tvOS 13 will be available on 30 September so 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 or4K models)

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.

  • tvOS 13 will arrive on 30 September 2019, new features include a redesigned Home Screen, different user profiles, and a Control Centre.
  • tvOS 12 launched on 17 September 2018, it added Aerial screen savers, autofill passwords, and Dolby Atmos sound. A later update enhanced the Apple TV app, ready for the arrival of TV+.
  • 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 

The Apple TV 3 models now run version 7.2.2 currently. It now includes the Apple TV app, which suggests that the new TV+ subscription content will be available for owners of the Apple TV 3. 

Older Apple TV models run 7.2.2, but don't have the TV app.

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 or 4K 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 or 4K Apple TV, 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.