Apple TV running on a Macbook

by editor @ on March 27, 2007

Apple TV OS can now run on a Macbook! was able to patch to the Apple TV, and now has an operating Apple TV:

You can use your remote as normal, it shows up in iTunes on other computers:

The method

Install a fresh copy of regular OS X (not the Apple TV version, the Mac version), or clone one. Just make sure you have everything backed up. Download a copy of the patched Finder file (we can’t help you here). Now, copy the from your Apple TV drive, and transplant the patch file (which is just the binary part of the app) into it, and set the permissions:

cd /Volumes/OSBoot/System/Library/CoreServices/
sudo cp -pr ./ /Volume/FreshOSX/System/Library/CoreServices/.
cd /Volume/FreshOSX/System/Library/CoreServices/
sudo cp /path/to/patched/Finder .
sudo chown root:wheel Finder
sudo chmod 755 Finder

Next you must copy over 2 additional Frameworks from the Apple TV to the OS X install:

cd /Volumes/OSBoot/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/
sudo cp -pr ./iPhotoAccess.framework /Volume/FreshOSX/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/.
sudo cp -pr ./BackRow.framework /Volume/FreshOSX/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/.

Now, reboot and hold down Option to choose your boot drive, select the new OS X install and boot from it. You should be away:

Thanks again to semthex for this hack, you can find him over at the forums. Thanks go to skr3dii for the video, you can visit him over at his blog.

  • Bruce

    PLEASE: Take the stickers off that doze laptop. Sorry, it just bothers me to look at them, and I always feel the need to peel them off… Thank you Apple for not putting stickers all over my MBP.

  • thatoneitguy

    Yes, but how?

  • Gortman

    Now, where can we get these files? And a full tutorial would also be nice.

  • dantheman

    Guys, you’re so great!
    Can you share the file and a tutorial somewhere (e.g. over bittorrent)?

  • Woz

    I feel a MacMini/AppleTV Hybrid coming! Woohoo!

  • Tom @

    Ok, we’ve updated the tutorial to be more comprehensive.

  • mhuk01

    any idea where we can find the patched finder? help me at least a little bit:)

  • me

    can you confirm if the keyboard and mouse are working?

  • mhuk01

    i’m slightly confused by this hack. From what I understand, you have appletv running on normal OS X. can you use the rest of OS X as normal (ie is it just like an application)?

    also are you not able to simply get it so the apple tv os works on a mac?

  • Tom @


    Yes the keyboard and mouse, and remote all work fine.


    The Apple TV uses a modified version of OS X, so this is as good as getting the ‘Apple TV OS’ to work.

    We have replaced the Finder, which goes fullscreen to the front of the display, but other apps can still be run with some fiddling.

  • mhuk01

    so the original os is a cloned version of Mac OS X as opposed to a cloned version of AppleTV OS X

  • URL
  • Tom @

    mhuk01 – Yes, I’ll adjust the tutorial to make that clearer.

  • mhuk01

    sorry Tom but it still isnt clear. If appletv is running on an os which contains other applications, it has to be MacOSX right?

    for this to be running a slightly modded AppleTV OSX (ie a copy of the appletv harddrive) then the startup logo would come up on boot and there would be no other applications on the OS.

  • mhuk01

    the url doesn’t work. Says it’s a classic app when you add .app to it.

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  • No Name Steak Sauce

    It is neat to turn a more expensive laptop into a less expensive Apple TV. I think a better way to do this would be to run the Apple TV OS in a virtual machine on a MAC OS X host. Best of both worlds that way.

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  • What happens when you put a DVD in the drive (booted into [apple]TV)? Will it play?

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  • Me

    This is perfect. I’ve got an old powerbook hooked upto a TV being a media server for the TV. If I can now load the AppleTV OS on it, it’ll be a beauty. Especially if I Can switch back and forth on it.

  • Visnaut

    Why is a patched Finder necessary in the first place?

    What is incompatible about the AppleTV Finder that it won’t run on a stock OS X install?

  • mhuk01

    because it scans your hardward, when it realises that the hardware isn’t appletv’s, it simply doesn’t load.

  • Andrew

    This looks all very good, but I don’t exactly see the point at the same time, when you can do this in front row. Plus have to wait for a longer bootup…

  • I can verify ….. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL.

    I have it running on an Intel Mac Mini – everything works beautifully. I can sync to iTunes, stream from iTunes. And best of all, I still have file sharing enabled, so I can modify the file system at will.

    I now have the AppleTV, and my Mac Mini based version – this is great.

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  • CyBeR

    The Apple TV finder does a hardware check.

    THe patched finder above works fine. You don’t even need a clean OSX for it, just make sure you have the two frameworks in the right place and launch it. (But you won’t be able to quit it without logging in with ssh and killing it.)

  • SM

    So where do I clone the copy of the new OS X? On a new partition?

  • Mark

    from other hacks, it would appear that the appletv can run osx apps (e.g. people are running apache/ssh etc)

    if this is the case, i would have thought the ‘holy grail’ would be to get eyeTV running on the appletv, so that the appletv can be used as a PVR. (essentially this is what most people expected of the appltv anyways)
    does this run? does the USB port acknowledge USB hardware?

    i guess this depends on how much is in the ‘reduced osx’ , otherwise this might require osx to be somehow installed on the appletv

  • Me2

    Will this work on a MBP? What about a PBG4? Thanks, I’m really excited to upgrade to a Core 2 Duo Mac, and this will be one of the first things I try!

  • Joraff

    Has anyone come across any problems installing this on a macbook yet? When I launch the patched finder, it spits this error out:

    Finder[367] *** +[QCPatch loadPlugInsInFolder:]: selector not recognized
    Finder[367] *** Uncaught exception: *** +[QCPatch loadPlugInsInFolder:]: selector not recognized
    Trace/BPT trap

    Anyone know how this can be fixed?

  • “We are evaluating the legalities of releasing a patch file for the Finder, but currently we are too afraid of Apple Legal.”

    Well, can’t you host it long enough for other sites to pick it up? Then once you get the C&D, you remove it and that’s that..

  • Bubba

    So am I correct in my understanding that in addition to the patched finder you also need the two AppleTV framework files to get this going? If so, that means that you will need access to an AppleTV drive, correct?

  • macdad82

    It works on a MBP, but will not, and cannot work on a PBG4 or any PowerPC for that matter. Binary includes x86 version only.

  • Zaphod

    While this seems like a novel thing; I hardly find it useful, or worthwhile to turn my $2500 computer into a $300 iTV…… I think I’d buy the Apple TV and leave this one alone….. I’ve got better things to do with my time.

    Just my 2C


  • pitus

    is this patched Finder a universal binary? (would it run on PPC macs?)

  • Kevin

    Could someone make a automator action or an app for copying the files?

  • karino

    2 Joraff
    I`ve got the same error on my clean install of OS X, however it is 10.4.4 only. On my latest install 10.4.9 it works fine. Isn`t that your case??

  • chris

    that’s what i did too, but it wouldn’t load the new finder for me.

    Mar 27 12:23:49 computer FrontRow[580]: Message Handler Installation Failed: bootstrap_check_in(): 0x44c: Bootstrap not privileged\n
    Mar 27 12:23:49 computer FrontRow[580]: No matching IR micro server found.
    Mar 27 12:23:49 computer FrontRow[580]: VERS: failed to get ImageVersion for display
    Mar 27 12:23:49 computer FrontRow[580]: VERS: failed to get BootImageVersion for display
    Mar 27 12:23:49 computer FrontRow[580]: Unsupported hardware – Exiting

  • Jacob

    Can someone just patch a whole install of the OS (SSH, Remote Desktop, Xvid, DivX, etc.) that can just be torrented and then restored to a USB drive that i can then just plug into my MBP, hold down option when booting up, and use the Apple TV OS?

    I don’t understand how a fully patched version hasn’t been done like this yet (or maybe it has and i just need a url) and the fact that you need to do a full install of OSX…….can it be done with leaving the existing install intact?

  • Anon

    I can’t get it to work at all. Tried copying the OSBoot from the torrent over onto the disk and starting, won’t boot. Tried doing this and then doing the finder patch, won’t boot. Have tried installing a new 10.4.4 and doing the finder patch, no finder loads at all, just the dock with Dashboard as the only open app. Tried copying an existing 10.4.9 onto the disk and then doing the finder patch, same as with 10.4.4. What gives? How can it be done? Can those that have actually done it share their exact steps?

  • Philou

    Working like a charm on MacBook CD

  • grouch

    Congrats. You turned a $1000 laptop into a single-purpose appliance. Sign me the fuck up…

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  • Did the install on my iMac using Bootcamp to create the new partition and then I just followed the steps and it works great on my iMac (Intel). Here’s a screencapture screencapture.

  • Philou

    @grouch: it was just for testing and fun, i’m not going to use it 🙂

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  • Matthew

    I am trying to test this, but I can not find the file. The above site has removed the file.

  • mhuk01

    done everything shown above (apart from manually dragging the files etc, as i didn’t know the correct path). set the permissions also. The finder just won’t launch! any ideas?

  • why

    okay, i understand this chellange, but:

    i have FRONT ROW with QUICKTIME with all codecs,
    EYETV and a FULL PAL 768x576px resolution on my macbook or mac mini incl. file sharing …

    i can not understand this hype and appletv…???

  • Come On!

    Can someone PLEASE post a working link to the file downloads

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  • KJ

    Got it running on a seperate partition on the macbook. Runs beautifully. Synced some media with an old old old crappy PC in the house (no other macs) and my external drive.

    Works fine, but I had the idea that “i can just share media between the two drives” or at least be able to copy from my main os x installation to the atv. Not so.

    AppleTV acts as an iPod, keeping a Media folder with F01, F02, F03 etc folders and randomly assigned names for your music, photos and movies.

    No big surprise, the surprise is…it keeps that folder on my other partition, not the partition that the appletv finder is installed on.

    If i had another mac or a PC worth its weight in anything other than shit, I’d just set my external up and use it as a media server for both my os x installation and my appletv install, but for now, that’s a no go.

    The idea here would be to have an application like one of the hundreds for the ipod that’s able to decode that appletv craziness and enable you to add content to the appletv without being synced to an itunes library when you want to do it. same idea as “i dont want to use itunes to copy stuff to my ipod”, “i don’t want to have to fire up this crappy pc every time i want to throw something on appletv”

    Great job guys. This is coming along great.

  • Connor

    When I try to copy Backrow.framework, it says that sme items have special permissions and can’t be copied. I am on an administrator account and have no restrictions. Please help!!!!

  • J

    I was able to get it running on my MB CD without re-installing to another drive. I copied the files to my Home directory and did the patching on that file. Then I double clicked on that patched copy of Finder and Apple TV worked. There are still some issues with not being able to quit without SSH and the volume control doesn’t seem to work for me, but it does work. Maybe a few more patches and we’ll be set.

  • Bob

    Would this work on an “OSx86” PC and not an app as OS X will run with some mods.

  • Marie

    Great guide. It is helpful to me.
    Take a look at step-by-step guide to convert DVD, video files to Apple TV at

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  • Japplefan

    Wow I finally did it. Took all day though. Heres how I did it.

    I used apples boot camp to split my drive into 2 partitions. I made my second partition 20g, but that its actually kind of large if you don’t plan on storing media on your aTV. Then I used the disk utility from the mac OS X install disk to format my second partition to the MAC Journaled format. Then I downloaded a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner. Thats a free application that will exactly copy files from one drive to another regardless of permissions. Make sure you get the BETA version though, its much better. In the application, set the target drive as your main HD partition, and the source as the drive you want your files to be copied to. Now you dont need to copy your whole HD over to your other partition, chances are it wont even fit. So i picked certain things I could leave out such as movies, pictures, music, a whole bunch of applications and application support files located in the library, apple audio loops…and so on. You can decide what is important to copy and what is not. It is manditory that you keep everything in the system folder and all the frameworks. Anything that you suspect to be a system file needed to run the operating system, you should copy over. Then hit copy. I ran into some problems and I was getting an error message saying “Too many files open” If you get that, uncheck some items from the source an copy over a little at a time. This can be a time consuming process. Also, make sure the ” Delete items that don’t exist on the source” button is NOT checked. Once you have made a copy of your operating system, try booting into it by restarting and holding down command. When the drives pop up select the one labled EFI boot. It will take a little while, but if the new operating system loads without any problem then congratulations, your half way there. Restart and go back into your primary partition. So to make things a little less complex, I renamed my new drive partition “FreshOSX” which is the volume name used in all the code below. At this point you should make sure you have a patched file. I dont know where you can get one but I’m sure its floating around the net somewhere. The file is 6.6Mb in size and wont appear to have any extension. Dont try to give it one. Many people have been giving the file a .app extension and that will not work. Just leave it as is. Open the terminal and run the following code:

    cd /Volumes/OSBoot/System/Library/CoreServices/
    sudo cp -pr ./ /Volume/FreshOSX/System/Library/CoreServices/.
    cd /Volumes/FreshOSX/System/Library/CoreServices/
    sudo cp /path/to/patched/Finder .
    sudo chown root:wheel Finder
    sudo chmod 755 Finder

    Next you must copy over 2 additional Frameworks from the Apple TV to the OS X install:

    cd /Volumes/OSBoot/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/
    sudo cp -pr ./iPhotoAccess.framework /Volumes/FreshOSX/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/.
    sudo cp -pr ./BackRow.framework /Volumes/FreshOSX/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/.

    I noticed a typo in the code from the site. Anytime you see “/Volume” it should be “/Volumes” with an S. Just a minor typo but the code wont run unless its correct. I have corrected it in the code above.

    After you have done all that, reboot into your EFI partition. I will be just like logging into any other mac, type your username and password if needed. Then you should see a desktop and a dock, but only breifly. It will go away on its own and apple tv will boot up. ENJOY!

    I hope this guide made sense. Its been a long day trying to get this to work.

  • MMB

    I’ve also got a method where you don’t need to reinstall at all. I just create a new user account and whenever you login to that account it launches AppleTV. I guess I could have just double-clicked on the .app, or replace front row, but that’s what I came up with. You can try it out here:

  • s

    A few comments. Got it working (quite easy) on a mac mini intel core solo. Everything seems to work great! A few issues I’ve noticed.

    – Volume doesn’t seem to work
    – Would it be possible to produce a patch so that the appletv backrow could be quit to return back out to the finder?

    I popped in a DVD to test and although appletv won’t play it i hear the sound in the background. Would someone be able to hack it to enable an extra button “play dvd”.

    Just some thoughts — looking forward to updates — this rocks guys!

  • joe

    To who posted “What’s the point?” messages:
    The point is not to turn your expensive laptop into a $300 product. The point is that this is one of many steps in understanding how to further modify the Apple TV.

  • g

    Sounds like the Apple TV OS will be the next version of Front Row in Leopard. Why else would it be so easy to perform this hack?

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  • roland

    Could someone tell us how to use SSH to quit “Finder”? Thanks!

  • Neodammerung

    I was just reading some of the replies and and a comment on Demonoid from a guy who made the Finder patch but renamed the app and the .plist inside to “Front Row” then replaced the FrontRow from the CoreServices, repaired permissions and rebooted, so every time he called front row from his remote it will pop up…

    And he seems to have the issue with not quitting the app, I was wondering if somebody tried to activate the hidden Finder option to add a “quit item” to the menu via tinkertool or something like that, so you could quit via command-q.

    I’m dying to try it but I’m stuck with a MacMini PPC.

    If this works I’m gonna make the change to intel…

    Please notify if this could work.

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  • Gomf

    *MUCH* more interesting would be the opposite: Getting a full, regular MacOS X to run on AppleTV. That would give us a *very* cheap Mac…

    What’s needed for that? Hardware drivers? USB driver?

  • Thanks! It works on my MacBook Pro.

    I have a alternative way to do it.
    Just copy the backrow and iphotoaccess to your privateframework of existing system.
    and Copy the patched to /Applications, you can also change the name. For example, I called it

    and, just double-click on AppleTV, and you got your AppleTV up and running! 😛

    BTW, my MBP only gets 1280×800 res., it will switch to this mode before entering application, and System Preferences will stuck at the Loading Display… until reboot.
    and the only way to shutdown Apple TV is using SSH from another computer and kill the process. ^^

  • perdolis

    Please ppl, link doesn’t work…. (

  • Mike

    Will it play the cool startup video that comes with the AppleTV?

  • Sash

    It work´s fine on my mac mini core solo!
    But… it don´t play any Video Media like the trailers from the apple website…
    Has anyone the same or a similar error and solved it already?

  • The Dude

    Please, use a stand or some books for your next video. Or use Valium, but keep that camera steady…

  • N0V4K

    Creating .pkg 😉 thanx Zero

  • Japplefan

    No, It wont play the start up video. Im still trying to figure out how to use the ssh quit so could someone help?

  • Jakky
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  • N0V4K
  • Umpa

    Ton “quit” Finder through ssh, log into the AppleTV-thing-machine and enter “killall Finder”, ENTER and done.

  • GQmacguy

    Try googling “kill finder command via SSH OSX” for your Finder woes.

  • where

    Hello, where can I download the Finder file?

  • Can you get the elgato Digital TV Hybrid to work on the AppleTV USB port?

    Full TiVo style recording.
    pump video directly into AppleTV with eyeTV products.

    eyeTV actually could make the AppleTV a USEFUL DVR product.

  • N0V4K

    2 Fixed with Pkg’s
    New version ->


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  • Y2k

    What is the passwords to the RAR files?

    I tried the AppleTV 1.1 DMG and it doesn’t do anything on a MBP

    What am I doing wrong?

  • plizio

    Hi, i’m not understanding how to use this Apple_TV_1.1.dmg, what must I do whit this package?
    Must I install it on my mac os x disk? And then?
    Sorry for my stupid questions but I’m not understanding…

  • Hey, if you don’t have an idea of what the hell’s going on here or you’re too afraid to do something wrong, check out this easy step-by-step guide to turn your mac into an Apple TV

  • Xianli

    I’ve posted a complete procedure on how to install Back Row on a Intel Mac and call it with the Apple remote.
    You can also quit it without restarting and you keep your Original Finder.

  • Rupert Gee

    Use Apple Remote Desktop to Quit Apple TV

    Highlight the Mac running Apple TV, and under the Manage Menu, choose “Send UNIX Command…”. Then type, without quotes, “killall Finder”.

    As easy as that for those who don’t know ssh.

  • MMB

    I have updated my method at

    You can either completely replace front row or just have it running as a standalone app


    there is also an app included that lets you quit apple tv using your mouse instead of SSH.

  • PLZ!

    Plz guys! Anyone got da password 4 da rapidshare?

  • I want it too!

    Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease! Who has the password for the damn thing!

  • MMB

    Don’t use that mirror – there are many others available.

    installer ( i havent tested it) :

    or you can use my tutorial which is very easy to follow and LETS YOU QUIT!!! (major breakthrough lol)

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  • Alex

    OK, I managed to get everything to work by downloading the AppleTV dmg (118Mb) onto my Mac-Mini. The dmg I used is the one that installs the necessary frameworks with a script installer and gives you an “Apple TV. app” to use as a standalone application.

    Now I’m trying to use the Apple TV app to replace Front Row:
    I renamed Apple TV as Front Row, dragged it to /System/Core Services, and replaced the old Front Row, and restarted the mac mini.
    However, the Menu button of my Apple Remote control doesn’t trigger the new Front Row.

    Any suggestion?

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  • GO MAVS!

    Don’t forget about us, the PPC users. Waiting eagerly for the cure.

  • Has anyone managed to run Apple TV on an iMac Core Duo ?

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  • i get this error:

    /SourceCache/Riptide/Riptide-175/BackRow/Utilities/BRXHardwareUtility.m:145: failed assertion `NO’
    Abort trap

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  • JimboW

    Has anyone got this to work just by booting up using a Firewire or USB external drive… taking it to another mac and booting from it too???

    THAT would be great since it would make ANY mac an apple tv mac AND you can take the drive to your friends and watch the movies there!!!

  • Simon Easter

    Does anyone ANYWHERE have a non hacked original dd image of the appletv hard drive?
    My partition tables have been corrupted by macdrive and I need (I believe at least the 1st 2gigs (?) to get the unit to point where it can factory restore itself.

    I’ve tried various torrent sites they seem to be obsessed with images running on a standard mac.
    Just want the original OS so can make a hard drive upgrade.

    Anyone got a link or willing to upload a dd image?



  • Blur

    Can anyone help me to find the patched Finder ?
    I looked a bit everywhere but all links where broken ….


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  • Banana Hammocks!

    I think it’s a clever hack, but (not wishing to dump on your success) surely you’ve just made a very/more expensive apple TV?

    And if you use an Apple TV for the hack, then you must already have one and then what’s the point in the hack? Just to show it can be done?

  • Would this work on an “OSx86″ PC and not an app as OS X will run with some mods.

  • Alex

    Will this work on a MBP? What about a PBG4? Thanks, I’m really excited to upgrade to a Core 2 Duo Mac, and this will be one of the first things I try!

  • DeMan

    Where can i get the patch files?
    would be much apreciated

  • wayne

    Can you connect the macbook to a tv, and use the appletv? Or should I just use frontrow?

  • Linoge

    I think it’s a clever hack, but (not wishing to dump on your success) surely you’ve just made a very/more expensive apple TV?

    And if you use an Apple TV for the hack, then you must already have one and then what’s the point in the hack? Just to show it can be done?

  • haha i just realized that bc i have no disk space, I can’t do this. Wait, i found that i can just burn to a dvd and use a live dvd. Nevermind.

  • gogo

    Will this allow HD movies to be displayed on a Mac instead of an Apple TV?

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  • Spazturtle

    Apple tv os is tiger

  • Benefits of Apple TV: You can rent movies, buy music and shows from iTunes with the remote. Screensaver doesn't take paused movie out of full screen.
    Better on Mini: Full codec support

    Fuck off if you aren't interested.

  • Thanks! It works on my MacBook Pro.

  • Finkmac

    Links are down… 🙁

  • That’s great!

  • john

    please find a way to run apple tv 2 on an acer iconia a500. i would like to make my apple tv portaable and watch it on the acer a500 which has hdmi mini and 2.0 usb to plug the apple tv to power it. there are many apps to mirror my tablet to apple tv but why when i have hdmi. i want the other way around so i can enjoy the apple tv 2 on a long car ride. thats going to be awesome when it does finally come out. Please let me know if you do it [email protected]

  • doomangel

    this might be old but it is hell of hack, anyone knows where i could find an apple tv gen 1 to buy?

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