Apple TV is a pretty reliable device, but if you do have a problem it’s not obvious how to do a factory reset. We show you how.

Of the fifteen Apple TVs we have, only one has developed a problem which required a factory reset. The device would power on but wouldn’t accept any input from the remote control. As there is no pinhole reset button on Apple TV it’s not obvious how to carry out a factory reset.

How to Factory Reset an Apple TV

The solution is surprisingly simple:

  1. Disconnect your Apple TV from your TV.
  2. On the back of the Apple TV is a micro-usb port. Connect a micro-usb cable to the port and connect the Apple TV to your Mac or PC. If you don’t have a micro-usb cable (they come as standard with most non-Apple mobile phones) you can pick one up very cheaply from many online
  3. Once connected, open iTunes. Your Apple TV should automatically be detected and listed as a device in the same way as an iPad or iPhone. Select the Apple TV.
  4. You will now have the option to restore your Apple TVrestore-apple-tv
  5. Click “Restore Apple TV…” The restore will take approximately ten minutes after which you’ll have a factory reset device.

Apple TV is available from Amazon now

If you found this guide useful, please let us know in the comments!


About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.


  1. What if when you connect your Apple TV 2 with a micro USB cable (working and 1 meter in length) to your computer (Windows 7 SP1) and it does not show up in iTunes (v11.1)?

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      Hi Dan,

      I haven’t seen this problem myself, but there are a lot of references to problems with Apple TV and Windows 7 drivers on the Apple forums. I’ll put a message out on our Twitter feed to see if someone can help.


          • I had similar problem. I opened iTunes & nothing there for Apple TV. I then disconnected the Apple TV USB, waited a few seconds and reconnected to my PC & then iTunes recognized the connection, and the Apple TV icon appeared in the upper left hand side of the iTunes page. Then everything worked as described. Took about 20 minutes to complete.

  2. This worked for me. Good catch, I barely noticed that micro-USB port under the HDMI port. Thankfully Sony’s new PS4 uses these for charging controllers, so I had one, otherwise I’d have had to pay probably twenty bucks just to buy a cable for this. And I can confirm it does work with the power cord unplugged (I assume you’ll need a powered USB port, though–make sure you use the powered one if you have a system with some USB ports that are unpowered).

  3. Hey Karl,

    I have done all the steps but the Apple TV has taken longer the 10 minutes to restore. How do I know when it’s done, Alexia

  4. My apple tv will not restore. It goes as fas as preparing apple tv to restore, so i left it over night and still no change.

  5. i followed the steps and after I was done it said “Your Apple TV has been restored to factory settings. Please disconnect your Apple TV from your computer and reconnect it to your TV.” so I did but once I connected it to my TV it still was saying that I needed to connect it to iTunes again. What should I do to restore the factory settings?

  6. I just received our Apple TV 4 after using an older version. Unfortunately when I was going thru the pairing to the remote, another language was selected. After much frustration of not being able to go back aand choose English. I read about resetting and I may be naive but no micro usb cable I have fits this device. Can you help please?

  7. This tip worked perfectly. The USB port provided enough power (Macbook to Apple TV) to complete the reset. The Apple TV is now responding to the remote as expected. THANKS!

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