How to Check (and Update) Your Apple TV Operating System Version

Although automatic updates are enabled by default on the new Apple TV, it’s useful to know how to check your tvOS version number and manually update it. Read on as we show you how.

Note: This tutorial applies to the 2015 4th-generation Apple TV hardware update and the subsequent updates running tvOS.

Why Do I Want To Do This?

RELATED: How to Set Up and Configure Your Apple TV

There are two parts to this tutorial, checking the version number of your Apple TV’s tvOS and updating the software. Why would you want to check the OS version number? The most common reason is simply to see if your device is up to date. (Less commonly, some people might be interested in getting their hands on an out of date model for jailbreaking or modding purposes).

The second part of the tutorial, manually updating your tvOS, is focused on forcing an update to the most current version of tvOS. While most people will be well served by the automatic update process, on days like today (the date of this tutorial’s publication, 11/09/2015) Apple just pushed out a brand new update to the recently released 4th generation Apple TV and many curious users won’t want to wait for the automatic process to kick in and would like to update right this minute.

Let’s take a look at how to check if you even need to update and then we’ll force out Apple TV to search for the update so we can make the jump to the most current version of tvOS.

Checking the tvOS Version

To check what version of tvOS you are running on your Apple TV navigate, starting from the Home screen, to the Settings icon.

Select the icon by clicking the center of your trackpad.

Select the top entry, “General”, within the “Settings” menu.

Within the “General” settings menu, select “About”.

In the “About” menu you’ll see a variety of information about your Apple TV including the model, serial number, and the tvOS version (highlighted by the red box in the screenshot above). In the screenshot you can see that the Apple TV unit we’re using for this tutorial is still on version tvOS version 9.0. Let’s take a look at how to manually update it.

Manually Updating tvOS

By default your Apple TV should be set to automatically update itself when not in active use. If you’re in a hurry to get that update, however, you’ll need to manually update instead of waiting for your Apple TV to phone home and check for updates later on.

To do so we’ll return to the Setting menu.

Within the “Settings” menu select “System”.

Within the “System” menu select “Software Updates”.

Here you can see that our Apple TV is, per the default, set up for automatic updates. We recommend leaving it on but some users who are particularly cautious about software updates may wish to turn it off (again, though, we recommend keeping it set to automatic updates for increased security and a continually up-to-date user experience).

A small bar will appear under the Apple TV logo as your Apple TV pings the update server and checks for updates and downloads them. Once downloaded the screen above will pop up and prompt you to either “Update Now” or “Update Later”.┬áLet’s select “Update Now” to immediately apply the update.

Right after you make the selection your display will switch to the above progress meter. There are two steps to the process. First your Apple TV will prepare for the update and restart (at which point your display will go black for a few moments) and then, in step 2 of 2, it will finish installing and restart once more.

After the process is complete you can always verify that your Apple TV is on a new tv OS version number by returning to Settings -> General -> About to confirm you’re running the most current version.


Have a pressing question about your Apple TV? Shoot us an email at ask@howtogeek.com and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.