How to set up profiles on your smart streaming devices
Every member of the family or roommate can have their own digital space.
If you have a streaming device that you share with other people, you might have come across an annoying problem: Your app selection and your viewing history gets mixed up with everyone else’s. This is not only annoying, but it also makes it tricky to keep track of what you’ve been watching and where you left off.
Some apps, such as Netflix, have built-in support for user profiles to make this less of an issue. But the feature is not available on every video and audio streaming app out there, and it doesn’t cover other personalized aspects of the experience, like home screen layouts and watchlists.
The real solution is to create user profiles for the streaming device itself. These work just like the different user accounts you might have set up on a shared Windows or macOS computer, and you can create one for each person in your home.
With some exceptions (we’re looking at you, Roku), this is now possible on many of the dongles and boxes you will use to get content into your home—and setting up the feature will make your life a lot easier.
Chromecast with Google TV
You can set up user profiles on your Chromecast but at the time of writing that only applies to the newest Chromecast with Google TV model. Eventually, the feature should come to more devices, including television sets running Google TV.
To get to the user account screen, scroll to your profile picture (top right), highlight it and choose Add account. You can then pick Add a child to set up a managed kid’s account, or Manage accounts and Add another account to set up a profile for an adult.
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In the case of a child, you get to pick what apps and content they have access to, and set screen time limits. For adults, you (or they) will need to sign in with their own Google account to create a separate user profile—once that’s done, you can select and sign into the relevant streaming services.
The Chromecast with Google TV user profile selection screen appears whenever the device starts up. You can also get at it by holding down the Home button on the remote (it has a little house icon on it), or by highlighting your user profile picture (top right) and picking Switch account.
Amazon Fire TV Stick and Cube
To configure user profiles on an Amazon Fire TV Stick or an Amazon Fire TV Cube, open Settings by selecting the cog icon on the far right of the central navigation bar. Next, choose Account & Profile Settings and then Profiles.
Choose Add a profile, and if you’ve set up profiles in the Prime Video app or as part of an Amazon Household, for example, you’ll see them here. You can choose one of these to add to your Fire TV Stick, but if there are no other profiles associated with your Amazon accounts you can choose Create a New Profile.
Next, enter the name of the new user or, if you want to set up a kid-friendly profile that you can manage, pick This is a Child Profile. Then select a Profile Icon to pick out a picture that represents the profile on the Fire TV software interface. Finish by clicking Add.
You’ll see a choice of profiles whenever you start up your Fire TV device, and you can also switch between them by selecting the current user profile—you’ll see it on the left-hand side of the central navigation bar on the home screen. The profile selection screen also shows options for editing and removing profiles.
Apple TV and Apple TV 4K
If you’ve got an Apple TV or Apple TV 4K device, it also comes with support for multiple user accounts. You will have added the first account during the initial setup for the device, and to add more, you’ll need to open the Settings panel, choose Users and Accounts, and then Add New User.
Here, you’ve got two options. The first, Sign in with iPhone, is the quickest method to add a new user, enabling you to use an Apple smartphone on the same Wi-Fi network to verify another Apple ID without too much typing or tapping. The second option, Sign in Manually, means you will need to enter the email address and password for another Apple ID account.
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Additional accounts will then have their own apps, content selections, and recommendations, and Apple TV will keep everything apart in the different Apple IDs. To switch accounts, go to Users and Accounts in Settings and pick Switch Current User, or press the Home and Menu buttons together on your remote to open the tvOS Control Center and pick a user account from there.
Should you decide that you want your Apple TV all to yourself again, removing users is easy: From Settings, pick Users and Accounts, then select an account name from the list and choose Remove User from Apple TV.