There may come a time when you want to sell your Apple TV or give it to someone else. Or maybe a failed system update ended up bricking the device. In any event, it’s good to know how to factory reset your Apple TV.
There are two ways to factory reset an Apple TV. The first method is by just going into the settings on the Apple TV and resetting it, which assumes you’re able to boot the device up and click through the menus.
The other method can be used when something goes awry, like the power going out during an update and bricking your Apple TV. That way, you can factory reset it even if you can’t properly boot up the device and navigate through the menus.
For the Newer, 4th-Generation Apple TV
From the home screen, click on “Settings”.
Scroll down and select “System”.
Near the bottom, click on “Reset”.
From there, you can select either “Reset” or “Reset and Update”. Both will factory reset your Apple TV, but the latter option will also install the latest software update if one is available (and if you have an internet connection).
For Older Apple TV Models
To factory reset an older Apple TV (3rd generation and older), you first want to click on “Settings” on the home screen.
On the next screen, select “General”.
Next, scroll all the way to the bottom and click on “Reset”.
From there, you can select either “Reset” or “Reset and Update”. Both will factory reset your Apple TV, but the latter option will also install the latest software update if one is available (and only if you have an internet connection).
Factory Reset Your Apple TV Using iTunes
If, by chance, your Apple TV will not boot up properly, or something has gone wrong and the unit isn’t operating properly, you can restore it by connecting it to your computer and using iTunes to factory reset it.
First, unplug your Apple TV. You still need to power it back up (except for the 2nd-gen model), but before you do that, plug a microUSB cable into the back of your Apple TV (right below the HDMI port) on the 3rd-gen Apple TV. If you have a 4th-gen model, you’ll need a USB-C cable and the port will be right above the HDMI port. After that, connect the other end to a USB port on your computer.
Once your Apple TV is connected, plug it back into power (again, except for the 2nd-gen model). iTunes should open (if it’s not already running) and recognize the Apple TV. From there, select “Restore Apple TV”.
Confirm the action by clicking on “Restore and Update”. Once you do this, the latest version of the Apple TV software will be download and installed, thus restoring it to a minty fresh condition.
Once the process is complete, you can safely eject the Apple TV from your computer, and it should now boot up after you reconnect it to your television.