Fix Frozen Apple TV 4

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Fix Frozen Apple TV 4

Apple TV 4 users are occasionally faced with a frozen, unresponsive device. This article covers how to fix a frozen Apple TV.

Apple TV 4 is a relatively new device with a recently developed operating system, tvOS. This, combined with Apple’s decline in quality, has resulted in a substandard experience for many users.

The new Apple TV is an improvement over my last Apple TV 2, which rebooted itself a few times a night, usually in the middle of a video. I have to admit, both models of Apple TV have proven to be the worst tech products I have ever owned. They’re not the quality one would expect with Apple products. I use my Apple TV every night, and it can often provide hours of trouble-free entertainment. I do experience at least one problem every day, and some nights, it is just a frustrating experience.

Among its many flaws, the new Apple TV 4 can occasionally freeze, requiring the user to restart the device. Unfortunately, with a frozen Apple TV, users can’t navigate to the Settings screen to restart it. Fortunately, Apple has provided a way to restart Apple TV even if it’s completely frozen.

Force Apple TV 4 to Restart

Using the Siri remote, one can force Apple TV to restart, even when it is frozen. Simply hold down the Menu and Home (TV screen) button for about 6 seconds. The front light on your Apple TV base unit will start flashing rapidly. Release the buttons and your Apple TV will restart. It takes about 30 seconds to restart, however, if you are running tvOS 9.2, you may have to wait longer. The home screen may be frozen after Apple TV is restarted.

Hold Menu and Home Buttons to Restart Apple TV 4

Fix Frozen Home Screen After Restarting

tvOS 9.2 introduced a defect where the home screen is frozen after Apple TV restarts. Fortunately, this is easily fixed. Simply wait about a minute and then click the touchpad on the Siri remote. You should now be able to navigate the home screen and use your Apple TV.

Turn off Automatic Updates for tvOS

tvOS seems to introduce more defects in each release. While Apple fixes some problems, they also seem to create more than are fixed. I also found this to be true of my Apple TV 2. Around 2014, something changed at Apple and their products started to lack quality.

You don’t have to upgrade to the latest version of tvOS the day it comes out. It may be better to stick with the devil you know, and do some research. I actually researched tvOS 9.2 before upgrading, however, no one was writing about the problems. Tech writers were simply regurgitating the keynote. The Apple Support Forum is the best place to research the quality of any Apple release.

tvOS is set to update automatically by default. I recommend turning this off. You can turn off automatic tvOS system updates by going to Settings > System > Software Updates. The Software Updates screen will appear. Simply turn off Automatically Update. You can manually update Apple TV by returning to the Software Updates screen and selecting Update Software. This is also a great way to check if there are any new updates. (continue…)

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25 comments

    1. What doesn’t work? Are you unable to restart Apple TV, or does it remain frozen after it restarts? My hunch is that your Siri Remote’s battery may be dead. Try recharging it. That’s the best advice I can give based on limited information.

  1. I was having the same issue, didn’t know the remote needed to charged like a phone every now and again ??‍♀️

    1. The problem for me was that when I originally got my Apple TV, the remote connected whenever Apple TV restarted. After a tvOS update, I now have to press a button on the remote for it to connect. So the freeze wasn’t actually a freeze. It was just that the Touch surface was unresponsive when my Apple TV restarted. I didn’t know what was happening! It’s clearly a defect. I mean, who doesn’t want their Siri Remote to connect to Apple TV?!?

      So I have actually never had my Apple TV freeze. It was just a remote bug. Some people claim it has happened and these instructions will fix it.

  2. My screen is still frozen after several restarts, and now I’m trying to charge the remote. How do we know when the remote is charged? And, should I have to charge the remote within 24 hours of opening the box?

    Also, I deleted the TV app from the connected iPhone – Will that be an issue?

    1. I have that same problem, but it is not really frozen. You just have to press any button on your Siri Remote and it will re-connect to your Apple TV. This stymied me for a while. It seems like it is frozen, but really, the remote isn’t connected. I actually wrote this article because I thought my Apple TV was frozen! The truth is, it has never really become unresponsive. I do think the Siri Remote pairing issue is a defect, and it has been around for almost two years. Someone told me that restoring Apple TV to factory settings will fix it. That’s too much of a hassle for me.

      It takes 9 hours to fully charge the Siri Remote, starting from a completely depleted battery. You can check the battery level by holding down the Siri Button and saying “battery level”. You can also drill down into the Remotes screen in the Settings app. It shows the battery level.

      Deleting the TV app from your iPhone won’t affect your Apple TV.

      1. I have followed several suggestions and my remote still will not work to allow me to move to or select icons. My screen is stationary on the screensaver. The only buttons that do anything are the volume up and down

  3. Each night before bed the light is blinking and I either get no signal or the swirling clock that goes on forever. If I get up and unplug the box and plug it back in it works fine but just for that night. I set the timer on my tv and fall asleep. The tv turns off but the light stays on. Next night I repeat the steps to make the box work.
    Either the box needs to have a timer or a manual off/on button or be able to correspond to my tv. It’s amazing that this simple box can’t be more simple to operate.

    1. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but my hunch is that it may be a network issue.

      One thing that may make your life easier — hold down the Home button (button with TV) and Menu button (for about 6 seconds) until you see the light flash rapidly. Then release both buttons. This will restart your Apple TV. It should have the same effect as cycling the power and it is much easier.

      Apple TV does have a sleep timer (Settings > General > Sleep After), but it is nothing like what a TV viewer would expect. It only goes to sleep if the device is completely idle. So if you are watching Netflix, it will keep playing video until Netflix stops, then the sleep timer countdown begins. Netflix will eventually pop up a “are you still watching” message, which makes Apple TV idle, but you can’t really control any of that. At best, you can use your TVs sleep timer, but your Apple TV will continue to run, as you have mentioned.

      I agree, Apple TV is half baked. Unfortunately, it is one of the best TV devices on the market. Apple doesn’t take it seriously, partly because they can’t put together their own bundle of live channels. This means they can’t really profit from the device that much, so they’re not interested in it. All of this is Viacom’s fault. They are charging so much for Viacom channels, all of the “cable-over-the-Internet” bundles have to go without at least one Viacom channel. If they have CBS, then they’re missing Comedy Central or something else. This means Apple TV and similar devices can’t really replace cable for most people.

      Viacom is holding back the entire TV device business. This makes Apple not very interested in TV. Apple TV is the worst Apple device I have ever owned, but it is not entirely their fault. No one would have thought Viacom could hold this industry back for so many years. Why would Apple prioritize development on a device that can’t reach its potential, thanks to Viacom?

    1. It refused to go into setup mode after resetting the device to factory defaults?

      If so, this doesn’t surprise me. Apple TV is the worst Apple product. The Apple TV team isn’t very good. If you were Tim Cook, would you put the best and brightest on Apple TV?

      My Apple TV can’t even remember WiFi passwords. It can only remember one at a time. I have to switch between two WiFi networks, because AirPlay is so buggy.

      Unfortunately, one can’t do better. I have tried the competition, and well, I stick with Apple. Fewer bugs… What happened to “it just works”? Oh, yeah, the influx of sociopaths into the Silicon Valley, that’s what happened. No tech company makes quality products anymore. We’ll have to wait until the recession…

  4. Menu and home bring up sleep screen. This experience is complete BS from a trillion dollar company. My ROKU is many times more dependable and faster at bringing up content.

    1. If you hold down Menu and Home (TV button) for 6 seconds, it will restart the device. It restarts quickly and displays the Home screen. Perhaps you didn’t notice the restart? Perhaps you don’t really own an Apple TV?

      1. Perhaps you don’t know what you are talking about? Just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it always works.

        1. You may have to restore tvOS. It should be under Settings > System > Reset. You’ll have to setup Apple TV all over again, however. Basically, this restores your device to factory presets.

  5. Mine was fine until i updated! I came back from the store and it’s the white screen!

    Since then, I’ve restarted multiple times with the menu and tv button, unplugged it and plugged it back in both power and HDMI cables, and it still restarts to the white screen. There’s no option for menu to go into settings and the remote is charged… what else can I do to fix it!?

  6. I was able to force restart with the remote but then it wasn’t responding to the remote after restarting so I’m not sure what else to try?

    1. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can use it as an Apple TV remote. Ensure that your iPhone or iPad are on the same WiFi network as your Apple TV. Next, launch Control Center. You can do this by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen on an iPhone X (or later) with the latest version of iOS or an iPad with the most recent version of iPadOS. If you have an older iPhone or iPad, swipe up from the bottom. Next, tap on the Apple TV remote button. If you haven’t used this before, you’ll be asked to enter a code. Now you can use your iPhone or iPad as a remote.

      It’s possible your remote just ran out of power. It needs to be charged once in a while. But since you managed to restart your Apple TV, this is probably not the issue. You may need to reset your Apple TV to factory settings and start over. I hope this isn’t the case, but it should take no more than ten minutes.

  7. I tried to restart the Apple TV, using remote set up on my iPhone. Now I cannot get the apple tv menu up on the TV screen. When I press the remote on the iPhone, it will not respond to “Add Apple TV” I have unplugged and re plugged everything. Nothing works

    1. That’s because “Nothing Works” replaced “It Just Works” at Apple.

      But seriously, you may need to do a full recovery using iTunes. You can also bring it into an Apple Store, if you don’t have a computer.

      A lot of people don’t have computers these days. I wish I could be one of the lucky. Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. all suck because the talented engineers go to startups, which also suck, but offer pre-IPO stock. How many more of these online stores and social media ripoff apps do we need? I guess the venture capital dollars keep flowing, thanks to the Fed, so we can have another spectacular recession in a few years.

      It’s sad that so many top school grads drop out and pursue a career in remaking Twitter (which is pretty lame) or Instagram (even lamer) all for the prospect of being the next Zuckerberg or Dorsey. Why not just play the lottery? Better odds…

  8. I’m a windows user and only bought an AppleTV to watch Foundation. After some 3 days of trying to get the system working, I strike one problem after another. At present what seems to be the home screen ‘Player 1 entertainment’ is unresponsive to the remote. However, the remote is charged and works as I can change the volume. I did all the usual recommended things, unplugged & waited 6 seconds (reverted back to unresponsive screen). Pressed menu & back, OK, turned off and then started again, just as unresponsive as before. I won’t mention the endless requests to enter ID & password before being instructed to buy something on iTunes. I try to buy something on iTunes only to get to the continue button which which is greyed out. At this point I give up for the night. Sorry for the rant, I just want advice how to get the system responding to the remote.

    1. No worries about the rant. I totally understand how frustrating Apple products can be, as they prioritize the iPhone over everything else. Apple TV isn’t taken very seriously.

      It seems as though your Siri Remote isn’t paired properly with Apple TV. Try the following to pair your Siri Remote:

      – hold the remote no less than three inches from your Apple TV unit
      – press and hold the Menu (or back) button and volume up button for five seconds
      – you may be prompted to place the Siri Remote on top of your Apple TV to complete the pairing

      If this doesn’t work, you can use any iOS or iPadOS device as an Apple TV remote. Simply launch Control Center on any iPhone or iPad and you should see an icon that looks like an Apple TV. This will launch the Remote App on an iPhone or iPad, which can control Apple TV. If you don’t see this in Control Center, you may need to add it. Simply go to Settings > Control Center and customize the controls to add the Apple Remote.

      I hope this works out for you. Feel free to reach out again if you’re still having problems.

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