Bugs & Fixes: Apple TV network and authorization hassles

Of all the problems you may have with an Apple TV, perhaps the most common is a failure of the device to show up in iTunes. This has happened to me repeatedly. Fortunately, the fix, although temporary, has always been easy: unplug the Apple TV from the wall outlet, wait a few seconds, and plug it back in.

Matters took a turn for the worse, however, after I updated to Apple TV 2.0 software. My Apple TV soon vanished from iTunes and the unplug trick could no longer bring it back. It appeared that my Apple TV could not maintain a network connection: the Apple TV listings in Settings -> General -> Network would waffle back and forth between empty fields and the correct data.

Apple offers a slew of possible fixes for the basic symptom. None of them worked for me. Macworld’s Christopher Breen recently offered two other suggestions. They did not apply to me, as I was not using the relevant (5 GHz wide channels) setup.

What finally brought the triumphant return of my Apple TV was, once again, incredibly simple: I updated to Apple TV software 2.0.1. Apple doesn’t offer specifics as to what these updates do, but this one definitely fixed my problem.

Unfortunately, it simultaneously introduced a new glitch: Whenever I attempted to sync my Apple TV, an error message popped up stating that items purchased from the iTunes Store would not sync “because Apple TV could not contact the iTunes Store to authorize.” The message made littlle sense, as my Apple TV clearly could connect to the iTunes Store (I could view trailers and make purchases). iTunes on my Mac could similarly connect to the iTunes Store and play authorized items. Despite this, there clearly was some authorization mix-up—because the solution turned out to be deauthorizing and then re-authorizing my Mac (not my Apple TV!) for my iTunes Store account.

While this marked the end of my current round of Apple TV troubles, it may not do so for you. Various threads in Apple’s Discussions boards reveal that problems persist for some users even after trying all of the fixes mentioned here. Happily, Apple just this week released Apple TV 2.0.2. It appears to fix the problem noted in last week’s Mac 911 column. As to whether or not it also addresses the other issues described here, that remains to be seen. I can at least say that the authorization failure did not return after applying the update. So far, so good.

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