How to Control Apple TV with iPhone Control Center

Keep controlling your Apple TV even if you lose the remote

Apple TV iOS 11 Control Center


The remote control that comes with the Apple TV can be a bit difficult to use. Because it's symmetrical, it's easy to pick it up the wrong way and then hit the wrong button. It's also pretty small, so it can be easy to misplace it.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can get almost all of the same control options without using the remote or installing an app thanks to a feature built into Control Center.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 11 or later.

How to Add the Apple TV Remote to Control Center

To control your Apple TV from Control Center on your iPhone or iPad, you need to add the Remote feature to Control Center. Here's how: 

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Tap Control Center.

    Control Center heading in Settings on an iPhone
  3. Select Customize Controls.

  4. In the More Controls section, tap the + icon next to Apple TV Remote.

    Customize Controls settings for Control Center with the Apple TV Remote option highlighted
  5. The Remote app will now appear in your Control Center when you access it by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

How to Set Up Your Apple TV To Be Controlled By Your iPhone or iPad

With the Remote feature added to Control Center, you now need to connect the iPhone/iPad and Apple TV. That connection allows the phone to act as a remote for the TV. Follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your iPhone or iPad and Apple TV are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

  2. Turn on your Apple TV (and HDTV, if the two aren't already connected).

  3. Open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

    On the iPad or iPhone X and newer, swipe down from the top-right corner.

  4. Tap the Remote icon.

  5. Select the Apple TV you want to control from the list at the top.

    For most people, only one will show up here, but if you have more than one Apple TV, you'll need to choose.

    Setting up TV Remote on an iPhone
  6. On your TV, the Apple TV displays a passcode to connect the remote. Enter the passcode from the TV into your iPhone or iPad.

  7. The iPhone/iPad and Apple TV will connect and you can start using the remote in Control Center.

How to Control Your Apple TV Using Control Center

Now that your iPhone or iPad and Apple TV can communicate with each other, you can use the phone as a remote. A virtual remote control that looks similar to the one that comes with the Apple TV appears on the screen. If you've used the hardware remote, all of the buttons will be familiar to you. If not, here's what each one does:

  • Control Pad: The big space at the top controls what you select on the Apple TV screen. Swipe left and right, up and down to move onscreen menus and options. Tap that space to choose options.
  • Back 10 Seconds: The round button with the curved arrow facing left jumps back 10 seconds in audio and video that's playing onscreen.
  • Forward 10 Seconds: The button with the curved arrow facing right skips ahead 10 seconds in audio and video.
  • Menu: The Menu button works differently in different contexts. Generally speaking, it works like a back button.
  • Play/Pause: The Play/Pause button starts playing audio and video, or pauses it.
  • Home: The button that looks like a TV takes you back to the home screen on your Apple TV (or, depending on the settings on your Apple TV, may open the preinstalled TV app).
  • Siri: The button shaped like a microphone activates Siri on the Apple TV to let you do voice searches. Tap and hold it, then speak into your iPhone.
  • Search: The magnifying glass-shaped button doesn't have a counterpart on the physical Apple TV remote. It opens a search screen on which you can look for movies and TV shows in the Apple TV app.

Volume is the only feature available on the hardware Apple TV remote that isn't present in the version of the Remote in Control Center. To raise or lower the volume on your TV, you'll have to stick with a hardware remote.

How to Shut Down and Restart the Apple TV Using Control Center

Just like with the hardware remote, you can use the Control Center Remote feature to shut down or restart the Apple TV. Here's how:

  • Shut Down: With the Remote feature open in Control Center, tap and hold down the Home button until a menu appears on the Apple TV screen. Use the Control Pad to select Sleep and then tap the Control Pad to shut the TV down.
  • Force Restart: If the Apple TV is locked up and needs to a force restart, tap and hold both the Menu and Home buttons on the Control Center Remote. Keep holding those buttons until the TV screen goes dark. When the light on the front of the Apple TV begins to flash, let go of the buttons and the TV will restart.

In addition to all the great ways that Control Center lets you manage your devices, did you know that you can also customize Control Center? Learn more in article: How to Customize Control Center in iOS 11.