Apple TV 4 watching movies lifestyle 001

If your Apple TV won’t start up properly, or you are a developer who wants to install a tvOS beta, you must first put your set-top box in recovery (DFU) mode. As is the case with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices, entering DFU mode makes a malfunctioning Apple TV discoverable in desktop iTunes so you can restore it to factory settings, downgrade to an earlier version of the software or side-load a beta firmware onto it.

The method to put an Apple TV into DFU mode differs from that for other iOS devices. In this post, you’ll learn how to put an Apple TV into recovery mode so you can restore it to factor settings if it’s acting up.

What you’ll need

In order to put an Apple TV into recovery mode, you will need:

  • an Apple TV
  • Mac or Windows PC
  • the most recent version of iTunes installed on your computer
  • a USB-C or Micro-USB cable

Neither USB-C nor Micro-USB cable is included with your Apple TV in the box so make sure you have one lying around before proceeding with the steps in this tutorial.

RELATED: How to show hidden ‘Advanced Settings’ menu on Apple TV

If connecting the Apple TV with a cable to your computer doesn’t prompt iTunes to recognize the device, place it in recovery mode:

How to place Apple TV in recovery (DFU) mode

1) Ensure your Apple TV is connected to s Mac or Windows PC via a USB-C (fourth-generation model) or Micro-USB cable (older models). The set-top box does not need to be connected to your TV via HDMI at the same time.

2) Reset the device by holding down the Menu and Home buttons on the Siri Remote (fourth-generation model), or the Menu and Down buttons (older models), for six seconds until the indicator light on the box begins flashing rapidly.

Release the buttons to restart the device.

RELATED: How to restart Apple TV or put it to standby or sleep mode

3) As soon as the device reboots (the screen goes blank), but before the Apple logo appears, press and hold the Menu and Play/Pause buttons together until a message appears in iTunes saying an Apple TV in recovery mode has been detected.

iTunes for Mac Apple TV in Recovery Mode screenshot 001

Your Apple TV may display a screen that shows the device and a cable running toward the iTunes icon, indicating it’s in recovery mode.

RELATED: How to put Apple TV into retail Demo Mode

Reverting Apple TV to factory settings in recovery mode

To revert the device to its factory settings, press the Restore Apple TV button in iTunes. This will erase everything on the device, including your settings and apps, and download and install the most recent version of the tvOS operating system.

RELATED: How to update Apple TV software

Side-loading Apple TV firmware in recovery mode

If you want to side-load a beta firmware onto the Apple TV, or install an older firmware, first select your Apple TV in iTunes’ source list. Now hold the Option (⌥) key and click the Restore Apple TV button.

The file selection dialog pops up. Choose the firmware image file and click Open to begin installation. After the new firmware has been installed, your Apple TV will reboot and require a network connection to complete activation.

RELATED: How to update Siri Remote firmware

How do you like this post? If you have discovered a neat Apple TV trick that you’d like to share with the community, post it in the comment section below.

Check out other Apple TV how-tos in our archive.

You can send us your tutorial submissions at tips@iDownloadBlog.com.

  • Nolan I.

    So I guess you can downgrade the ATV4? Don’t see why you would want to, but hey apparently you can…

  • Lakh Jhajj

    AWESOME POST. THANKS A TON FOR SAVING MY APTV4. WENT CRAZY LOOKING HOW TO CONNECT APTV4 TO ITUNES CAUSE IT WAS ALL BLANK SCREEN WONT TURN ON WITH RAPID LED FLASHING. BUT YOUR METHOD MADE ME SEE THE RECOVERY SCREN ON ITUNES. HOPING THIS WILL RESTORE APTV4 TO NORMAL.

    ANY IDEA HOW LONG ITSHOULD TAKE TO FINISH RESTORE PROCESS?