Whenever my wife and I take an extended vacation I always bring along our Apple TV.
At the end of a long day filled with adventure and fun it’s nice to just snuggle up together and watch your favorite show on Netflix or rent a new release comedy.
I’ve found that hotel television is still so primitive and annoying. The on-demand movie rentals are limited and very pricey, the regular programming is usually in standard definition, and you’re forced to channel surf without a guide. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
When I book a hotel I always make sure there is free Wi-Fi and that they say there are “flat screens” in every room, this tells me that there must be an HDMI input on it somewhere.
It seems we’re left with no choice but to do some friendly hacking to circumvent this annoying speed bump! 🙂
How It Works
This is a little networking 101 here, but I’ll explain it briefly in case you are really a beginner.
Every device that connects to the Internet has a unique mac address, or media access control address. It’s basically a serial number for your hardware and it tells the network who you are.
No, it has nothing to do with “Mac” computers built by Apple. If you’re still unsure what I’m talking about, please go and read this article first.
The hotel network works by validating your mac address and putting it on a whitelist so it can connect automatically in the near future.
The only problem is, you need a browser to do this, and Apple TV doesn’t come with a browser (so far).
How We’re Going to Get Around It
So here’s what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to trick the hotel network to think that our Apple TV’s mac address is actually our computer’s mac address.
Then, we will use our computer to complete the browser authentication/checkbox/button/whatever they need so this address can be whitelisted.
Finally, we will change the mac address on our computer back to the original, and then reconnect both our computer and the Apple TV back onto the network.
Spoofing Your Mac Address
Note: These steps assume you are using OS X, sorry PC folks.
Step 1. Disconnect your laptop and Apple TV from the hotel Wi-Fi by “forgetting” the network. Do not Turn Off Wi-fi but rather just make it so you’re not connected to any network. We can’t spoof the mac address if the device is powered off!
Step 2. Open up your Terminal
Step 3. Get your current mac address using:
ifconfig en1 | grep ether
Step 4. It will look something like this:
03:a1:04:d5:00:12. Save it somewhere safe, we’ll need it again later.
Step 5. Write down your Apple TV’s mac address, which you can find under Settings > General > Network > Wi-Fi Address
Step 6. Now we will spoof our computer’s mac address to be the one we just wrote down from Apple TV:
sudo ifconfig en1 ether 28:cf:xx:xx:xx:xx
Step 7. Sanity check that our mac address has indeed changed:
ifconfig en1 | grep ether
Step 8. Connect your computer to the Wi-Fi, open a browser window and complete whatever authentication it needs to connect.
Step 9. Disconnect your computer from the Wi-Fi.
Step 10. Repeat steps 6 & 7 to change your computer’s mac address back to the original one we saved in step 4.
Step 11. Reconnect both your computer and Apple TV to the hotel Wi-Fi.
And we’re in business!
Most networks will keep this mac address whitelisted for 24 hours or so. After it expires you’ll need to do this whole process again.
This may not be perfect for every situation, but it’s always worked for me. If it helped you, please leave me a comment!