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Easy Guide: How to Setup Your Apple TV without a Remote in Minutes

Discover alternatives of setting up your Apple TV without a remote. Learn how to leverage HDMI-CEC features on modern TVs, use a universal remote, or pair a Bluetooth keyboard. This guide provides comprehensive instructions, simplifying your Apple TV control.

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Published Jan 29, 2024

Ever lost your Apple TV remote and wondered how you're going to set up your device now? Don't fret! It's not as difficult as it seems. In fact, you can easily set up your Apple TV without the remote.

In this guide, you'll discover the simple steps to get your Apple TV up and running, sans remote. Whether you've misplaced your remote or it's simply not working, these steps will have you back to binge-watching in no time.

So, let's dive into the world of Apple TV setup without a remote. It's time to unlock the entertainment potential of your device, even when that pesky remote seems to have disappeared.

Connect to Wi-Fi Network

Now that you've known the basics, it's time to delve into the next crucial step:

Connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

You might be thinking: “How am I supposed to do that without a remote?” Rest assured, it's easier than it sounds.

Use an iOS Device to Control Your Apple TV

There's actually a nifty solution that Apple's offered for this predicament. Simply put, you can use your iPhone or iPad to control your Apple TV. But how? Through a convenient feature called 'Home Sharing.'

You'll need to make sure you've got the latest iOS update on your iPhone or iPad before you get started. Once that's done, here are some quick-fire steps:

  1. First up, open the Settings app on your Apple device.
  2. Scroll to find the Control Center and select Customize Controls.
  3. Then, tap the '+' beside Apple TV Remote.

Once you've done that, you should see the Apple TV Remote in the Control Center. Now, you're all set to take command of your Apple TV straight from your iOS device!

Doesn't it sound easy peasy?

Before you dive right into streaming your favorite Netflix series, remember this golden rule: Your iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV must all be connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

For our Android users, we haven’t forgotten about you! There's a slightly different route you’ll need to take. We’ll walk you through it in the next section. No worries – it’s just as straightforward. So keep reading.

Use the Apple TV Remote App

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You've now gotten the basics of setting up your Apple TV without a remote. Let's move to the next step: utilizing the Apple TV Remote App. Released by Apple, this app isn't just an alternative—it's a fully functional enhanced remote.

First, you'll need to download and install the app on your iOS device. Keep in mind, this app is available for iOS 11.4 or later versions. Search for the 'Apple TV Remote' in the App Store, then tap 'Get' to start the download process.

Once it's on your device, launch it and select "Add Apple TV", then follow the onscreen instructions. Upon successful connection, a four-digit code will appear on your TV screen. Enter this code on your iOS device to establish a secure connection.

Now you can use your iPhone or iPad to navigate your Apple TV. It's as simple as swiping left, right, up, or down on the remote app to mimic the actions of physical remote buttons. Even better, it offers control features not found on a regular remote. For example, the keyboard feature. Suddenly typing in search fields or inputting passwords becomes a piece of cake. Also, the built-in Siri command functionality found on your iPhone/iPad can be very handy.

But remember, both your device and the Apple TV must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network to ensure that there's uninterrupted communication.

If by any chance you're an Android user, don't feel left out. You'll have a slightly different process, which we delve into in the next section. Buckle up, a universe of Apple TV content awaits you.

Control Apple TV with HDMI-CEC

Your journey of setting up an Apple TV without a remote isn't without options. Exploring another alternative, you can control your Apple TV using HDMI-CEC.

HDMI-CEC, a feature found on most modern TVs, stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface - Consumer Electronics Control. It allows devices connected through HDMI ports to interact with each other. This includes controlling your Apple TV directly from your TV's remote.

Before you jump into action, ensure your TV supports HDMI-CEC. Manufacturers may house the feature under a unique name. For instance, Samsung calls it Anynet+, Sony refers to it as BRAVIA Sync, while LG identifies it as SimpLink. To verify if your TV has HDMI-CEC, check your TV settings or refer to the user manual.

Once you confirm that your TV supports HDMI-CEC, connect your Apple TV to an HDMI port on your television. Turn on your television and, under settings, activate the HDMI-CEC option (Please note: The location of this setting varies depending on your TV model & manufacturer).

After activation, you should be able to use your TV's standard remote to control your Apple TV.

Here's a quick rundown on utilizing your TV's remote to maneuver Apple TV:

  1. Volume Control: Increase or decrease the volume using the volume buttons.
  2. Navigation: Use the arrow keys to scroll through options or apps.
  3. Selection: Press "OK" or the equivalent button to make a selection.

Next up, another alternative you might find useful - using a universal remote.

Set Up Apple TV through Bluetooth Keyboard

Using a Bluetooth keyboard as your Apple TV controller is a handy alternative too. It's less known yet incredibly effective. You'll be surprised by how easy it gets to navigate through your favorite shows with a keyboard. Make sure that your keyboard is compatible with Bluetooth 3.0 or above before proceeding.

Installation and Pairing

To set up your Apple TV with a Bluetooth keyboard, begin by turning on the keyboard and ensuring it's in pairing mode. Typically, keyboards have a dedicated 'pair' or 'connect' button you need to press.

Go to your Apple TV's home screen. Navigate to the 'settings' option then select 'general' and lastly click on 'Bluetooth'. If your keyboard is in pairing mode and close enough, you should see it listed in the 'devices' section. In case you don't see it, check if your keyboard is still in pairing mode and try again.

Choose the keyboard from the list and your Apple TV will generate a four-digit code that you'll input using the keyboard. Once the code is entered, the keyboard and Apple TV should be paired and ready to use.

Navigation and Usage

Using a Bluetooth keyboard for navigation is different in comparison to remotes. The arrow keys are used for up, down, left and right navigation through the menu. The return or enter key is for selecting an item and the esc key takes you back.

You can also use the keyboard for typing in search or text fields - making your life significantly easier when searching for a specific show or entering your credentials.

From now on, remember that there's no obstacle that can prevent you from enjoying your favorite shows anytime.


You've just explored some great alternatives to set up your Apple TV without a remote. With HDMI-CEC, you can leverage your TV's remote to control your Apple TV. You also learned about the convenience of a universal remote. If you're into a more hands-on approach, using a Bluetooth keyboard might be your best bet. Remember, no remote doesn't mean no control. With these methods, you're all set to enjoy your Apple TV without any hitches. So, don't let the absence of a remote limit your entertainment. Happy viewing!

Can I set up an Apple TV without a remote?

Yes, you can set up an Apple TV without a remote. It can be done using HDMI-CEC feature on your TV, a universal remote, or a Bluetooth keyboard.

How can I use HDMI-CEC to control my Apple TV?

To use HDMI-CEC, connect your Apple TV to your TV via an HDMI port. You should then activate the HDMI-CEC function on your TV, which will allow you to control the Apple TV using your TV's remote.

Can a universal remote control my Apple TV?

Yes, in many cases a universal remote can be programmed to control your Apple TV. Be sure to check for compatibility before purchasing.

How can a Bluetooth keyboard be used to control Apple TV?

You can control your Apple TV with a Bluetooth keyboard by pairing the keyboard to your device. The keyboard allows you to easily navigate and type on your Apple TV.

Is using a Bluetooth keyboard an effective way to control Apple TV?

Yes, using a Bluetooth keyboard is an effective and easy way to control your Apple TV. It simplifies navigation and allows for much easier typing than a standard remote.

This article was originally published on 29 Jan 2024 but has been regularly updated to keep the information current.
Kyle Crisp
Kyle has been using Apple products for over 25 years. He loves helping people learn how to use their Apple devices.
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