This guide will walk you through how to restore a second, third, or fourth generation Apple TV. The now obsolete first generation Apple TV and the Apple TV 4K cannot be restored using this method.

The process comes in handy for upgrading and downgrading to signed firmwares, but also for restoring the device if it has problems or needs a fresh start.

Requirements

  • An Apple TV.
  • A Micro-USB or USB-C cable, depending on the generation of your Apple TV.
  • A computer with iTunes installed on it.
  • An IPSW firmware file to install to your Apple TV. The firmware must be for the Apple TV, and for the correct generation of the device. It must also be a signed firmware.

Instruction to restore an Apple TV

1) Visit our downloads page to grab the IPSW file for the firmware you want.

2) Disconnect all the wires from your Apple TV. Then connect your Apple TV to your computer via Micro-USB or USB-C.

3) Connect the power cable to your Apple TV.

4) Launch iTunes and wait for the device to appear on the connected devices page. As you can see, mine began the process on tvOS 9.0.

If iTunes doesn’t recognize your Apple TV, you might have to put it in recovery mode.

restore Apple TV - recovery mode

5) Locate the Restore Apple TV… button.

6a) If you are on Windows hold down the shift key, and then click the Restore Apple TV… button.

6b) If you are on Mac hold down the option/alt key, and then click the Restore Apple TV… button.

7) A file browser should now appear. Navigate to the IPSW firmware file which you downloaded earlier, and select it.

restore Apple TV - firmware file

8) At the confirmation dialogue which appears, check that it reports the correct firmware version to restore to, and then hit Restore.

restore Apple TV - select restore

9) Your Apple TV will now begin the restore process. Do not disconnect it from the computer, or from power, until it is complete.

restore Apple TV process

10) Once the restore is complete the following message will appear: Your Apple TV has been restored to factory settings. Please disconnect your Apple TV from your computer and reconnect it to your TV.

restored Apple TV

11) Check your tvOS version in iTunes to ensure that it has restored to the correct firmware. As you can see, mine is now on tvOS 10.1.

restored Apple TV

And there you have it! This method can clear the dust and cobwebs from an Apple TV which has been running for a while. It can also upgrade or downgrade it to a higher/lower signed firmware if you want to move between them.

Have you ever needed to restore your Apple TV at all?

Do you need any help with this guide? Let me know in the comments.