Secret Apple TV remote controls: Fifteen button combos to power up your viewing!

Remote (Image credit: Rene Ritchie/iMore)

The 3rd-generation Apple TV is no longer available from Apple, but you can still find it at third-party sellers, and it's still a solid set-top for you to get all your iTunes and other content onto your big screen TV. With AirPlay you can even stream most video and audio right off your iPhone or iPad, and mirror the display of your iOS device or Mac in your living room or conference room. It makes a personal experience into a group experience — and if you know all of these controls, it makes it easy!


Press the Up, Down, Left, or Right to move between items. Press Select to chose an item. Press Menu to go back. Press Pause/Play to start or stop media.


Press and hold Menu for 3 seconds to jump all the way back to the main Apple TV Home screen.

Move/hide icons

Press and hold Select for 2 seconds to enter jiggly mode and re-arrange icons. Press Pause/Play to hide an icon.

Video settings

Press and hold Select for 3 seconds while watching an iTunes video to bring up speaker settings, audio, closed captions, and subtitles.


Press and hold Left to rewind 30 seconds. Press Left to rewind continuously. Press Left repeatedly to alternate between slow, medium, and fast rewind speeds.

Fast forward

Press and hold Right to fast forward for 30 seconds. Press Right to fast forward continuously. Press Right repeatedly to alternate between slow, medium, and fast forward speeds.


Press Pause and then press Left or Right to rewind or go forward in slow motion.

Time skip

Press Pause and then press and hold Left or Right to rewind or go forward in slow motion. Press Play again to resume normal viewing.

Chapter skip

Press Down to switch to chapter mode. Press Left to jump back a chapter and Right to jump forward a chapter.

(If the video doesn't use chapters, you'll skip 30 seconds or 1/20th of the video length, whichever is longer.)

Mark episodes

Press and hold down Select while in iTunes TV shows to mark all or individual episodes as watched or unwatched.

Switch keyboards

Press Pause/Play when entering text to switch between alpha, numeric, and symbol keyboards. Press and hold Select for two seconds to bring up accented characters and then press Pause/Play to choose the one you want.


Press and hold Down + Menu for 6 seconds to restart your Apple TV. (This saves you having to get up and unplug/replug to "fix" things like lost network connection or missing services.)


Press and hold Play/Pause for 5 seconds to put your Apple TV into standby mode. (It'll do it automatically when it senses lack of activity for a prolonged period.)


Press and hold Right + Menu for 5 seconds to pair the remote to a specific Apple TV. Press and hold Left + Menu to unpair the remote.

You'll want to do this if you have more than one Apple TV so as to avoid conflicts.

Remote App

There's an Apple TV remote app for iPhone and iPad on the App Store — and one built into the Apple Watch! — so you can also control all your media right from all of your devices.

The iPhone/iPad Remote app makes text entry much easier, and all the apps are handy if you don't have your hardware remote within reach.

More controls!

There's a lot more you can do with the Apple TV remote. Some of it varies by channel — for example, pressing Up on a Netflix show screen brings up an additional menu where you can see more shows for a given actor. There's lots to discover, but this should give you a great start. And like Apple said, a $69 Apple TV with HBO Now is just the beginning!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Why are you touting an app with so many horrid reviews? Are you confident the awfulness has been rectified?
  • The Apple Remote app for iOS? Because it lets you control your Apple TV when you misplace the hardware remote.
  • I know exactly what it is used supposed do. I am not stupid. Please go to the App Store and read the reviews on this app. It is not encouraging. All I need to know is whether Apple addressed the flaws in subsequent upgrades.
  • Hmm, I use the app all the time. Didn't know it was bad.
  • Do you actually use your Apple TV, and/or it's remote? For that matter, do you even use or have an Apple TV? The way your question is phrased it sounds like probably not.
  • According to usage stats, nobody really uses their Apple TV (#1 in sales, near dead last in usage).
  • I guess I'm the exception because I use my AppleTV almost daily.
  • I'm blaming those scathing reviews on either, one or both, manipulation or a fundamental problem with the App Store's rating system. Free apps in all the App Store is where you'll find it the most. I've been using Remote app for years with several ApppleTV's and Mac's iTunes. Remote has never been perfect, but it's always been damn good. It has to be as my two kids only know Remote app to watch their only TV interface we allow; AppleTV. They're two and six. If Remote wasn't good, they'd give up. Same goes for Podcasts app; Horrible reviews, great app. I bought several podcast apps ONLY because of Podcast's bad reviews. However, not even Arment's Overcast is as good as Podcast, IMO.
  • The trouble with reviews on any app store is that the reviews are based on personal expectations of what a user expects it to do as opposed to what it is meant to do. I use the app regularly, especially because I tend to put the remote down and forget where I placed it and rather than hunt for it I run the app and use it until I come across the remote. It does what they say it will do. It gets bad reviews because people are blaming the app for the problem when the problem may lay in their Apple TV's last update. It works perfectly for me, it didn't work for a week or two until I did a factory reset and then set the remote app up from scratch and then it started working. A quirk maybe with the update when it went through. The last update that came through had no problems at all, in fact it fixed many problems. The app never updated but the Apple TV did. I would say that many of these reviews were based on people blaming it for issues that could have been resolved by sitting back and thinking about what may be causing the connectivity issues or other issues to arise. I do though, Mr Smith (I presume that to be your name) feel that you haven't used the app yourself since you refer to the reviews as if you are a 3rd party without experience of these issues yourself. In fact the latest update to the Apple TV cured not only connectivity with the Remote App and the AppleTV but also cured the intermittent issue revolving airplay from Mac's as well as iOS devices and the experience is good and the remote app is still "Good Enough" for what is expected of it by myself.
  • It's far from ideal and it certainly can't replace the physical remote, but it's not that bad. I think you're having a tantrum here. Also, it's primarily intended to control an Apple TV, not iTunes, so all the connection issues with iTunes reported in the reviews are a bit lame IMO. They have also probably been fixed since the "previous version" has some nasty reviews, but the current version has no negative reviews at all.
  • You may be mistaken that you aren't stupid. Sent from the iMore App
  • hmm... use the app all the time since I'm always losing the remote! works fine every time.
  • I agree :) Sent from the iMore App
  • Well, you sound pretty stupid. If you go by reviews of a product without trying it, then clearly you are a sheep. "All I need to know is...." What makes you think he wrote the article for you? Who cares what a rude person needs. What you could have said was, "do you happen to know if they fixed the issues I have read about?" But instead, you made yourself sound like a rude idiot, which is why I am being equally rude back to you. Apple Remote is a basic program with basic functionality. It works fine, but has no bells or whistles. Some people want bells and whistles. Therefore, they rate it poorly. But the app is quick, accurate and easy for a monkey to use.
  • all that and it still can't control the volume
  • My DVD/BD players doesn't have separate volume control either, far as I can tell. My guess is that's the model Apple adopted. (Do game consoles, I don't remember?)
  • Here is what I have for my blu ray, but I'm sure there are models that don't have volume: The Xbox One media remote has volume control and the PS4 doesn't have a media remote
  • Both the aluminium remote and Remote app can control volume _if_ you use AirPlay speakers with TV. Under your tip 4. Video Settings, select Audio, scroll to the paired AirPlay speakers and use < > to adjust volume. We use this setup in three bedrooms. The money I saved buying monitors without sound went to offset AirPlay speakers.
  • That's what your TV remote is for... :p
  • The lack of volume control is my pet peeve also. Especially since previous Apple remotes (before AppleTV) *could* actually control the volume. In my situation, I ONLY use Apple TV, I don't have cable, DVD or all that other junk, so I'm forced to use two remotes, the AppleTV remote and one for the TV. The totally stupid thing is, the "TV remote" has over 60 buttons on it, of which I use ONE. The volume. So I have to have this stupid 60 button remote on my coffee table 24/7 even though I only use one single button on it.
  • When I hold down the menu button on my Apple TV remote it turns my TV volume up. Not sure how, but I assure you it does. I have yet to figure out how to turn the volume down with it. I have an LG 55" LED.
  • In the settings on your Apple TV you can actually program any remote to be used with your Apple TV. You can can assign buttons like fast forward, play, pause, stop etc as well. I have 12 buttons on my TV remote programmed to be used with my Apple TV. This normally isn't ideal because you need that remote for other functions, but being that I'm in your position and basically never do anything with my TV other change the input from 1 to 2 and back again it works out great.
  • The MLB.TV app has several shortcuts, such as being able to jump to a specific inning, or scoring play.
  • Lol. He's using the app to try and control his TV. Works great for me on all my Apple TV's. Sent from the iMore App
  • In case anyone gets confused, "slo-mo" only works on local content, not streamed content.
  • Thanks for that. I'm new to the Apple TV and didn't know about these remote features!
  • I use my Apple TV as my only source for watching TV. And, I use the Remote App as well, there can be a few burps with new iOS updates but, not so much that I stop using it. It's so much easier using the keyboard for searching that the three button remote.
  • Apple remote app for iOS is pretty bad it does show album artwork..! Needs to be fixed. Sent from the iMore App
  • Does not show album artwork. Sent from the iMore App
  • Great article as a few of those were previously unknown by me. This is why I keep coming back to this site. Thanks Rene! Sent from the iMore App
  • >secret
  • who is mad about remote app?
  • i get confused what to do in the morning... You have more shortcuts here than a pocket knife has gadgets.... I don't mind Apple adding shortcuts but not why must u cram a whole heap into a single button ? thing,and if people remember all the these neat things then that's good... But for me, there is just too much a remote can do.... press once for this, twice for this... keep clicking to rewind further.. Foxtel IQ, can rewind up to 60 seconds. and u don't need to keep pressing anything. Needs work Apple