How to Use the Apple TV Siri Remote

What do all these controls do?

Apple TV and remote
Apple TV blog

Apple TV puts you in control of what you are doing with your television – it even lets you switch channels just by asking them to change, thanks to the fiendishly clever Apple Siri Remote. So, just how do you control your Apple TV?

The Buttons

There are just six buttons on the Apple Remote; from left to right they are:

  • The touch surface at the top
  • The Menu button
  • The Home button
  • The Siri (microphone) button
  • Volume up/down
  • Play/Pause

The Touch Surface

Just like an iPhone or iPad the very top of the Apple Remote is touch sensitive. This means you can use it as in interface inside games and also lets you use swipe movements to do things like fast forward or rewind content. Apple says using this should be as natural as touch, you should never need to squint at your remote to find the right place to tap. Find out more about using the touch surface below.


Menu lets you navigate your Apple TV. Press it once to go back one step or press it twice if you wish to launch the screensaver. You can use it to return to the app choosing/Home view when inside an app, for example.


The Home button (it appears as a big display on the remote) is useful because it will return you back to the Home view wherever you are in an app. It doesn’t matter if you are deep inside a complex game or if you are watching something on television, just hold this button down for three seconds and you’re Home.

The Siri Button

The Siri button is represented by a microphone icon, used because when you press and hold down this button Siri will listen to what you say, figure out what it means and respond appropriately if it can.

These three simple tips should help you understand how this works, just make sure you hold the button down briefly before you speak, and release the button when you are done.

  • “Rewind 10 seconds.”
  • “Find me a movie to watch.”
  • “Pause.”

Tap this button once and Siri will tell you some of the things you can ask it to do. You can ask it to do all kinds of things, as explained here. It’s way better than those old-fashioned remote controls that were so complex and cumbersome to use (for fun take a look at this ad for the 1950 Zenith Remote).

Volume Up/Down

Even though it’s the largest physical button on the Apple Remote it does less than any other button, use this to raise or lower volume. Or ask Siri.

Using the Touch Surface

You can use the touch-sensitive part of the remote in many ways.

Move your finger on this surface to move around apps and the Home Screen and select items by clicking the button when the virtual cursor is in the right place.

Fast forward and rewind movies or music. To do so, you should press the right side of the surface to fast forward 10 seconds or press on the left side of the touch surface to rewind 10 seconds.

To move more rapidly through content, you should swipe your thumb from one side of the surface to the other, or slide your thumb slowly if you wish to scrub through the content.

Swipe down on the touch surface while a movie is playing and you’ll be presented with the info window (if available). You can change some settings here, including speaker output, sound and more.

Moving Icons

You can use the touch surface to move app icons to suitable places on the screen. To do so, navigate to the icon, press hard and hold down the touch surface until you see the icon has begun to wobble. Now you can use the touch surface to move the icon around the screen, tap once again when you want to drop the icon in place.

Deleting Apps

If you want to delete an app you should select it until the icon wobbles and remove your finger from the touch surface. You should then gently place your finger on the touch surface again – being careful not to make the remote click. After a very short delay, a More options dialog appears asking you to tap the Play/Pause button to access other options. Delete app is the red button within the options you will see.

Creating Folders

You can create folders for your apps. To do so select an app until it wobbles and then access the More Options dialog by gently tapping the touch surface (as above). From the options that appear select the Create Folder choice. You can name this folder something appropriate and then drag and drop apps into the collection as detailed above.

The App Switcher

Just like any iOS device, Apple TV has an App Switcher to help you review and control currently active apps. To get to it just press the Home button twice in succession. Navigate the collection using left and right swipes on the touch surface, and shut apps down by swiping up when they are clearly in the middle of the display.


To put your Apple TV to sleep just press and hold the Home button.

Restart Apple TV

You should always restart Apple TV if things don’t seem to be working correctly — for example, if you suffer an unexpected loss of volume. You restart the system by pressing and holding both the Home and Menu buttons at once. You should release them when the LED on your Apple TV begins to flash.

What next?

Now you’ve gotten more familiar with using your Apple Siri Remote you should learn more about the very best Apple TV apps you can download today.

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