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Can You Power an Apple TV With USB?


A micro-console and digital media player, the Apple TV is a little piece of hardware that receives digital information (video and audio) and transmits it to an external display. In other words, it’s a media streaming device by Apple.

Initially launched in 2006, the Apple TV has spanned generations, markedly upping its raw power and feature-set with each version. However, the port situation or connectivity options have been pretty much the same over the years. 

The I/O (input/output) port setup built into the device comprises an Ethernet and a USB port. Generally, you can use a USB port to transmit both power and transfer data simultaneously. On the Apple TV, it’s a different story, however.

Keep reading to learn more on that, or find out what the Apple TV uses to power itself. 

Can You Power an Apple TV with USB?

Apple TV charging

No, you cannot power your Apple TV with a USB. For power, the Apple TV uses a traditional power cord.

Powering the device and hooking it to a display device is mandatory for using the Apple TV. But executing the tasks with two ports close to each other would be quite a struggle, especially if the cables are not slender enough. 

The HDMI port and USB port on Apple TVs (that had them both) were positioned a bit too close to each other.

If you could use the USB port to power an Apple TV, it wouldn’t have been positioned next to the HDMI port, to begin with.  

Charging the Apple TV Remote

Apple TV charging

You may charge your Apple TV Remote using the device’s USB port. But, with there being no scarcity of USB power ports or chargers in most houses, people seldom use their Apple TV USB port to charge the remote. 

You must turn on the Apple TV to plug the remote in and provide it with charging power. With so many other ways to recharge the remote, it’s foolhardy to power on the streaming box just to replenish the remote’s depleted power cells. 

To charge your Apple TV remote, you’d need a Lightning-to-USB cable, which should come included in the box. If yours has stopped working for some reason or has been misplaced for good, you can buy one separately.

The following are some decent cable options:

  • Apple Lightning to USB Cable
  • Amazon Basics USB-A to Lightning Cable Cord
  • Anker USB C to Lightning Cable
Apple Lightning to USB Cable (1 m)
Amazon Basics New Release Nylon USB-A to Lightning Cable Cord, MFi Certified Charger for Apple iPhone, iPad, Dark Gray, 6-Ft
Anker USB C to Lightning Cable (6ft, MFi Certified) Powerline II for iPhone 13 13 Pro 12 Pro Max 12 11 X XS XR 8 Plus, AirPods Pro, Supports Power...
Apple Lightning to USB Cable (1 m)
Amazon Basics New Release Nylon USB-A to Lightning Cable Cord, MFi Certified Charger for Apple iPhone, iPad, Dark Gray, 6-Ft
Anker USB C to Lightning Cable (6ft, MFi Certified) Powerline II for iPhone 13 13 Pro 12 Pro Max 12 11 X XS XR 8 Plus, AirPods Pro, Supports Power...
Apple Lightning to USB Cable (1 m)
Apple Lightning to USB Cable (1 m)
Amazon Basics New Release Nylon USB-A to Lightning Cable Cord, MFi Certified Charger for Apple iPhone, iPad, Dark Gray, 6-Ft
Amazon Basics New Release Nylon USB-A to Lightning Cable Cord, MFi Certified Charger for Apple iPhone, iPad, Dark Gray, 6-Ft
Anker USB C to Lightning Cable (6ft, MFi Certified) Powerline II for iPhone 13 13 Pro 12 Pro Max 12 11 X XS XR 8 Plus, AirPods Pro, Supports Power...
Anker USB C to Lightning Cable (6ft, MFi Certified) Powerline II for iPhone 13 13 Pro 12 Pro Max 12 11 X XS XR 8 Plus, AirPods Pro, Supports Power...

The Lightning connector goes into your Apple TV remote, and the USB side plugs into your charging adapter, computer, or any USB port that outputs power, including the one on the Apple TV.

When put to charge, the remote will not visually or through audio indicate its charging status. But the Apple TV interface will pop up a “Remote Charging” message at the top-right, confirming things.

Does Apple TV Support USB?

Apple TV box, remote and speaker

As mentioned above, the USB port on your Apple TV doesn’t power the device, nor does it help connect the streaming box to a display device. It used to serve a specific purpose. (more on that later).

If “Apple TV supporting USB” implies it uses the interface to power the device, help it communicate with other devices, etc., then the Apple TV doesn’t support USB. 

Apple TV uses a power cord, which plugs itself into a mains supply, to turn itself on. To connect to your HDTV, it uses a regular HDMI-to-HDMI cable. You can also use the HDMI port to connect the Apple TV to an external monitor or projector.  

The USB port on Apple TVs (that had it) didn’t support either of the above two functions. And in its 4K avatars, the Apple TV has entirely ditched the port or doesn’t support USB.

Does an Apple TV Need a Power Cord?

Apple TV is working

As mentioned above, the Apple TV does require an AC power cord to get rolling.

The two-prong power cord offers 110V of power if it’s a U.S. plug. It can also be paired with a 230V plug. A USB cable obviously cannot supply that kind of power.

And due to its immense electrical power needs, the Apple TV doesn’t use built-in rechargeable batteries either.

If it were to use those integrated power cells, they would have required a recharge frequently—of course, based on your usage patterns.

How is an Apple TV Powered?

To reiterate, the Apple TV is powered using an AC power cord. The cable comes bundled in the product box. However, if the recent trend of Apple removing chargers from iPhone boxes transcends to its other devices, the next Apple TV may ditch the power cord too.

Luckily, you can buy the cord separately, since the power cable is the “figure eight” or “C7/C8” type.

Here are some options, which may be a bit more robust and also longer than what Apple bundles in with the streaming box:

    • Monoprice 18AWG 6-Feet AC Power Cord
    • Toniwa AC Power Cord
    • Tesha 6-Feet AC Power Adapter Cord
    • Pwr TV 12-Feet Power Cord  
6ft 18AWG AC Power Cord Cable w/o Polarized, 10A (NEMA 1-15P to IEC-320-C7)
AC Power Cord Cable Compatible Apple TV 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Generation (4K) - UL Listed
Genuine 6Feet Long AC Power Adapter Cord for Apple TV Mac Mini Time Capsule Express
Pwr TV Power Cord 12Ft Cable for Samsung LG TCL Sony: 2 Prong AC Wall Plug 2-Slot LED LCD Insignia Sharp Toshiba JVC Hisense Electronics...
6ft 18AWG AC Power Cord Cable w/o Polarized, 10A (NEMA 1-15P to IEC-320-C7)
AC Power Cord Cable Compatible Apple TV 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Generation (4K) - UL Listed
Genuine 6Feet Long AC Power Adapter Cord for Apple TV Mac Mini Time Capsule Express
Pwr TV Power Cord 12Ft Cable for Samsung LG TCL Sony: 2 Prong AC Wall Plug 2-Slot LED LCD Insignia Sharp Toshiba JVC Hisense Electronics...
6ft 18AWG AC Power Cord Cable w/o Polarized, 10A (NEMA 1-15P to IEC-320-C7)
6ft 18AWG AC Power Cord Cable w/o Polarized, 10A (NEMA 1-15P to IEC-320-C7)
AC Power Cord Cable Compatible Apple TV 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Generation (4K) - UL Listed
AC Power Cord Cable Compatible Apple TV 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Generation (4K) - UL Listed
Genuine 6Feet Long AC Power Adapter Cord for Apple TV Mac Mini Time Capsule Express
Genuine 6Feet Long AC Power Adapter Cord for Apple TV Mac Mini Time Capsule Express
Pwr TV Power Cord 12Ft Cable for Samsung LG TCL Sony: 2 Prong AC Wall Plug 2-Slot LED LCD Insignia Sharp Toshiba JVC Hisense Electronics...
Pwr TV Power Cord 12Ft Cable for Samsung LG TCL Sony: 2 Prong AC Wall Plug 2-Slot LED LCD Insignia Sharp Toshiba JVC Hisense Electronics...

Plug the female two-pronged side into the Apple TV and the other end into its power port to enable the power supply.

What Is the USB Port on Apple TV?

The USB port you see on your Apple TV is purely for device maintenance. In other words, if tvOS (Apple TV OS) becomes unresponsive or non-operational, you can use the USB port to restore the OS to its latest, functional version.

To resurrect an unresponsive Apple TV, plug the device into your computer using the USB port and log onto iTunes to initiate the factory resetting process.

App developers used the USB port to connect to Xcode—an integrated development environment provided by Apple to help app developers code, test, and debug their applications.

It is important to note that you cannot use the USB port to transfer files from an external source directly to your Apple TV. The only viable route for file transfer is via iTunes.

The Changing USB Ports and Eventual Abandonment

2021 Apple TV 4K (32GB)
Click this image for more information

With evolving USB standards, the dimensions and capabilities of the port on the Apple TV changed. However, the purposes of those ports remained the same—to help connect a computer to iTunes and reinstall system software.

The first generation of the Apple TV came with USB port 2.0. The second and third-gen devices employed mini-USB instead.

Apple HD (formerly the fourth generation) embraced the USB-C connector to keep up with the advancements in USB technology.

The last two editions, the Apple TV 4K (2017) and Apple TV 4K (2021), conspicuously ditched the USB port altogether.

Because you can reset Apple TV through its Settings app and the fact that Apple lets developers test their Apple TV apps wirelessly, USB ports became dispensable and, therefore, got duly axed.

The first four generations of the Apple TV also facilitated resetting the device through their built-in menus. The USB port was just another way to accomplish the same objective.

Resetting the Apple TV Without the USB Port

Apple TV in the living room

With the USB port out of sight, you may factory-reset your Apple TV by fiddling with its “Settings” app.

To reset the device, head to “Settings” on tvOS, click on “System”, and hit “Reset”. After selecting “Reset”, you’ll be presented with the “Reset” and “Reset and Update” options.

Clicking on the “Reset” button shall erase all your data and settings and restore the device’s factory settings. The “Reset and Update” will do the same, but it will also update your Apple TV to its latest OS version.

If your device is already on the most recent tvOS, it shall simply reset and reboot itself like it did on day one.

The above process shall not require an internet connection. But if there’s an OS update to be downloaded, you will need the internet.

Conclusion

Apple TV box and remote

If rumor mills turn out to be accurate, the iPhones released a few years later may go completely portless. Apple just doesn’t fancy orifices in its devices and looks for every opportunity it could find to close those gaps.

However, the Apple TV is probably several years away from a no-port fate. The last two generations of the device abandoned the USB port, since the standard neither powered the Apple TV nor hooked up the streaming device to an external monitor or TV.

If you upgrade from the first four generations of the Apple TV to the recent 4K versions, do not feel shocked not to find a USB port. After all, the port didn’t provide any function that other means couldn’t accomplish.

Last update on 2022-08-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.


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