How to use a third-party remote to control your Apple TV

The Apple TV remote that comes with the latest Apple TV 2 is very small and can be very easily misplaced or lost completely. Luckily, Apple has included a very easy way for you to use a third-party remote control as an alternative. Sure you could use your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and the Apple Remote app but if you don’t want your kids, friends, or spouses, bugging you every time they need to change something on the Apple TV, you'll want something dedicated.

Here's how to set it up, and you should do it now before you lose your current remote.

  • Power on your Apple TV
  • Go to Settings in the main menu
  • Click on General and then Remote
  • Choose Learn Remote
  • Select Start
  • Apple TV will display icons that represent the six buttons on the Apple Remote with the "Up" or "+" button highlighted first.
  • Using your third-party remote, press and hold the button you would like to use to control the "up" function until the blue progress bar is full as shown below.
  • Apple TV will then select the next button function. Repeat the above step using a different button
  • After you have programmed all six button functions, you can now use your third-party remote to control Apple TV. You can optionally setup specific playback buttons for Fast-forward, Rewind, Next chapter, and more.

If you see the "Button Already Learned" error message, this means one of the following:

  • A different, previously learned remote, has a learned button with the same IR code as the current button that you are trying to program.
  • A previously learned button of the current remote has the same IR code as the current button that you are trying to program.

Either use a different button or delete the previously learned remote if it is not being used.

That is all  there is to it, a very easy way to use a third-party remote as a backup for your Apple TV remote!

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Source: Apple Support Article


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UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

How to use a third-party remote to control your Apple TV


I tried this a few months ago with my directv remote and it would not finish programming, anyone have any luck with a dtv remote?

I have FiOS and the programming of that remote for the Apple TV would not finish when I tried to get it to learn one of the directional buttons. Is this similar to your problem? When I would press and hold the remote button, the progress bar on the screen would just stop and reset. The work around is to rapidly press the button to keep the progress bar going.
Also, I eventually just bought a Logitech remote that can download the Apple TV code. The reason? Because if you lose your Apple TV remote AND your universal cable/sat remote you're screwed. Especially if you have to do a rest on the Apple TV (which in my experience can be common due to it's buggy behavior) since post-reset it will not remember the previously learned remote.

Worked great for me just using my DVD player remote. And for anyone wondering about the play/pause button, hitting select will pause then play your movie

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