Apple TV remote: 7 amazing shortcuts you need to know!

Top 5 shortcuts you need to know when using your Apple TV remote!

Ever been stuck deep down inside Netflix on the Apple TV and wished there was a way to instantly jump all the way back to the main Home screen? Ever been frustrated by fast forward going too slow or too fast and wished you could simply skip chapter by chapter instead? Ever had Home screen icons disappear or services say they're not available and wished you could reboot with only a couple of clicks? Well, you can! The little aluminum remote that comes with the Apple TV might not seem like much but there are a lot of options hidden behind those buttons. Here are some of the best!

1. How to instantly jump back to the Apple TV Home screen

Hold down the Menu button until your Apple TV returns to the main menu.

How to instantly jump back to the Apple TV Home screen

2. How to put your Apple TV to sleep with one button press

Hold down the Play/Pause button for five seconds or until your Apple TV goes to sleep.

How to put your Apple TV to sleep with the remote

3. How to jump through video chapters on Apple TV

  1. Press the Down button on your Apple TV remote while playing back a video.
  2. Now press Left or Right in order to skip forward or back chapters.

How to jump through video chapters on Apple TVHow to jump through video chapters on Apple TV

Apple's site notates that if the video you're playing doesn't have chapter markers, the Apple TV will skip through in increments of 30 seconds or 1/20 of the entire length. Whichever is longer.

4. How to quickly pair and unpair an Apple TV remote

Hold down the Menu button and Right button together for six seconds to pair an Apple TV remote. If you want to unpair a remote, hold down the Menu button and the Left button together for six seconds.

How to quickly pair and unpair an Apple TV remote

5. How to reset your Apple TV with two button presses

Hold down the Menu button and the Down button together for six seconds.

How to reset your Apple TV with two button presses

If a reset doesn't work, you may need to restore it in iTunes instead.

6. How to mark episodes as watched or unwatched with the Apple TV remote

How to mark videos as watched or unwatched with the Apple TV remote

Highlight the show you'd like to mark as watched or unwatched and hold down the Select button until the status changes. It's worth noting that this only works with iTunes tv shows that are rented or purchased. It doesn't currently work with third party services Netflix or Hulu Plus, unfortunately.

7. How to reorder channels with the Apple TV remote

Highlight the channel you'd like to move and hold down the Select button until you see the channel wiggle. Then use the Left and Right buttons to move it where you'd like. Press the Select button to drop it there.

How to reorder channels with the Apple TV remoteHow to reorder channels with the Apple TV remoteHow to reorder channels with the Apple TV remote

How to get more help with your Apple TV

If you need any additional help or have specific questions check out our Apple TV Forum!

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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There are 55 comments. Add yours.

wplantz says:

Great tips!! And I must say I am embarrassed to admit I didn't know any of them! Thanks!

emjayess says:

This highlights the uselessness of that remote, i.e., who is going to remember all those commands? The iPhone and iPad are more useful as remotes for Apple TV, but there still needs to be something with more obvious functions/commands.

digsoreos says:

The iPhone and iPad "Remote" app for Apple TV only adds the ability to use your device's keyboard (for entering characters into the search field) as far as I know. Otherwise, the Remote app is basically the same as what you get with the actual silver remote. Unless I'm mistaken, I haven't seen any other shortcuts or tips made visually apparent in the Remote app.

Anyway, I agree with you that the actual remote isn't very intuitive. But thanks to iMore for the tips. (Repeatedly clicking back a dozen screens deep in Netflix just to get out to the Apple TV home screen was a pain.)

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emjayess says:

"the ability to use your device's keyboard" = more useful

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Yeah it's much better for character input but honestly, for just maneuvering around, I actually prefer the remote itself.

Art Tabb says:

I agree. I use the aluminum remote most often.

You can also enter characters with a Mac wireless keyboard via Bluetooth; no iPhone or iPad, or even a Mac needed! This might be the case with any Bluetooth keyboard, but I've only tried the Apple variety.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I disagree. I use both but you can not do a lot of these with the Remote app - pretty much any of the ones requiring two button presses simultaneously. And to me, that still makes the silver remote relevant.

emjayess says:

Yes, of course it's relevant or still needed; I should have been more clear and not used "useless." My basic point is that having to remember those commands and combinations (not to mention having to discover them in the first place and the epic frustration of typing with it), makes the device one of Apple's poorest and something I only use when I must.

AmericaV6 says:

If you don't have the ability to memorize these simple commands then why are you reading it in the first place?... What do you expect of it?, to shake it and it becomes magic?...
For all of us, it takes time, practice and patience to learn as we go along...
Yaun!...

emjayess says:

Oh, brother: the commands are not intuitive, easily discoverable, and the device isn't up to Apple's standards for user friendliness--get it?!

By the way, that would be "yawn." Perhaps you should take some time, practice, and patience with a dictionary.

AmericaV6 says:

Yawn!...
Thank you for the correction, I will take advantge of the new knowledge.
I will for sure, spend more time with the diccionary, as I'm willing and able to learn new stuff. Just so you know, English is not my primary language. Having said that, it still doesn't take away the fact that you are the kind of negative person in this community that only criticize. The article is a very interested one. No wonder users are grateful about it. By the way, I have memorized all of the commands, you should try it.
Be grateful, and stop hating Gargamel...

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emjayess says:

You're welcome: I'm happy to correct people who make assumptions--such as the "fact" that I'm a negative person that only criticizes in this community. Oh, and here's another bit of advice: ad hominem attacks are not welcome in any language.

asuperstarr says:

These are some very good tips! A few of these I will have to definitely put into use. Thanks again!

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iSRS says:

My biggest tip? For DirecTV users, program AV2 to some device, any device, that you do not have. Then go to the Settings > Remotes on the Apple TV and program your AV2 location on your DirecTV remote to the buttons. All of them, including the advanced. Then using your Apple TV with this remote is the same muscle memory you use for your DVR.

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emjayess says:

Thanks, will check that out!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I did this when I had direcTV - now i use the Harmony One :)

mikeo007 says:

To get additional options while Airplaying, hold down the Pause/Play button while the video is streaming. With the CBC olympics app for instance, this gave you access to different languages and captions.

eurafega says:

Question: Do all these shortcuts apply using the Remote App on my iPhone? For example, if I hold down the Menu button on the Remote App, will it send my Apple TV back to home screen?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Some work, some don't. I don't believe the ones requiring multiple button presses simultaneously will work.

lbaxter says:

Holding the Menu button on the app will return to the home screen (bypassing all the screens you'd see by hitting it over and over) and holding down like you're "selecting" on the app will also put it in sleep. I just tried it on my iPad and iPhone.

CycloneFW says:

Some of these can be done when using substitute programmed remotes, such as reordering channels, skipping chapters, etc. Also, if you have "Accessibility Menu" turned on, hitting Menu three times quickly will pop up a screen with "Main Menu" as an option. Another convenient way to get out of deep Netflix screens.

trmoney24 says:

Awesome tips!
Though #2 (sleep) & 6 (mark read) don't work for me. I tried #2 when on the main screen, but it activates #7 (reorder). #6, I tried that in netflix. some of my episodes of house of cards weren't marked as viewed even though I watched the episode. I heard the thud, but nothing happens.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Hmm, that's odd. Are you on the newest firmware? I just tried them and they both work for me? Apple TV 2nd and 3rd gen.

trmoney24 says:

I'm on 6.0.2 (6646.81.1). And I have auto-update turned on, and it said no updates available at the moment. Using a 3rd gen Apple TV.
For #2, if you are on the homescreen, how would the remote know if you are trying to sleep vs moving an icon? I appreciate your reply. Not sure why those 2 don't work for me.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

Because I have #2 written wrong, you hold the play/pause button down to put it to sleep. :P Stupid hooman error :) Fixing now!

trmoney24 says:

Ahh, ok it works now. And it only works on the main Apple TV interface, not inside the apps like netflix or hbogo. Sorry its the QA Engineer side of me that always looks at the details!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

For #6 where are you trying this? It only works with tv shows from iTunes, not Netflix etc.. should have mentioned that...

trmoney24 says:

That would be why, I was trying this on Netflix.

David Ro says:

Tip #2 - I think you hold down the play/pause button to put it to sleep??

Allyson Kazmucha says:

You are 100% correct. I do that all the time and I obviously just spaced out. Fixing, thanks!

richard451 says:

I didn't know any of these. Thanks!

Real666 says:

All of these tips are correct except for one. Putting your ATV to sleep requires you to hold down the play/pause button on the main menu not the menu button. That's one of the first things in the instructions menu that most people have to learn.

Allyson Kazmucha says:

BAH! Fixing, sorry about that!

Trubador says:

I'm having a "duh" moment. What is the "pairing" used for?

Allyson Kazmucha says:

To pair the remote to one Apple TV. For instance, my Apple TV in my home office is right on the other side of the wall of the one in the bedroom. If I don't pair them to each other, i start a movie in the office and it starts playing something random in the bedroom sometimes :)

Also older Macs with Front Row built in respond to them so that's a pain.

Lt_Solorna says:

Ally: Is it possible to use those remotes that came with the Mac's on the current gen Apple TV's? I am wondering because I just found a couple that are in good condition.

stevenlue says:

Great guide! I think there's a mistake, though. To put ATV to sleep you should hold the Play/Pause button not the Select button. And you only have to hold it for 2 seconds.

Brian Ladson says:

Great tips! No more going back 10+ screens just to shut the ATV off. Thanks! :)

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sillymacboy says:

I don't often say something is life changing (eating a deep-fried Snickers notwithstanding), these tips qualify! Thanks!

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Mike Reiser says:

To turn voiceover on, hold the menu and down arrow button down. Helpful for blind users.

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jman0829 says:

Awesome article!

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wolflovesmoon says:

The iphone/ipad remote is much better, i dont need to direct it to apple tv, unlike the AT remote, i have to line it up with the AT to control it.

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lewyckyj says:

Good article - thanks for these tips.

tbsteph1 says:

Thanks! Always wondered about how to do tip #1.

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titogap says:

Great to know Allison, thank you...

lucky8919 says:

Thanks for this! Didn't know most of them!

Bekkenes says:

WHY did you put the remote on the ONE SPOT on your desk that has a massive groove?
I need a Xanax now!

escapedrift says:

to restart, hold down menu and play until the white light starts blinking.

cflores85 says:

Great article, thanks!

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digitalhomeboy says:

There is a Retail Mode for anyone using Apple TV in retail (other than the Apple store). This retail mode is also handy in home settings so kids aren't purchasing movies, TV shows and music as on Apple TV this only requires a visible four digit code when entering to purchase. Also great if you have it in the office/boardroom - reason being for all of the above is that it locks/disables the ability the change settings and make purchases even if ID's have been entered prior to enabling Retail Mode.

To activate Retail Mode: Settings - General - scroll to Legal but do not click it - leaving it highlighted. On the included remote press Right + Right + Left + Centre button (Select/Round/Middle button - it has many names). A screen will prompt Retail Channel Mode, select Yes and Apple TV will restart. To bring it back to the normal/consumer state do the same steps as above and let it restart.

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