How to Reset Apple TV

Broken System Update? Failed Jailbreak? Selling the Device?

How To Reset Apple TV
We'll have your Apple TV back in tip top shape much faster than a tech support call. c/o Helen King, Getty Images

It’s surprising how often I hear from people who forget to delete all their films, music and other personal data when selling or giving away an Apple TV.  

You can bet at least some of the second user models up available for purchase on eBay still let you access their outgoing owner’s entire film, TV, music and images collection. It doesn't need to be like this. Making sure it is not is very, very easy.

Read on...

It will be an even bigger problem now the fourth-generation device is available –  the possibility of yet another new model in fall means many lucky owners of the current (4th) edition may plan to move an older Apple TV model down the line, or, indeed, owners of older models may want to sell soon to upgrade later.

Reset is not Restart

Reset is different from Restart or Force Restart of an Apple TV box and should not be the first thing you try to do if you are having problems with your box. When readers make contact with it’s surprising how often simply restarting the device can solve most Apple TV problems. (Read more Apple TV Troubleshooting advice here).

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.

Giving/selling the device isn’t the only reason 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.