How to Use the Apple TV Remote App

Control your Apple TV using your iPhone or iPad

An Apple TV is the gateway to streaming content, not to mention your own movies, music, and photos. The remote is sleek and small...and very easy to lose. As a backup option, Apple TV owners can download the free Apple TV Remote App to make sure that they're never without a remote when they need one.

The Apple TV Remote App needs to be paired with your Apple TV(s), which requires the Apple TV Remote. So it's a good idea to download the app and pair your Apple TV when you first set it up, before your remote gets lost or runs out of battery.

If you're using iOS 12 or later the Apple TV Remote is automatically added to the Control Center. This version will work with Apple TV 4th generation or Apple TV 4K. If you're hanging on to an older device (Apple TV or iPhone) you can download the Remote App in the App Store for free and manually add your device(s).

Person using Remote app with Apple TV
Lifewire / Andrea Hickey

Preparing to Use Apple TV Remote App

Before pairing your Apple TV with the Remote App make sure that both your Apple TV and your mobile device are running the most current version of their respective software.

You can set your Apple TV to automatically install new updates when they become available. For Apple TV 4K or 4th generation go to Settings > System > Software Updates and turn on Automatically Update. To update the software automatically on Apple TV 2nd or 3rd generation, go to Settings > General > Update Software and turn on Update Automatically.

Using the Apple TV App with iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

You can download the Apple TV Remote app from the App Store on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Then you're ready to set up your Apple TV to work with your device.

  1. Make sure both your Apple TV and your device using the Remote app are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

  2. Use the Apple TV Remote to turn on your Apple TV.

  3. Open the Remote App on your device, then tap Add Apple TV.

  4. Tap the name of the Apple TV that you would like to add to your Remote App. Apple TVs on your network will appear by name, which was assigned at setup. We recommend naming Apple TVs based on their location in your home, such as Family Room or Master Bedroom, for ease when using the Remote App.

  5. Your Apple TV will now display a four-digit code on your television, which you'll enter into the screen that automatically appears on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Using the Apple TV Remote App

Now that your Apple TV is paired to your mobile device you're ready to use the Remote App to control access your Apple TV content.

  1. Launch the Remote App.

  2. Select the Apple TV that you wish to control from the iTunes Remote screen.

  3. Tap or scroll on your touch screen to navigate your content and use the Menu and Play/Pause buttons.

    Screenshots of the television selection and scrolling controls on the Apple TV Remote app.
  4. Tap the ? (question mark) at the top right for help using the navigation screen.

  5. Tap Done in the top right corner to access the More menu and navigate your iTunes content.

  6. In the More menu you can select from shortcuts at the bottom to access your Playlists, Artists, Albums or return to the Control touch screen of the app.

    Screenshots showing the More options and Gesture Controls for the Apple TV Remote app.

Using the black Control screen is essentially the same as using the latest Apple TV Remotes that come with the 4K version. The Remote App is an upgrade from older Apple TV remotes, allowing quicker scrolling and easier navigation.

Benefits of the Apple TV Remote App

The remote that comes with an Apple TV is, as most Apple products are, sleek and attractive. It is also very prone to sliding between couch cushions or being misplaced due to its small size. Having the Remote App on at least one Apple device means that when your normal remote is missing you'll still have a way to use your Apple TV.

Older Apple TV remotes use small button batteries, which are easily replaced but not something most people keep on hand. A dead remote means no Apple TV, so owners of older versions can really benefit from the app. The Remote App also doesn't require line-of-sight visibility to your Apple TV box, which older Apple TV remotes need. This is great if your media is stored in a cabinet or behind your TV. It's also super handy for parents to be able to pause or start a show for their kids from another room.

The Remote App has one more huge benefit over the remotes that come with your Apple TV: when you need to enter text, the app provides a keyboard. No more scrolling across to select letters one at a time when you're trying to sign into a streaming app!