How to Factory Reset Your Apple TV for Resale or Repair

Broken system update? Failed jailbreak? Selling the device?

You should never forget that your Apple TV is an iOS device. This means it can do a lot more than your old DVD player. You should always take time to delete all your films, music and other personal data when selling or giving away an Apple TV, or its new user could easily use your account to make purchases or view your content. 

This problem always grows bigger than ever when Apple introduces new product models. That's when millions of enthusiastic Apple customers sell their old devices in order to make a little money toward the purchase of the next-generation model.

It's a safe bet that at least some of the second user models available for purchase on eBay still carry all their old user's content, some may even let you access their outgoing owner’s entire film, TV, music and images collection. You don't want this to happen to you. Here is what you need to do to make sure it doesn't:

Reset Is Not Restart

Reset is different from Restart or Force Restart of an Apple TV box.

Reset is the final option you should choose if nothing else works, or if you want to wipe all the data on your device in order to give it away or even sell your Apple TV.

While it is the first thing you should do if you are selling your box, it is not the first thing you should try if you are having problems with your Apple TV. When readers make contact it’s surprising how often simply restarting the device can solve most Apple TV software problems.

There are other reasons you may want to reset the Apple TV:

  • You may have failed to successfully jailbreak the device, leaving you with a non-functional brick, rather than a streaming services box.
  • You may have suffered a bandwidth outage in the middle of a System software upgrade, which may have caused the upgrade to fail.

The good thing about any of these situations is that if you do choose to Reset your Apple TV, set-up will be as easy as it was the first time you went through the process, and all your content will still be available through iCloud. So, how’s it done?

How to Reset Apple TV

There are two ways to reset Apple TV:

Using the Remote

  • If you can still navigate the Apple TV interface with your Apple Remote then you can reset the device quite easily in Settings > System > Reset.
  • You will see a new menu offering two choices and the chance to cancel the task.
  • Reset: To restore your Apple TV to factory settings and erase all settings and information.
  • Reset and Update: To restore your Apple TV to factory settings, erase all settings and information, and update to the latest tvOS version.
  • The process may take some time, so be prepared to wait.

Using a Computer

If the Apple TV won’t boot up or your Remote is not being recognized you can use a PC/Mac running iTunes to Reset your Apple TV, but you will need to find a USB-C to USB-A cable (or a Micro-USB cable for 2nd and 3rd generation models).

  • Disconnect your Apple TV from power
  • The next step is to connect Apple TV to your Mac or PC running iTunes using the USB-C to USB-A cable and the USB port at the back of the box.
  • Now plug your Apple TV back to power and it will restart
  • iTunes should launch on your computer and your Apple TV should be recognized
  • You will be presented with two options: Eject Apple TV and Restore Apple TV. Choose Restore Apple TV and then click the Restore and Update button that appears. The process may take some time, so be prepared to wait.
  • iTunes will download and install the latest version of the Apple TV tvOS. Doing so returns your device to factory settings and deletes all your media and other data from the system.

Once this process is complete you can Eject Apple TV, switch it off and reconnect it to your TV to set up as new, or give/sell it to another person who can then take charge of it.

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