How to hack an AppleTV?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by GizmoDVD, Oct 23, 2008.

  1. GizmoDVD macrumors 68000

    Oct 11, 2008
    I currently have a hacked 2.0.1 AppleTV. I previously did this hack by buying a thumbdrive off of someone and going through the motions (plugging it in the back etc). Now that I have an Intel Mac id like to this myself and update the AppleTV to the newest version possible. How can I do this?
  2. Superman07 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2007
    Giz, you gotta stop following me around all of these boards. ;)

    While I have an ATV myself, unfortunately I can't help you on this one.
  3. evildarklordude macrumors newbie

    Feb 20, 2008
    New York, NY
    Hacking Method


    I hacked my :apple:TV by going to

    The site has extensive walk-throughs, although some familiarity with UNIX commands is useful. I was able to follow them and I'm not an expert.

    Hope this helps.
  4. fj45 macrumors newbie

    Oct 22, 2008
    Here is my current AppleTV hack method. All information comes from the site mentioned above. The password for the frontrow account on the AppleTV is frontrow.

    1: Do a factory restore (mine goes back to 1.0)

    2: Create a Patchstick ( then use it to add SSH to the AppleTV (I don't use Boxee or XBMC so I don't add those)

    3: Update to 2.1 using the osupdate tool ( SFTP the 2.1 update (2Z694-5485-1.dmg) and osupdate to the AppleTV and put them
    in a new folder (Updates) in /Users/frontrow and then ssh to the AppleTV and run osupdate

    ssh frontrow@<AppleTV IP>
    cd Updates
    sudo ./osupdate

    4: Patchstick (again to put ssh back as it will be wiped from the osupdate)

    5: Download nitoTV ( and expand the zip file. Also download the following files and then SFTP everything to the Documents folder on AppleTV:

    MacOSXUpdCombo10.4.9Intel.dmg (
    recovery.dmg ( (

    The process for getting the recovery.dmg is described in the link. Make sure to SFTP this file back to your machine so if you need to rebuild again it you won't have to do that step. Also, Sapphire will need to be unzipped before you transfer it over.

    6: ssh to the AppleTV (ssh frontrow@<AppleTV IP>) then change to Documents folder (cd Documents)

    7: Make the file system is writeable

    sudo mount -uw /
    sudo touch /.readwrite
    sudo sync

    8: install nitoTV (installme may need to be made executable: sudo chmod +x installme)
    sudo nitoTV\ Take\ Two/installme

    9: install Sapphire
    sudo sh ./

    10: Go to the AppleTV and from the nitoTV menu go to Settings\Install Software and choose the following:

    Install Perian (choose "Use Apple" on the h.264 selection)
    Install Turbo's Kextloader
    Smart Update

    11: Now go back to your ssh session and reboot the AppleTV (sudo reboot)

    12: ssh to the AppleTV then change to Documents folder
    ssh frontrow@<AppleTV IP>
    cd Documents

    13: Now from the AppleTV add the iPhone as a remote (so you have a keyboard for adding shares)

    14: In the nitoTV menu, choose Network and choose Add Manual Share and add the shares making sure to set them to mount at startup (I have a computer setup to share TV shows and movies)

    15: reboot the AppleTV to make sure the mounts automount (ssh in then "sudo reboot")

    16: setup the sync with iTunes.

    These instructions assume you know how to work from the command line. I can add more detail if needed.
  5. theBB macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    After step 1, I would update my aTV to 2.2 using Apple's aTV update system through the main menu.

    Then I would go to Step2. Follow the instructions on their website. (Erase the thumbdrive with Mac OS Extended (Journaled) via Disk Utility, run the app you downloaded from their website, hit "Create" button, let it do its thing etc. etc.)

    At the end of step 2, I got ssh, bin utils, Boxee and XMBC related stuff on the thumbdrive. I did not try to get rid of XMBC and the interface was a bit confusing, I don't even know if I could drop XMBC.

    Step 3 is updating Boxee with the latest launcher and Boxee app. Based on Boxee blog:
    - remove the USB drive and plug it into your Apple TV
    - power on your Apple TV and the patchstick will run the ATV bootloader
    - after the bootloader finishes, remove it and restart your Apple TV. It now has options for Boxee / XBMC on the main menu
    - click on Boxee, then select update (this will download boxee from the Internet)
    - once boxee is done installing, restart your Apple TV

    If you have a Boxee account, it should let you play movies on USB drives connected to AppleTV, play files from network drives and watch streaming shows from Hulu and a few other websites. If you don't expect more from your aTV, I think you can skip the rest of the steps in the previous post.

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