What to Do if You Lose Your Apple TV Siri Remote

Tips for controlling your Apple TV without the remote

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The biggest flaw your sophisticated Apple TV Siri Remote shares with even the dumbest of everyday remote controls is that it can be lost or damaged, but that doesn't mean you can't use your Apple TV until you find it or buy a new one. If you've looked in all the usual places for your missing remote, you'll be happy to hear that there are several ways you can use the Apple TV without it.

If you've damaged the remote or you've given up looking for it, you’ll probably want to cough up the cash for a replacement Siri remote, but in the meantime, you have a few options for controlling your Apple TV.

Ways to Control an Apple TV Without a Remote

  • Use the Apple TV Remote app on iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch
  • Reprogram an older remote control or universal remote
  • Use an Apple TV 3 remote control
  • Use a gaming controller
  • Use a Bluetooth keyboard

Use the Remote App

If you use an Apple TV, there’s a good chance you also use an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, all of which can run the free Apple TV Remote app. So long as both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can use the app to control your Apple TV.

  1. Download the Apple TV Remote app from the App Store on your iOS device.

  2. Tap the app to launch it and tap the Apple TV icon on the screen, which turns on the Apple TV. If you don't see the Apple TV icon, make sure you are using the same network on both devices.

  3. To pair your iPhone with the Apple TV, enter the code shown on the Apple TV into the area provided for it in the app.

The top half of the iOS app screen functions as the touchpad on the remote. You can swipe from side to side and up and down to select between items on the screen. The buttons at the bottom correspond to buttons on the remote and include a microphone that you can use to have Siri control the Apple TV or perform searches.

You can also use an Apple Watch as an Apple TV controller. You swipe around the watch display to navigate the Apple TV screen, play, and pause content, but it does not support Siri.

Use Another TV or DVD Remote

Apart from the loss of Siri and touch sensitivity, one snag with using another TV or DVD remote to control your Apple TV when you lose your official remote control is that you need to set it up before the loss takes place. Given that everyone loses the remote from time to time, it may make sense to plan now for such an event and program an old remote control before things go awry.

To set up an old TV or DVD remote, on the Apple TV:

Go to Settings > General > Remotes & Devices > Learn Remote on your Apple TV. Hit the Start button, and you are walked through the process of setting up your older control. Don't forget to choose an unused device setting before you start.

Your Apple TV prompts you to assign six buttons to control your TV: Up, Down, Left, Right, Select and Menu.

Give the remote a name. Now you can also map additional controls such as fast forward and rewind.

Use an Older Apple TV Remote

If you own one, you can also use an older silver-grey Apple Remote to control your Apple TV 4. The Apple TV box includes an infrared sensor that works with the old Apple TV remote. To pair the Apple Remote with your Apple TV go to Settings > General > Remotes and then, using the silver-grey remote you want to use, click on Pair Remote. You’ll see a small progress icon at the top right of the display.

Use Your Gaming Controller

If you play games on Apple TV, it’s likely you already own a gaming controller; it’s the best way to unlock gaming on the platform.

To connect a third-party games controller, you need to use Bluetooth 4.1:

  1. Turn on the controller.

  2. Press and hold its Bluetooth button

  3. Open Settings > Remotes & Devices > Bluetooth on Apple TV. Your game controller should appear in the list.

  4. Click it to pair the two devices.

Use a Bluetooth Keyboard

You can use the same pairing sequence as you use with the gaming controller to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to your Apple TV. After you create a link between the two devices, you can navigate the Apple TV menus, pause and restart playback, and flip between apps and pages using the keyboard. You won’t enjoy access to Siri, but typing on a real keyboard is a lot easier than typing on the on-screen virtual keyboard.

Set up a New Siri Remote

Eventually, you need to bite the bullet and invest in a replacement Siri Remote. When it arrives it should automatically pair with Apple TV, but if its battery dies or you need to pair a new remote, follow these steps:

When you first click a button on the new Siri Remote, you should see a dialog box appear in the upper right corner of the screen. This will tell you one of two things:

  • Remote Paired: You should be able to use your new remote straight away
  • Pairing Remote: You may be asked to bring your new Siri Remote closer to your Apple TV for pairing to proceed.

If neither of these appears, connect your new Siri Remote to power for an hour and then try again. If that doesn’t work, simultaneously press the Menu and Volume Up buttons on the remote for three seconds. This action resets it and returns it to pairing mode.