How to reset the Apple TV

How to reboot the 4K and older models of the Apple TV

How to reset the Apple TV

If you've found yourself staring at a frozen screen, or in some cases no screen at all, it may be time to reset your Apple TV.

Thing is, there are different ways to do this, and different ways depending on which model of Apple's streaming box you own. Below, we'll guide you through the steps of resetting the latest 4K and HD Apple TV models, as well as the older generations.

We'll also explain how to restore the box using iTunes (for when you can't access the home screen) and offer a way of restoring the 4K model should you find it's not giving off a signal.

Read this: The best streaming sticks and boxes

First of all, let's do it from the tvOS itself. To reset an Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD, do the following:

1. Go to Settings from the home screen.
2. Select System.
3. Select Reset.

You now have the option of Reset, which doesn't require an internet connection and will do a simple factory reboot; and Reset and Update, which will install the latest software updates and therefore needs an internet connection to work.

To reset an Apple TV 3rd Gen or earlier, you need to do this:

1. Go to Settings from the home screen.
2. Select General.
3. Select Reset.

Select Reset All Settings to wipe all account info and settings, or Restore to wipe and then install software updates.

How to restore the Apple TV using iTunes

If your Apple TV has had a wonky software update, you may not be able to access the home screen at all. In those cases, you can restore the box using iTunes. If you have any model pre-dating the Apple TV 4K then there's a procedure that makes use of the USB port, which we'll go through below.

If you have the 4K model there's no USB port, and it's really, really annoying. Should you find yourself with a box not giving out a signal or you see a warning symbol appear during an update, Apple says you should contact it directly and arrange to have it fixed.

However, we've discovered there is another way. If you're in a bind, unplug the Apple TV, wait a few seconds, and then plug it back in again, then repeat for 3-5 cycles. In some cases, this will cause the Apple TV to reboot itself. Oddly, it's not a suggestion Apple offers users (perhaps because it's a bit of a clunky way of doing it), but in many cases it does work.

If you're using an older model of the Apple TV, you can use iTunes to get it back up and running. For the Apple TV HD, you'll need a USB-C cable. For the older models, you'll need a Micro USB cable instead. Then, here's what you need to do…

1. Ensure your version of iTunes is up to date.
2. Unplug the cables from the back of your Apple TV.
3. Plug the USB-C/Micro USB cable into the back of the Apple TV and the other end into the computer.
4. If you're using the Apple TV HD or 3rd-gen model, plug in the power cord. The 2nd-gen model can stay unplugged.
5. You should now see the Apple TV page in iTunes. If you don't, click the Apple TV icon in the top-left corner.
6. Click Restore Apple TV and leave it to do its thing. Once it's done, unplug the cables and reconnect the HDMI cable and power cord.

More handy Apple TV how-tos

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