How to Add an External Hard Drive to Apple TV

Updated April 17, 2017

An Apple TV allows you to buy and rent movies via iTunes and watch them on your HDTV. You can also stream videos (in the proper iTunes format) and pictures from your computer to your TV. The indirect way of adding an external hard drive is to connect an external hard drive to your computer and store all of your iTunes files there. Apple TV can then access the movies, songs, and photos from that external hard drive. However, there is a more involved process of adding a USB external hard drive directly to Apple TV. Apple TV still boots from the internal hard drive, but it will store media on the external hard drive. Be forewarned, though, that this process will void your warranty.

Unplug the Apple TV and turn it over so the bottom is facing up.

Remove the rubber bottom on the Apple TV. Using a flat head screw driver or a putty knife may help.

Remove the four T10 screws from the Apple TV that are in the four corners of the Apple TV.

Separate the back panel from the Apple TV and set it to the side. You cannot completely separate the back panel because a ribbon cable is connected from the main board of the Apple TV to the hard drive, which is attached to the back panel.

Disconnect the ribbon cable from the hard drive.

Connect the Hard-drive-to-USB adaptor to the hard drive, pushing it firmly into the back of the hard drive.

Connect the other end to a USB port on the Intel Mac computer. This will cause two drives to be mounted to the Intel computer. These drives will appear on your desktop as OSBoot and Media.

Double-click on the OSBoot drive mounted on the desktop. This will open the drive in Finder.

Press Command+Shift+G to open the "Go To Folder" command. Type in /Volumes/OSBoos/usr/sbin/, then press "Go."

Press "Command"+"N" to open a new Finder window, then press "Command"+"Shift"+"G" and type in /usr/sbin/. Press "Go" to open the folder in the new window.

Locate the file "sshd," then press "Command"+"C" to copy the file. Alternatively, right-click and select "Copy."

Paste the "sshd" file in the "sbin" folder in the OSBoot drive. Press "Command"+"V" or right-click and select paste to copy the file.

Press "Command"+"Shift"+"G" again and type in /Volumes/OSBoot/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/, then press "Go."

Open the ssh.plist file.

Replace the text with the following:

Label com.openssh.sshd Program /usr/libexec/sshd-keygen-wrapper ProgramArguments /usr/sbin/sshd -i SessionCreate Sockets Listeners Bonjour ssh sftp-ssh SockServiceName ssh StandardErrorPath /dev/null inetdCompatibility Wait

Save the file and close it.

Create a Folder on the desktop labelled "Apple TV"

Copy all of the files from OSBoot and Media to that folder. This creates a backup in case something goes wrong.

Disconnect the hard drive from the hard-drive-to-USB adaptor and reconnect it to the Apple TV.

Close the Apple TV, making sure to screw in the back panel to the main board.

Turn the Apple TV on and navigate to the network settings. Make note of the IP address.

Open the Terminal Application (click on Spotlight, which looks like a magnifying glass in the top right corner, then type in "Terminal"). Type in "ssh frontrow@appleTVIPaddress," where appleTVIPaddress is the IP address you recorded from the network settings of your Apple TV. Hit Return.

Store the key and type in "frontrow" as the password.

Turn off the Apple TV.

Download the Apple TV patch here:

Unzip the download and double-click on the file called "" to run the script.

Turn on the Apple TV. Let the entire welcome sequence run.

Plug in the USB external hard drive. Once the external hard drive is connected, the Apple TV will immediately begin copying the content from the primary drive to the external drive. This may take a while. Once the Apple TV is done copying the files, it will restart and the external hard drive will be working with the Apple TV as its primary storage device.

Things You'll Need

  • Apple TV
  • T10 Screw Driver
  • Intel Mac Computer with OS X 10.4
  • Hard drive to USB adaptor
  • Apple TV patch
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About the Author

Dean Lee began writing in 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. Lee is currently a network technician with both Cisco Certified Network Associate and Security+ certifications. Lee graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and later completed a Master of Arts in communication at Regent University.