How to Replace a Lost or Broken Remote Control

Don't panic! Replace your broken or lost remote today

What to Know

  • It's not necessary to purchase a device-specific remote as a replacement remote for one that's been lost.
  • A Universal TV remote will work with any device model for almost all manufacturers and may be compatible with multiple devices.
  • A remote control app is also a good option as they are available from most manufacturers and can be operated via a smartphone or tablet.

If you lost your remote control, or it has stopped working, then you don't have to buy a device-specific replacement. There are universal remotes that are compatible with multiple devices, and there are even mobile apps you can use as a remote control until you buy a new one.

Replace a Broken or Lost Remote Control With a Universal Remote

Big-box stores like Target and Best Buy carry a range of universal remote controls. They're not brand specific, so you can program universal remote controls and use them with any device model from almost every electronics manufacturer. Most universal remotes work with multiple devices, so they can control your TV, cable box, and other peripherals such as DVD players and streaming devices. Just be sure to read the package to make sure your devices are compatible.

Illustration of two people looking at a computer screen with remotes on it
Derek Abella / Lifewire

Depending on how many devices you use with your remote control, the original setup may take a while. Universal remote controls sometimes come with a list of code numbers for an enormous list of devices. You must look up each device you want to use and then enter the appropriate code on the keypad. Newer remotes handle this automatically.

Buy a Remote From the Manufacturer

If you don't want a universal remote control, the manufacturer of your device should sell a replacement model. Go to the manufacturer's website, or call the manufacturer to see how they can help you. If the manufacturer can't directly sell to you over the phone or internet, they should be able to direct you to the nearest retailer.

Considerations for Buying a New Remote

Remote controls have gotten smaller, yet they tend to have more and more buttons. Be sure to buy a remote control that fits comfortably in your hand with buttons large enough to press without hitting other buttons. Illuminated buttons are also a nice perk while flipping channels at night.

Durability is another issue with remote controls. 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 in case you decide to return the remote control.

Cable and Satellite Subscribers

If your remote 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.

Download a Remote Control App

Depending on the device you need to use, there may be a mobile app that works as a remote control. Just open your web browser and search for your device's name + remote control app. Some of the apps available for Android and iOS devices include:

  • Comcast XFINITY TV Remote app for an Apple or Android mobile device works with Comcast TV Boxes.
  • The Google TV Remote Control app works with Android TVs.
  • The Easy Universal TV Remote app works with a range of televisions.
  • The Apple TV app controls your Apple TV.
  • Smart TVs from LG, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic Viera, and other manufacturers have apps that work with their TVs.
  • How do I control a Vizio TV without a remote?

    To use your Vizio smart TV without the remote, download the Vizio SmartCast app from the Google Play Store or the App Store. Then, at the bottom of the app screen, tap Control > Devices > select your Vizio TV. The control menu will appear, and you can operate it just like a physical remote.

  • How do I control a firestick without a remote?

    Use your phone as a Fire Stick remote control. First, launch the Fire TV Stick remote app and sign in. Next, select your Fire TV Stick device, turn on your TV, and switch its input to the one you use for your Fire Stick. You'll see a Fire TV Stick connection code number. Enter this code in your app.

  • How do I control a Roku TV without a remote?

    Use the Roku mobile app to control your TV if you're missing the remote. Launch the iOS or Android Roku app and tap Remote. Use the arrow keys to navigate the Roku menu just as you would a physical remote.

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