Apple TV Problems And How To Solve Them

What to do when “it just works” doesn’t work

Tim Cook launches Apple TV 4
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the New Apple TV during a Special Event at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium September 9, 2015. (Photo by Stephen Lam/ Getty Images). Getty Images

Putting intelligence inside everything should make our lives more convenient, enabling us to spend our time doing different things: unfortunately plans don’t always work out that way. Slow performance, unexpected crashes or system freezes and other problems can get in the way on any technology, even Apple TV in your den.

This is what to do if your Apple TV starts acting strangely.

Always start with restart

Nine times out of ten, a force restart fixes almost every problem you encounter when you use iOS devices. There are three ways to restart your Apple TV:

  • On the Siri Remote press and hold the Menu and Home buttons until the status light begins to blink rapidly.
  • On-screen navigate to Settings>System>Restart.
  • Physically unplug the Apple TV from power for 15-seconds in order to reset the machine.

Don’t forget to check to make sure your Apple TV software us up to date (Settings>General>Update Software).

Slow Wi-Fi

There are a range of potential Wi-Fi problems, ranging from slow performance to the inability to join a local network, sudden random disconnects and more.

Solutions: Open Settings > Network and check to see if an IP address shows up. If there is no address you should restart your router and Apple TV (Settings > System > Restart). If the IP address does show up but the Wi-Fi signal doesn’t appear to be that strong, then you should consider moving your wireless access point closer to the Apple TV, using an Ethernet cable between the two devices, or investing in a Wi-Fi extender (such as an Apple Express unit) to increase the signal near your set top box.

AirPlay doesn’t work

AirPlay is becoming ever so popular. iOS users often want to share movies from their devices with friends over Apple TV, and switched-on conference rooms all offer an AirPlay system so delegates can share presentations, showreels and more.

Solutions: If AirPlay doesn’t seem to be working, there are two critical things to check:

  1. That both the iOS device or Mac are on the same wireless network as the Apple TV.
  2. Ensure AirPlay is enabled on Apple TV in Settings>AirPlay toggle to ‘On’.

It is also important to ensure your Apple TV/router is not too near an electronic item that might cause interference (some cordless telephones, microwave ovens, for example) and that the computer in the basement isn’t using all available bandwidth downloading or uploading huge quantities of data over your wireless connection.

Missing sound or audio when using Apple TV

This relatively common problem is usually very easy to fix, try these steps in order:

Solutions:

  • Ensure the volume on your external audio or television is not set to mute.
  • Restarting the Apple TV usually gets rid of the problem.
  • Unplug and firmly reconnect each end of the HDMI cable connecting your TV and Apple TV.
  • Check the resolution setting chosen in Settings>Audio and video>Resolution is appropriate for your TV. This is likely set to ‘Auto’ but it’s possible the automatically chosen resolution isn’t appropriate for your TV set. Check the guide you received with your TV.

Apple Siri Remote isn’t working

The most common reason the included remote control fails on Apple TV is that it’s run out of power.

Solutions: When your remote works you can check battery power in Settings>Remotes and Devices>Remote where you can see a graphic of available power, or tap that item to find a percentage Battery Level reading. Otherwise, just plug your remote into a power source with a Lightning cable and let it recharge for a while before you try to use it again. Apple Support has an extensive and useful discussion forum where you may find help with specific problems.

Touch surface scrolling is too sensitive

This is a frequent complaint, but the good news is it’s easy to fix.

Solution: You can adjust the sensitivity of the remote trackpad surface’s built in acceleration in Settings>Remotes and Devices>Touch Surface Tracking, though you are limited to three options: Slow, Fast and Medium.

Try each one and choose the one you like best.

My receiver keeps rebooting

Some Apple TV users have experienced problems in which third party receivers, such as those from Marantz, will reboot inexplicably when they connect an Apple TV and are playing certain content, such as YouTube videos.

Solution: One fix that seems to work in Settings>Audio & Video>Audio>Surround Sound is to change your audio settings from (for example) Auto to Dolby.

Status light is flashing

If the status light on the right of Apple TV is flashing quickly then you may have a hardware problem.

Solutions: 

  • If it flashes for more than three minutes you’ll need to restore your Apple TV.
  • You can also try to remove the power cable from the back of the device and leave it disconnected for at least 30 seconds, after which you should plug into a different power outlet and/or try a different Apple TV power cable, if you are fortunate enough to own one.

Black bars on screen or picture doesn’t fit the TV

Solution: Don’t panic, just adjust your TV’s aspect ratio to 16:9, (you’ll need to refer to the handbook supplied with your set).

Brightness, color or tint are off

Solution: Any kind of brightness, color or tint problems can usually be fixed in Settings>Audio & Video>HDMI Output. You’ll see four settings to cycle through, in most cases one of these will improve things. The settings are

  • RGB High,
  • RGB Low,
  • YCbCr
  • Auto.

My Apple TV says it is out of space

Your Apple TV streams most videos and music, but it stores apps – and their data – on its internal drive. As you download new apps your available storage shrinks until you run out of space.

Solutions: This is really simple, open Settings > General > Manage Storage and browse the list of apps you have installed on your device along with how much space they consume. You can safely delete any of the apps you don’t use, as you can always download them again from the App Store. Just select the Trash icon and tap the ‘Delete’ button when it appears.

If your Apple TV gets bricked when training your remote

Take it to the Genius Bar

What next?

If you’ve not found a way to address your particular problem in this report please leave a note or make contact using Twitter and we’ll see if we can find you a solution, or contact Apple Support who can be a great help. You can also feedback to Apple here.

Is your problem not here?

We will be updating this page regularly, so please let us know of any new problems you come across and we will try to find some way to fix it.