The Siri Remote, still called the Apple TV Remote in regions without Siri support, is a big part of what makes the Apple TV stand out from the rest of the set-top boxes on the market. It's got a touch surface, an accelerometer and gyroscope, Bluetooth connectivity, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and, as the name suggests — Siri.
If you're new to the Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K and want to know what every button on the Siri Remote does, or have been using it for a while and are ready to dig into all the available button combinations, here's your in-depth guide.
The anatomy of the Siri Remote
Whether you have the best Apple TV — the Apple TV 4K, or an older Apple TV HD model, Apple's set-top box remotes offer an almost identical selection of buttons on the Siri Remote. All remote models feature a touch or trackpad on the Siri Remote that allows you to swipe around the tvOS interface. A physical clicking action confirms your selections and acts as a gamepad button for Apple Arcade titles.
Other buttons on the Siri Remote let you return to a previous screen, access Control Center, pause media playback, or jump into the Apple TV app or back to the tvOS home screen. A Siri button on the remote summons Apple's virtual assistant on-demand, and a built-in microphone picks up your commands without having to shout across the room.
If your TV is equipped with HDMI-CEC — as most modern TVs are, you can also control your TV with your Siri Remote. With TV control enabled, your Siri Remote can adjust the volume on your TV and even turn off your TV when you put your Apple TV to sleep.
How to charge the Siri Remote
Just like every other remote control in the world, the Siri Remote battery eventually will drain out. While your mileage may vary depending on usage, it typically takes months for the battery to run dry — but it does happen.
However, unlike most other remote controls, you don't have to keep a box of batteries lying around to re-up your Siri Remote every time the battery dies. Instead, you can plug in a Lightning cable, and you can charge the Siri Remote while watching movies on Apple TV.
Using the Siri Remote to put your TV to sleep
Though it may be challenging to put the remote down and go to bed, all good things must eventually end — and this also applies to watching movies or playing games on Apple TV. You can quickly put your TV and Apple TV to sleep with the Siri Remote.
If your Apple TV gets a little sluggish or buggy, you can also restart your Apple TV using two buttons on the Siri Remote.
Using the Siri Remote with tvOS
The Siri Remote is your primary means of controlling your Apple TV system and user interface (unless you use the Remote app on an iOS device, of course). While swipes and clicks handle most of your navigation experience, you can also move or delete apps with the Siri Remote.
Like your iPhone and iPad, tvOS also offers a way to manage apps that run in the background. By double-clicking the Home button on the Siri Remote, you can switch between apps with multitasking on Apple TV, and you can even force-close programs with a swipe.
How the Siri Remote works with media on Apple TV
The Siri Remote works a little like a computer's trackpad on Apple TV. You can double-click, swipe, tap, drag, and more to control music, TV shows, and movies. While most of it is self-explanatory, there are a few gestures you may not already know about.
Some gestures offer a quicker and easier way to skip between chapters in a movie. Others can make hunting down a favorite scene pain-free by calling up a pop-up preview on the media playback timeline. For an in-depth breakdown of all of these gestures, we suggest looking at our guide: How to control playback on Apple TV with the Siri Remote.
What Siri can and can't do on Apple TV
Siri can do a lot of cool things on Apple TV — so much so that we have an entire guide dedicated to what Siri will and won't do on the Apple TV. As you would expect, Siri on the Apple TV can play Apple Music songs, and Apple TV+ shows on-demand. Siri can also search for content based on various factors like genre, pause media playback, or enable subtitles.
Siri on the Apple TV is built with smart learning and can understand contextual questions for general inquiries. For example, you can ask to look something up and then follow up with a second question related to the first without referring back to the first.
If you have HomeKit-enabled accessories, the Siri Remote can activate favorite scenes and pull up a live feed of connected cameras. While you can access your HomeKit cameras via Control Center, accessing them via voice commands will bring them up in a handy picture-in-picture view. This PiP view floats above your content, so you can keep an eye on your home without interrupting playback.
Secret Siri Remote controls
Like pulling up a HomeKit camera in a picture-in-picture view via Siri, there are some additional secret remote controls that you can get to just with the press of a button (or two). Some include jumping right into Apple's fantastic screen savers without having to wait and changing the default action of the home button so you can get back to the Apple TV app at any time.
Go beyond the basics with the Siri Remote for Apple TV
As you can see, the Siri Remote is a vital part of the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD experience that goes beyond basic controls. With just a click, swipe, or voice command, you can summon your favorite Apple TV+ shows on-demand, peek in on a HomeKit camera, play the latest tunes via Apple Music, or pick up right where you left off in an Apple Arcade game.
Updated March 2022: Updated for tvOS 15.4.
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Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).