How to fix YouTube sign in problem on Apple TV

By | 27th May 2013

Apple TV with YouTube logo

This account cannot be used on AppleTV

Update November 2015 – Apple TV 4 is out now YouTube gone forever from ATV2

Apple were early to market with the 1st gen Apple TV. The 2nd and 3rd gen versions came along but then seemed to leave their ‘project’ out in the wilderness whilst Google launched the Chromecast and Amazon their Fire TV units.

This month the 4th generation Apple TV goes on sale and it’s a major upgrade from previous versions. It now has more memory and a fast, modern processor so it can do more than just play media. It will be interesting to see what developers can do with the new device over the coming months.

In Apple TV Software version 6.2.1 on the Apple TV 2 MC572B/A there is no longer a YouTube app. Vimeo is still there and it works great along with Daily Motion and Vevo but there’s no sign of YouTube.

Airplay still works with iOS devices so you can send YouTube clips to the Apple TV but there’s no app on the ATV 2 itself. Our Macbook Pro couldn’t send YouTube clips via Airplay when tested (from Safari). We suspected that this could be a BT HomeHub router issue. There’s always been a bit of tinkering required to get Airplay up and running smoothly – rebooting the ATV or the Mac is quick and might fix it but more often than not the router needed a reboot (not quick) to restore normal service. On this occasion restarting the router did not fix the AirPlay problems. It seems to us that OS.X El Capitan and AirPlay aren’t working too well – certainly on some Apple TV models. In Chrome on a Macbook there’s no Airplay button on YouTube videos. The button is there in Safari but it didn’t work in our tests.

Update December 9th 2014 – New YouTube app for Apple TV

Google have released an updated YouTube app for some versions of the Apple TV. We haven’t seen it on our Apple TV 2 in the UK yet. It may only be available for the Apple TV 3.

If you’ve just bought an Apple TV 3 then it may need to be updated to get the new version of the YouTube app. The first thing to do is go to Settings/General/Update Software and follow the on screen instructions. The current version (as of 25 December 2014) is 7.02. This installs the latest operating system onto the device. It can take a while but once completed you should find some new and updated apps in the main menu.

If the new app works in a similar way to other (modern) Smart TV devices then it should be possible to verify your account using a simple onscreen code.  We’ll update this post when we have more information.

Updated Autumn 2014

If you have an existing YouTube (or Gmail) account but don’t have a channel set-up then you may not be able to login to the YouTube application on your Apple TV.

You can also run into this problem if you have more than one Google user profile enabled on the same account where one of the profiles does not have a channel enabled.

The fix is really easy. Sign in to YouTube on a desktop computer and click your user logo and then the gear icon. It’s at the top right hand side of the page below your username/photo. This will take you through a simple set-up process for your own channel (you don’t need to upload anything).

Find YouTube account settings

Note: If you have more than one YouTube account linked to the same Google login/user profile then you will need activate “My Channel” for all linked accounts. Once completed you should be able to log into YouTube on your Apple TV unless you have 2-step verification set up on your account.

2-step verification

Older Apple TV devices do not support Google’s 2-step verification system so Google provides a special type of password. Application-specific passwords (ASPs) are a single use 16 character password. To get an ASP for your Apple TV please click Application-specific passwords.

It worked fine so why did this suddenly happen?

Existing users like us found that the YouTube app stopped working when Google introduced tighter integration between Google+ and YouTube. To have a business Page on Google+ we needed two user profiles – one for the main account and a second one to manage the G+ Page.

The same option to switch profiles/accounts has recently become available from within YouTube. Once we enabled “My Channel” on our second profile we could sign in to YouTube properly on the Apple TV.

Other devices that are affected

We have a first generation Panasonic Blu-ray recorder running the older VieraCast YouTube app. It would let us sign in to YouTube but showed “error code -5” when we tried to access Subscriptions or Favourites etc. This was also fixed by setting up the “My Channel” process described above.

Update: Dec 2013 – New blog post – fix for Vimeo not working on Apple TV

Feedback welcome – Apple TV & YouTube

We hope that you found this post helpful. Please let us know what you think in the comments below.

Update January 2014  Autumn 2014

We’ve had some great feedback on this article in the comments below. The additional information has been really helpful and has allowed us to add and clarify various points. One particular annoyance for some users has been that if they have two channels their Apple TV doesn’t give them the option to select the one they want to see. The good news is that YouTube provide an option to select which channel is accessible to older devices including Apple TV.

To select which channel your Apple TV can see you need to go to YouTube on a computer, make sure the main user channel that you want is selected and choose advanced.

YouTube advanced settings button

You should see an option to make default channel.

Where to set YouTube default account

On the next screen under your username will be an “Advanced” option. When you click that it will take you this screen where you can decide which account is shown when logged in with older devices (even though the ATV is a current device).

This blog post is updated on a regular basis. We do try to keep up with changes to the YouTube user account interface whenever possible. If you have a question, spot something here is out of date or have suggestions to help other users then please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you again for the feedback on this. We’ve shared what we’ve learned and hope that it’s been helpful.

54 thoughts on “How to fix YouTube sign in problem on Apple TV

  1. eliot

    Great job on the apple tv / youtube solution. Worked first time. All the other searches turned up all sorts of nonsense.

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Eliot,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Check for certain that your Google application specific password (ASP) is correctly set-up for Apple TV.

      Once your channels are in place and you’ve logged in once using an ASP it shouldn’t log out again.

      Reply
  2. Austin

    Did all of this. Put in the application code. Still telling me that my account cannot be used on Apple Tv.

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve just checked to make sure Google haven’t changed the process. It’s still pretty much the same. I’ve added a new image to the blog-post to show where the options are. Here’s a full rundown of how to find and activate the option your need.

      Sign into YouTube on a computer using your Gmail address and password.
      If you haven’t set a Google+ profile photo then an icon will be shown the top right corner of the screen.
      Next to the icon (or your profile photo) will be a small triangle.
      Click the triangle and a menu list with a couple of columns appears with various options.
      “My Channel” is the first item in first column of the list.
      Click on the word “My Channel” to activate your YouTube channel.

      Hope this helps.

      Gavin

      Reply
      1. Steve Sandritter

        It is also worth noting that you MUST have a Google+ account. If you have chosen to opt out of Google+, or have disabled your account, you will not be able to access the YouTube app on the AppleTV.

        Hope this helps someone else!

        -Steve

        Reply
  3. Evan

    It worked, but now I am logged in to only one of my linked accounts, the wrong one. How do I log in to another linked account. I have two accounts, one is *username* and the other is *username@gmail.com*. I want to be logged in as *username*.

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Thanks Evan,

      Very good question. It works that way for us too.

      I suspect we’ll have to wait for YouTube, Apple or both to address that particular issue with an update to the app.

      If anyone knows the answer I’ll be happy to update this post.

      Reply
      1. Evan

        Alright, thanks. Do you know of a way to delete the @gmail.com YouTube account? This is the one linked to my personal Google+ account, but has no videos. I looked it up, and it said I have to delete my Google+ in order to delete the YouTube account, but I would like to know if this is possible without having to do this. Thanks again!

        Reply
        1. Gavin Gration Post author

          It’s not something I’ve tried. The risk is that deleting a linked account could take them both out.

          Because YT has G+ baked into it now I think that it’s unlikely to work without the @gmail side of your accounts.

          I just added the channels I wanted from my legacy account (our main business one) on to our (secondary) @gmail account.

          IIRC other devices (Android/iOS) do ask you which account profile you want so hopefully that feature will work its way down to Apple TV.

          Reply
  4. M. Toliver

    Thank you,thank you,thank you! I sometimes become impatient and start to lose my mind, but i took a moment to calm down and found your site (thank God) and now I can login into youtube on my Apple TV.

    Reply
  5. brian

    I have the exact same issue as Evan. Your steps above did finally allow me to log in through apple tv however my account that is logged in has no info on it. I use the older account that linked to google+ but it’s just a user name not a gmail email address. I use that account exclusively because it is linked to my uploads, subscriptions and watch later list. Any update on how I can access this account on apple tv would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. brian

      Gavin,

      I was able to answer my own question and I thought I would post the answer here for Evan if he still needs it.

      First,

      Go to the Youtube account that is linked to Google+ (This is probably the default account, the one with the @gmail.com).

      Go to account settings and click on advanced.

      Under advanced you should see an option for “signing in to older apps”

      In the drop box below that you should see your account that was the legacy or original account that just has your username. Set that as the default account and save changes.

      Once these changes have been made log in to the Youtube app on Apple Tv and your original account should now be logged in.

      This is such a relief as I now have access to all of my subscriptions, watch later list and my uploads.

      Hope this helps anyone who was having the same issue.

      Brian

      Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Jen,

      One further thing to try if you have a G+ account linked to a YouTube Channel is setting up a unique password for older devices.

      Note: Read all the information Google provides on that page especially if you use Google Webmaster Tools and have your YouTube account linked to it.

      If you do not have a G+ account linked to your Channel then you may need to reset your Apple TV to default. It’s a pain in the neck, you’ll have to set everything up again from scratch – entering network settings (if on WiFi), Apple ID etc – takes about ten minutes but then try at setting up an Application Specific Password for YouTube on your Apple TV.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  6. Michael G Calvert

    Note: I removed my second youtube channel and logging in with 2-step auth worked fine on my Apple TV 3.

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      That’s a very good point Michael. Not every one needs more than one YouTube account ID.

      If you’ve merged two Google accounts or set-up a second YouTube account but never got around to using it then it does make sense to delete the redundant account.

      Just be careful to ensure that the account/user ID you delete isn’t used elsewhere such as a G+ Business Page that you DO actually need. Then it would be better to add a ‘channel’ with no content.

      Thank you for taking the time to share the solution that worked for you.

      Reply
  7. Léo

    For me none of this has worked unfortunately.

    I never had a youtube-only account, just was given one through my google account so there should not be any problem regarding merger of accounts.
    I had indeed to create a channel with this account in order to log in on Apple TV (otherwise it didn’t work) but I still can’t have access to my favourites so it’s useless. I tried the 2-step verification but had the same result.

    It is an (up to date) 1st generation Apple TV maybe that’s why, pretty unfortunate.

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi Léo,

      Thanks for your comment. We don’t have the original Apple TV unit to check how YouTube works. We do have some older Panasonic Viera Cast Blu-ray recorders with very basic YouTube applications. We managed to get favourites to show up correctly on those (and the Apple TV) after setting the advanced option mentioned in Brian’s post “signing in to older apps”.

      Gavin

      Reply
      1. Léo

        Thank you Gavin,
        I understood that, but since I only have one youtube channel I don’t have that option (which makes sense).

        For the record I also tried resetting to factory settings and then adding updates, to no avail.
        I am just telling that this did not do the trick in case someone found anything else to make it work 🙂

        Reply
  8. Amanda Wallar

    Thank you! I tried everything and could not get it to load the secondary account and that is the one I actually use on YouTube with all my subscriptions. I have just been using Airplay from my iPhone forever. I was somehow not even noticing the Advanced option and I looked all through those settings. Now if I could just get it to show a subscription feed instead of making me go through a list of all my subs…. I have a lot of those.

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      I’m pleased you got things working better with your Apple TV.

      A subscription feed would be nice. There seems to be some indication that Apple are taking the device a bit more seriously. The UI just had an update and Apple recently gave it a much more prominent position on their website. Hopefully when new Apple TV products are announced we’ll also see improvements across the older models.

      Reply
      1. Amanda Wallar

        I sure hope so, I did have an update come through right after I made those changes and now I can move the tiles around freely which I really like. Now all the ones I never use can be down at the bottom and out of the way.

        Reply
  9. Stasha

    I never post feedback, but had to this time. Such a simple fix when so many other websites were clueless. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Thom

    Hi-
    I don’t see any of the control panel stuff you are talking about. For instance, there is no ‘YouTube Settings” as far as I can see, although I did find “Channel Settings”. In the Advanced section of channel settings, I see no reference to “signing in to older apps”….

    So I have the same problem as some folks above: I have a personal google+ account, and a page linked off the first google+ . Both Google+ pages have youTube channels, but AppleTv will only show the account for the second Page, when I want to see my personal (first) page.

    Has Youtube changed the controls since this article was written?

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Thank you Thom – You’re quite right – YouTube changed the interface again. I’ve updated the post to reflect the changes. Hope this helps.

      Reply
  11. Sez

    Thank you! I have two channels after the merge so all my subs are on my old one. This worked great!

    Reply
  12. John

    So I have used my YouTube on AppleTV for ages without fault. Had some weird “no content” messages so tried logging out and back in. I have two-factor, so I generated an app-specific password. I get “this account cannot be used with Apple TV. Try again using a different account.” Do I need to set up My Channel? I have a second email that I manage through the main Google ID (a new development) but otherwise nothing’s changed and I’m now totally locked out. Not too happy!

    Reply
    1. Gavin Gration Post author

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. Try adding a channel to your original account – it doesn’t have to have any uploads, it just needs to exist. If your second Gmail account is NOT linked in any way to your first account then it should not be a factor. However, if Google has tied them together (you get a choice of user at log-in) then your second account will need an active YouTube channel. This applies to Apple TV 2 models. If you have an ATV3 which is up to date then the new YouTube app works with a much easier on screen autorisation code. I don’t know if the channel requirement applies to ATV3 and the new app.

      Reply
      1. John Barcus

        Gavin – Thanks! I already had a channel (without uploads), as I’ve just double-checked to confirm. The second account is linked – I do get a choice at log-in – and I’ve just gone in and created a YouTube channel for that second account. I then went back to the TV, full of hope, generated a new application-specific password…..and got the same message that “this account cannot be used with AppleTV.” It seems to be accepting the password but rejecting the account. It is an older ATV2. What I find bizarre is that it had been working fine until very recently, despite the fact that I linked the two Google accounts months ago. I can always just AirPlay from my iPad, but it’s going to frustrate me until I figure out why it’s not working! 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gavin Gration Post author

          I wonder if you have more than one Google username linked to your account. We certainly have – most apps don’t seem to mind but it’s possible that the ATV might only accept your main (original) Google username plus a fresh application specific password.

          Hope this helps.

          Reply
          1. John Barcus

            I just tried a completely separate Google account that isn’t linked to anything else in any way, and doesn’t have two-factor, and I got the same error message. I am at the “yelling at the TV” stage. I don’t really feel the need to go spend $100 on an ATV3 just to watch YouTube videos, and I’m properly mad at Google and/or Apple for making this so unnecessarily difficult. I do appreciate your advice, though! 🙂

          2. Gavin Gration Post author

            Try factory resetting the Apple TV. It’s a pain entering the Apple ID settings with the remote (and WiFi if you have it) but it can clear gremlins once it settles down again.

          3. John Barcus

            Ha. Great minds, etc. I’m just in the middle of doing that. We’ll see.

  13. Steve Adams

    Thanks so much. Thought I was going to lose my mind figuring this out. Worked like a charm

    Reply
  14. JeGo

    Thank you! This issue was getting me quite annoyed. Very grateful for your post.

    Reply
  15. Shawn

    Man I can’t get this to connect. I’ve had a channel forever. I just created another channel to try that. Just switched it back to my other, so the default is that, and checked the box. I have 2 factor auth and a device specific password. This an older apple tv. Used to work fine. It just keeps saying my account is not valid.

    Reply

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