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Sky Q tips and tricks: how to get the most from your set-top box

Master Sky's powerful hardware with these tips and tricks.
Engadget|@engadget|June 10, 2017 5:00 AM

Researched and written by Nicholas Fearn

There's no denying that the way we consume media has changed dramatically over the past few years. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, entertainment is increasingly on-demand, allowing you to access your favourite movies and TV shows whenever you want.

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As a result, it's easy to view traditional broadcasters as outdated. However, Sky changed that mindset with the Q set-top box. It lets you record more of your favourite shows, stream offline content via an app, access a library full of on-demand media and watch shows on several devices.

Vying to be the ultimate home entertainment device, Q gives you an easy, flexible way to enjoy a wide variety of TV shows, movies, music and sports. However, it's packed full with features that can be pretty overwhelming if you're a just getting started. In this guide, we provide you with a host of great tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the device.

Using the Touch remote

To make flicking through shows easier and quicker, Sky has kitted out Q with its very own touch remote. Like the new Apple TV, it sports a touchpad for navigating the box's menus.

The remote acts in a similar way to a games console D-pad: you can swipe left, right, up and down to go through channels and options. But there's also a quick-scroll feature to help you find things faster and with ease. Just swipe and hold, and it'll begin to scroll for you.

To select an item with the remote, you simply press the touchpad, and there's also a dismiss option (which looks a bit like an arrow) so you can cancel shows at any time.Turning on the Q is a case of pressing the power button quickly, although you can program it to control your actual TV's power too. For that, simply long press the same button.

Voice search

Going through countless menus and channels to find the TV show or movie you're looking for can be extremely frustrating, but Q has you covered with its voice search feature. Now, you can tell Q what you want to watch, and it should be able to do the rest.

To access this feature, press the search button located on the side of the remote. While holding it down, say what show you want to access, and it'll begin the search. You can look for almost any TV show or movie, and generally speaking, the feature just works.

Saving disk space

If you're constantly downloading and recording shows on the box, it's easy for it to become clogged up and slow down. By default, shows download in HD, and that can take up memory. To maximise Q's disk space, you can tweak your settings to make content download in SD quality.

While the quality won't be as good, you'll save lots of memory and be able to store even more shows. To do that, you need to go into the 'settings' menu, click on 'preferences' and switch the download format to SD.

Setting parental controls

When it comes to using Sky Q as a family entertainment device, you may want to set up parental controls to ensure that your children only have access to age-appropriate shows. Go into the 'Settings' menu, and find the 'Parental' section.

You'll find a few different options in there. Depending on the age of your kids, you can create a pin to stop them from accessing adult content that's played before 8pm. This will also prevent them from making purchases in the Sky Store. There's a setting to block adult content altogether too.

Using Sky Sports split screens

Bit of a footy or F1 fan? Then you're going to like the Sky Sports split-screen feature, which is now available to Sky Q subscribers. This lets you watch matches, results and replays side-to-side. Depending whether or not you have a Sky Q 1TB or 2TB box, you can get this feature up and running by clicking the red button on your remote and opening the Sky Sports app.

Fluid viewing with live TV

Fluid Viewing is one of Sky Q's leading features. Using it, you can resume a show in a different room on one of Sky's Mini boxes or mobile device. Although it only works with recorded shows, it's still a really useful feature. To get it to work, you need to record a show by clicking red button twice.

Switching to the previous channel

With the Q, Sky introduced a number of changes. The option to select the previous channel is one of them. Before, you'd just press the left arrow button on the old remote, but that's not the case anymore. Now you need to press the right one, or swipe right if you have the touch remote.

Undeleting content

There's nothing more annoying than deleting something by mistake. Luckily, you can get retrieve old content by heading into 'Recordings' and clicking on 'Deleted'. In here, you should see all the shows you've previously removed. Just press 'undelete', and it'll move back into your recordings list.

Finding your lost remote

The Sky Q remote is an powerful piece of kit, and while it can do loads of amazing things, that's not to say you won't misplace it like any other bit of tech. If this happens, press the 'Q' button on your box, and the remote will beep for 30 seconds. You should then be able to prize it out from between the sofa cushions.

Prevent automatic downloads

As is the case with most streaming platforms, when you finish watching a TV episode, the next one will play or download automatically. Obviously, this can take up memory, and it may happen when you're only dipping in and out of a particular series. To avoid this, you can turn off 'auto downloading' by going into 'Settings' and selecting 'Setup & Preferences'.

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Sky Q tips and tricks: how to get the most from your set-top box