The Different Ways to Enter Text on Your Apple TV

Entering text inside search boxes using your Siri Remote and the ​on-screen keyboard is the thing most Apple TV users get most annoyed. However, if you do want to enter text using a keyboard you can make it much less of a bore using one or more of these suggestions.

Use the Siri Remote

Siri is Inside your Remote Control

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Apple TV lets you use your remote control to choose characters using a left to right alphanumeric keyboard that appears on the TV screen. This is the default system you use to search for apps in the​ App Store, music, films or anything else on Apple TV.

There are some shortcuts to help speed up text entry:

  • If you tap and hold any lower case key a new palette will appear that shows all the accented and capitalized variations of that character, including upper and lower case characters.
  • If you press Play/Pause then the next character you type will appear capitalized, after which it will return to lower case font. That’s useful as it means you don’t need to shift between the upper- and lower-case keyboards.
  • One final useful shortcut is the Recent button. Tap this to access recent search terms, account names or passwords in a flash.

Use Siri

Hand holding a Siri remote.

 Apple Inc.

When you see the microphone icon appear in a text entry box it means you can use Siri to speak your search.

All you need to do is tap the microphone icon on your remote control to make the search. You can check that this feature is enabled in Settings > General > Dictation.

Use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

Man holding iPhone 6

Probably the most convenient text entry solution, the Remote app works on any iOS device: iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You can use it to enter text using the keyboard you’re already used to working with on your Apple device, which makes writing on the Apple TV much easier than using the on-screen keyboard.

NB: Starting fall 2016 iOS and tvOS support a vastly improved version of the Remote app. This offers all the functionality of the full Siri remote, with the addition of a handy Notifications feature that will remind you to use your iPhone or iPad for text entry when you begin entering text on your Apple TV screen.

To set up the Remote app on your Apple TV and iOS device, you must first check the software on both devices is up to date and ensure they are on the same Wi-Fi network. You will need to set the app up as follows:

  • Set up with Home Sharing by signing in with your Apple ID and opening Settings > Accounts > Home Sharing on your Apple TV.
  • To set up manually, just open the Remote app and choose Add a Device. A four-digit code will appear that you must enter in Settings > Remotes and Devices > Remote app.

You Can Use an Apple Watch

Apple watch

Apple Inc.

If you have installed the Remote app on your Apple Watch you will be able to use your smartwatch to enter text manually, in the same way as using your standard Apple TV remote control and the on-screen alphanumeric keyboard.

You Can Also Use a Real Keyboard

Logitech, Bluetooth keyboard, Logitech K380 keyboard BTY3 Blue


You can also use most Bluetooth keyboards to enter text on your Apple TV. You’ll need to connect the keyboard to the Apple TV, after which you’ll be able to use it to enter text anywhere in any app across the system that needs you to type. You can also use the keyboard to control your Apple TV if you lose or break your Siri Remote control.

Perhaps You’d Like to Make a Game of It

Steelseries controller

Apple Inc.

You can also enter text using a dedicated third-party games controller for iOS, though you will be limited to manually choosing letters using the on-screen keyboard.

Use an Old TV Remote Control

Remote control

Brian Waak / Getty Images

You can even use an old TV remote control if it is supported by your Apple TV. Grab the remote control your TV ships with (or another one if you like) and open Settings > General > Remotes & Devices > Learn Remote on your Apple TV. You’ll be guided through a series of steps after which you should be able to use this to control your Apple TV, albeit with much-simplified controls.

Are There More?

There's no doubt that in future these seven ways to enter text on an Apple TV will be supplemented by more — might you be able to use a Mac to control it? There seems little reason not to be able to do so.