Why you should jailbreak your Apple TV - and how to do it

Unlock the potential of your Apple TV and stream video with ease

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The Jailbreak

With all of the above in hand, you're ready to begin. Detailed instructions for the process can be found on the Seas0nPass download page but the basic steps are as follows:

  1. UnZip and launch Seas0nPass

  2. Click the big button that says “Create IPSW”

    • This will take some time as it downloads the Apple TV software

  3. When prompted, connect the micro USB from the Apple TV to your computer

    • The instructions say to leave the power cord unplugged from the Apple TV but many people, including myself, have only been able to complete the process with the power cord left in the Apple TV so try it both ways if it doesn't work

  4. Once the light on the front of the Apple TV begins to flash rapidly, point the remote at the Apple TV and hold both the MENU and PLAY/PAUSE buttons for 7 seven seconds.

  5. iTunes will open automatically and start the restore process

    • This will run some scripts on your computer to try and automatically click around your screen and open the proper files needed to perform the restore. In my case, the script would get stuck on my mac while it was trying to open the restore file, I had to interrupt and click the Open button in the file dialog for it to proceed.

  6. iTunes will confirm the restore and you're done

    • Some older versions of iOS require a tethered boot of the Apple TV where the device needs to be connected briefly to the computer while it starts up. The latest version (iOS 5.1.1 as of this writing) does not require this.

  7. Hook the Apple TV back up to your TV

Install XBMC


This is where the payoff happens. Even though your device is rooted, it doesn't look a lot different until you get some new software on there. There are two routes you can take to get XBMC installed.

A) If you have a mac you can use the NitoTV installer tool to do it automatically. Instructions for doing so can be found over at iClarified.

B) You can SSH into the Apple TV and install the software via command line. It's not as scary as it sounds, even if you're not familiar with linuxUnix. Instructions for this method can be found on the xbmc wiki site. For this method you'll need to know the IP address of your Apple TV, you can find it by going to Settings -> General -> Network on your Apple TV.

Once you get it installed you'll find a new icon (or on older versions a new menu item) that says XBMC that you can use to launch the application. After a little setup to hook XBMC to your networked media library you'll be streaming your entire movie, music, and photo collection with ease.

Prevent Updates

One final bit of housekeeping is that you'll want to disable the automatic update checks the Apple TV will execute. If you don't follow this step you'll be pestered constantly to update the OS on the Apple TV when an update is released. If you accidentally accept one of these updates, you'll lose the jailbreak and have to start all over.

This is done by SSH terminal where you'll edit the the hosts file on the device to re route the calls that are being made to Apple home base.

  1. Open up a terminal on your mac or PuTTY on your PC and connect up to your Apple TV

    • SSH@your-ip-address

    • username: root

    • password: alpine

  2. Enter the following commands

    • echo " appldnld.apple.com" >> /etc/hosts

    • echo " mesu.apple.com" >> /etc/hosts

    • echo " appldnld.apple.com.edgesuite.net" >> /etc/hosts

Wrapping Up

That's it! Enjoy your new media capabilities and freedom. Explore what's out there for your jailbroken Apple TV, there are many interesting add-ons that you'll now have access to.

Did you find any other gotchas in the rooting process? Do you have any additional tips? Let us know in the comments.

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