How to update tvOS on Apple TV

Each fall, Apple releases a major update for tvOS, which is the operating system for Apple TV. Apple adds exciting new features throughout the year with minor updates. For example, did you know that you can now use Apple TV as a HomeKit hub?

If you haven’t used your Apple TV in a while, it might be time to update tvOS. If you are the forgetful type, you can also enable the automatic update feature. If you’re the adventurous type, you can get tvOS beta updates on your Apple TV too (and unlike an iPhone Beta, it only takes a couple of clicks to enter the beta channel).

How to manually update tvOS on Apple TV (4th generation and 4K models)

The 4th generation Apple TV was launched in 2015 and is quite different from the previous version. The method of updating the newer models (including the new 4K model) is different than before.

  1. Turn on your Apple TV and from the dashboard go to Settings app.
Settings app in the dashboard
  1. Here, choose the System option.
System option in Settings
  1. On the System screen, go to Software Updates section.
Software updates in the system
  1. You will now see the current tvOS version on the left side of the screen. To update the software, click Update software button.
Update software button
  1. From the popup, choose the Download and install option to instantly download and install tvOS update.
Download and Install button
  1. Apple TV will now show the download bar.
Installation update
  1. Once downloaded, the installation process will begin immediately. You will see tvOS prepare and install the update.
Preparing the update window
  1. Once the update is installed, Apple TV will restart, and when you return to the Dashboard again, you will run the latest version of tvOS on your Apple TV.

How to update third generation Apple TV

Apple still provides updates for the older third generation Apple TV model. If you are using the older model, please follow the steps below to update Apple TV software.

  1. First, open the Settings app and go to General > Software Updates.
  2. Here, select Software update.
  3. If there is an update, download and install it.

Your Apple TV will download and install the update. Make sure you don’t disconnect your Apple TV during the process.

How to turn on automatic update for tvOS on Apple TV

If you want your Apple TV 4K or Apple TV HD (which is a great Google Chromecast alternative) to always run the latest version of the operating system, you can configure them to automatically install new updates when they are available.

  1. To do this, go to Settings > System > Software Updates.
  2. Here, turn on the Update automatically option.
Automatically update option

If you are using an older version of Apple TV, go to Settings > General > Software Updatesand from here, turn on the Update automatically option.

How to get tvOS beta updates on Apple TV

To get beta updates for iOS or iPadOS, you need to sign up for Apple’s public beta program or download a developer profile. Getting beta updates on tvOS is much easier.

  1. Go to Settings > System > Software Updates.
  2. Here, choose the Get beta updates option.
Get the Beta Updates option
  1. From the popup, select the Get beta updates option.
Get confirmation of beta updates
  1. Apple will ask you to agree to their terms. Here, choose the Agree option.
Beta Software Agreements window
  1. Now, choose the Download and install option from the next screen.
Download and Install button
  1. Apple TV will now download the latest Beta update and install in a couple of minutes.

How to find the current version of tvOS on Apple TV

If you want to confirm that you have updated to the latest version of tvOS or if you want to check the current version of the tvOS operating system on your 4th generation Apple TV, you can do so at any time from the Settings app.

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple TV.
  2. Here, choose the General option.
  3. Now go to Of section.
  4. Here you will find all the information related to your Apple TV. Check out the tvOS section to see the current tvOS version number.

If you are using the older third generation model, go to Settings > General > Update software to see the current tvOS version.

Troubleshoot tvOS updates

Usually, updating tvOS software on Apple TV is a simple process, but sometimes there can be problems. Sometimes it is the software update itself that could cause new problems. It is best to wait a while before updating to the latest version of tvOS.

Also, when updating, make sure you have a stable Wi-Fi connection and don’t disconnect your Apple TV during the installation process.

Problem with white screen

If your Apple TV shows a white screen with a white cable and the iTunes icon, it means your Apple TV needs to be restored using iTunes.

Reset bricked Apple TV

If your Apple TV is bricked and won’t turn on, the only thing you can do is restore it from iTunes.

  1. To do this, you must first connect your Apple TV to your computer.
  2. You’ll find a USB-C port on the back of your Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K for just this purpose. Plug the USB-C cable into your computer (for the old Apple TV, it’s a Micro-USB port).
  3. Then open the iTunes app on your Mac or PC. If you’re using macOS Catalina, open the Finder app instead.
  4. Then select your device from the sidebar and choose the Reset Apple TV button to start the restore process.

Now that you’ve updated to the latest version of tvOS on your Apple TV, take some time to explore the new features. You will find a What’s new button in Software Updates section that will help you familiarize yourself with the new features.

What are some of your favorite new features in tvOS? Share with us in the comments below. If you’re having trouble streaming Netflix after a tvOS update, check out our Netflix troubleshooting guide for Apple TV.

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