Apple TV Problems and How to Solve Them

Here's how to troubleshoot a glitch with your Apple TV

The unassuming Apple TV box is remarkably trouble-free. However, slow performance, unexpected freezes, and other problems occur with any technology, even the Apple TV. If you encounter a problem or your Apple TV starts acting strangely, one of the simple solutions here should get you back to streaming your favorite shows in no time.

Start With Restart

Often, a restart fixes the problems you experience with an Apple device. There are three ways to restart your Apple TV:

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

    Menu and Home buttons on Siri Remote for Apple TV
  2. Use the Apple TV's Settings > System > Restart screen.

    System > Restart button on Apple TV
  3. Physically disconnect the Apple TV from power for 15 seconds.

After the Apple TV restarts, confirm that it is running the current software by going to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software (if needed).

Boost Slow Wi-Fi

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

To troubleshoot slow Wi-Fi, open Settings > Network on the Apple TV and check whether an IP address is listed. If no IP address displays, restart your router and Apple TV.

Network screen on Apple TV

If the IP address shows up but the Wi-Fi signal is weak, consider moving your wireless access point closer to the Apple TV, using an Ethernet cable between the two devices instead of a wireless connection, or investing in a Wi-Fi extender to increase the signal strength near the set-top box. Also, confirm that the Network Name belongs to your network and not a neighbor's.

Fix AirPlay That Doesn’t Work

People use AirPlay to share movies from their mobile devices with friends using an Apple TV. Workplaces feature conference rooms that offer AirPlay compatibility so co-workers can share presentations and present training programs.

If AirPlay isn't working, check two things that could be the culprit:

  1. The iOS device or Mac must be on the same wireless network as the Apple TV.

  2. AirPlay must be enabled on the Apple TV in Settings > AirPlay.

    Settings > AirPlay screen on Apple TV

Some electronic household items such as cordless phones and microwave ovens can cause AirPlay interference. Ensure your Apple TV, router, and the Mac or iOS device that is broadcasting is not near any items that generate interference, and that the computer in the basement isn’t using all available bandwidth downloading or uploading huge quantities of data over your wireless connection.

Correct Missing Sound or Audio

This problem is usually easy to fix; try these steps in order.

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

  2. Restart the Apple TV.

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

  4. Confirm that the resolution setting chosen in Settings > Video and Audio > Resolution is appropriate for your TV. It is likely set to Auto, but it’s possible the chosen resolution isn’t appropriate for your TV set. Check the guide you received with your TV.

    Resolution screen on Apple TV
  5. The same Video and Audio screen also contains an Audio Output option. Make sure it is set to HDMI

    Audio Output screen on Apple TV, set to HDMI

Fix an Apple Siri Remote That Isn’t Working

The most common reason the included remote control fails on Apple TV is that its battery needs to be recharged.

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 the graphic to find a percentage Battery Level reading.

Apple TV Remotes and Devices screen showing Remote battery charge icon

If your remote is no longer working, plug it into a power source with a Lightning cable and recharge it for a while before you try to use it again.

Slow Down the Touch Surface Scrolling Speed

Many Apple TV users complain that the Siri Remote has a hair-trigger. This frequent complaint is easy to fix. Adjust the sensitivity of the remote's trackpad surface in Settings > Remotes and Devices > Touch Surface Tracking.

Touch Surface Tracking Fast, Medium, or Slow

You have three options: Fast, Medium, and Slow. Select the speed you like best.

Focus on Hardware If Status Light Is Flashing

If the status light on the Apple TV is flashing quickly, you may have a hardware problem. If it flashes for more than three minutes, you need to restore your Apple TV.

  1. Go to Settings > System > Reset.

    Settings>System>Reset button on Apple TV
  2. Select one of two options. The Reset option returns the Apple TV to factory settings and doesn't require an internet connection. The Reset and Update option returns the Apple TV to factory settings and installs any software updates. This option requires an internet connection.

    Reset, Reset and Update, or Cancel on Apple TV Reset screen
  3. Leave the Apple TV connected to a power source until the reset process is complete.

If the reset doesn't solve the problem, remove the power cable from the back of the device and leave it disconnected for at least 30 seconds. Then, plug it into a different power outlet and, if possible, try a different Apple TV power cable.

Correct Brightness, Color or Tint Problems

Any brightness, color or tint problems can usually be fixed in Settings > Video and Audio > HDMI Output. You’ll see three settings.

HDMI Output screen on Apple TV, set to YCbEr

The settings are:

  • YCbCr
  • RGB High
  • RGB Low

YCbCr is the recommended setting for most TVs. A high-speed HDMI cable is required, and the RGB settings on both TV and Apple TV should be set to match. Toggle between the settings to find the one that works best for you.

Create Storage When 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.

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. Select the Trash icon and tap the Delete button when it appears.

Storage screen on Apple TV

Check Aspect Ratio When Black Bars Are on Screen or Picture Doesn’t Fit the TV

Don’t panic. Adjust your TV’s aspect ratio to 16:9. You may need to refer to the handbook supplied with your set for this procedure.

What Next?

If you haven't found a solution to your particular problem with the Apple TV, contact Apple Support for help.