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Use external USB hard drives with Apple TV

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Mon July 30, 2007

External USB for Apple TV

Patrick Walton and Tom Anthony have collaborated to deliver a hack that allows the Apple TV to use its internal hard drive to boot and perform operating system functions, but also use an external, USB-based hard drive to store media. The new capability is the result of a contest established by and FatBounty with the intended goal of using an external USB drive as a primary storage for the Apple TV. The hack requires an SSH-enabled Apple TV. You can enable SSH on your AppleTV via these instructions. It also requires an Intel-based Mac to patch the kernel on the Apple TV remotely. You'll also need an original, unmodified copy of the 'mach_kernel.prelink' file from the Apple TV, which can be extracted from the Apple TV Software 1.1 update. Finally, you will need an external USB drive formatted using 'Journaled HFS+.'

The installation process is relatively simple, and involves simply running a script and following on-screen instructions -- a 5 minute process. The Apple TV will automatically reboot after after the patch is applied. An uninstallation script is also provided.

by MacNN Staff




  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So now

    those of us with terabytes of photos can have them all showing on the Apple TV. Oh boy! Seriously, how large of a buffer do you need that you would want to replace the internal drive with a huge external?

  1. seamuskrat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I have twin 2 year olds and they are murder on DVDs. Also, I do not subscribe to able, so I do purchase some tv shows from iTunes. A few episods and a few DVDs worth of content, along with some tunes, and photos, and 40 gigs seems small.

    Apple TV is not for everyone, but I find its a nice means to get media to my large screen tv, even tho its not HD quality. (Most cable channels are not either).

  1. mgpalma

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Those who don't...

    Those who don't understand why, don't own an Apple TV. Having the media accessible to view without always having a computer running is a HUGE plus. I am not afraid to run through this procedure (having done many mods on Macs over the years) but it really is too bad we have to 'break open' the Apple TV and void our warranty to do this.

  1. dscottbuch

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Don't have to open it

    If you are really adventurous you no longer need to break open the AppleTV. Go to and find the instructions for a patchstick (do this yourself. DO NOT get a pre-made off the net. They are illegal and may be malicious). With the 1.1 update release the few files you needed from the internal drive are now legally available from the update .dmg. I have a 2GB flash stick which will boot the ATV and install SSH so the rest can be done. The patchstick works on both 1.0 and 1.1 installs.

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