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Restore and Reset Your Apple TV to Factory Settings


Quick fix to restore or reset your Apple TV … TRY THIS BEFORE Using the Procedure Below because restoring your Apple TV using iTunes takes a while. So, if you can load the normal interface menu, but nothing happens when you try to use your remote control, it is possible your remote has become unpaired from the Apple TV, so hold the remote close to the main unit and press and hold the menu button and the left side of the ring button above for about 6 seconds. You’ll see the indicator light flash at first, then stop. While you continue to hold down both buttons, after about 5 seconds the light will start flashing again. As you continue to hold, if you are fortunate, a little broken link icon (two opposing leaning ovals opposite of each other) will pop up in the top left hand corner of your screen. Viola, you’ll now be able to move through the menu with your remote control again. If so, you’ve dodged a bullet.

Before performing the above procedure, you should be able to at least get your Apple TV interface to display on your TV if you simply unplug the power cord on the back of your main unit for a few seconds, then plug it back in. This will force a restart of your Apple TV. First, you’ll see the Apple logo appear when you first plug it back in, then the screen will go dark and a swirling circle will appear as the interface reloads. Finally, it may display a couple of selections, like Movies and Settings in two boxes. No need to select one, just let the program continue to load until the full interface is displayed. With the unresponsive Apple TV interface menu displaying on your TV, then perform actions I described in the first paragraph (press on hold the Menu and left side of the ring button at the 9 pm position and wait more than 5 or 6 seconds until the remote icon displays in the top left corner of your TV screen. After you see the broken link icon, you can let go of both buttons). You should be able to move the selector throughout the whole interface as normal.

If this doesn’t work, you could try simultaneously pressing the Menu button and the right side of the ring. Most have success by pushing the left side of the ring.

If the above fast fix doesn’t work for you, then you can do a complete restoration to the default factory settings as described below.


I had my Apple TV 3rd Generation  for about a month and a half when it completely froze. I thought it completely bricked. I was frustrated and the last thing I wanted to do was to send it back even though it has a 90 day warranty. I knew it would be 2 weeks before I’d get to enjoy it again and I use it every night in my bedroom before I go to sleep and right after I wake up, so I wanted to fix it from home.

After some research, I found that you could try a technique as a last resort. You basically have to hook it up to your computer and restore or reset your Apple TV using your iTunes.

The whole process took me about an hour. I had everything I needed except a micro usb connector. I had several mini usb cables, but none were micro. They are close to the same size, but the micro usb connector is definitely smaller and it has more of an oval shape, whereas the mini has a couple of angled sides at the smaller ends. Trust me, they won’t fit.

I zipped up to Radio Shack and purchased a Micro USB adaptor for full retail. It set me back $14.95 + tax. The full USB to Micro USB cable was $19.95. I opted for just the adaptor. I snapped it on my Standard USB to Mini USB cable on top of the mini end. It fit perfectly.

The Difference Between a Mini USB and a Micro UBB to Reset and Restore Your Apple TV to Factory Settings
Mini USB vs Micro USB


Now you have your Standard USB to Micro USB cable ready to go. Make sure you update to the latest version of iTunes before you get started. Then, close it before you hook up the Apple TV to your computer. The Apple instructions said it might not detect your Apple TV as a device on the left side of the iTunes program if you start the process of resetting it with iTunes open.

Now, hook up the usb to micro usb cable from your computer to the Apple TV on the back of the unit. You’ll find the place to plug-in your micro usb connector right below the HDMI plugin.

My iTunes program opened automatically, about a minute later. It discovered the Apple TV as a device without any action on my part. You can see that in the left column of the iTunes program. It brought up a page in the content area that displayed a picture of an Apple TV and offered a button that said: “restore”. The description next to it said: “If you are experiencing problems with your Apple TV, you can restore it to its original settings by clicking restore”. I did.

I did this on a PC with Windows 7 as my operating system, but I’m sure the process on a Mac is similar.

I got 3 pop-up windows saying it was installing drivers. I ignored them and let it install all of them completely.

From there, you just follow the instructions that come up and viola, your Apple TV is restored to factory default settings.

I go through step by step how to restore and reset your Apple TV 2nd and 3rd Gen on the video. It’s very detailed so that even those fearful of technology can follow my instructions. I know it’s long, but I wanted to help even a technophobe, so thanks for your patience.

Now, go back to your television and hook up your Apple TV to the HDMI cable and then the power cord.

The restoration deletes all your previous settings like your language preference. You’ll need to enter all those. You’ll also need to re-enter all the IDs and passcodes to the services you’ve subscribed to, like Netflix and Hulu or you won’t have access to them. Keep them handy for next time you have to do this.

My remote control just worked. I didn’t have to go through a sync.

That’s it.

The good news is, after I restored my Apple TV to the factory settings, it worked better with less quirkiness. This makes me think I installed a later version that had less bugs. Seeing this, I was glad I had chosen to reset it, because now it works even better. I believe it updates to the latest firmware as well.


Published in Tech Tips


  1. Janice Janice

    You are awesome! Three hours later after searching and searching this worked! Thank you! –Janice

    • Janice, you are so welcome. The reason I created the video and post tips was because figuring it out was frustrating for me too. I think most of the time, the 30-second quick fix will work. Thanks for letting me know it helped!

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