6 Ways to Troubleshoot an Unresponsive Apple TV

Troubleshoot Apple Tv Mte Hero

Troubleshoot Apple TV in no time and get back to binging with these tips and tricks to fix a glitchy or unresponsive Apple TV. This guide covers some of the most common Apple TV issues and how you can quickly fix them using the Apple TV remote or a simple software workaround.

Apple TV Compatibility

The following fixes work for all versions of tvOS, including tvOS 16. Troubleshoot Apple TV with the workflows provided in this tutorial. These workflows are compatible with the following Apple TV models:

  • Apple TV HD (4th generation)
  • Apple TV 4K (all models 2017 to 2022)

Tip: having trouble trying to identify your Apple TV model? We can help you quickly determine which Apple TV you have based on a handful of key factors.

Identifying Your Apple TV Remote

The type of remote control that was included with your Apple TV when you purchased it varies based on when your Apple TV was manufactured or released. Every Apple TV released after the year 2015 includes either the Siri Remote or Apple TV Remote. The differences are illustrated below.

Appletv Siri Apple Tv Remote 1
Image source: Apple

1. Apple TV Will Not Turn On

When your Apple TV is turned on, you should see a white indicator light on the front of the unit. Don’t see the indicator light? Check your power source. Ensure that the AC power cord is securely plugged in to a working electrical outlet and the back of your your Apple TV. Ensure that your Apple TV is connected to your TV via an HDMI cable.

Apple Tv White Light 2
Image source: Apple

Tip: need help identifying the difference between HDMI and DisplayPort? Learn which peripherals you will need to get your entertainment system up and running in this full guide on how to connect a Chromebook to a TV.

If the indicator light is visible, but the video signal is not displaying anything, it may be an HDMI input issue. You can use the following workflow to cycle output resolutions on your Apple TV:

  1. On your Apple TV remote, press and hold the back button (<) and the volume down button (-) for five seconds, then release both buttons.
Appletv Remote Back Volume Buttons2
  1. If you have an older Apple TV with the Siri Remote, press and hold the Menu button and the volume down button (-) for five seconds, then release both buttons to cycle output resolutions.
Appletv Remote Cycle Output Resolutions 1

Tip: Is the picture still not coming through? Try using the “input” button on the remote that came with your television to cycle through HDMI inputs until you see the tvOS home screen or the Apple logo. If you see the tvOS interface, but no content is loading, explore how to fix a TV that is not connecting to Wi-Fi.

2. Apps Freeze or Quit Unexpectedly on Apple TV

One of the most common reasons to troubleshoot Apple TV is if you notice that apps are freezing up or randomly quitting. If an app keeps freezing or continues to quit unexpectedly, it may be a good idea to force-quit the app before trying to restart it by following the steps below:

  1. On your Apple TV Remote or Siri Remote, double-click the TV button to activate the multitasking viewer.
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  1. Use the touchpad to swipe left or right until you have selected the app that is behaving unexpectedly.
Apptv Swipe 1
  1. Swipe up on the touchpad to force-quit the selected app by sliding it out of the multitasking viewer.
Appletv Swipe Up 1
  1. Press the TV button once to return to the Home Screen, then attempt to relaunch the app that was not working as expected.
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3. Apple TV Feels Sluggish

If your Apple TV feels slow or unresponsive, you can try restarting it using the Settings app or a remote shortcut.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple TV.
Appletv Settings App 3
  1. Select “System” from the list of menu options.
Appletv Menu System 2
  1. Select “Restart” on the next screen.
Appletv Menu Restart 1
  1. Instead of diving into the Settings app, you can also press and hold the back button (<) and the TV button on your Apple TV Remote until the white indicator light on your Apple TV starts blinking rapidly. Release both buttons and wait for your Apple TV to restart.
Appletv Remote Restart 1
  1. You can also restart your Apple TV using the Siri Remote by pressing and holding the Menu button and the TV button on your Apple TV Remote until the white indicator light on your Apple TV starts blinking. Release both buttons, then wait for your Apple TV to restart.
Appletv Siri Remote Restart 1

4. Unresponsive Apple TV Remote

If your Apple TV Remote or Siri Remote is not responding to your input, it could be out of battery. The remotes charge differently, either via Lightning or USB-C, depending on the model. If a quick charge fails to revive your remote, follow the steps below to restart or pair the remote again.

Tip: having trouble identifying which cable to use the next time you need to charge a device? Check out our guide to learn how to tell the difference between USB-C, USB 3 and Thunderbolt.

How to Restart Apple TV Remote

  1. Press and hold the TV button and the volume down button (-) on your remote until you see the white status light on your Apple TV turn off then back on again. This should take about five seconds.
Appletv Remote Reset 1
Image source: Apple
  1. After completing the above step, wait 5 to 10 seconds before trying to use your remote again to allow your remote time to reestablish a connection with your Apple TV.

How to Pair Apple TV Remote

If the remote for your Apple TV disconnects, you can pair it again by holding down the back button (<) and the volume up button (+) for five seconds while pointing your remote toward your Apple TV. If you are trying to pair the older Siri Remote, you will need to hold down the Menu button and the volume up button (+) to complete the same workflow.

Appletv Remote Pairing2

Good to know: Apple recommends keeping your Apple TV Remote or Siri Remote about three inches away from your Apple TV during the pairing process. You may be asked to set the remote on top of your Apple TV to complete the pairing process.

5. AirPlay Not Working on Apple TV

If AirPlay is not working on your Apple TV, it is likely a network permissions oversight. Follow these steps to get up and running again with AirPlay:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple TV.
Appletv Settings App 4
  1. Select “AirPlay and HomeKit” from the list of menu items.
Appletv Airplay 1
  1. From the “Allow Access” menu, select “Everyone” or “Anyone on the Same Network.” If you would like to share content from another Apple device that is not on the same Wi-Fi network as your Apple TV, choose “Everyone.” The “Only People Sharing This Home” option describes members who have already been invited to control your accessories via the Home app.
Appletv Share Content Everyone 1

Good to know: your iPhone, iPad, and Mac are not the only Apple devices that you can pair to your Apple TV. You can also elevate your AirPods listening experience with Spatial Audio on your Apple TV.

6. Try Updating Your Apple TV

Apple constantly issues fixes for common bugs and other inconsistencies in the form of software updates for Apple TV. If you have tried all of the steps above to troubleshoot, and your Apple TV is still acting up, it is always an excellent idea to update to the latest version of tvOS.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple TV.
Appletv Settings App 5
  1. Select “System” from the list of menu items.
Appletv Menu System 3
  1. Click on “Software Updates.”
Appletv Software Updates 1
  1. Select “Update Software.” If an update is available, you can push “Download and Install” to initiate the update.
Appletv Update Software 1

Frequently Asked Questions

If my Apple TV remote is not working, can I use my iPhone as a remote?

Yes, you can use your iPhone or an iPad as an Apple TV remote. Add the Apple TV Remote to Control Center on your iPhone or iPad by navigating to “Settings -> Control Center.” You can access Control Center by swiping down with one finger from the upper-right corner of the display on your device. Control Center serves as a launchpad for a number of useful tools, including Stage Manager on Mac and iPad.

How can I free up storage space on my Apple TV?

If you are running low on storage, it is likely apps that are taking up space on your Apple TV. From the Home Screen, hover over an app that you would like to delete and long-press on the trackpad to enter “jiggle mode.” (Yes, that is the official name for the edit animation.) Press the Play/Pause button to access an options menu and select “Delete.”

How can I enable single sign-on for apps that link to my TV provider?

We have an entire guide that demonstrates how to add TV providers to iOS and Apple TV. No more sign-in links and finicky QR codes the next time your need to sign in to one of your favorite streaming apps!

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Brahm Shank.

Brahm Shank
Brahm Shank

Self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and tech enthusiast Brahm Shank is captivated by the impact of consumer tech: “It’s profoundly moving when people discover that the phone in their pocket or the tiny computer on their wrist has the power to enrich their lives in ways they never imagined.” Apple, Inc. and its unique position at the intersection of technology and the creative arts, resonates deeply with Brahm and his passion for helping people unleash their potential using technology. Over the years, Brahm has held various podcasts - including famed technologist David Pogue of The New York Times on topics such as Big Tech and digital wellness.

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