Enable Remote Desktop on the Apple TV

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on March 26, 2007

Thanks to the peeps over at the excellent awkwardTV site for getting this tutorial right.

To get Apple Remote Desktop running on your Apple TV, firstly enable SSH so you can access the Apple TV easier.

SSH into your Apple TV, then run:

echo 71463E00FFDAAA95FF1C39567390ADCA > /Library/Preferences/com.apple.VNCSettings.txt

That code is is a hash of the password ‘frontrow’, which you’ll use to access Apple Remote Desktop. Next you need to get the application going, for which you can use these commands:

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -configure -clientopts -setvnclegacy -vnclegacy yes

sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -activate -configure -access -on -users admin -privs -all -restart -agent -menu

You may be prompted for your password after the first command.

You should be up and running, you can now use Apple Remote Desktop, if you have it, or the free Chicken of the VNC app to access your Apple TV remotely.

  • Just remember it’s still useless as there’s no keyboard or mouse support 😛

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  • pin

    If you kill the finder and run your own apps, remote desktop keyboard and mouse work fine.

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  • Jonathan

    I used Pacifist to install the ARD 3.1 client package while I had the Apple TV drive connected to my Mac. Probably a mistake since now ARD/VNC crashes on the Apple TV after I’m connected for just a second after a kickstart.

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  • Ken

    So can you type and use the mouse with the frontrow interface on the apple tv via ARD or VNC?

  • pin

    So far the keyboard doesn’t seem useful with frontrow, but it works fine with apps like centerstage, firefox, etc.

  • ARW

    Can the ATV be seen as a USB peripheral?

  • How about Xgrid? Any success with enabling/installing that?

  • Joe

    once you have ssh access to the AppleTV you could also install Timbuktu Pro (remote control software similar to ARD) on the AppleTV box. Timbuktu Pro offers a push install feature which sends the Timbuktu Pro software via ssh to your AppleTV — no terminal required on your part to install TB2.

  • Ti nicO

    hello 🙂

    is it possible to activate keyboard and mouse support on AppleTV ?
    that could be pretty good and cheap mac mini 🙂

  • hams

    has anyone worked on getting the opposite to work. use appletv to remote into the “server”. seems more useful to look into the desktop of your machine rather than the other way around.

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  • Ryan

    The second command should have:

    -users frontrow


    -users admin

    That way, you can login with frontrow/frontrow.

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  • lwl

    the question whether the Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) client works on the Apple TV is still open (in order to use it as a terminal).

  • MarcoS

    I made a custom RemoteDesktopClient 3.1 (ARD) installation with RemoteDesktopAdmin (with all the preferences set for user frontrow) and after that dissected the package. Inside where two other packages, RemoteDesktopPrefs and RemoteDesktopClient that both have archives in it. When unpacking the archives they both shows content with paths to /System/Library/ and several subdirectories. I copied everything in the subdirectories of the archives to the equivalent subdirectories on OSBoot and put the disk back into the AppleTV. The ATV boots normally and everything works just fine. Where ARD admin showed the ATV as ‘old version 2.1.2’ before, it now shows nothing. Connecting to it gives a ‘Connection failed’, even with Chicken of the VNC it refuses connection…Any idea’s???

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  • lwl

    if there is ARD you would want to have ARD and not VNC. To date there is no confirmation that installing the ARD client on Apple TV is possible short of putting the full OSX on it (and the necessary workarounds etc.).

  • bk

    The commands mentioned above give the following error; any idea what it can be ?

    -bash-2.05b$ sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -configure -clientopts -setvncleg
    acy -vnclegacy yes

    dyld: Symbol not found: _PL_sigfpe_saved
    Referenced from: /usr/bin/perl
    Expected in: /System/Library/Perl/5.8.6/darwin-thread-multi-2level/CORE/libperl.dylib

  • Michel

    Great tool if… I could have it working.
    actually, I had no issue for the code (no error, it started, set the client options, created preferences to start ARD after reboot, started ARD agent).

    After rebooting the ATV, I can see the AppleTV properly on my ARD on my laptop, however it refuses “frontrow” / “frontrow” as user/pw.
    why ?
    is it because it’s trhrue Airport ?

    I remember, on my computer, I had to check for it to be seen by others somehow…

    thanks for this work anyway

  • Well, I finally broke down and upgraded the drive in my AppleTV, and figured I’d apply some of the hacks here. SSH works OK, the drive came up in all its 160Gb glory, but there are some problems.

    Attempting to start AppleFileServer results in it stopping and asking for the password, and then failing with “illegal instruction.”

    Trying to dismount and remount OSBoot as read-write results in “unknown special file or file system.”

    RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app is shown in ps as running, but it won’t talk to the RealVNC client on my Windows XP machine.

    I tried enabling ftpd, copied over from a MacBook with 10.4.10 on it. Anyone get this running? Direct emails are appreciated, I’ll post any solutions back here.

    For the record, I couldn’t get the drive to come up using the “free” tutorial, so I broke down and got iPartition and it worked perfectly. I now have 140-something-gig in which to enjoy way too many movies and pictures.

  • Further update: AppleFileServer now works, ftpd now works, telnetd now works, Apache works, but Remote Desktop still refuses to talk to VNC clients. Any suggestions?

    BTW, this machine has the 1.1 update.

  • Pat

    can anyone give me the startupItem files from OSXvnc for apple TV i have only a PPC mac and this files can only created in a intel mac 🙁

    thanks for helping

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  • dave

    How do you undo this? DISable VNC?

  • Jimmy


    How did you get AFPServer working? I’m getting an illegal instruction when I try to run it…I’ve already replace the Kerberos.framework with the original (though that may be causing the issue)…no joy.


  • Kevin

    I have photos on my apple tv and did a clean install of leopard on my mac book pro now I can’t sync back to it without erasing my photos. Can anyone help me get my photos back on my mac.

  • iheartbeer

    @Kevin – completely off topic & probably a month too late…

    Pull the drive from your apple tv, mount it on your desktop (via an external USB case) and copy the files off. There might be others ways to do it, but that should work.

  • Nick D

    sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -activate -configure -access -on -users admin -privs -all -restart -agent -menu

    the last command change use this

    sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -activate -configure -access -on -users frontrow -privs -all -restart -agent -menu

    so user and password


  • Eric M

    I’m trying to enable ARD on my 1.1 ATV, but the RemoteManagement package seems to be missing on my system:

    -bash-2.05b$ sudo find / -name *Remote*

    Do I need to copy this package from a Tiger installation? Are there any other dependencies? The scripts in RemoteDesktopAgent make reference to the RemoteManagement package in the expected location, but the package itself is just not there. I notice the original article here is pretty old; was ARD removed in the 1.1 update?

  • Alessa

    My ATV is running 1.x (1.3 I think?), not the new ATV 2.0.1 released this weekend. I have managed to setup ARD access over my wifi from my PowerMac G5 with ARD 3.2. I used the SSH commands Nick D suggested. I can see the screen output from the ATV on my G5!

    Has anyone setup keyboard/mouse over ARD yet? If so, could you please post the link here?

  • By the way – if you’re in a situation where you HAVE TO GET INTO a Leopard machine and you’re lucky enough to have ssh access, this will work there, too. Thank you very much. 🙂

  • winfirewire

    -bash-2.05b$ sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart -activate -configure -access -on -users admin -privs -all -restart -agent -menu
    sudo: /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Resources/kickstart: command not found

    I ssh into aTV but cannot find kickstart on my aTV. can someone help?

  • winfirewire

    I am using 2.0.2 OS

  • Stigmata

    Same problem here: kickstart: command not fount
    SW Version is 2.0.1

  • Guys! I’m going crazy with my Imac getting instructions of the apple tv remote and viceversa (they are both in the same room). Is there an easy way to avoid confusion between both?

  • Andreas

    >David said:
    >Guys! I’m going crazy with my Imac getting instructions of the apple tv remote and viceversa (they are both in the same room). Is there an easy way to avoid confusion between both?

    Yes, you can lock the remote to one or the other. It’s in one of the menus.

  • Alex

    Excellent clause. Thanks big!


  • Han

    […] are already some hacks on the net. Just visit Apple TV Hacks to see some of them. It is possible to enable Remote Desktop and ssh. You can install a new (and bigger) harddrive. Enable the built in Apache and other stuff. […]

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  • Mar

    I am crazily searching for a way to get this working on Apple TV.

    With Hackint0sh stuff you can usually count for a fast release of software after an update, but with Apple TV it takes forever!

    How do i do this on 2.2

  • Zaphod

    Hmm… for the VNC trick, the RemoteManagement Core Service does not appear on the AppleTV 2.2, is it just a matter of copying the service over? Or does it require tweaking another config file also?

  • It lags like hell. And it won’t react to my mouse or keyboard. How to fix this?

  • Eric

    @Zaphod – No, unfortunately, it’s not just a quick copy – looks like the perl frameworks on the appletv aren’t complete. I’m working on this, but I have no idea what it’s going to take to make it work.

  • faroz06

    Apparently, the 2.1 update no longer has support files for VNC! I'll have to install them myself.
    But I can't because for some stupid reason I can't get read/write access to system files! I tried the command to unlock it, but it didn't work. I need to get the thing to be read/write permanently so I can enable it in Terminal then go to Cyberduck and copy the files.

    Does anyone know how???

  • h3x

    use cyberduck to copy files to your Documents folder on the ATV then ssh into it and do
    sudo cp Documents/your_file_name /new/path/with/no/access
    it'll ask u to type your password again and it'll copy

  • rizonable

    has anyone found a solution to the command not found. My documents folder only has Backups/ which is empty, MacOSUpdCombo10.4.9Intel.dmg and nitoInstall.log.

  • Anonymous

    Why is Apple such a closed system? Can’t even make the smallest of changes to make it what I want instead of what Mr. Jobs wants.

    I got my AppleTV2 and it works fine for netflix and web stuff, but what about my personal owned videos on my network? Unless I convert them to podcast format I can’t get them. How about something as simple as changing the screensaver. Pictures are nice but what if I want an aquarium or heaven forbid…my pictures instead?

  • Guest

    you can use your own pictures

  • Warlock_boy_burns

    use real player converter to convert about 30 videos to hd mp4 in about 12 hours and drop them in itunes

  • Bhaupt

    OK SO does this reconfiguration allow you to “mirror” the computer screen up onto the tv through AppleTV? 

  • Any solution for ATV4?

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