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Home Theater Series Part One: Jailbreaking Your Apple TV 2

Last week we wrote an intro article briefly telling you how to create the ultimate home theater setup for under two hundred dollars – now in part one of our home theater experience series, we are going to show you how to convert an Apple TV 2 into the ultimate home theater media center console. We are going to transform our Apple TV 2 by using special private and public open source software, aTV Flash Black by firecore and Xbox Media Console (XBMC) by the XBMC open source community. But before we can customize our Apple TV 2, first we are going to have to jailbreak it. Jailbreaking our Apple TV will give us shell access to the filesystem on the Apple TV. We can then use this access to install our own custom files and software. We will talk more about secure shell(SSH) access in part two of our home theater experience series. For now, let’s just focus on the how to jailbreak our Apple TV. We will be performing a “Tethered jailbreak.” A “Tethered” jailbreak means that if our Apple TV 2 loses power, we will have to hook it up to our computer via USB and run Seas0n pass to boot it up – The tethered jailbreak is not ideal because you can’t move the Apple TV from room to room because as soon as you unplug it, you will have to hook it up via USB to your computer and run Seas0npass again. To solve this problem, we recommend you use a laptop to tether boot your Apple TV 2. We have to use the “Tethered” jailbreak  because currently that is the only way to successfully jailbreak an Apple TV 2 running AppleTV(5.3) or iOS iOS 6.1.4 – 10B809 – Apple TV’s most current onboard software. Before you get started jailbreaking your Apple TV 2, make sure you have the following items:

Pre-launch checklist

  1. Apple TV 2
  2. Latest version of iTunes on your computer.
  3. Latest version of Seas0nPass for Mac or Windows. [Links updated: 8/8/13]
  4. micro USB cable.
  5. Disconnect any iPods, iPhones, and iPads from your computer.

Once you have everything ready, follow the jailbreak process below. Please note that because we are doing a “Tethered” jailbreak, you will need to disconnect the USB (NOT THE POWER) on your Apple TV 2 after iTunes finishes the restore process wait a few seconds then reconnect the USB cable. You should then follow the “Tethered” boot instructions – Happy Jailbreaking! There is a video of the entire jailbreak process here.

Stay tuned for part two of our home theater series where we will show you how to install XBMC onto your Apple TV 2.

Using Seas0nPass to jailbreak the Apple TV

Step 1: Unzip the ‘Seas0nPass.zip’ file and launch Seas0nPass.


Step 2: Select the ‘Create IPSW’ button to start the jailbreak process.


Step 3: The latest Apple TV software will be downloaded and used to create a custom ‘jailbroken’ software file.


Step 4: When prompted, connect your Apple TV to your Mac/PC using a micro-USB cable (leave power cable disconnected).

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.

Note: This step will require the silver (aluminum) Apple TV remote that was included with the ATV2. The older, white (plastic) remotes will not work.


Step 5: iTunes will open automatically and start the restore process.


Step 6: iTunes will confirm the restore when complete – your Apple TV is now jailbroken!

Note: To confirm the jailbreak was successful a (temporary) red FC logo will appear in place of the Settings icon – as shown below.


Using Seas0nPass for a ‘tethered boot’

Some Apple TV software versions require a tethered boot. This means the Apple TV must be connected to a computer for a brief moment during startup.

Note 2: The Apple TV MUST be disconnected from the computer (for at least a brief moment) after restoring in iTunes for the tethered boot process below to work properly.

Step 1: Open Seas0nPass and select the ‘Boot Tethered’ option.


Step 2: When prompted, connect the Apple TV to your computer via USB. Wait for the rapid flashing light then connect the power cable. Once both are connected hold both the ‘MENU’ and ‘PLAY/PAUSE’ buttons for 7 seven seconds.


Step 3: Seas0nPass will complete the tethered boot automatically. Once complete, remove the USB cable and connect the HDMI cable.

Note: Timing is key. Once the you receive the success message shown below, the USB cable should be removed and HDMI cable connected before the light on the front of the Apple TV stops flashing. (Don’t worry there is ample to do this, so you don’t need Superman speed).



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