iPhone and iPad

Fix Your Apple TV: Troubleshooting Streaming Issues

Christian Cawley 19-05-2015

You’re sitting comfortably, watching something streamed through your Apple TV, when all of a sudden, the picture cuts out, to be replaced with a gray screen. Perhaps the interruption – a sort of digital “snow” static – fixes itself, and you soon forget about it.


But what if it doesn’t? What if you can’t watch streamed movies and TV on Netflix, Now TV, or stream movies from your computer via Plex Your Guide To Plex - The Awesome Media Center If you have a lot of locally-saved movies and TV shows, you need to install Plex. And this is the only guide to getting started with Plex you'll ever need to read. Read More or a similar service?

Here’s how to troubleshoot Apple’s digital box.

Check the Hardware

As with any hardware-related issue, the first thing you should do is ensure that the device is working properly. Both lights should be on, and not blinking; the Status Light on the right (as you look at the Apple TV) can, however, give you some idea as to what the problem might be on second and third generation Apple TVs Apple TV Review and Giveaway Apple introduced its set-top digital media player in 2007, and it's currently on its third generation of hardware. Read More .

If the light is fully on or off, you can assume that the device is in the corresponding state. A flashing status light, however, delivers more information. While flashing slowly, the Apple TV is starting up. Single flashes that correspond with remote control use indicate that the signal is being received. Three flashes following remote control use means that the Apple TV is rejecting the command.



Quick flashes of the Status Light inform you that there is a problem. The first thing you should do is attempt to use the remote to Restore the device in Settings > General > Reset.

If this isn’t possible, remove the power cable and leave the device disconnected for a while. Apple TVs are prone to overheating if they’re not stored in a sensible, well-ventilated space, so this cold start can resolve a huge number of issues.

Resetting Apple TV Without a Menu

If the Apple TV isn’t responding to commands from the remote control and “cold starting” doesn’t have the desired effect, you will need to reset the device to factory settings and install the latest software. You can do this by connecting the Apple TV to your computer (Mac OS X or Windows) and running iTunes. A micro-USB cable is required for this, you can pick these up at your local Apple Store or online at Amazon.

With the HDMI and power cables disconnected from your Apple TV, open iTunes on your computer and connect the micro-USB cable What Are the Different Computer Cable Types You Need to Know? Not sure what that cord is for? Here are the most common computer cable types explained, from monitor cables to network cables. Read More from the Apple TV to your computer. If you’re using a third-generation Apple TV, you’ll also need to reconnect the power cable. Use Apple’s help page to establish which model of Apple TV you’re using.


On the Apple TV page in iTunes, click Restore Apple TV, and wait while the device is reset and updated. Do not disconnect any cables. Eventually you should see a message informing you that the Apple TV has been restored.

Confirm Apple TV Connectivity

While checking the hardware, you should also confirm that your Apple TV is connected to your local network. Open Settings > General > Network to check the settings, confirming that your router IP address is displayed. Use the Test Network option to find out if the Apple TV is successfully connecting to the Internet.

Fix Your Apple TV: Troubleshooting Streaming Issues muo ipad appletv test network

If your Apple TV menu cannot be viewed or interacted with – perhaps due to a problem with the remote – then you will need to check your router’s administration screen to find out if the device is connected. How you do this differs according to router manufacturer, so check the appropriate documentation, but in almost all cases such checks can be made from the web browser of any other device connected to the router.


For the best network connectivity on your Apple TV, you should connect an Ethernet cable where convenient. This is a particularly good idea if you’re finding the WiFi connection disconnects regularly or the signal strength fluctuates, particularly if you like to stream large files over the network.


After checking your Apple TV’s connectivity, confirm that the HDMI cable Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports All those video cables can get confusing. What is a VGA port? What is DVI? Learn the difference between video cable types. Read More is connected properly. You might also double check, testing it on another device. Some HDMI cables (not necessarily the cheaper ones) are prone to deterioration, resulting in the Apple TV unable to send pictures to your TV set.

Also, ensure any HDMI splitters or extensions that you might be using are securely connected.

Problems Streaming a DVD to Your Apple TV?

Where you stream from can impact how Apple TV handles the data, and whether it is successfully reproduced on your TV. For instance, streaming from Netflix or Now TV (in the UK) should give you great results, as long as your Apple TV has a reliable network connection and Internet speed is fast.


Streaming from another device within your network is another matter, however.


Your MacBook Pro’s DVD player probably won’t stream many commercial DVDs due to DRM limitations What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It’s the biggest cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is the model... Read More . However, you can circumvent this by using VLC, the popular media player from VideoLAN. All you need to do is load up the DVD and stream it to the Apple TV by opening the AirPlay menu and choosing the Apple TV option.

Alternatively, you might prefer to rip the DVD using Handbrake 5 Clever Things You Can Do with HandBrake HandBrake is a powerful tool, designed to help you get the most out of your digital media. We have compiled some of HandBrake's most ingenious uses. Check it out! Read More , which should result in a media file that plays back with less reliance on your computer’s resources.

We’ve looked at several ways to resolve streaming issues on the Apple TV, from checking connectivity to overcoming DRM issues on DVDs. But what problems have you faced?

Do you experience Apple TV streaming issues? Perhaps you’ve found a fix that works every time?

Image credits: endermasali / Shutterstock.com, ymgerman / Shutterstock.com

Related topics: Apple TV, Home Theater, Online Video.

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  1. Ryq
    April 11, 2016 at 2:12 am

    I had a LOT of problems, then I found out that my WIFI sometimes drops for a half a second and my Mac is then on a different network. I spent so much time trying to figure this out. So first, check that both are on the same network.

    For the first time, I recently used my DVD player with Apple TV and only the audio appeared on screen. The video was just gray.

    The solution? Use VLC (free). I use that for other things so it was much simpler than using the Apple DVD player.

  2. Paul Bennett
    March 1, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Jerome Lee, Almost the same problem. I can be watching videos that I've downloaded or streaming and from my MacBook pro or from my iPhone 6 plus I will get kicked off of my 2nd gen Apple TV. It's usually about every 5 to 10 mins and I have to connect it back to my Apple TV. I've tried resetting and still same problem. It was fine and maybe an update???

  3. Kevin
    February 3, 2016 at 3:39 am

    I have a second gen ATV and tonight I cannot stream from my Mac to it without lag and stutter, nor can I stream from Apple's servers. I have tried Ethernet and wi-fi. The network test said it was successful, then said it couldn't connect to Apple. I have tried restarting. I don't have any problems with my iPads, iPhones, or Macs. Just the ATV. Ideas?

  4. Pete Greenwood
    December 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Can I get Yahoo or Google on my Apple stream player like Roku ?

  5. Jerome Lee
    May 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Been having problems lately with the streaming and AirPlay.

    Turning on the ATV from sleep mode and all my devices cannot connect via AirPlay. The way around this so far is with the power on to unplug the power reconnect it again. Even if you try to reset your devices this doesn't work.

    After awhile of streaming or watching some movies from one device, it stops streaming visuals. Audio is still been streamed. No way around this except to disconnect and reconnect the power source as well. But the funny thing is if you disconnect the stream from the device and connect another device the stream from the second device is good.

    If anyone else has other solutions or an idea to what's happening I would definitely appreciate it. If not I guess I'll have to try the reinstall the firmware with iTunes as suggested above.

    BtW none of my devices are jailbroken and running the latest iOS firmware.

    • Anonymous
      June 15, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      Jerome Lee..

      I have the same problem. I just brought another MacBook pro.. the first that I have work's fine.. but the second, has the same issue that you describe.
      Any Idea?

    • Paul
      May 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Also having strange problems like this - multiple ATVs from 1st to 4th Gen, sometimes (rarely) streaming works and then doesn't work. I've setup multiple WiFi networks and ethernet connections to try and resolve but these problems always come back. I've restarted, reset and tried to take sleep off too. Things that work on the MBP do not work on ATV.

      This only appeared recently (in the last few weeks) so I was blaming my ISP for a problem with a protocol on their network or my router they supplied (which I need for my TV channels so cannot be swapped out easily).

  6. Mike mckenna
    May 19, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    How can you install you tube(reinstalls)