How to fix Apple TV remote not working

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Key takeaways: 
  • Check the battery level of your remote. On your Apple TV, open Settings > Remotes and Devices > Remote
  • Restart Apple TV remote. Press and hold the TV/Control Center button together with Volume Down for at least five seconds. Then release the buttons and wait for a Connection Lost message to appear on your TV screen. If you see a Connected notification appear on your TV after the remote restarts, it should start working again.
  • Pair the remote. If your Siri Remote or Apple TV Remote didn't pair automatically, you can try pairing it manually. Hold the remote about three inches from your Apple TV, then press and hold Back/Menu + Up for at least five seconds. When prompted, place the remote on your Apple TV to complete the pairing process.

If you own an Apple TV box, you know how convenient it is to have it act as your only interface for navigating everything that happens on your big screen. Be it live TV, your favorite shows and movies from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, gaming, workouts, photos, music — your remote controls it all.

Without a doubt, an Apple TV remote is a powerful gadget in any living room. We use it to navigate and play content, turn both the Apple TV box and TV screen on and off, as well as control volume of the whole home theater setup. 

No wonder then that finding your Apple TV not responding to remote commands might come with a bit of worry. Let’s have a closer look at the main reasons and possible fixes for Apple TV remote not working so that you could easily regain power over your TV experiences at any time.

Top reasons for why an Apple TV remote is not working

The two main reasons for Apple TV remote not working are usually pretty straightforward. It’s either a connection or a battery problem. Checking for both battery charge levels and possible problems preventing your remote from connecting will help you find the right fix for your situation.

How to fix an Apple TV remote 

Depending on the issue that’s causing the misfunction, you may need to recharge, re-pair, or reset your remote. Sometimes it’ll require restarting your Apple TV box or using the Apple TV remote app to get things moving again. In any case, try ruling out the most obvious reasons first, as these might prove to be very effective. Then move to more complicated solutions, such as changing your HDMI cable or replacing your remote altogether.

Luckily, something as simple as moving around the room may put an end to all your problems with the Apple TV remote not working. Ready to work your way down the list?

1. Move the remote closer to the Apple TV

If you run into an issue of Apple TV not responding to remote signals, the easiest thing to do is to simply move closer. The remote Bluetooth connection range varies from 10 to 40 meters, depending on the model. So just try calling the Apple TV box from around the room so that it could respond to the remote.

Tip: If you’re looking for a big screen streaming solution that doesn’t require cables, remotes, or any other additional devices to work smoothly, be sure to try JustStream. It’s supported by every major TV manufacturer and is one of the best apps in terms of compatibility. If a file is playable on your Mac, JustStream will play it on TV.

JustStream is an awesome app for sound and video quality. It supports 4K and HD resolutions and picks up external and embedded audio, ensuring the best sound.

Best of all, it only takes a few clicks to get the content you want to the big screen:

  1. Turn on your TV and make sure it’s on the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac.
  2. Open JustStream on Mac.
  3. Choose the device to stream to from the list of available devices.
  4. Click Start Streaming.

2. Charge your remote 

One of the first things you need to check if you’re wondering why is my Apple TV remote not working is the battery charge. If it’s at 20% or less, try plugging it in to see whether it solves the problem.

To check the battery level of your remote:

  1. On your Apple TV, open Settings.
  2. Choose Remotes and Devices ➙ Remote. 
  3. Check the battery level.

Tip: An Apple TV remote typically takes about three hours to fully charge. But you can still use it while it’s charging.

3. Reset your Apple TV remote

If you’ve tried charging the battery and that didn’t help to repair Apple TV remote, the next thing to do is to reset it. 

Here’s how to reset Apple TV remote in a few easy steps:

  1. Press and hold the TV/Control Center button (a box icon with a line underneath) together with Volume Down for at least five seconds.
  2. Release the buttons and wait for the Connection Lost message to appear on your TV.
  3. Wait until your remote restarts.
  4. Wait for the Connected message to appear on your TV screen.

You should be able to use your remote again after the reset is complete.


4. Unpair and re-pair your Apple TV remote 

If you’ve followed all the above recommendations, and your Apple remote not working still, try pairing it to your Apple TV again. 

Here’s how to repair Apple TV remote manually:

  1. Point your remote at your Apple TV at about three inches distance.
  2. Press and hold Back (or Menu, depending on the model) and Volume Up for five seconds.
  3. Place your remote on top of Apple TV, if prompted, to complete pairing.

If your Apple TV remote wont pair, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of tvOS. 

5. Use a shielded HDMI cable 

Your remote uses Bluetooth to communicate with Apple TV. The problem is that the cable that connects your Apple TV box and your TV may become the cause of interference for Bluetooth. If it’s not sufficiently shielded, it may be acting as an antenna broadcasting electromagnetic waves.

Replacing your cable connection with a well shielded HDMI cable might be a good idea, if you want to be sure it’s not the reason your Apple TV remote not working, 

To ensure there’s no interference weakening your WiFi network, run fast NetSpot signal diagnostics. 

NetSpot is a WiFi booster that lets you find and fix weak spots in your wireless coverage relying on clear visual data. To optimize your network performance with NetSpot:

  • Perform live WiFi scan with built-in speed tests for any points in your living, outdoor, or office space.
  • Visualize where the signal is strong/weak.
  • Find areas of channel interference.
  • Adjust the locations of your access points and choose placement for new hotspots, if needed.

netspot for mac

6. Restart your Apple TV

Restarting your Apple TV may help reactivate your remote. There are two ways you can go about it:

  1. Use your iPhone to restart the device from the Settings menu in the Apple TV Remote app.
  2. Simply unplug your Apple TV from power, wait for six seconds, plug it back in.

7. Use the Apple TV Remote app

You can control your Apple TV with the Apple TV Remote app on your iPhone or iPad. It should be added to Control Center automatically, but if it’s not, you can add it from Settings in a few clicks:

  1. Go to Settings ➙ Control Center.
  2. Scroll down to Apple TV Remote and tap the add button next to it.

apple tv remote app

If you often find yourself wondering why my Apple TV remote is not working, follow these steps to set up the Apple TV Remote on your iPhone:

  1. Swipe down from the upper right corner of your screen to open Control Center.
  2. Tap the Apple TV Remote icon.
  3. Choose a TV from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
  4. When asked, follow the onscreen instructions to enter a four-digit passcode.

control center mac

8. Buy a new remote (if all else fails)

If you’re able to control your TV from your iPhone but still have your Apple TV remote not working, there might be a problem with the remote's hardware. Consider replacing it or contact Apple service for additional assistance.

You know what to do if your Apple TV remote not working again

Next time you find yourself asking why is my Apple TV remote not working you know the things to check for — from basic to more technical ones. But in any case have JustStream ready to stream to your TV from Mac in a few clicks. To ensure network interferences don’t become an issue, run NetSpot visual diagnostics and have your Wi-Fi weak spots optimized.

See if JustStream and NetSpot are right for you with a free seven-day trial of Setapp, a platform of high-performance, best-in-class iOS, macOS, and web apps. Enjoy things running smoothly with the help of more than 230 options to choose from for optimal productivity.

FAQ

Some of the most frequent issues with Apple remote not working can be fixed easily. See if any of your questions can be answered here.

How do I reset my Apple TV with a frozen remote?

You can access your Apple TV settings using the Apple TV Remote app on your iPhone or iPad.

How do you know when your Apple TV remote is dying?

You’ll get an alert on your TV screen about the battery in your remote running low.

How do I force reset Apple TV?

Unplug your device, wait for six seconds, then plug it in again. This should cause your Apple TV to reboot.

How do I connect to Apple TV without a remote?

You can use your iPhone or iPad as a remote for your Apple TV. Apple TV Remote app is included automatically on your Apple device.

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