How to Fix It When an Apple TV Remote Isn't Working

Resetting, checking the battery life, and other fixes

This article explains how to fix it when an Apple TV remote isn’t working.

What Causes an Apple TV Remote to Not Work?

When an Apple TV remote stops working, it’s usually a battery problem or a connection problem. The battery in the remote may be too weak or worn out, or there may be some issue that’s preventing the remote from connecting to the Apple TV. The remote may need to be paired, there may be a source of interference that you’ll have to remove, or either the remote or Apple TV could have suffered a hardware failure.

How to Fix an Apple Remote

If your Apple TV remote isn’t working, plug your Apple TV into power, turn on your TV, and switch it to the HDMI port that your Apple TV is connected to. You can try each of the following fixes to get your Apple TV working again:

  1. Check if your iPhone can control your Apple TV. If your Apple TV is functioning properly, you should be able to use the Apple TV app to control your Apple TV from your iPhone. You can also use a compatible TV or Universal remote to control your Apple TV. If your Apple TV remains unresponsive, it may have a hardware problem.

  2. Restart the Apple TV. Unplug your Apple TV from power for at least six seconds, then plug it back in. This will cause the Apple TV to reboot. Once the Apple TV is done restarting, you can check to see if the remote works.

  3. Check the battery level of your remote. Using your iPhone or a compatible third-party remote, open Settings on your Apple TV, and navigate to Remotes and Devices > Remote. If the battery level is zero, charge the remote for at least 30 minutes or replace the battery. If it continues to show zero after charging, try a different lighting cable or USB charger.

  4. Restart your remote. If you have a black or silver Siri Remote or Apple TV remote, you can try restarting it.

    Press and hold the TV/Control Center button (box with a line under it) and Volume Down for at least five seconds. Then release the buttons, and wait for a Connection Lost message to appear on your TV. If you see a Connected notification appear on your TV after the remote restarts, it should start working again.

    If you have the older aluminum or white Apple Remote, hold down Menu and Left for six seconds, or until you see an Unlink message on your TV. You can then press and hold Menu and Right on the remote until you see a Link message on your TV.

  5. Pair the remote. If your Siri Remote or Apple TV Remote didn’t reconnect automatically, you can attempt to pair it manually. Hold the remote about three inches from the Apple TV, then press and hold back/menu + up for at least five seconds. If prompted, place the remote on top of your Apple TV to complete the pairing process.

  6. Remove sources of interference. Your Apple TV remote connects to your Apple TV via Bluetooth, so it’s susceptible to wireless interference. Remove any sources of interference, like wireless devices, or temporarily shut them down, and check to see if you can connect and use the remote.

  7. Replace the remote. If you are able to control your Apple TV with your iPhone or a third-party remote, but you’re unable to get the Apple TV remote to work, the remote may have a hardware fault. You can contact Apple for further assistance, or replace the remote with a compatible unit.

How to Charge an Apple TV Remote

Both versions of the black Siri Remote and silver Apple TV Remote that first came with the Apple TV 4K can be charged. They both charge using a lightning cable, and you can use the lightning cable that came with your Apple TV or with any of your other Apple devices.

Here’s how to charge an Apple TV Remote:

  1. Plug a lightning cable into the lightning port on your remote.

  2. Plug the other end of the cable into a USB power adapter or a powered USB port.

  3. Leave the remote alone for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Disconnect the lightning cable and check to see if the remote works.

How to Change the Battery in an Apple TV Remote

Older Apple TV remotes have replaceable batteries instead of built-in rechargeable batteries. If you have the white Apple Remote or the aluminum Apple Remote that only has a circle button, menu button, and play/pause button, you can replace the battery.

White Apple Remote

Here’s how to replace the battery in a white Apple Remote:

  1. Locate the small hole on the bottom of the remote, and insert a paperclip.

  2. Push in with the paperclip until the battery tray pops out.

  3. Remove the battery from the tray.

  4. Insert a new CR2032 battery into the tray.

  5. Push the tray back into place.

Aluminum Apple Remote

Here’s how to replace the battery in an aluminum Apple Remote:

  1. Locate the slot on the back of the remote.

  2. Insert a coin into the slot on the back of the remote.

  3. Turn the coin counterclockwise until the battery cover pops off.

  4. Remote the battery.

  5. Insert a new CR2032 or BR2032 battery.

  6. Place the cover over the battery.

  7. Use a coin to twist the cover clockwise until it locks in place.

  • How do I use an Apple TV remote?

    To use the Apple TV remote, swipe the touch-sensitive top to do things like fast forward or rewind content. Use the Menu button to navigate the TV. Use the Home button to return to the Home view. Use the Siri button to issue voice commands to navigate the TV.

  • How do I connect Apple TV to Wi-Fi without a remote?

    You can connect your Apple TV to your router via an Ethernet cable. Or, enable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your iPhone, and then touch your iPhone to the Apple TV box during startup. Follow the prompts on your phone to connect your Apple TV to Wi-Fi and continue setup.

  • How do I turn on an Apple TV without a remote?

    If you plug in your Apple TV, it will turn on automatically, so you don't need a remote. You can also use the Apple TV remote app to take the place of your physical remote and control your Apple TV.

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