How to restore a 2nd or 3rd generation Apple TV back to factory settings with iTunes

If you own a 2nd or 3rd generation Apple TV and you've been experiencing problems with it or it just doesn't seem to do anything at all, you can restore it in iTunes in pretty much the same way you can any other iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Recently, Apple pulled the Apple TV 6.0 software update after reports of it bricking user's Apple TV's started trickling in. If that's something you went through, the only way to get it back in working order is to restore it using iTunes.

Here's how:

What you need

  1. A sad 2nd or 3rd generation Apple TV
  2. A micro-USB cable. These are sold separately but are pretty common and can be picked up pretty inexpensively at most electronics stores.
  3. A Mac or PC running the latest version of iTunes.

How to restore your Apple TV using iTunes

  1. Plug your Apple TV into a Mac or PC using a micro-USB cable. You do not need the power cable for a 2nd gen Apple TV but will for a 3rd.
  2. Launch iTunes on your Mac or PC.
  3. Select Apple TV in the top right of the navigation bar if it doesn't pop up on its own.
  4. There is only one option when it comes to managing the Apple TV in iTunes and that's to restore it. Click on the button labeled Restore Apple TV...
  5. iTune will advise you that it will be restored to factory settings and updated to the latest software version. Click on Restore and Update to confirm you're okay with that.
  6. The next window gives you more information on the restore. Click Next to continue on.
  7. Click Agree on the next pop-up in order to agree to Apple's terms and conditions.
  8. The software update will now begin downloading, which you can confirm by clicking on the downloads button in the very top right hand corner of iTunes. This brings up the Downloads Window. Just make sure the download started and then you can close it out.
  9. Let iTunes do what it needs to do. Just make sure you do not unplug your Apple TV from the computer while it's restoring.
  10. Once it's done, you'll get a pop-up message telling you it's okay to unplug it from your computer and re-connect it to your TV.

That's all there is to it. Go ahead and set up your Apple TV with your television again and make sure it's functioning properly again.

Still having issues?

If you're still having problems after a restore to factory settings, our iMore forums are a great place to ask questions and get lots of help from other users. Be sure you check them out or drop a comment below.