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 the Apple TV Siri Remote shares with other remote controls is that it can be lost or damaged. That doesn't mean you can't use your Apple TV until you find it or buy a new one, though. If you looked in all the usual places for the missing remote, there are several ways to use an Apple TV without the Siri remote.

Ways to Control an Apple TV Without a Remote

If you damaged the remote or are convinced you'll never find it, buy a replacement Siri remote. In the meantime, you have options for controlling your Apple TV.

  • Use the Remote app on an 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 have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, use the free Remote app. As long as both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can use the app to control your Apple TV.

  1. Download the Remote app from the App Store to your iOS device.

  2. Tap the app to launch it, then tap the Apple TV icon on the screen to turn 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. Pair your iPhone with the Apple TV by entering the code shown on the Apple TV into the area provided for it in the app. This is only required the first time you use the Remote app. You'll see a notification that you can control the Apple TV using Remote in Control Center, in addition to controlling it directly from the app.

    Apple TV app on an iPhone
  4. Swipe from side to side and up and down on the top half of the iOS app screen to select items on the Apple TV 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.

  5. Tap Details at the top of the screen to see a visual representation of what is playing on the Apple TV.

  6. Tap the screen icon at the bottom center of the app while in the Details view to open the Audio & Subtitles screen, where you can select your preferred language and turn closed-captioning on or off. Tap Done to save your settings.

    Remote app screens that control an Apple TV

You can also use an Apple Watch as an Apple TV controller. Swipe around the watch display to navigate the Apple TV screen, and play and pause content. However, the watch app doesn't 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 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. Then, press the Start button. You are walked through the process of setting up the older remote 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, 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, using the silver-grey remote you want to use, click Pair Remote. You'll see a small progress icon in the upper-right corner of the display.

Use Your Gaming Controller

If you play games on Apple TV, you may 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 the Bluetooth button on the controller.

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

  4. Click the controller 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 have access to Siri, but typing on a real keyboard is 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. It if its battery dies or you need to pair a new remote, click a button on the new Siri Remote. You should see a dialog box appear in the upper-right corner of the screen. It tells 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 the Siri Remote closer to the Apple TV for pairing to proceed.

If neither of these appears, connect the 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.