Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 30 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals
14 comments

Third-Generation Apple TVs Suffering from Apple TV Software Update 7.6

Thanks to TidBITS readers who alerted us that Apple last week updated third-generation Apple TVs with Apple TV Software Update 7.6, which advertises itself only as providing “general performance and stability improvements.” Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be true.

Earlier in the year, third-generation Apple TVs had been having problems playing YouTube videos. Those problems may have been the result of the Apple TV Software Update 7.5, or they may have been related to changes at YouTube, but regardless, Google made a change that seemed to fix them.

Third-generation Apple TV users are now experiencing crashes when pausing YouTube videos, and others are having intermittent AirPlay problems that include freezing and audio-only over a blank screen. The only workarounds are to wait 90 seconds for the Apple TV to time out and reload the Home screen, or to restart the Apple TV either by pressing the Menu and Down buttons on the remote simultaneously or by power-cycling the unit. There are also problems with loading Apple TV+ shows promoted in the What to Watch area at the top of the Home screen, though they load fine when accessed from within the Apple TV app.

Third-generation Apple TV error

It’s apparently possible to downgrade a third-generation Apple TV, but it requires some potentially iffy software downloads and connecting the Apple TV to your Mac. Regardless of whether you want to color outside the lines with an unsupported downgrade, we recommend submitting feedback to Apple and calling Apple support to make sure the support reps are aware of the problem. Otherwise, it’s unlikely Apple will learn of these concerns.

Situations like this are frustrating. On the one hand, it’s great that Apple continues to update an obsolete product like the third-generation Apple TV that hasn’t been on the market for almost four years. But on the other hand, if you’re going to release an update to old hardware, Apple, make sure you get it right and pay attention afterward!

Subscribe today so you don’t miss any TidBITS articles!

Every week you’ll get tech tips, in-depth reviews, and insightful news analysis for discerning Apple users. For 29 years, we’ve published professional, member-supported tech journalism that makes you smarter.

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

Comments About Third-Generation Apple TVs Suffering from Apple TV Software Update 7.6

Notable Replies

  1. I was tempted to give the downgrade process a try, and read through the linked page. If you continue down to the comments (I know, one should never do this, but…), the author has several comments from the last month mentioning that the old firmware versions are no longer signed, so downgrading isn’t possible.

    It would be nice if they updated their actual article with that information! And even nicer if Apple didn’t introduce bugs in these updates.

  2. Oh grump, grump… Yeah, it’s hard for us to be certain of things like this when we’re writing about old hardware and relying on external information. Nevertheless, I should have kept reading to see those comments—sorry!

  3. Wasn’t meant to be a criticism, Adam! Isn’t that sort of clarification what these comments are meant for? When I said “if they updated their article”, I meant the people who wrote the one you linked to, not TidBITS.

  4. Oh, no offense taken! I was merely frustrated with myself for not scrolling down enough to see those comments.

  5. Corporate-enforced obsolescence. I hate it.
    With each iOS update, I’d lose a needed feature of my early, expensive, Apple Watch. No warning was given about what I would lose before updating.
    Apple should be better.

  6. I am dreaming but wouldn’t it be good if Apple and others were required to list both the positive and negative aspects of an update. Instead we have to rely on Tidbits and community discussions to identify the negative outcomes.
    On seconds thoughts, the list for Catalina would be enormous :blush:

  7. I think that’s going overboard in the opposite direction. If Apple wanted to render the third-generation Apple TV obsolete, it could just flip a switch. Apple is trying to keep the device working for users by releasing updates like this. The fact that the engineers did a poor job of it is troubling, but it’s not a case of corporate obsolescence.

    If Apple knew there were negative aspects of an update in advance, they wouldn’t release it. :slight_smile: It would be nice if the company acknowledged reported problems in a coherent fashion, but that seems unlikely. As it stands, Apple only acknowledges serious or highly embarrassing problems, and usually follows such acknowledgement with a quick fix.

  8. Valid replies, Adam. Thanks.
    That said, of course, corporations cripple their old products. They want you to buy new.
    Should they be incarcerated for it? I’m not sure about that, as an AAPL owner. But I don’t like that Apple hardware that works great…then suddenly doesn’t because of a casual upgrade.
    If you’ve ever migrated old to new, or had to deal with a new buggy OS [macOS Catalina], you’ll know what I mean.

  9. I’m not talking about bugs, I am referring to the loss of features/functionality that was available with the replaced OS.
    A prime example is the recent iOS update that totally wrecked home screens.And don’t get me started on Catalina!

  10. We’re not talking about iOS or Catalina here—this is about the third-generation Apple TV. :slight_smile:

  11. I’ve got this exact same problem on my third generation Apple TV. We just bought a new iMac for my wife and it came with a free one year subscription to Apple TV+. So I signed up for the free subscription, turned our Apple TV on to go to the Apple TV+ channel and it told me that in order to view that channel, I had to install the 7.6 update. So, I installed the update and what happens? The picture freezes now (although the sound works). Nice upgrade, Apple. And thanks for the free gift that I can’t use. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many bad updates come out of Apple in such a short period of time.

  12. Does anyone know if this Apple TV 3 issue has been fixed? I’m afraid to hit the pause button on YouTube, since it freezes every time i do.

  13. I’ve seen no discussion of it being fixed, no. You can check your system software version and see that changes in the future.

  14. I posted this in Apple Discussions but here it is again for those who may find it helpful.

    Here is how I solved this Apple TV 3rd Generation 7.6 update mess of a problem. I highly doubt that Apple will ever release a 7.6.x update to fix the mess that the 7.6 update created so you need to roll your Apple TV back to 7.5 and it is not difficult to do at all.

    I rolled mine back to version 7.5 by using this firmware, I have an Apple TV 3rd Generation 3,1. This only works with 12H885 (this is a SAFE download):

    https://ipsw.me/download/AppleTV3,1/12H885

    The information that everyone seems to be pointing to at the link below is somewhat outdated because the two downloads listed do not work any longer, Apple has long since signed off on them (12H876 does NOT work):

    Once you’ve download the 12H885 firmware, plug your Apple TV into your Mac via USB (don’t use a hub, only use a port on your Mac) and make sure that your Apple TV is connected to AC power.

    Also note that you must use the proper USB-C cable, there are two types. One is a power-only type cable and the other one is both power and data so make sure your USB-C cable is for both power and data.

    Your Apple TV will appear in a Finder window once it mounts. Be patient.

    Click on your Apple TV in the Finder window sidebar. When you see a “Restore Apple TV…” button in the window that appears to the right (yours may differ depending on the software version you’re running, I was using Catalina), hold down the option key first before clicking the button. Then select the 12H885 firmware and that’s it.

    In about five minutes (with no progress bar visible by the way), your Apple TV will be downgraded to version 7.5 and everything will work the way it did before.

Join the discussion in the TidBITS Discourse forum

Participants