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Pair (or re-pair) an Apple Remote with an Apple TV



The Apple TV is easily one of the most versatile media streaming boxes you can buy. You can stream your favorite content, mirror a FaceTime call, play games and more without connecting a phone, tablet or PC to your TV. It’s basically like an iPhone interface for your TV – just you need that annoying included remote to work properly.

Apple intended to make its remotes easy to use, but you could run into problems. This guide explains how to re-pair the Apple TV remote, pair a new remote, and use alternatives to the bundled device.

A note about remotes

The remote that comes with the Apple TV 4K unit goes by two names: Siri Remote in regions that support Siri and Apple TV Remote in regions that don̵

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The remote that comes with the Apple TV 4K model has a white ring around the menu button, indicating that it is the latest version of Apple’s external design. This ring is intended to help you find the menu button at a glance.

Meanwhile, the model packaged in the Apple TV HD bundle is a previous generation. The overall appearance and functions are identical, but it does not have the same white bezel.

The third and second generation Apple TV devices come with the same silver Apple Remote (note the name change). The first generation Apple TV bundle comes with a bulky white remote also called the Apple Remote.

Apple TV 4K

Apple TV 4K remote

The Apple TV Remote (or Siri Remote) is designed to automatically pair with your Apple TV 4K without you having to do anything. It’s as plug and play as you can get. However, nothing is perfect, not even Apple’s gadgets.

Check the load

Apple TV settings Select Remote control

If the Apple TV unit does not turn on when you press the remote control Menu or House buttons, make sure the remote does not need to be charged. The remote itself doesn’t have a battery level indicator, so you may have missed the low battery popup on the screen.

Apple’s remote uses that pesky Lightning to USB-A cable – hopefully you didn’t accidentally throw it away when you upgraded to an iPhone with USB-C (guilty). Plug it in with a USB-A wall charger for at least 30 minutes and try using the remote to turn the Apple TV unit back on.

Remember, you can always check the remote’s battery level in Apple TV settings:

Step 1: Select and press the Touch Surface to Settings app.

Step 2: Select Remotes and devices

Here you will see a battery icon shown below Remote, as shown above. However, you can get the actual percentage after completing Step 3.

Step 3: Select Remote

Pair the remote again

If the problem isn’t just a faulty remote, manually pair it again. Here’s how:

Step 1: Make sure your Apple TV has power.

You should see a small white LED on the front. If not, unplug the power cord, wait six seconds, and then plug it back in. You should now see a glossy white LED.

Step 2: Make sure your TV is turned on, set to the correct HDMI port and showing the Apple TV home screen.

Step 3: Stand at least 3 inches away from Apple TV, point the remote at the TV, and then hold down the Menu and Volume up (+) buttons for five seconds.

Step 4: When prompted, place the remote on the Apple TV device.

You should see a message confirming that your Apple TV remote has been successfully paired. If you don’t and the Apple TV still doesn’t respond when you press a button, move on to the next step.

Step 5: Unplug the Apple TV unit, wait six seconds, and then plug it back in (this is a hard reboot).

Step 6: Repeat steps 2 to 4.

If your Apple TV remote still can’t control your Apple TV after doing all these steps, it may be faulty. Unfortunately, this means calling Apple Support and / or going to the nearest Apple Store.

Apple TV HD (4th generation)

Apple TV HD remote

The previous generation remote for the Apple TV HD is nearly identical to the remote that comes with the Apple 4K TV unit. Again, the only obvious differentiator is that it doesn’t have a white ring around the menu button. However, the instructions for pairing the remote are exactly the same.

Apple TV (third generation)

Apple TV-2012 remote control

The third-generation Apple TV has an aluminum Apple Remote with a non-rechargeable coin-cell battery.

Replace the battery

Try this before doing anything else. You will need a 3V CR2032 or BR2032 lithium battery, depending on what was originally installed in the remote.

Step 1: Turn the remote over.

Step 2: Use a coin to turn the battery compartment cover counterclockwise until it opens.

Step 3: Remove the old battery.

Step 4: Place the new battery in the compartment with the printed side (positive) facing up.

Step 5: Replace the compartment lid.

If this didn’t work, move on to the next section.

Pair the remote again

Step 1: Make sure your Apple TV has power.

You should see a small white LED on the front. If not, unplug the power cord, wait six seconds, and then plug it back in. You should now see a glossy white LED.

Step 2: Make sure your TV is turned on, set to the correct HDMI port and showing the Apple TV home screen.

Step 3: Point the remote at the Apple TV unit and then hold down the Menu and Left for six seconds. You should see a confirmation on the screen that the remote has been unpaired.

Step 4: To pair the Apple Remote, press and hold the Menu and Turn right for six seconds.

You should see a confirmation on the screen that the remote has been paired. If you don’t, and if the Apple TV still doesn’t respond to pressing a button on the remote, move on to the next step.

Step 5: Unplug the Apple TV, wait six seconds, then plug it back in.

Step 6: Repeat steps 2 to 4.

Again, if none of these steps help, your Apple remote cannot be helped anymore. A new one can be ordered online or purchased at an Apple Store.

Apple TV (second generation)

The second-generation Apple TV uses the same silver Apple Remote as the third-generation Apple TV. Follow the same instructions as above.

Apple TV (first generation)

Apple TV 1st generation remote control

The original Apple TV came with a wide, white plastic Apple Remote. As shown above, the Play / Pause button is in the directional pad, while the Menu button is under both. The process for removing and adding this remote is the same as for Apple TV second and third generation aluminum remotes.

Use an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch

If you’ve lost the remote or it’s more deadly than dead, you can always default to the Apple TV remotes in the Control Center. The company added this functionality in iOS 11, but did not discontinue the TV Remote app until October 2020. To access these controls, do the following:

Step 1: Swipe down from the top right corner where the LTE, Wi-Fi and battery icons are located.

Step 2: Press Remote icon displayed in the Control Center.

Step 3: Make sure your Apple TV device is listed at the top when the Apple TV remotes open on the screen. If you have more than one, tap the currently listed model and select the target device from the drop-down menu. All devices must be on the same local network.

Step 4: If this is your first use, follow the instructions to enter the supplied four-digit passcode to pair the Apple TV device with your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

Add Apple TV Remote to the Control Center

If you don’t see these controls on your device, do the following:

Step 1: Tap to it Settings app.

Step 2: Crane Control Center

Step 3: Crane Adjust the controls (if shown).

Step 4: Tap the green Plus button next to Apple TV remote listed under More controls

Configure a universal remote control

Apple TV Settings Remote Learning

Don’t feel like buying a replacement Apple Remote? You can control your Apple TV with almost any existing infrared remote control. The only downside is that you need a working Apple Remote, an iPhone, an iPad, or an iPod Touch to access the Apple TV settings.

Here’s where you can add an external remote:

Step 1: Select and press the Touch Surface to open the Settings app.

Step 2: Select Remotes and devices

Step 3: Select Learn from a distance

Step 4: Select Get started to get started and follow the instructions.

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If you own one of the Logitech Harmony series of universal remotes, you can download the remote control codes for Apple TV without using the Learn Remote feature.

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