Can You Change the OS On A Smart TV? (Explained)

By Robert Anderson •  6 min read •  Televisions

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  • It is not possible to change the OS on a Smart TV.
  • Smart TV Operating Systems are closely tied to the TVs hardware components.
  • It is possible to update firmware on Smart TVs which may include upgrades to the Operating System.

If you’re not a fan of the Operating System (OS) on your Smart TV, then you may be looking to swap it with an alternative such as Android.

So is it possible to change the OS on your Smart TV?

It is not possible to change the Operating System on a Smart TV.  Operating Systems in Smart TVs are often closed-source and can’t be modified.  They are also heavily customized to work the TVs hardware components.

Why can’t you change the OS on a Smart TV?

The main reason why the OS can’t be changed on a Smart TV is that the OS is coded to work specifically with the TV’s hardware.

Operating Systems contain low-level device drivers (basically device specific code) inside the Kernel that talks directly to the hardware.

And it is this low-level code that is often heavily customized and optimized so that it can control the specific hardware in a TV effectively.

Although Operating Systems have generic device drivers, certain components and functionality within a particular TV may be unknown to these generic drivers.

TV manufacturers often have to tweak the Operating System Kernel to enable it to talk to individual components in a TV.  

This is also necessary to take advantage of some of its newer hardware features.

If you were to install a different Operating System, chances are the TV wouldn’t work because the Kernel wouldn’t be able to communicate properly with the components inside the TV.

You will also likely “brick” your TV rendering it useless.  You may also corrupt the firmware and void your warranty.

Things you can do if you don’t like your current OS

Although it’s not possible to change the OS that comes with your Smart TV, there are some things that you can do if you feel that the OS has limiting features.

Here are some of your options:

Use an external streaming device

The best option here is to hook up an external streaming device to your Smart TV.  

There are many options here including:

  • Amazon FireTV stick
  • Nvidia Shield
  • Chromecast with Google TV
  • Android TV box
  • Roku

All of the devices listed above run the Android OS, apart from Roku, which is Roku OS.

Improve the existing OS

The other option you have is improving the existing OS on your Smart TV.  

If you find your Smart TV is running slow, then it may be that the memory is getting low.  

Like a smartphone or a PC, a TV has memory, which is used by the apps that run on the TV.

If you have too many apps installed or running at the same time, memory usage will increase causing the TV to slow down.

This could cause the TV to turn on more slowly, apps could take longer to start and menus may take longer to render.

Here’s some things you can try:

  • Factory reset your TV
  • Uninstall some apps
  • Update the TVs firmware

You should also check the speed of your Internet connection.  

Although the Smart TV interface itself is unlikely to be affected by a slow connection, certain apps will be noticeably slow as they often download content from the Internet when they first start.

​​Can you flash a Smart TV?

Unlike Android smartphones, it is not possible to flash the ROM on a Smart TV.

There is an entire community of developers and users that install custom ROMs onto Android devices.

A custom ROM is a standalone version of the OS (including the Kernel which interfaces with the hardware), that has been modified in some way.

Reasons for modifying include better performance, more efficient battery life or to contain whatever features the developer chooses to add.

Because Android is open-source, developers are free to modify the stock ROM and make whatever changes they like.

This is not the case with Smart TVs.

Most of the Operating Systems on TVs are closed-source and can’t be modified in the same way the Android OS can.  

Although it’s not impossible, it’s very difficult to do.

Also, there isn’t the same community or demand to support it.

Can the OS on my Smart TV be updated?

The OS on a Smart TV can be updated if the manufacturer provides an update to firmware.

A Smart TV will receive periodic updates if the feature is turned on.  Otherwise, the TV can be updated manually by downloading firmware updates and installing via a USB drive.

If you head over to Settings, you will most likely see “software update” or “firmware update”.  

You will also see a button to “check for updates” or similar.

You will often have a choice whether to receive updates over the Internet or install them via USB.

Can I install Android on my Smart TV?

You cannot install Android on a Smart TV, if it has not already been installed by the manufacturer.  

Also, it is not possible to install Android apps on a non-Android Smart TV.

Can I convert my Smart TV to an Android TV?

You cannot convert a Smart TV to an Android TV either physically or by changing the software in the TV.

However, it is possible to connect an external Android device to your TV via HDMI.  

Devices such as an Android TV box or an Nvidia Shield run the Android Operating System and connect to a Smart TV via HDMI.

How do I change the operating system on my Samsung Smart TV?

It is not possible to change the Operating System on a Samsung TV.  

But it is possible to update the software on a Samsung Smart TV which can include upgrades to the underlying Operating System.

To do this, head over to Settings -> Support -> Software Update.

Then select Auto Update to toggle automatic updates on/off.  You can also update the software manually, by selecting “Update Now”.

Alternatively, you can install the updates by downloading the software from the Internet and installing them via USB.

Can you install Windows on a smart TV?

It is not possible to install the Windows Operating System on a Smart TV.  

But, it is possible to connect a PC that runs Windows to a Smart TV via a HDMI cable.


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Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson, the founder of Tech Parasol, had a keen interest in tech from a very young age. He studied Electronic Engineering at University and then went on to become a Software Developer. He launched Tech Parasol in 2021 to share his knowledge with the aim of making tech easier to understand for everyone.