Apple TV Troubleshooting Made Easier

Jan 20, 2014 apple tv, help, modem, 0 Comments
Apple TV Troubleshooting


You just might need to do some Apple TV troubleshooting from time to time. If you’ve exhausted the troubleshooting steps that you already know about, or can’t find your manual anymore (I know this situation only too well!), not  to worry, I’ve put together some stuff I’ve gleaned from friends that work for Apple and support the product.

Before I go into any of the troubleshooting steps they’ve alerted me to, one of them repeatedly warned me to let you know to never open the Apple TV case, otherwise you will void the warranty; and yes, they have ways to tell if you have. (Sheesh. Flashback: “Ve haff ways of making you talk.”)

Basic Apple TV Troubleshooting Steps

One of the first things tech people always ask is, “Is it plugged in and is the outlet working?” Yes, it’s super basic, but you’d be surprised how many times I hear, “Oops, the cat must have unplugged it.” Check it. Twice, just to be sure. Next, make sure the TV is turned on and the proper video input is selected.

The next step is just for those that are on their initial install and have never successfully used their Apple TV appliance. For this you’re going to need to technical specs of your TV. You need to check to make sure the TV supports the resolution requirements of the Apple TV appliance:

  • First generation Apple TV: HD 1080p/1080i/720p/480p
  • Second generation Apple TV: H.264 up to 720p/Mpeg-4 640X480/M-JPEG up to 1280×720
  • Third generation Apple TV: H.264 up to 1080p/Mpeg-4 640X480/M-JPEG up to 1280×720

If your TV doesn’t support these resolutions, your video will not display correctly.

If everything is plugged in and turned on and connected properly, things just may need to be reset. Unplug everything: TV, router, Internet modem, Apple TV box, etc. Wait about 30 seconds and then plug everything back in and let them fully boot up, starting with the modem, router, TV, and Apple TV appliance. You need to do it in this order because the router depends on the modem having a connection and IP address to connect to, and the Apple appliance needs the IP from the router.

You could also try resetting just the Apple TV device. Here’s how:

1. Hold the Menu and Down keys on the Apple TV remote for six seconds. You’ll see the indicator light blink quickly.

2. Release the buttons when the blinking starts.

3. Unplug the box for three seconds and plug it back in.

Network Connection Issues

I found out from one of my friends that  the second- and third-generation Apple TV boxes occasionally have troubles picking up the correct network IP address range. Apparently, when they’re tested, they use a different IP range than what most home networks use and are unable for some reason to “forget” that old IP range.

In the Apple TV menu, go to Settings and look for General and then Network. If the address listed (if there is one) begins with 169, you need to check either the base station or your router. Since most routers come from the factory set to use the 192.xxx.xxx.xxx IP range, my guess would be a problem with the base station. This is true whether you’re using a wired or wireless connection. While you’re on the Network page, make sure it’s set to Automatic, which allows it to automatically acquire an address. Also, make sure your router is set to automatically issue IP addresses by making sure DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) is enabled in the router settings menu.

Update Your Apple TV Software

(Second and Third Generation Devices Only)

From time to time, Apple’s engineers will find ways to make your Apple TV device work better by updating the software that runs it. You can make sure you’ve got the latest and greatest software (we call it firmware) by following these steps:

1. Open the Apple TV menu.

2. Select Settings.

3. Select General.

4. Select Software Update.

5. If an update is available, allow it to install and try connecting again.

Other Issues With Apple TV Troubleshooting

So far, we’ve really only covered issues pertaining to network connectivity. Apple has several pages in the “Knowledge Base” on other issues. If you can see picture but have no audio, you can check that on this page. If you have no picture or poor picture quality, they also have steps to follow to troubleshoot the problem.

If all else fails, you can also check the Apple TV Troubleshooting Support Communities.


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Mike is a certified low voltage installer with over 10 years of professional experience in the field, much of it working for Cable TV companies. He also has over a decade of experience in the computer field as a network engineer and support specialist. Mike's hobbies include installing high-end audio and video systems.

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