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Browse The Web on Apple TV

by | May 1, 2008 | 0 comments

Update 12-11-10: Also see this post on hacking AppleTV with a patchstick.

Note: Please see a more recent post on Apple TV hacks

Once SSH is enabled on your Apple TV, the world is your oyster.

Note: These steps assume that you’ve already enabled SSH on your Apple TV using the procedures in this post: Hacking The Apple TV to Enable SSH.

CouchSurfer is a web browser created to work on the Apple TV. To get CouchSurfer, point a browser on your Mac to Brandon Holland’s site for the download. By the way, this guy has done some great work here and I encourage you to support his efforts. For our purposes, you’ll want to download CouchSurfer 0.3(2.0) Installer (circled below).

Once it’s downloaded, unzip the file to reveal a CouchSurfer folder with 6 files inside. You will copy this folder over to your Apple TV before running the installer.

If you are comfortable with the UNIX command line, you can upload and tweak your Apple TV from a remote Mac using the Terminal application. I find it much easier to use an SFTP program to move files. My SFTP application of choice is Fugu. Fugu is intuitive, it’s fast, and it’s free.

Setting it up to move files back and forth from your Apple TV is easy. Enter your Apple TV’s IP address, enter “frontrow” as the Username, and check the box next to Force SSH1 connection to server. Then click the Connect button and enter “frontrow” as the password.

Copy the CouchSurfer folder to your Apple TV. It can be copied anywhere, but I suggest the home folder of the Frontrow user. Next, you will need to open the Terminal application on your Mac and type the following:

ssh frontrow@<your_apple_tv_address>

When prompted for a password, enter ‘frontrow’.

Now navigate to the directory where you copied the CouchSurfer folder on your Apple TV.

Note: Basic navigation in the command line is done with the ‘cd’ command. For example, to navigate to the CouchSurfer directory in the ‘frontrow’ home directory from root, you would type the following:

cd /User/frontrow/CouchSurfer

Once there, you can verify that you are in the right place by typing the following to see a listing of the files:

ls -al

You should see a listing similar to this:

Now type in the following command to install CouchSurfer:

sudo ./installcouchsurfer

Again, use the ‘frontrow’ password when prompted.

Once this finishes, reboot your Apple TV using this command:

sudo reboot

When your Apple TV menu reappears, you’ll notice the addition of CouchSurfer in the Menu items. Now you can surf the web freely just like on your computer!

Note: CouchSurfer is still a work in progress. The Settings menu has not been implemented yet. Brandon claims that this installation allows you to use a USB keyboard and mouse plugged into the USB port on the Apple TV. I have not tested this yet. Also, while CouchSurfer allows you to bookmark pages, I have not found a way to delete bookmarks from the user interface. For that, you’ll need to navigate to the /Users/frontrow/Documents/Bookmarks.plist directory and edit by hand.

Happy surfing!

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