appletv

Apple TV Hack Redux

Although I have heard good things about Apple’s new AppleTV, I have yet to buy one for myself.

The reason for this is simple. I have a first-generation AppleTV and still find it to be quite functional. In fact, I prefer to have the luxury of built-in storage. Sometimes I prefer to turn on my TV and just start listening to my music library or watch from my movie library without having to get up and go turn on another streaming device.

The latest AppleTV OS (3.02) is still hackable with the ATVUSB-creator patchstick (version 1.0.b13). This patchstick can be created with both the OS X and Windows platforms. But there are a few things you should know if you plan to hack your first generation AppleTV.

Preparing Your AppleTV


If you have an un-hacked AppleTV, then you need to make sure that you first update your OS to version 3.02 using the Update Software under the General Settings menu.

If you’ve previously hacked your AppleTV, the best advice I can give you is to do a factory reset, then update to version 3.02. I have had nothing but problems when trying to apply this hack on top of a previous hack, and found that I’ve avoided wasted time and grief by simply resetting, updating to version 3.02, and then applying this hack. ( NOTE: THIS WILL DELETE ALL YOUR EXISTING DATA – MUSIC, MOVIES, ETC. – ON YOUR APPLETV. BE SURE TO BACKUP YOUR EXISTING DATA BEFORE DOING THIS FACTORY RESET! )

At this point, you should be starting with an un-hacked AppleTV at version 3.02 of the operating system.

Creating The Patchstick

To create the patchstick, you’ll need a flashdrive that is no smaller than 512MB. This process will completely wipe clean the flashdrive, so be sure that you first backup any desired data on the drive.

Follow these steps:

    1. Download the ATVUSB creator files (Mac OSX (intel/ppc) version of atvusb-creator; Windows (XP/Vista) version of atvusb-creator)
    2. Plug your flashdrive into a USB port on your computer.
    3. Unzip the file and double-click the atvusb-creator file. You should see this window with these settings:

The atvusb-creator settings window

IMPORTANT: Make sure the USB Target Device is pointing to your flashdrive!

  1. Click on the Create Using -> button
    This process can take up to 10 minutes, depending on the speed of your flashdrive.

    The progress screen will indicate completion.

  2. That’s it. Now you’re ready to bring this patchstick to your AppleTV!

 

Applying The Patchstick To Your AppleTV

Unplug the power to your AppleTV and insert the patchstick into the USB port. Then, plug in the power to your AppleTV.

You will see an unusual icon:

And then, a long series of text will scroll by. This process usually takes about a minute or two. Once the text stops scrolling for longer than 20 seconds or so, the hack has been completed.

Pull the patchstick out and unplug the power to the AppleTV.

Now plug in the power and let your AppleTV go through the start up process. If the patch has been successful, you should note the addition of two menu items in the navigation: Software Menu and Launcher.

Note the addition of Software Menu (left) and Launcher.

In a future post, I will go over some of the new capability created by this hack. For now, go forth and explore!

31 Comments

  1. You might receive read many articles on various articles. However, almost of the time you came to know that content was not up to the mark. This clause is actually related to the issue and features unique info relevant to the theme of the article.

  2. I followed your simple instructions and everything went as you said it would, however upon final reboot, the atv menu had not changed, as if no changes had been made. Any thoughts? Thx.

  3. Good to hear, Kurt!

    One note of caution: Under the new Software Menu there will be a place to turn off Apple’s automatic updating of system software. You’ll want to do this because future updates could break this hack. (It’s happened to me.)

  4. Worked like a charm, thank you! Will this hack enable usage of the USB port for external hard drive, or is that something else again?

  5. Maybe a dumb question but can you still access the iTunes Store and buy stuff with this patch installed on AppleTV 1st Gen.?

    • Yes, I purchase movies and TV series on my AplleTV Gen. 1 with this hack all the time.

      I turned off automatic updates from Apple several months back so a new OS update doesn’t destroy the hack.

  6. One more question: Pluging in my USB Flashdrive, ATV USB Creator reports the drive as: /Volumes/UDISK, not as /dev/disk2. In Disk Utility, the drive is shown as: /dev/disk1. Dismounting the Flashdrive results in the message from ATV USB Creator: No USB Device found.

    I just want to make sure it’s Ok to proceed, even though the drive listing is different in ATV USB Creator vs. Disk Doctor.

    Thanks!

    • To be extra sure, I’d eject your usb drive, note what options are available under the “USB Target Device” drop-down menu, then plug your USB drive back in and note what new option is made available. That way, you will know for sure you are targeting the correct device.

  7. No luck on Apple TV Gen 1 with ATV Win3.0 with patchstick created on Win7 machine.

    When powered on with patchstick in place, ATV gen 1 tries to boot 3x, then goes to reg apple menu.

    Tried 2x, same result, but program spec says xp/vista

  8. thanks Patick. but please please help me.
    i want to play movie from usb device but when i plug in usb i can not see nothing.
    please help me .

  9. I’m having an issue creating the patchstick for windows. It seems that when I choose to create the patchstick it is putting a bunch of firmware and other setup files on my desktop and putting an image on my flash drive. I’ve tried to boot using that flash and nothing happens. I’m not sure where I’m going wrong.

  10. hello
    i am only getting patchstick when i zip file is this because i am using windows7
    no creator as per your sample comes up
    brian

  11. HELP PLEASE. Lost my iPhoto library that was on an external HD. Have copies on an unhacked 1st generation ATV. Can I hack the Apple TV so as to recover the photos and import them back into my Mac, or will my photos be deleted when I install the patchstick ?

  12. Patch will not destroy data, but you may want to try syncing your ATV with a Mac on your network to retrieve iPhoto data.

  13. Hi, can anyone help me …I continue to receive the following erro message when creating the USB creator:
    Unable to mount recovery: GetMasterBlock: Error 13 opening /dev/rdisk2s2
    GetMasterBlock: Error 13 opening /dev/rdisk2s2
    mount_hfs: Permission denied
    install_recovery failed
    Failed! (0:00:50)

    • + Move atvusb-creator-1.0.* to home directory.
      + Open terminal and do
      > sudo -s
      > cd atvusb-creator-1.0.*/atvusb-creator.app/Contents/MacOS/
      > ./atvusb-creator

      During installation, you (may) see some commands being executed in the shell. These stray commands are likely the cause of the errors.

      • Making me root solved my issue as well!!
        Thank you very much for posting this reply …

        Cheers
        Wowbagger

  14. I am a total numpty and need some clarification please, I have been trying to load a scan disc 8 gig cruzer blade with the atvusb-creator and keep coming up with the same problem (mount hfs:Permission denied install recovery failed failed!(0:00:38) I am on the latest Apple TV 1g 3.02 update 2z694-6013-013.dmg’ I am not quite sure about using the Terminal as when I type in sudo-s I get asked for a pass word but it won’t let me enter anything. I am afraid I’m not very computor literate so as much help as poss would be good. Mick

  15. I am a total numpty and need some clarification please, I have been trying to load a scan disc 8 gig cruzer blade with the atvusb-creator and keep coming up with the same problem (mount hfs:Permission denied install recovery failed failed!(0:00:38) I am on the latest Apple TV 1g 3.02 update 2z694-6013-013.dmg’ I am not quite sure about using the Terminal as when I type in sudo-s I get asked for a pass word but it won’t let me enter anything. I am afraid I’m not very computor literate so as much help as poss would be good. Mick

  16. Sudo -s will ask you for your own account password and make you the unixgod “root”
    second line is the location in the ATV USB creator that you have to cd (change directory”
    third command is to run the actual program in the current shell ./xxxx
    any command ran from a shell will fork into a subshell. the ./ prefents this from happening and you are running the command as “root”.
    works like a charm

  17. Hello.. I am having major issues hacking my appletv gen 1. I have tried atv-usb creator . the software load screen would come up but on reboot the menu screen would not change. so i then purchased atv flash software.loaded that on a USB drive and even an SD card. Now the appletv will not recognize was seems to be any usb. I used an sd card usb converter, other USb flash drives, even the same usb flash drive that i originally used that once loaded atv-usb creator and nothing at all happened. Did i somehow disable my usb port on the appletv. Is there a way to re-enable it or what else could be wrong. Any advice is greatly appreciated losing lots of hours of sleep trying to get this darn thing working., Thanks in advance for some info.

  18. Yeah, I’m guessing that the latest update from Apple somehow disables the ATV software. (It’s a few years old now.) Unfortunately, when you use Apple’s update process, it brings you to latest update. If you could find the incremental updates somewhere and stop short of the most recent, you may be able to enjoy this hack. Good luck!

    Note: If you happen to find a source for incremental updates, please share here. I’m sure there are other folks with the same dilemma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What is 15 + 12 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)