Apple TV Keeps Flickering? 7 Easy Fixes to Stop the Blinking Screen

apple tv is standing on a yellow table

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What To Know

  • Basic solutions: Check and potentially replace your HDMI connection, adjust Apple TV’s video settings, and soft-reset or restart the Apple TV.
  • More advanced checks: Ensure resolution compatibility between your Smart TV and Apple TV, or update the tvOS may solve software-related flickers.
  • If flickering persists after troubleshooting, the issue may lie with your Smart TV or require professional help from Apple Support, which may offer more insightful repairs or replacements.

Navigating the maze of an Apple TV screen that’s flickering or flashing disrupts the perfect movie night.

This guide, fortified with insights from our tech team and user testimonials, paves a clear path to resolution.

Whether it’s HDMI nuances or software tweaks, I’ve got you covered.

1. Check Your HDMI Connection

An unstable HDMI connection can cause your display’s video to flicker and cut out. Before checking your HDMI cable for damage, follow the steps below to see if your Apple TV’s settings reveal any discrepancies in the HDMI connection. 

Step 1: Head to the Settings.

settings app on an apple tv is pointed at

Step 2: Click on Video and Audio.

video and audio option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 3: Select Check HDMI Connection.

check hdmi connection option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 4: Tap on Check HDMI Connection to confirm your choice.

confirm to check hdmi connection option on an apple tv

If the test does reveal any problems with your HDMI connection, try the following basic troubleshooting solutions below to fix it: 

  • Check the HDMI cable for any signs of damage.  
  • Check if all the cables are securely connected. 
  • If any other HDMI devices are plugged into the same smart TV your Apple TV is connected to, unplug all of them except for the Apple TV device.  
  • Try flipping the cable around (switching the two connectors).
  • Try another one of the TV’s HDMI ports. 
  • Try that HDMI cable with another HDMI device (like a laptop) to see if the connection is stable. 
  • Replace the HDMI cable if needed.

2. Adjust Video Settings

Certain video settings can negatively affect your Apple TV’s video quality. So, going through and disabling all these settings is a good way to mitigate and prevent future image issues. 

Let’s learn how! 

Disable the “Match Content” Feature 

Different films, TV shows, and sports games use various dynamic ranges and frame rates, Apple TV developed the “Match Content” feature. 

This nifty function automatically adjusts the Apple TV’s format according to the content you’re currently watching, saving you the trouble of adjusting these video settings manually. 

However, since “Match Content” changes the dynamic range and frame rate, which can make the image appear to be flickering. So, it’s a good idea to disable it to keep the image as smooth as possible. 

Follow the instructions below to turn off the Match Content feature. 

Step 1: Go to Settings, and navigate to Video and Audio.

video and audio option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 2: Open Match Content.

match content option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 3: Toggle off Match Dynamic Range and Match Frame Rate.

Match Dynamic Range and Match Frame Rate are turned off

Switch to SDR or Disable HDR

Several Apple TV users have noticed that their Apple TVs start flicking after they’ve activated HDR. Luckily, they’ve also found that this problem quickly resolves itself once they switch to SDR. 

Proceed to Solution #3 to learn how to use SDR on your Apple TV. 

Adjust Chroma to 4:2:0

If you’re unsure what Chroma (chrominance or color) is, how it affects the image, and what is the different between Chroma 4:2:2 and 4:2:0, check out the article Apple 4K Chroma Settings Explained

In essence, while Chroma 4:2:2 promises a more colorful video, it also needs a high-speed HDMI cable to function properly. So, if you’re using a slightly lower-quality cable, the image may flicker in response.

Therefore, it’s best to change your Apple TV to Chrome 4:2:0 to ensure that the video settings, cable, and Apple TV are all compatible and can function correctly. 

Follow the steps below to change your Apple TV to Chroma 4:2:0. 

Step 1: Go to the Settings.

Step 2: Head to Video and Audio, and select Chroma.

chroma option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 3: Choose the 4:2:0 option. 

4.2.2 chroma option is chosen on an apple tv

3. Match the Resolution Between Your Smart TV and Apple TV

In order to produce a high-quality and steady picture, your smart TV and Apple TV must be emitting the same resolution. 

First, find your TV’s spec list online and make a note of which resolutions it supports (e.g. Full HD, 4K, etc.). Then, take a look at your Apple TV’s manual to verify which resolutions it can output. 

Alternatively, you can use a lower frame rate, which should limit your Apple TV’s flickering. 

Below, I’ve listed two effective ways to change your Apple TV’s resolutions. 

I also suggest selecting the SDR format if any dark areas of your TV are flickering

First Method

Step 1: Open the Settings.

Step 2: Navigate to Video and Audio, and tap on Format.

format option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 3: Select your desired resolution (followed by SDR if dark areas are flickering).

4k sdr option is highlighted on an apple tv

Second Method

Step 1: Simultaneously press the Back and Volume Down buttons for six seconds. If this sequence doesn’t work on your Apple TV, try simultaneously pressing the Menu and Up buttons OR Menu and Volume Down buttons for the same amount of time. 

apple tv remote with volume down and back buttons highlighted

Step 2: Next, your Apple TV will shuffle through all the resolution options, displaying a new resolution every 20 seconds.

Step 3: When your Apple TV displays a resolution that best matches your TV’s, press the OK key on your remote.

resolution and refresh rate are automatically changed on an apple tv

4. Soft Reset or Restart Your Apple TV

Soft resetting and restarting your Apple TV may be efficient ways to fix minor image issues. 

Follow the steps below to reboot your Apple TV’s software.

Soft Reset

Step 1: Unplug your Apple TV from power.

Step 2: Wait for at least 30 seconds

Step 3: Reconnect it to power and see the results. 


Step 1: Navigate to the Settings.

Step 2: Go to System.

system option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 3: Choose Restart.

restart option is highlighted on an apple tv

5. Update the tvOS 

Bugs in software versions can cause your Apple TV’s video to flicker. Luckily, Apple usually notices these software bugs pretty quickly and releases updates with the necessary patches. So, there’s a good chance that updating your tvOS will resolve the problem. 

Step 1: Go to the Settings, then open System.

system option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 2: Head to Software Update.

software updates option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 3: Select Update Software.

update software option is highlighted on an apple tv

Step 4: Click Download and Install.

update and install firmware on an apple tv is highlighted

6. The Issue May Come from Your Smart TV

An Apple TV must be connected to a TV to display its content. So, it’s very possible that these image problems could be a result of your smart TV, rather than your Apple TV’s settings. 

This is not an uncommon issue, and we’ve already written several articles guiding you on how to troubleshoot notable TV brands. 

For Samsung TVs, check out Samsung TV Flickering: Causes and Solutions.

For LG TVs, check out Why Is My LG TV Flickering?

7. Contact Apple Support Center 

There may be something seriously wrong with your Apple TV’s software or hardware that cannot be resolved at home. So, it’s best to go to the professionals for more help. 

Head to the Apple Support website and select Apple TV under the Devices menu. Go to Troubleshooting Apple TV, and when prompted, log into your Apple ID.

Now, you’ll be able to make an appointment with a nearby Apple Store where an in-person technician can inspect, fix, or in some cases, replace your Apple TV device. Apple may also sell you a new Apple TV device at a discount. 

If you don’t have an Apple store near you, try calling Apple Support instead. Their dedicated agents may suggest some other troubleshooting solutions and will recommend the best course of action depending on your location. 

Wrapping Things Up

An Apple TV setup includes not only the actual Apple TV device but also the HDMI cable and TV. So, if your Apple TV is flickering, the first course of action is to find the culprit. 

Check your HDMI connection and replace the HDMI cable if needed. You may also need to adjust a few of your Apple TV video settings along with its resolution. It’s also a good idea to soft reset/restart your TV before updating the tvOS should there be any bugs in the current software. 

If the problem still persists after troubleshooting the HDMI cable and Apple TV device, there may be something wrong with your TV. Remember to check out our helpful troubleshooting articles to fix your TV’s image issues. 

Last but not least, reach out to customer support for additional help. You may need to take your Apple TV device to a nearby Apple Store, and if you’re lucky, Apple may even send you a free replacement. 

What’s your experience fixing an Apple TV that’s flickering or blacking out? 

Let us know in the comments below! 

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