How to Replace a Lost or Broken Remote Control

Don't panic! You can probably replace your broken remote today

A set of remote controls on a table.
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It's normal for people to panic when they realize their remote control is lost or broken. They need to find a replacement—now—but don't know where to look for one. The devices that the remote controls influence where to find a replacement. If the remote is for your TV and a few connected devices, you just need to locate a universal remote. It could also be for your cable box or other peripherals, such as a DVD player and streaming device. If your remote breaks in the middle of the night when the stores are closed, there might be an app for that until you can get a replacement.

Universal Remote Control

Usually, a quick drive to the big-box store closest to you (Target or Best Buy are examples) does the trick because these types of stores sell a range of universal remote control models in the TV accessories section. Most universal remotes work with multiple devices, such as TVs and DVD players. Others control only one device.

Universal remote controls are not brand specific; you can use them with any model of device from almost every electronics manufacturer. Just be sure to read the package to make sure your devices are compatible.

When you choose a universal remote control, pay attention to the types of devices it controls and its overall size. Because technology allows manufacturers to make remotes half the size with almost twice the amount of buttons as in days of old, buy a remote control that fits comfortably in your hand with buttons large enough to press without hitting other buttons. Some other features to consider are:

  • Buttons that are illuminated
  • Warranty—90 days minimum, 1+ year preferred
  • Store's return policy

Durability is an issue with remote controls because they are handled a lot. When you are looking at different models at a store, it is difficult to know which remote meets your performance and durability needs. This is where a good warranty pays off. Equally important is the store's return policy should you decide to return the remote control. 

Depending on how many devices you use with your remote control, the original setup may take a while. A universal remote control comes with a list of code numbers for an enormous list of devices. You look up each device you use the remote with and then enter the code to it. 

Buying From the Manufacturer

If you don't want a universal remote control, the manufacturer of your device should be equipped to sell a replacement model. If it can't directly sell to you over the phone or internet, it should be able to direct you to the nearest dealer. Go to the manufacturer's website or call your manufacturer to see how it can help you. Usually, you'll need to wait a few days for the replacement.

Cable and Satellite Subscribers

If your remote is lost or broken and it was supplied by your cable or satellite company, then you will have to call the company to get a replacement. If it is broken, the company should provide one to you for free. If it is lost, you might have to pay a replacement cost.

In an Emergency—Download an App

Depending on the device you need to control, you may be able to download an app to your mobile device that allows it to work as a remote control while you are waiting for your replacement remote to arrive. Just go online and search on your device name and the phrase "remote control app." The results usually show for Android and iOS devices. Some of the apps available are:

  • Comcast XFINITY TV Remote app for an Apple or Android mobile device works with your Comcast TV Boxes
  • The Android TV remote Control app works with Android TVs
  • The Easy Universal TV Remote app works with a range of televisions
  • The Apple TV app lets you control your Apple TV
  • Smart TVs from LG, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic Viera and other manufacturers have apps that work with their TVs