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Apple TV is one of the newer streaming services on the market, whether you are talking about the Apple TV device or the Apple TV + service. Though they are off to a pretty good start, with some popular programming, the failure to resume from pause is already a notorious problem.

App updates, the “Play History” feature, a software bug, and iCloud Syncing could be some of the problems behind the issue. However, the reality is, some simply can’t fix the problem, and it’s often a highly frustrating experience. 

A show on Apple TV will generally start where it’s supposed to if you pause and press play again in relatively short order. However, if you walk away from the TV long enough that the “sleep” function kicks in or the app closes good luck. Here are some possible solutions worth checking out.

1. Software Issues

Apple names all of its different operating systems with simple, preceding acronyms, such as iOS or tvOS. In this case, you need to make sure your tvOS software is up to date. Another problem that Apple is infamous for is not auto-updating firmware when the update comes through.

You’ll find that no matter how many times you check and double-check that the auto-update feature is turned on, you’ll still find the latest firmware update sitting there, decidedly not updating.

It’s a frustrating experience, but it’s usually just a matter of hitting the update button yourself.

The longer you go without updating as each patch rolls in, the more quirky the software tends to become. Plus, it always put you under threat of losing your privacy and data to an enterprising hacker if you fail to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Also, we’re talking about the Apple TV device here, whereas the Apple TV + app needs to be updated within the platform you’re using for streaming.

For instance, if you are using an Amazon FireStick and watching Apple TV, you’ll need to both update the Firestick on time, and the Apple App itself.

With an Apple TV device, you need to ensure that the device is up-to-date. Fortunately, it’s a fairly simple method.

  1. Open up the “Settings” menu on your Apple TV device
  2. Scroll down and select “System”
  3. Select “Software Updates”
  4. Select “Update Software”
  5. Assuming there is a new update, you will receive an update alert
  6. Download and Install

Interestingly enough, the failure to resume issue that Apple users often complain about is not platform exclusive. It happens whether you watch Apple TV Streaming services on an Apple TV device, Firestick, ROKU, or Google Chromecast.

In all cases, be sure that your software and apps remain updated on time, every time. It will minimize the resume problem and eliminate other issues if nothing else.

2. Use Play History

Use Play History” is actually a feature within the app. This feature collects data from your viewing history and tendencies to reformat what it offers you more in line with what you normally do and watch.

This feature is supposed to help you resume where you left off whenever you pause a show or stop it and walk away for a little while. When you come home and turn the show back on, it should start right where you left off, as if you never left.

You can turn this feature on from your iPad, iPhone, Apple TV device, Firestick, ROKU device, or any device that allows you to download and use the Apple TV app. We’ll start with the Apple products and work our way down.

iPad and iPhone

  1. Open the Settings Menu
  2. Select the Apple TV app (Black square with the Apple logo in the center
  3. Scroll down to “Use Play History”
  4. Toggle on the “Use Play History” button

Apple TV Device

  1. From the Home Menu, open “Settings”
  2. Select “Apps”
  3. Select “TV”
  4. Turn on the “Use Play History” setting

All Other Devices

  1. Open the Apple TV App
  2. Look for the “Settings” gear icon at the top of the screen
  3. Select “Privacy” (you may have to scroll down some)
  4. Locate the “Use Play History” feature and make sure it’s on

The Apple TV app, like most apps, is pretty much the same regardless of the platform you access it on. Locating the Settings menu and turning on the Use Play History feature should be exactly the same across the board.

3. Enable iCloud Syncing

As mentioned above, sometimes there’s just no way around this problem until Apple proactively goes after it and fixes it. At this very minute, you can log onto the Apple TV app, start watching something, leave the app, and have trouble resuming where you left off.

Making sure your iCloud syncing is turned on might help. The only real issue with this is you must subscribe to get enough iCloud storage space to for it to matter.

You get 5 GB for free, so unless you don’t use your iCloud storage for anything else, you will need to jump on one of Apple’s iCloud storage plans.

  1. Open the Apple TV App
  2. Select the “Watch Now” tab
  3. Select “Up Next”

Here, you will see your entire viewing history, all of which is attached to your Apple ID. If you don’t see much of anything, you’re probably over your allotted GB for whatever plan you are on.

At the very least, Apple will notify you if you are approaching your storage limit.

In fact, Apple can get downright invasive when notifying you of your storage problem and offering their paid-tier alternatives. To turn on iCloud Syncing, you must set up iCloud Drive on one of your Apple devices.

  1. Open the “Settings” menu
  2. Select your name and Apple ID at the top
  3. Select “iCloud Drive”
  4. Turn on “iCloud Drive”
  5. Select “Apps Syncing to iCloud Drive”
  6. Make sure Apple TV is one of those apps
  7. If not, download the app, sign in, and return to “Apps Syncing to iCloud Drive”
  8. Toggle on Apple TV

This will do more for keeping up with your streaming than anything else. If it doesn’t quite get your streaming experience back to purely pause-and-play simplicity, it will at least organize everything for you better.

4. Close and Restart the Apple TV App

Sometimes, the simplest answer is the correct answer. Whether you are watching Apple TV on the Apple TV device, from another, non-Apple device, from your iPhone, your Mac, or an iPad, closing the app and opening it is fairly simple.

On a Mac, you simply exit out and re-open the app. With iPads and iPhones, you have to swipe up and right to bring up everything you have open in the background and currently in a list of overlapping cards. Choose the Apple TV one and swipe it up to close it.

On an Apple TV device, it’s best to turn the device completely off, turn it back on, and resume play to see if it worked.

Final Thoughts on Apple TV Not Resuming Where You Left Off

It’s a 50/50 shot on whether or not any of the above will help with the pause and resume issue that is fairly common on Apple’s app. Until Apple gets a grip on it, it seems to be a pervasive and ongoing issue.

On the bright side, Apple is starting to become its own streaming service and has put together a solid number of highly rated shows. You should check them out when you get the chance. Just don’t pause or turn it off before the show is done!