Download and watch movies

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The ATVFiles plugin allows you to browse the entire ATV filesystem and play media.


There are many ways to install ATVFiles.

The simplest way to install it on an SSH-enabled AppleTV ist to

  • Get the package from
  • Copy the extracted ATVFiles.frappliance folder to the AppleTV in /System/Library/CoreServices/
  • Restart the Finder (or the AppleTV entirely)
kill `ps ax | grep | grep -v grep | sed -e 's/[[:blank:]]*//' | sed -e 's/[[:blank:]].*//'`


Front Row

After installation, you will have the new item Files in the Front Row main menu.

The browsing starts in /Users/frontrow/Movies, so this is where you want to mount or download your video files. From the menu Files -> Places you can however browse the whole filesystem.

In order to easily browse the Music folder, add a link to it in the Movies folder:

cd  ~/Movies/
ln -s ../Music Music

Encoding audio files

With ATVFiles, the AppleTV system natively reads audio content fom:

  • M4A (MPEG-4 Audio)
  • M4B (Bookmarkable AAC)
  • MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3)

It doesn't read AAC, AIFF, AU, CAF, FLAC, MOV, MP4, SD2 and WAV audio files.

Part of these formats can be read with the help of Perian, the swiss army knife for QuickTime.

Encoding video files

Video files can be encoded with isquint (or its commercial big brother visualhub). When encoding video, choose:

  • the tab iTunes
  • Optimize for AppleTV
  • H.264 encoding
  • frame size: 1280 x 720
  • deinterlace movies recorded on your TV

Basically, you want to encode your videos using the recommended settings: MP4, AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), H.264 (up to 5 Mbps) as given in the AppleTV's technical specifications.

Encoding DVDs

DVDs can be encoded with the help of HandBrake. HandBrake can include chapter markers which allow to skip from one to the another on the AppleTV using the remote control. To do so, one has to create .m4v files.

Downloading media files

On an SSH-enabled AppleTV, the movies can be downloaded via scp or Fugu.

An alternative is to mount a Samba share in the Movies folder (or one of its subfolders).


The ATVFiles preferences can be modified using the defaults command in the Terminal.