The Apple TV is a great addition to any existing TV setup. With an Apple TV you can play video, music and movies from your iPhone, iPad via AirPlay or browse the myriad of apps and games available from the Apple TV's dedicated App Store - well, at least with the fourth-generation Apple TV anyway. Older variants (Apple TV 1, 2 and 3) are somewhat less impressive, only offering media playback and not much else.
But a jailbroken Apple TV is a whole different ball game. Once you have jailbreak software running on an Apple TV you can install new apps, services and systems on the Apple TV that make it far more interesting than what Apple offers by default.
Should I jailbreak an Apple TV?
The question of whether to jailbreak an iPhone is rather controversial (there are upsides and downsides). There are considerably fewer downsides to jailbreaking an old Apple TV, and lots of upsides.
Here is some of the neat software you can install on a jailbroken Apple TV:
Kodi (formally known as XMBC) is an entertainment hub that enables you to play most music, videos and podcasts. It also enables PVR functionality so you can watch, and record, live television.
aTV Flash (black) | FireCore: is user-friendly software for older Apple TVs that enables you to play niche file types (such as .mkv), browse the internet and use unofficial apps such as Last.fm.
So it’s a great idea to jailbreak your old Apple TV. Especially if you have an Apple TV lying around that's not being used.
Can I jailbreak my Apple TV?
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to jailbreak an Apple TV - as long as you have the right model of Apple TV, anyway.
Apple has released five generations of Apple TV over the years it has been available. The Apple TV first-generation (the white and silver model) along with the Apple TV 2, Apple TV 3 and the Apple TV 4, which came with a redesigned OS and a number of new features, including Siri and an App Store, and was followed up by the Apple TV 4K.
The Apple TV 2, along with the Apple TV 4 and Apple TV 4K are pretty easy to jailbreak using the right software (more on this in a bit).
The first-gen Apple TV can be jailbroken using software called Rowmote, although the software is somewhat outdated and won't provide a great experience compared to the more recent Apple TV.
Jailbreaking the Apple TV 3
If you have an Apple TV 3, you cannot jailbreak it at the moment, regardless of what you read on the web.
There are a number of scams that claim to be able to jailbreak the third-generation Apple TV, they will attempt to take your money, so avoid them.
Even if they might be legitimate you should still be cautious. Take one tool for jailbreaking the Apple TV 3, Snow3rd. We’ve tried (and failed so far) to verify if it is a scam or not, but it will only work on an Apple TV that hasn’t been updated beyond iOS 5.0.2, and from what we can see it doesn’t always work.
Whatever you have read on the web, it appears that there is currently no way to jailbreak an Apple TV 3 that we can confidently confirm is not a scam.
Your best bet is to install Plexconnect and use the Plex Media Server, which doesn’t require a jailbroken device, but does allow you to play more content through your Apple TV. You can read more about installing and using Plex in this article about watching TV on the Apple TV.
How to jailbreak an Apple TV 2
The Apple TV 2 running iOS 5.3 software (released on 19 June 2013) can be jailbroken using software called Seas0nPass. This is available from the FireCore website. Follow these steps to jailbreak your Apple TV 2:
- Download Seas0nPass from the FireCore website.
- Unzip the Seas0nPass app and move it to your Applications folder.
- Connect your Mac to the Apple TV using a Micro-USB Cable.
- Open the Seas0nPass app and click click Create IPSW.
- Press the Menu and Play/Pause buttons on the Apple TV remote control simultaneously (when prompted).
- Click Done when Seas0nPass has finished jailbreaking your Apple TV.
- Remove the USB cable, and connect your Apple TV to the television using the HDMI cable and power source. Turn on the Apple TV.
As the Apple TV boots you should see the FireCore logo. That’s it, your Apple TV is now running jailbroken software. You should be able to use it as normal, but from now on you’ll be able to install other apps and services. For more information on how to get the most out of your jailbroken Apple TV take a look at the FireCore website.
How to jailbreak an Apple TV 4 or Apple TV 4K
It's a slightly different process to jailbreak the fourth- and fifth-generation TVs as tvOS operates differently to the traditional Apple TV software.
Oh, and like the Apple TV 2, the Apple TV 4/4K jailbreak will only work if you're running tvOS 12 - 12.1.1. Those that have installed tvOS 12.2 or later are sadly out of luck, as the jailbreak technique was patched by Apple in later OS updates.
Anyway, follow these steps to jailbreak your Apple TV:
- On a Mac or PC, download Cydia Impactor and the ChimeraTV jailbreak file.
- Connect your Apple TV to your Mac or PC using a USB-C to USB-A cable. If you don't have one handy, you can pick one up on Amazon for £3.49.
- Open Cydia Impactor and drag and drop the ChimeraTV file onto the app to load it, then click Start to commence the installation process.
- The app should then ask for your Apple ID and password. Your credentials are used to 'sign' the app and allow it to be installed on your Apple TV. It should be fine to use your personal Apple ID, but those that want to be extra sure can create an alternative Apple ID for use with Cydia Impactor.
- Cydia Impactor should then install the ChimeraTV app onto your Apple TV, ready for jailbreaking. Once completed, disconnect your Apple TV from your Mac or PC and plug it back into your TV.
- On your Apple TV, you should see the ChimeraTV app. Tap it to open it.
- Select your options for the jailbreak and select Do it!
- The jailbreak process should then begin, and will take a few minutes to complete. Upon completion, a 'Success! Your TV has been liberated!' message should appear on-screen. If it fails and reboots, simply retry the process - it can take more than one attempt to successfully jailbreak the Apple TV.