How to troubleshoot your Apple TV when it isn’t working

Friends watching tv streaming at home
There are several troubleshooting methods you can try when your Apple TV isn’t working. wundervisuals/Getty Images
  • If your Apple TV is not working, there are many potential reasons, so you might need to try a few troubleshooting steps to fix it.
  • If the Apple TV won’t turn on at all, make sure it’s not the remote’s fault.
  • Like on your iPhone or iPad, apps sometimes stop working, and you can swipe up to close them.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Apple TV is not just a popular streaming media player; it’s also a good example of a piece of technology that’s as reliable as any major appliance. For the most part, it usually works flawlessly.

Every once in a while, though, you might experience an unexpected glitch. When that happens, some simple troubleshooting can often get it up and running so you can keep watching “Ted Lasso.”

What to do if your Apple TV is not working

It can be hard to diagnose the specific problem affecting your Apple TV at a glance, which is why troubleshooting is so important. Try each one of the troubleshooting tips listed below by potential causes until you find one that resolves your problem.

Your Apple TV won’t turn on at all

This might seem like a pretty catastrophic problem, but there are a few things you can check that might get you up and running pretty quickly.

  • If you’re trying to turn on the Apple TV using the remote control, it’s the remote that might be the issue – see the next section for troubleshooting steps. In the meantime, try to use the Apple TV Remote app on your iPhone or iPad instead.
  • If that doesn’t work, unplug both ends of the HDMI cable – detach it from your Apple TV and television (or whatever home theater device it’s connected to). Securely reattach it or, preferably, try a new cable.
  • Unplug both the Apple TV and television. Wait at least 10 seconds and then plug them back in.
  • If it still won’t turn on, skip to the end and follow the instructions to reset your Apple TV.

The remote isn’t working

In most cases, if the remote is not working, the battery simply needs to be recharged. Use a Lightning cable to plug the remote in and let it charge for 30 minutes or so before trying it again.

If you’ve confirmed the remote has a charge, it might need to be re-paired with your Apple TV. Bring the remote close to your Apple TV and then hold the Menu (on older remotes) or Back button (on the new second generation remote) and the Volume Up buttons for about five seconds until you see an on-screen message to pair the remote, and follow the instructions to complete the process.

The audio cuts out

If you’ve had an Apple TV for a while, you might have noticed that every once in a while, the audio can cut out for no apparent reason. If this happens, try to restart your TV (or the home theater hardware your Apple TV is connected to). If that doesn’t work, follow the steps in the section below called “The Apple TV itself is malfunctioning” to restart your Apple TV.

An app is malfunctioning

If you find an app – like a streaming channel or game – is not working properly, try closing the app and restarting it. No matter what your problem (the app isn’t displaying properly, there’s no sound or the screen freezes, for example) closing and restarting the app is a good first step because it’s so effortless to do.

To close the app, double-press the TV button on the remote, swipe right or left to find the problematic app, and then swipe up to close it.

The Apple TV itself is malfunctioning

If more than one app isn’t working properly, or the entire Apple TV seems to be glitching, try restarting the entire Apple TV.

To restart the Apple TV, start the Settings app on the Apple TV. Select System, then Restart.

If your Apple TV is so glitchy that you can’t get to the Settings app, there are other ways to force it to restart. You can press and hold the Menu (on older remotes) or Back button (on second-generation remotes) and TV button together until the Apple TV’s status light flashes rapidly. Then let go and Apple TV will reboot. Or simply unplug the Apple TV, wait at least 10 seconds and then plug it back in.

Nothing else works, so it’s time to reset the Apple TV

In most cases, Apple TV issues are relatively easy to resolve. But if you’ve tried everything in this article and your device is still not working properly, you might need to contact Apple support for advice or servicing. Before that, though, there’s one last thing that might bring it back to life: You can reset the device, restoring it back to factory conditions.

This is a last resort because resetting your Apple TV will wipe out all your settings and stored data, including sign-on information for all your apps. It might be worth it, though, to restore your Apple TV to a working condition. When you’re ready, follow these instructions to reset your Apple TV.

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