Here’s your complete guide to using the Siri Remote with an Apple TV. We’ll cover everything from naming the buttons to changing how they work.
How to Pair a Siri Remote With an Apple TV
First things first, let’s make sure your Siri Remote actually works with your Apple TV.
If you just got a brand new Apple TV, the Siri Remote should already be paired with it. But if you replaced the remote or reset your Apple TV, you might need to pair it again manually.
Here’s how to do that:
- Connect your Apple TV to power to turn it on.
- Point your Siri Remote at the Apple TV and move in close so it’s only about four inches away.
- Press and hold both the Menu button and the Volume Up (+) button.
- Keep holding both buttons for about two seconds, at which point you should see a message on the TV to say pairing was successful.
If your Siri Remote won’t pair with your Apple TV make sure it’s charged up (which we’ll show you how to do below) and make sure you’ve got an Apple TV (4th generation) or later.
Visit Apple’s website to identify your Apple TV model.
Learning the Buttons on a Siri Remote
To make the most of your Siri Remote, you need to learn what each of the buttons does.
There are six buttons on the Siri Remote:
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
The top section of the Siri Remote is also a touch surface that you can swipe across or click in different places for even more actions.
Here’s a breakdown of how to use each and every button on the Siri Remote, starting with the touch surface.
The Touch Surface
You can recognize the touch surface on your Siri Remote by feeling the matte texture in contrast to the glossy feel at the bottom of the remote.
Slide your finger left and right or up and down on the touch surface to select different elements in the Apple TV interface. That might mean selecting an app, a menu item, or scrubbing along the timeline of a show.
Just like the touchscreen on your smartphone, swipe faster to move further or swipe slower to move your selection one item at a time. You can also change this sensitivity of the touch surface in the Apple TV Settings, which we’ll show you how to do later.
Click in the center of the touch surface to “activate” whatever is selected. That might launch an app, open into a menu, or play a video.
You can also click and hold on an app to enter Jiggle mode and rearrange your Apple TV Home Screen.
The Menu Button
The Menu button is the top-left button on your Siri Remote and has a raised, white edge. This raised edge means you can find this button and orientate the Siri Remote in the dark.
Think of the Menu button as a “Back” button.
Press the Menu button to exit an app or go back in a menu. You can also press and hold the Menu button to jump all the way back to your Apple TV Home Screen.
Press the Menu button while on the Home Screen to start the screensaver.
The TV Button
It should come as no surprise that the TV button looks like a TV. Press this button to open the Up Next section of the Apple TV app. This is a great place to find new movies and TV shows to stream, rent, or buy.
Remember, not everything in the Apple TV app is free, though there are plenty of ways to watch free content on your Apple TV.
If the Apple TV app isn’t available in your region, this button takes you straight to the Home Screen—just the same as holding the Menu button would do. This is why the TV button is sometimes referred to as the Home button. You can also change the function of this button in the Settings.
The TV button also has a couple of other useful functions you should learn.
Press and hold the TV button to open the Control Center. You can use this to change users, put your TV to sleep, control music playback, or even access your favorite smart home controls.
This is also where you go to connect a HomePod to your Apple TV or to switch from the TV speakers to a home theater setup.
Finally, double-press the TV button to open the App Switcher. This shows every open app on your Apple TV. Swipe across and click the touch surface to open an app, allowing you to quickly jump between them.
From the App Switcher, you can also slide apps off the top of the screen to shut them down. However, you should only do this if an app is frozen.
The Siri Button
The Siri Remote takes its name from the Siri button, shown by a microphone icon. Press and hold this button to speak to Siri.
The Siri Remote features two microphones at the top of the touch surface, which work exceptionally well at eliminating background noise to hear your commands.
There’s no need to lift the Siri Remote close to your mouth. If you can reach the button to press the Siri button, it’s already close enough to hear you.
Sometimes you might activate Siri by mistake. But if that happens just press the Menu button to dismiss it and get back to whatever you were doing.
If you’re not sure what to say, quickly press and release the Siri button to view a list of suggestions. Here are some of our favorite uses for Siri on the Apple TV:
- “Open Netflix.”
- “Play some music.”
- “Turn on subtitles.”
- “What Arnold Schwarzenegger movies came out in the 90s?”
When asking for TV show and movie suggestions, Siri displays the results in a row at the bottom of the screen. Use the touch surface to select and click on the one you’re interested in or press the Menu button to dismiss them all.
The Play/Pause Button
As you might expect, you can use the Play/Pause button to play or pause whatever you’re watching. That might be an iTunes movie, a TV show on Netflix, a YouTube video, or any other kind of media.
You can also use the Play/Pause button to pause music or podcasts you’re listening to even if you’re currently in a different app.
The Volume Buttons
Use the Volume buttons to turn the volume up and down on your TV. If you connected your Apple TV to an external speaker, these buttons should control the volume for that speaker instead.
Press either button to change the volume by one step, or press and hold it to continuously change the volume in that direction.
For the Volume buttons on your Siri Remote to work, you need to enable HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) on your TV. Check the manual for your TV to learn how to do this; it may already be enabled by default.
If you still can’t get the Volume buttons to work with your TV, open the Apple TV Settings app and go to Remotes and Devices > Volume Control.
How to Turn On an Apple TV With the Siri Remote
Press the Menu or the TV button on the Siri Remote to turn on your Apple TV. This wakes the Apple TV from sleep, so it should appear on the same screen you were on the last time you used it.
To put your Apple TV to sleep, press and hold the TV button to open the Control Center, then use the touch surface to click Sleep.
Alternatively, start the screensaver by pressing the Menu button from the Home Screen. To exit the screensaver, press any button (except the Volume buttons).
How to Control Playback Using the Siri Remote
Needless to say, the most important thing you’ll do with your Siri Remote is use it to control playback for whatever you watch on your Apple TV.
Press the Play/Pause button to play or pause a video.
While content is playing, rest your finger on the left or right edge of the touch surface, then click to skip backward or forward by ten seconds.
Click and hold on the edge to fast-forward or rewind continuously.
For even more control, pause the content, then slide across the touch surface to scrub through the video timeline. You’ll see a small preview showing you what’s happening at each point in time. When you find the point you want, click the touch surface to start playing from there.
Alternatively, press Menu to dismiss the timeline and continue playing from your current point.
You can also use the Siri button to fast-forward or rewind your content:
- “Go back ten minutes.”
- “Go to fifty-seven minutes.”
- “What did he just say?”
Change Your Playback Settings
Swipe down from the top of the touch surface to reveal playback options for whatever you’re watching. These options typically include:
Use the touch surface to navigate through the options; press the Menu button to go up a level if you need to. Swipe up or press the Menu button again to dismiss these options altogether.
You can use these playback settings to enable subtitles or closed captions, change the language and audio output, or skip to different chapters of a movie or TV show.
Use Picture-in-Picture Mode
While watching a video, rest your finger on the touch surface of the Siri Remote to reveal the video timeline. Above the timeline, you should see a Picture-in-picture icon for compatible videos.
Use the touch surface to select and click this icon to shrink your video and keep watching content while using other apps.
Picture-in-picture isn’t available for every video app on the Apple TV.
To return to fullscreen or move your window, press the TV button and select the relevant icon in the picture in picture window. You can also quit the video by clicking the X icon.
How to Customize the Settings for a Siri Remote
If you find the touch surface too sensitive—or not sensitive enough—you should customize the settings for your Siri Remote. You can also change the function of the TV button and check the battery level from the same settings.
From the Apple TV Home Screen, use the touch surface to open the Settings app, then go to Remotes and Devices.
Use Touch Surface Tracking to change the sensitivity of the touch surface, choosing between Fast, Medium, or Slow, with Fast being the most sensitive and Slow being the least sensitive.
If the touch surface is still hard to control, there might be something wrong with your Siri Remote. Take a look at our Apple TV troubleshooting tips for more help.
Use the Home Button option to change the function of the TV button. Clicking this option toggles the button between Apple TV App and Home Screen.
The battery level for your Siri Remote appears beneath the Home Button settings.
How to Charge Your Siri Remote
The battery in your Siri Remote should last for months on end. Don’t worry about charging it up until your Apple TV notifies you that the battery level is low, you’ll still get plenty of life out of it when that happens.
To charge your Siri Remote, connect a Lightning-to-USB cable to the bottom, then plug it into a power adapter.
The Siri Remote comes with a Lightning-to-USB cable you can use, but you need to supply your own USB power adapter.
You can use any USB adapter. You can even connect the remote to a USB port on a computer to charge it.
The Siri Remote should be fully charged after a couple of hours. You can check the charge level in the settings above to find out.
Use Your iPhone as an Apple TV Remote
The Siri Remote is pretty good, but it’s certainly not perfect. For one, it always slides down between the sofa cushions. But it’s also not ideal for typing passwords and usernames into different apps.
The best way to type into your Apple TV is using an iPhone or iPad. When you load a keyboard on your Apple TV, you should see a prompt appear on the lock screen of your iPhone or iPad to use that for the keyboard instead. You can also use the remote app to control your Apple TV from an iPhone or iPad. This is usually far more convenient than finding the remote.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.