How to Troubleshoot Problems When Your Apple TV Is Not Working

Troubleshoot a glitch with your Apple TV

What to Know

  • A restart is the fastest way to fix many of the issues at the heart of the problem.
  • Poor Wi-Fi could also be an issue, so check your network to be sure it's functional.
  • Several other issues could cause Apple TV to stop working, but troubleshooting will usually get it going again.

This article explains how to fix it when Apple TV is not working. Instructions apply to Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD running tvOS 13.3 with the Siri Remote.

Start With Restart

A restart can typically fix most problems you may experience with an Apple device. There are three ways to restart your Apple TV device: by using the Siri Remote, using the tvOS System screen, and unplugging the Apple TV device.

Restart by Using the Siri Remote

Press and hold the Menu and Home buttons on the Siri Remote at the same time until the status light on the Apple TV device starts blinking.

Menu and Home buttons on Siri Remote for Apple TV

Restart From the tvOS System Screen

To restart from the tvOS System screen, using the Siri Remote, select Settings > System > Restart.

System > Restart button on Apple TV

Restart by Unplugging the Apple TV Device

Physically disconnect the Apple TV device from power for 15 seconds.

When the Apple TV device has restarted, confirm that it's running the latest software. To do so, using the Siri Remote, select Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software.

Problem: Poor Wi-Fi Connection

The range of potential Wi-Fi problems includes slow performance; inability to join a local network; and sudden, random disconnection.

To troubleshoot a slow Wi-Fi connection, select Settings > Network. On the Network screen, under Status, look for an IP address. If no IP address appears, restart your modem or wireless access point (WAP) and Apple TV device.

Network screen on Apple TV

If an IP address appears but the signal strength is weak, you can take the following actions:

  • Confirm that your network and not someone else's appears as the Network Name.
  • Move your modem or WAP closer to the Apple TV device.
  • Use an Ethernet cable to connect the modem or WAP to the Apple TV device instead of using a wireless connection.
  • Invest in a Wi-Fi extender to increase the signal strength near the Apple TV device.

Problem: AirPlay Doesn't Work

AirPlay enables you to share movies and photos from your mobile devices with friends and family by using an Apple TV. Workplaces feature conference rooms that offer AirPlay compatibility so that co-workers can share presentations and training programs.

If AirPlay isn't working on your Apple TV device, you can take two actions:

  • Ensure that the mobile device (iOS or iPadOS) or Mac is on the same network as the Apple TV device.
  • Turn AirPlay on by selecting Settings > AirPlay and HomeKit on the Apple TV device. On the AirPlay screen, select AirPlay to toggle between On and Off.
Settings > AirPlay screen on Apple TV

Some electronic household items, such as cordless phones and microwave ovens, can interfere with AirPlay. Move your Apple TV device, modem, or WAP, and the Mac or iOS/iPadOS device that's broadcasting away from any items that generate interference. (Also, make sure that the computer in the basement isn't using all available bandwidth to download movies over your wireless connection at the same time.)

Problem: No Sound or Audio

To fix an audio or video problem, complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure that the volume on your external audio device or television is not set to mute.

  2. Restart the Apple TV device.

  3. Unplug, and then firmly reconnect each end of the HDMI cable connecting your television and Apple TV device.

  4. Select Settings > Video and Audio > Resolution.

    Confirm that the chosen resolution setting is appropriate for your television.

    Resolution screen on Apple TV

    Apple TV sets the resolution automatically. If the chosen resolution isn't appropriate for your television make and model, check the guide you received with your television for the best screen resolution.

  5. Select Settings > Video and Audio > Audio Output.

    On the Audio Output screen, make sure HDMI is selected.

    Audio Output screen on Apple TV, set to HDMI

Problem: Siri Remote Isn't Working

The most common reason the Siri Remote stops working is that its battery needs to be recharged.

If your Siri Remote is still working, check battery power by selecting Settings > Remotes and Devices > Remote. Beside Remote, you see a graphic of the remaining battery life. To see a percentage of remaining battery life, select Remote. A percentage appears beside Battery Level.

Apple TV Remotes and Devices screen showing Remote battery charge icon

If your Siri Remote is no longer working, use the Lightning to USB cable that came with your Apple TV to plug the remote into a power source so that the remote can recharge.

Problem: Touch Surface Scrolling Speed Isn't Right

Many Apple TV users complain that the Siri Remote has a "hair trigger." In other words, the cursor on the screen moves too quickly.

To adjust the sensitivity of the Siri Remote trackpad surface, select Settings > Remotes and Devices > Touch Surface Tracking. Then, select the option—Fast, Medium, or Slow—that you prefer.

Touch Surface Tracking Fast, Medium, or Slow

Problem: The Apple TV Status Light Is Flashing

If the status light on the Apple TV device is flashing quickly, you may have a hardware problem. If it flashes for more than 3 minutes, you should restore your Apple TV to the factory default settings.

To reset the Apple TV device to factory settings, complete the following steps:

  1. Select Settings > System > Reset.

    Settings>System>Reset button on Apple TV
  2. On the Reset screen, select one of the two options:

    • Reset: This option returns the Apple TV to factory settings. This command doesn't require an internet connection.
    • Reset and Update: This option returns the Apple TV to factory settings and then installs software updates. This option requires an internet connection.
    Reset, Reset and Update, or Cancel on Apple TV Reset screen

    Leave the Apple TV device connected to a power source until the reset process is complete.

  3. If the reset doesn't solve the problem, disconnect the power cable from the back of the Apple TV device. After 30 seconds, plug the Apple TV device into a different power outlet.

    If possible, try a different Apple TV power cable.

Problem: Brightness, Color, or Tint Is Off

If the brightness, color, or tint is off in the content you're watching on Apple TV, select Settings > Video and Audio > HDMI Output. On the HDMI Output screen, you see three settings:

  • YCbCr
  • RGB High
  • RGB Low
HDMI Output screen on Apple TV, set to YCbEr

YCbCr is the recommended setting for most televisions. A high-speed HDMI cable is required, and the RGB settings on your television and Apple TV should match.

Select the option that works best for you.

Problem: Apple TV Says It's out of Space

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

If you see an error message that Apple TV is out of space, complete the following steps:

  1. Select Settings > General > Manage Storage.
  2. On the Storage screen, browse the list of apps you've installed on your device, and check how much space each consumes.
  3. Select the Trash icon beside apps you don’t use, and then select Delete. (You can always download these apps again from the App Store.)
Storage screen on Apple TV

Problem: Black Bars Appear on Screen or the Picture Doesn’t Fit the TV

To fix this problem, adjust your television's aspect ratio to 16:9.

For instructions on setting your television's aspect ratio, you may need to refer to the handbook that came with your television.

Still Having Trouble?

If you've tried these fixes but are still having trouble with your Apple TV device, contact Apple Support for help.

  • Is Apple TV down?

    Go to the Apple System Status page to check the status of Apple TV and other Apple apps.

  • How do I restart Apple TV?

    On a second-generation Siri remote or Apple TV remote, press and hold Back + TV/Control Center until the light on your device flashes. On an aluminum or white Apple Remote, press and hold Menu and Down until the light on your device flashes.

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