hand side, you'll see a sidebar with a globe icon. Tap the globe to enlarge the sidebar. Your device will be the default player, so tap the AirPlay icon next to either iPhone or iPad. Choose the Apple TV from the dropdown to set it as your player. Tap the globe again to minimize the sidebar.

For iPhones: Tap the globe icon on the bottom menu and choose the Apple TV as your player. If successful, the Player menu will close and your selected media will be displayed.

Step 4 - Play your content!

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With your source (the NAS) and your player (the Apple TV) selected, it's time to choose the video you'd like to play. Browse to your favorite video. Simply tap the video title and tap Play. The video will now be playing on your Apple TV's connected display!

While we chose to use video as an example, the process is identical for music and photos. Make sure both the NAS and Apple TV, as well as your iPhone or iPad, are connected to the same network.

If you'd like to take music, videos or photos with you on-the-go, you can download content from your NAS or media server and store it in C5. Simply long press on a title and select Download.

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