tvOS 11 is available now and you might be wondering how to update your Apple TV, or if your Apple TV can actually run the software. In this article we will show you how to update your Apple TV and we will address any issues you might encounter with the update process. 

tvOS is the software that powers the latest generation of Apple TV. It was first launched alongside the fourth-generation Apple TV in October 2015, bringing with it huge changes compared to the software featured on the older Apple TVs.

One notable change was the introduction of the Apple TV App Store where you can browse and download a selection of TV apps such as Netflix, iPlayer, and Now TV as well as games an more. The software uses Siri, Apple's virtual assistant, to assist you with all your TV/movie viewing needs. Read our Compete guide to the Apple TV App Store to find the best apps.

Older Apple TVs also have their own software but this is unlikely to be updated by Apple. However, if your older Apple TV software isn't up to date you may experience performance issues, so check below to find out how to tell if you are running the most up to date software on your Apple TV.

While your Apple TV may be set prompt you to install the latest update automatically, this may not be the case. Carry on reading to find out exactly how to update your Apple TV to the latest software.

How to update tvOS on Apple TV (fourth generation)

If you have a newer Apple TV - one launched since 2015, this is how to update the software on it.

  1. Go to Software Updates on your Apple TV: Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software
  2. Click on Download and Install to download the update
  3. Click on Update Now

The Apple TV may restart during the process, and you'll be presented with a progress bar indicating the status of the update.

Once the Apple TV update has been completed, the Apple TV will restart running the most up-to-date software

To turn on automatic updates go to Settings > System > Software Updates and turn on Automatically Update. 

How to update the software on Apple TV (third generation or older)

If your Apple TV is one of the older models that predates the App Store interface this is how to update it.

  1. Go to Settings > General > Update Software
  2. If there's an update, download it
  3. Install the update

To turn on automatic updates, go to Settings > General > Update Software and turn on Update Automatically. 

What is the latest version of Apple TV software? 

When Apple launched the reinvented Apple TV in 2015 it created tvOS, the iOS like software interface for it. tvOS started at version 9, so there won’t be any older versions than that.

You can find a list of available software updates for 4th generation Apple TVs here.

  • tvOS 11 launched on 19 September 2017, find out about tvOS 11 here
  • tvOS 10 arrived in September 2016, it bought the ability to create folders so you can organise the Apple TV interface
  • tvOS 9 arrived in September 2015 and introduced the Apple TV App Store 

Older Apple TV models run up to version 7.2.2 currently. It’s unlikely that Apple will update that software further other than security and performance updates where necessary.

  • The latest version is 7.2.2, which was pushed out in December 2016.

You can find a list of available software updates for 2nd and 3rd generation Apple TVs here.

How do I know what version of Apple TV software I’m running?

On a 4th Gen Apple TV

  • Go to Software Updates on your Apple TV: Settings > General > About >  tvOS

On an older Apple TV

  • Go to Settings > General > Update Software.

Apple TV update problems

Sometimes updates can fix problems and sometimes they can cause them. It's usually wise to wait a little while before updating your Apple TV just in case there is an issue (although if you have it set to automatically update it may be too late!)

If you do encounter any issues the advice below should help. If you discover any problems with updates yourself then please comment below.

White screen

If you get a white screen with an image of a white cord and the iTunes icon that means the software update has failed. You will need to connect your Apple TV to your computer and restore it via iTunes.

Bricked Apple TV

If an update has 'bricked' your Apple TV, in other words, it no longer turns on and might as well be a brick, then you need to attempt to restore it by plugging it in to a Mac or PC and using iTunes to restore it to factory settings, see below.

How to restore your Apple TV to factory settings

If you have to restore your Apple TV to factory settings:

4th generation, advice here.

3rd generation, advice here

If you need to restore your Apple TV through iTunes here is how to do that.

If you have a new Apple TV, here's how to set up the new Apple TV.