Chinese character support in XBMC for Apple TV2

Chinese characters appearing as squares in XBMC for Apple TV (ATV2)? This is because ATV2 does not come with unicode fonts hence unicode characters like Chinese cannot be shown properly. By following this guide, you will be able to view unicode characters on your XBMC for ATV2.


  1. Before we proceed, you will need a particular Unicode font – arialuni.ttf (size: 23560KB). You can easily locate this file on your Windows (C:\Windows\Fonts) or search online for alternative (hint: Google). If it appears as ARIALUNI.TTF, simply rename it to arialuni.ttf.
  2. You will need to hook up the Apple TV2 (ATV2) to your network and know your ATV2’s IP address.


Transferring arialuni.ttf into ATV2

The first step is to transfer the unicode font arialuni.ttf into the XBMC fonts directory on the ATV2 – /Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/media/Fonts.

The default username and password for SSH access on the ATV2 is “root” and “alpine” respectively (without the quotes).

  • For Windows users, you can get a copy of PortableWinSCP to transfer arialuni.ttf into /Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/media/Fonts. For the destination host, specify your ATV2’s IP address. For the username and password, specify “root” and “alpine” respectively. For the protocol, use SCP.
  • For Linux and Mac users, you can use Terminal to transfer arialuni.ttf.
    1. Open Terminal
    2. Navigate to the directory containing arialuni.ttf
    3. Transfer arialuni.ttf to ATV2 by typing “scp arialuni.ttf root@<ATV2’s IP address>:/Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/media/Fonts” without the quotes
      Specify “alpine” for the password when prompted for one


Replacing the default Confluence skin fonts with arialuni.ttf

In this section, we will backup the existing fonts and replacing them with the Unicode font. We will be using SSH to do this section. Windows users can use PortablePutty while Linux/Mac users can use Terminal.

Connecting to ATV2 over SSH

  • For Windows users, launch PortablePutty and connect to ATV2’s IP address. When prompted for username and password, use “root” and “alpine”
  • For Linux/Mac users, launch Terminal. Connecto ATV2 by typing “ssh root@<ATV2’s IP address>“. When prompted for password, specify “alpine”

Backing up and replacing the Confluence fonts

  1. Navigate to the Confluence skin fonts directory by typing “cd /Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/addons/skin.confluence/fonts” without the quotes
  2. Type the following commands (without the quotes) to backup and replace the individual fonts
    • mv DejaVuSans.ttf DejaVuSans.ttf.bak
    • mv DejaVuSans-Bold.ttf DejaVuSans-Bold.ttf.bak
    • mv DejaVuSans-Bold-Caps.ttf DejaVuSans-Bold-Caps.ttf.bak
    • mv DefaultCaps.ttf DefaultCaps.ttf.bak
    • ln -s /Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/media/Fonts/arialuni.ttf DejaVuSans.ttf
    • ln -s /Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/media/Fonts/arialuni.ttf DejaVuSans-Bold.ttf
    • ln -s /Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/media/Fonts/arialuni.ttf DejaVuSans-Bold-Caps.ttf
    • ln -s /Applications/XBMC.frappliance/XBMCData/XBMCHome/media/Fonts/arialuni.ttf DefaultCaps.ttf


Configuring XBMC to use the Unicode font

In this section, we will configure XBMC (using the Apple remote) to use the new Unicode font we put in.

  1. Boot up Apple TV2
  2. Launch XMBC
  3. Navigate to System –> Appearance –> Internation
  4. Under “Character Set”, change it to “Chinese Simplified (GBK)” using the up and down arrows
  5. Navigate to System –> Video –> Subtitles
  6. Under “Character Set”, change it to “Chinese Simplified (GBK)” using the up and down arrows
  7. Reboot XBMC and Apple TV2

After rebooting, you should be able to view the characters supported by Arial (Unicode) font.



Treat shadowandy!

If these step-by-step guides have been very helpful to you and saved you a lot of time, please consider treating shadowandy to a cup of Starbucks.