Get color output from Apple TV’s composite video output

by editor @ AppleTVHacks.net on October 12, 2007


composite hack Get color output from Apple TVs composite video output

Mauricio Pastrana has figured out how to get color output via the composite video connector. This is good news for people who want to use the Apple TV with regular non-HD TV sets.

Here’s what he did:

  • Plug your composite-yellow in the green “slot” (this will give you an image, but BW)
  • head over to resolution and set it to 480i (not sure if this step is needed tho)
  • now STAND on 480p and unplug the composite-yellow, plug an HDMI-DVI adapter
  • press “ok” on the remote and count to 5
  • unplug the HDMI-DVI adapter and replug the composite-yellow, when the image comes back, it comes back full color!

Great job, Mauricio.

Update:

As noted in one of the comments, you can also enable composite video via software using instructions found here.

Thanks, drag0n.

  • Alan Shore

    If this really works, you deserve the Nobel!

  • Ced

    Yep except that so far i haven’t seen any other testimony so let’s wait another user. Is this special HDMI/DVI (presented in the video) required or any HDMI/DVI might do the job ?

  • http://www.rossolson.com/ Ross O

    What do you mean by “STAND”? Do you mean move the highlight to it, but don’t activate it? Should this be read as “STAY” or “HOVER” or “HIGHLIGHT”?

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  • http://www.yvan256.net Yvan256

    Now, if someone could figure out a similar trick to force the Apple TV to letterbox the output, my old 36″ Toshiba TV would stop displaying tall actors. ;-)

    (and no, it doesn’t have a 16:9/anamorphic mode)

  • jose quintero

    Gracias Mauricio.
    Mi apple tv funciona con mi vieja television. He comprado un adaptador de hdmi a dvi y un adaptador de dvi a rga.
    Funciona a la perfeccion. Incluso con mas definicion “576i-50Hz”.Con solo 10€ funciona de maravilla…
    Gracias.
    Jose Quintero

  • Bogdan Stan

    Great job, did work for me even that instead of s-video I used SCART on the other end.
    The requested thing is that dvi-vga adapter connected to that hdmi-dvi adapter, will not work without that … forgot that at the begining and didn’t worked without.

  • drag0n

    You can enable composite by software. See http://wiki.awkwardtv.org/wiki/Composite

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  • AndrewG

    Many thanks – finally a solution that worked – I used a standard HDMI – > DVI cable + a standard DVI – > VGA adapter and now have my Apple TV running at a resolution 576i (PAL Plus)

  • Miguel

    Something wrong, i use HDMI – DVI cable and i still have B/W. Something wrong i cannot figure out.

  • http://nowebsite greg s.

    there is an adapter that does it in one step; component to s-video… svideo.com has them

  • peter

    es klappt super
    danke an den Meister :-)

  • http://hushrants.blogspot.com liam

    i’m trying to do this, i have a monster brand hdmi to dvi adapter.

    i’m confused as to what you mean by “STAND” on 480P. could you let me know?

  • luck

    Liam, STAND means highlight. Basically, you just want to highlight the 480p entry while you do the rest of the operation.

  • MacFly

    Unfortunately, doesn’t seem to work with AppleTV 2.0…
    I just bought HDMI-DVI and DVI-VGA adapters because the software methode doesn’t work anymore since ssh is impossible by upgrade.
    Multiple tries, but the image never comes back after replugging composite cable.
    Too bad…

  • MacFly

    It finally works on AppleTV 2.0 but you have to plug the composite wire BEFORE you unplug the HDMI-DVI adapter on step 5.

  • FinlandG4Mini

    This tip works beautifully.

    The DVI-VGA adapter is included as standard in a Mac Mini, so I only had to buy the HDMI-DVI and then borrow the DVI-VGA from the Mini for a couple of minutes to play this little trick.

    Thanks a lot for this.

  • Ale

    Sure it worked? I tried but nothing happened :(
    right steps should be:
    * Plug your composite-yellow in the green “slot” (this will give you an image, but BW)
    * head over to resolution and set it to 480i (not sure if this step is needed tho)
    * now STAND on 480p and unplug the composite-yellow, plug an HDMI-DVI adapter
    * press “ok” on the remote and count to 5
    * replug the composite-yellow then unplug the HDMI-DVI adapter and when the image comes back, it comes back full color!

    Right?

  • Ale

    It worked, you were right….I connected the HDMI-DVI adapter to a monitor and then followed the instructions and it finally worked!

  • CJ

    If you turn the ATV off do you have to do this trick every time you power off. Or it real remember this setting and stay on the color setting every time you power the ATV on?

  • Gavroche

    Works absolutely fine for me with an @TV v 1.0 on my Sony 16/9 100Hz VCR TV, here in Belgium. Note that i plugged the yellow cable back before unplugging the HDMI/DVI/DVI/VGA “combo-tool… and i had to complete the operation after the upgrade towards V. 2.0.1…

  • Drew

    Wow what a great discovery! fyi also works with new updated software version 2.0.2 just plug in the composite then unplug hdmi in step 5.

  • Chris

    Yep just did it on 2.0.2, I followed the instruction on the comment just before, plugged back the composite before removing the HDMI, bought the adapters on ebay for $6.

  • http://www.SVideo.com Joe

    I liked the hack, however, I noticed that my AppleTV sometimes reset itself somewhat randomly, resulting in having to perform the hack again, since the AppleTV defaulted to the original settings. In addition, if the power went out I had to perform the hack again.

    The other thing I did not like about the hack was that once you do the hack you will notice that the only resolution that is available in the video resolution settings is 480i and 576i; you can’t even see the other resolutions. The hack effectively disables the HDMI output, so if I wanted to connect via HDMI again, I had to reset the AppleTV to the default settings.

    Of course, the other downside of the hack was having to find a VGA to HDMI adapter, which I only found at svideo com. The other option was to get use two adapters, a VGA-DVI and then a DVI to HDMI, fortunately I found both cheap at svideo com and got free shipping and fast delivery.

  • Timo

    Has anybody tried this on the newly released 2.1 firmware? It doesn’t sound like the update messes with anything relating to video output but I’m not willing to try it ;) .

    Also, the DVI-VGA part is superfluous, especially if you don’t have the parts lying around. The trick works equally well with just a HDMI-DVI connector if you short circuit pins 14 and 16 on the DVI side (very easy to do if the DVI is female). You can find the DVI pin layout on Wikipedia, 14 is +5 Volt and 16 is “hot plug detect”. Essentially this is all the DVI-VGA adapter does.

    Some DVI-VGA adapters don’t do this, and if you are having trouble getting this trick to work, try it with a switched off monitor plugged into the VGA end.

  • Stian

    I can confirm composite color works with the new 2.1 update.
    I used the software hack as described in http://wiki.awkwardtv.org/wiki/Composite .
    Haven’t tried the HDMI-DVI trick though.

  • Chris

    Just updated to 2.1 and the HDMI-DVI-VGA trick works just fine.
    but just like 2.0.2 you have to plug the green back in before removing the adapter.

    And now internet Radio seems to work as expected, I hope they won’t vanish like on 2.0.2 and need a re-sync.

  • takuzinis

    CONFIRMATION in Apple 2.1. it works also with HDMI(male)-DVI(female) only (pins 16 and 14 short circuited with paperclip :) ) only thing you need is to follow yellow light in front is becoming white after plugging in the adapter – basically when resolution is changed after no confirmation (new future in latest firmware). I am not sure about the sequence of replugging green and removing adapter, but there are only two options luckily and the original worked for me.

  • Chris

    Just updated to 2.3 (released 11-19-2008) and this tricks still works !!! It’s great

  • takuzinis

    Works in ATV 2.3

  • EmsCellist

    so i used an HDMI to DVI adapter and just short circuited pins 1 and 16 and it worked perfectly!!!

  • Jean

    Works on AppleTV 2.3 with pin 14& 16 trick !!!

  • gino

    I tried a thousand times all possible ways but nothing happened. Only black and white.I have an 2.1 apple tv.

  • takuzinis

    Works after Apple TV Software Update 2.3.1

  • Mathijs

    Perfect! It still works, thanks!

  • http://www.startanursingagency.com/ Nurse Staff

    Great job, did work for me even that instead of s-video I used SCART on the other end.
    The requested thing is that dvi-vga adapter connected to that hdmi-dvi adapter, will not work without that … forgot that at the begining and didn't worked without.

  • Paul

    Worked Great…. Genius. The dvi to vga adapter is a must however. Thanks

  • David Mac

    Has anyone got this to work with V3?

  • oliver10407

    I have the same problem but no solution yet.

  • yanik007

    Not working here on 3.0 :(

  • fredball

    Anybody tried this with 3.0 ATV OS yet? Anxious to find out, otherwise I might have to learn how to downgrade to 2.4.

  • douglas412

    Hi, cant get it to work on 3.0 either! What a PAIN!

  • oliver10407

    I downgraded to 2.4. and it still doesn't work. Does anybody knows if the software hack works (maybe also for 3.0)

  • douglas412

    Downgrading to 2.4 still works, which I had to do!

  • Oliver10407

    Did the downgrading AND the composite hack worked? For me only the downgrading worked.

  • douglas412

    Hack still works!

  • mackdesign

    Has anyone got it to work with 3.0?

  • oliver10407

    I downgraded to 2.4. a second time and now the hack works.

  • mcmatom

    Found this thread which claims the hdmi/dvi hardware trick still works, by adjusting the timing of the steps (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=81…). I haven't tried it personally and am still sitting at 2.4 awaiting word on whether or not the software hack works which would be my preference. Anyone tried the software hack in 3.0?

  • mcmatom

    Found this thread which claims the hdmi/dvi hardware trick still works, by adjusting the timing of the steps (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=81…). I haven't tried it personally and am still sitting at 2.4 awaiting word on whether or not the software hack works which would be my preference. Anyone tried the software hack in 3.0?

  • mcmatom

    I can verify that the software hack does still work in 3.0. You'll need to get a patchstick together built on 2.4 in order to do this, but it works like a charm!

    This link provides details…
    http://wiki.awkwardtv.org/wiki/Composite

  • douglas412

    Hardware Hack works with 3.01 YOU HAVE TO BE FAST WITH THE HDMI & OK/PLAY BUTTON ie WITHIN 2 SECS OTHERWISE BUY A COMP-S-VHS/COMPOSITE CONVERTER FOR 35 EUROS FROM TAIWAN LIKE I DID

  • Glenn

    Can you post a link to where you bought your €35 component / composite converter? I'd love to do the same…

    Apologies if I've missed the link in a previous post!

  • douglas412

    Hi, Here is the link hope it works.

  • Glenn

    Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately there's no link…

  • douglas412

    Begin forwarded message:

  • http://www.vgatorcaadapter.com/ vga to rca adapter

    Sometimes, just one effective device adapter is enough and works. For this stuff I have a friend who has same problem, I will fwd this post to him.. Thanks!

  • http://www.twitter.com/ewaldsarneel ewald

    Hi All,

    Just to be sure, when you boot again after a shut down. Do you still haven the composite output?
    Or do you need to trick the device everytime?

    Also, would it also work with a standard hdmi cable?

  • takuzinis

    You need to do the trick every time device reboots (actually after each software version update in my case). Still works with 3.02

    No, standard hdmi cable won't work.

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  • cwh

    Does this get the apple tv recognize there is something connected to the DVI end  of the adapter? Otherwise it won’t detect..?

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